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 29, 2015

A Brother Like No Other!

I finally got the opportunity to tie Rakhi on someone for Raksha Bandhan... thanks Sunil (my brother-in-law), you're the best.  

Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival that celebrates the bond and duty between brother and sister.  The sister ties the sacred thread around her's brother's wrist and makes his favorite. Then the brother gives his sister something she likes. 

Knowing that my brother-in-law is a foodie like me, I knew he would love something sweet but not too sweet. I did some research and found this recipe that was perfect for him. Feast your eyes on this Strawberry Pizza.

A Strawberry Pizza by A Spicy Perspective (click on name for link to recipe)
It is a sugar cookie base with soft goat cheese and honey cheese spread, topped with freshly sliced strawberries. I also added a few mint leaves for pop in color.

It was a hit with everyone, especially Sunil. Yay for all.

August 13, 2015

Mirchi Restaurant - Spicing It Up with South Indian Dishes

It has been a while since we went out as a family including my grandmother. This past weekend was surely a delight in that respect. My sister and my brother-in-law came to visit us and spent some quality time with the parents and of course me. All of us went out to dinner together to this newly opened South Indian restaurant called Mirchi (chilies in English) located in Parsippany NJ. This restaurant replaced another Indian restaurant  located in the same complex called Amiya.

When you enter the restaurant, on your right you will see a party room with a bar and as you walk further into the lobby, you will see the concierge desk. To the left of the desk is the entrance to the dining area (click here to see pictures). The dining area is very spacious and comfortable. In the back, there's a glass door leading to the wine cellar, which I thought was really cool.

We started off our dinner with a couple of vegetarian appetizers: Gobi 65 and Baby Corn Pepper Fry

Gobi 65*

Gobi 65 is a dish where well marinated cauliflower florets are brown to perfection (description from menu). These florets were definitely cooked, marinated and seasoned very well. Additionally, the portion size was adequate for 4 or more people. We were a party of 6 so we got about 3 pieces each and were very satisfied.

The Baby Corn Pepper Fry failed to meet the same flavor expectations as the Gobi 65. I felt the corn was more doughy than crispy and the taste was not as satisfying. 

We had never dined here before so we had no idea about entree portions. We ended up ordering 5 separate dishes to make sure everyone was happy.

My parents and grandmother are vegetarian so they ordered mixed vegetable Uttappam, Rava Masala Dosa, and Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani.

According to my dad, the Mixed Vegetable Uttapam was a good size and tasty. The Rava Masal Dosa and Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani didn't make the cut. Both my mother and grandmother were disappointed in their dishes. 

Top Left -  Garlic Naan
Bottom Left - Vegetable Biryani
Right - Malabar Fish Curry

My sister, brother-in-law and I (the non-vegetarians) shared the Shangri-la Biryani and Malabar Fish Curry with Garlic Naan. All 3 of us really enjoyed the Malabar Fish Curry served with plain white rice. The fish curry was made with selected fish pieces simmered in tamarind pulp and coconut milk. It was quite tasty and flavorful. You can't go wrong with coconut milk; it makes everything taste better and rich-er. 

Third disappoint of the evening was the Shangri-la Biryani,  combination of Chicken 65 and biryani. Before we placed our order, we specified that we all wanted our dishes to be Medium spicy, which in my book means, add some chilies to our dish. However, our biryani and the chicken lacked flavor. It was not until I added the spicy raita that I actually tasted something in my biryani. It was like eating saffron rice with crispy chicken. The combination was did not suit us at all.

Takeaways from our experience - 3 STARS 
- The portions for appetizers and entrees are big enough for two people.
- When placing your order, specify your spice level: Mild, Medium and Spicy. If you order biryani, it should be spicy, not bland.
- The best part of our dining experience was the service. The waitstaff were helpful and friendly.

Although half of our dishes were disappointing, I would definitely dine here again as it was my first time. I would never dismiss going to a particular restaurant again if it rated 3 or more stars in the first experience. Next time, I will stick to regular Hyderabadi Dum Biryani instead something totally exotic. Also, I will steer clear of anything on the menu with dish titles ending with 65, not my cup of tea.

***Until next time, happy eating. If you know of a good Indian restaurant for us to try, let us know.  Looking to dine out, check out our Restaurant Reviews page for suggestions. ***

August 6, 2015

Celebrating Flavors with Tandoori Tofu and Coriander Chutney Sandwiches

Congratulations to Swathi for sharing her re-creation of one our recipes with us. 

Recently, one of my relatives reached out and asked us for some protein enriched recipes to make for her family. One of the recipes that came to mind instantly was the Tandoori Tofu curry. It's easy to make, healthy and high on the protein list. She tried the recipe and shared her experience with us. We love it when people make our recipes their own. 

Check out the Tandoori Tofu and Coriander Chutney Sandwiches above. Don't they look so tasty and inviting. I just want to take a bite into one right now. 

