The word "khana" in Indian Khana Made Easy means food. So come on, let's explore and cook some easy Indian food together including gluten-free and vegan dishes.


August 30, 2012

It's All About The Peppers!

Liz Applegate Ph.D., (author of "Hot Stuff!" article in Runner's World), put it perfectly when she wrote "richly colored chilies are packed with a range of antioxidants, including vitamin A and vitamin C. These nutrients may aid in recovery and help prevent ailments such as Alzheimer's disease and cancer". She went on to point out that chilies also aid in weight loss, alleviate muscle pain, and reduce the risk of getting Diabetes. I don't know about you, but those are some good reasons to start consuming chilies. I like the idea of eating my vegetables to stay ahead of the curve...and staying away from medicines until I have no choice.

Peppers are an integral part of our cuisine's spice mix. One of my favorite dishes where peppers play an important role is Chili Poppers. It closely resembles an appetizer called Jalapeno poppers, which is most commonly found in many American restaurant menus. Another dish that is on the list is Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers, that we eat with rice because it is definitely on the hot end of the scale.
On the subject of peppers, this next dish is peppers on a new scale...a more sweeter scale that is. We love cooking with sweet peppers. They're so flavorful and "sweet" like cherry tomatoes...and who doesn't love cherry tomatoes. 

I love the orange and red ones!
And since it was Hot and Spicy Food Day recently, we increased the "heat" of these peppers by stuffing them with Falafel. The sweetness from the peppers was a good combination with the Mediterranean spices and flavors. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

  • 1 cup Tarazi Falafel mix
  • 20 to 22 Sweet Peppers
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • ¼ tsp Salt (adjust as per your taste)
Make the falafel mixture as per instructions on the box and allow it to soak for 30 to 45 minutes. Then add the chopped onions into the mixture. Make a slit into the peppers without cutting them in half. Scoop about a tablespoon of the mixture and stuff it inside each of the peppers. In a shallow non-stick pan, heat oil, add all the peppers and sprinkle salt. Shallow fry the peppers under closed lid, turning them over in between for even frying. Remove from heat and serve hot!

***Quick Tip: 
- The Tarazi Falafel Mix is the traditional Mediterranean vegetarian recipe made with ground chickpeas, fava beans and spices. It is also gluten free, dairy free and wheat free. Each serving size which is 2 oz has 12g of protein. That's a winner in our book. We found this product at our local Indian store.  

August 19, 2012

Embrace The "Heat" & Celebrate!

It seems like there's a food festival every other day. Many of them are a bit too much for my taste. However, there are some that are worth celebrating like the Hot and Spicy Food Day, which was today. This festival brings lovers of fiery recipes together to enjoy heat-filled foods. Although the exact origin of the day is unknown, archaeologists believe that humans have been eating spicy foods for 6,000 years!
We celebrated the festival by cooking up some of our home grown peppers and enjoyed the hot flavors. Cooking with peppers can sometimes be tricky so it's nice to have ready made entrees handy. One of the brands we tried and liked are entrees by Tandoor Chef. Their dishes have all the right spices for heat-loving palates! Also, the spices bring extra flavor to foods, health benefits and fun!

Below are some good tips about spicy foods from Tandoor Chef:
  • Sweat it Out: Ever wonder why cultures in hot climates eat spicy food the most? Spicy food raises your body temperature to match the level outside, which causes you to sweat. The sweat evaporates and you cool off. So by eating hotter foods, people in these cultures stay cooler! 
  • Add a Healthy Kick: Spicy foods don't just help you sweat; they are actually good for you! Adding a natural kick from peppers and jalapenos can add flavor without increasing sodium or fat content of recipes. Chili peppers can also lower your risk for heart disease by reducing the effect of bad cholesterol. The spiciness can even help you battle a cold by clearing sinuses. Woohoo for health! 
  • Nutrients Galore: Chili peppers are also high in Vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and Capsaicin, which can help relieve pain and inflammation. 
  • Ease your Palate: Drink cold milk or yogurt when eating fiery foods. Dairy products can help neutralize the spices in your mouth while water or other beverages may simply move the heat around in your mouth. 
Whether for the health benefits, the thrill or just for fun, give spicy foods a try!! Tandoor Chef entrees and appetizers offer both vegetarian and vegan meals that will bring your taste buds alive. 

How did you embrace the "heat" and celebrate Hot and Spicy Food Day? We would love to hear from you!   

August 14, 2012

Spice Up Your Bean Salad!

Another one of India's popular street foods that I love is Bhel Puri. It has everything under the sun like spices, vegetables, lentils, nuts and puffed rice. Alas we're not in India and the only time I really enjoy eating this savory snack is whenever we got out to eat. I would love to make it at home, but we don't always have the ingredients. At a recent family party, my mom tasted this yummy bhel puri that was made with bean salad. Hm, there's a thought! When my mom got home, she told me all about the snack and we got busy in the kitchen. I love the way her mind works! We found this delicious bean salad called Cowboy Caviar at Costco which was perfect for our version. It added a lot of flavor and color to the dish.

Heehaw!! I'm ready for seconds!
- 1 Medium Onion, chopped finely
- 2 Plum Tomatoes, chopped finely
- 15 oz of Cowboy Caviar*
- 7 oz of Spicy Mamra (Unflavored Puffed Rice)

Although Cowboy Caviar has tomatoes and onions already in it, we added more for flavor and texture. 

In a big bowl, toss together the chopped onion, tomatoes and Cowboy Caviar. Then add the spicy mamra and mix well. The bhel puri is ready to be served and it's enough for 5 to 6 people, depending on the size of the bowl.

***Quick Tips:
Cowboy Caviar is a bean salad made by Meninno Brothers Gourmet Foods and is available at Costco. It's "Sweet with a Texas Twist"! It's made with black and white beans, vegetables, herbs and spices.