She modified the recipe so she could stuff the curry into the bread rolls to make sandwiches. She spread coriander chutney on one side and Tandoori Tofu curry on the other side. She also added cucumber and onions slices and sprinkled a little lemon juice to add more flavor. 

Mama Mia! My mouth is watering just thinking about all these flavors. Great job Swathi! 

- Shred or grate the tofu before making the curry so it won't be clumpy in the sandwich. 
- The bread rolls can be substituted with any other kind of rolls if you are allergic to gluten like potato rolls. This curry goes well with jeera rice. 

 What do you think of this sandwich idea? Have you tried our Tandoori Tofu recipe? Please share your thoughts with us. 

August 4, 2015

The Wonders of the Mediterranean - Rhodes

06/15 - We arrived in Rhodes after a day's journey on the Aegean sea. 

Rhodes is the island with the RED STAR

Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands (a group of 12 larger islands plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea). It is the island group's historical capital. 

Shortly after breakfast, we left the ship to venture out into the city and take in the history. The city of Rhodes can be navigated by car, bus or walking about. We didn't know what to expect so we initially took a bus tour around the historical sites. Afterwards we realized most of the important sites are close to the port so got off the bus and walked around.

One of those historical gems is the Colossus of Rhodes (pictured above is where it once stood). After an earthquake in 226 BC, the 30 meters statue was reduced to rubble. It was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Another popular tourist attraction is the Grand Master's Palace of the Knights. It is a medieval castle -- one of the few examples of Gothic architecture. 

The palace is full of things to see from paintings, canons and canon balls, clay oil lamps, bone needles and combs, and mosaics (shown below). 

One of my favorite parts of the visit was capturing the essence of these mosaics; they are from the Byzantine empire and 2nd century BC. I couldn't walk away without taking a few snapshots with my Samsung phone. 

We walked down the cobble stoned path inside the palace and found a cafe hidden within the walls for a light lunch. 

We dropped our bags and relaxed  at this quaint little cafe/bnb. We enjoyed the infamous Greek salad and bruschetta and for dessert, we ate baklava and ice cream. YUM!!!

As we finished up lunch, I caught up with a friend on google hangout. ***Note: Always double check the time difference before waking up your friends before the crack of dawn.***

My dad is 'chillaxing' with a Pina Colada
After a long day of sightseeing, we stopped over at the sunset bar and grabbed some tropical cocktails. Perfect ending to a good day.

Stay tuned...the fun has just began...onwards to Mykonos...the island with the famous windmills!

August 3, 2015

The Wonders of the Mediterranean - All Aboard and on Cruise Control to the Greek Isles

The Equinox was launched in 2009 with capacity of 2,850 
A few weeks ago, I started telling you all about our Mediterranean adventure to Greece and Turkey. We started a day early in Athens and boarded the Celebrity Cruises: Equinox ship to begin our adventure. Did I mention that this was our first time on a cruise ship? AY CARAMBA!!

We enjoyed this beautiful sunset as we left Athens behind and cruised towards the first of the Greek Isles, Rhodes.

The view above is from the Ocean View cafe. Isn't it gorgeous and so romantic. I took tons of pictures like this every night so I could reminisce about those sunsets when I get back home. Although is nice, the dining experience at this cafe wasn't equally nice the first night. I was a bit disappointed in the buffet menu.

The best dining experience was in the Silhouette restaurant where we had to make reservations every night. They had quite a selection of menu items to choose from and enjoy. I normally don't eat meat unless I'm out dining with my friends, so this was my chance to savor the Mediterranean cuisine. Each night I tried a different dish and really experimented with my palate.

Below are some of my favorites from the trip:

Top left corner: Chocolate molten cake with vanilla ice cream and flambe
Top right corner: creme brulee cake,
Bottom left corner: Branzino (European sea bass) served over a bed of cooked spinach and potatoes with a drizzle of pomegranate sauce
Bottom right corner: Lamp chops served with a side of broccoli and thin broth
My parents loved the Mediterranean spring rolls, French onion soup, and the tomato bisque. We couldn't some of these items were served as appetizers; they were big enough to be entrees. We really had to control ourselves moving forward.

Along with the food, we were really impressed with the quality of service at this restaurant. All the waitstaff were polite and helpful, I never felt like I was pressured to eat my food too quickly because they wanted to seat another family, If we didn't like something, they were all too eager to replace our food. It was unbelievable.

Quick Tip 
- If you don't like anything on the preset menu, ask for the Indian menu which has a lot of vegetarian options. My parents ordered from this menu a couple times; here are some of their favorites: vegetable pakora, mixed vegetable curry, potato and beans curry, and yogurt. WE LOVE YOGURT. - If you have any allergies, let your wait staff know. They are very accommodating to their guests' needs.