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.


December 21, 2016

Comfort Food Series: Spinach and Tofu Rice

Although today was the official first day of winter, we've been having winter weather for the past month or more. The temperatures have been fluctuating between 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit everyday so it's only natural to want to make and eat comfort food. 

Our go to comfort food is some kind of rice dish. It should have vegetables and protein so you are not just "carbing" it up. Below is a recipe for easy Spinach and Tofu rice.  

- 2 cups Basmati Rice, cooked with slightly less water
- 1 large bunch of fresh Spinach, chopped finely 
- 4 oz tofu*, cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1/2 tsp crushed green chilies paste (or 1 green chili, finely chopped)
-  1 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 Tbsp whole cumin
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt, per your taste
- Fried onions (optional)

In a large skillet, heat oil and add whole cumin. When it starts to sizzle, add turmeric powder, crushed chilies, and ginger-garlic paste. Stir for few seconds. Then add spinach, sprinkle some salt and stir the mixture until the spinach leaves are wilted (cook for about 3 to 4 minutes). Next add garam masala and mixture well. Then add cooked rice, tofu and salt as per your taste. Mix well until the spinach is evenly mixed into the rice. When it's ready to be served, top with fried onions. 

This dish can be enjoyed on its own or eaten with cucumber raita (yogurt dip). It's comfort food for the soul.  

*Quick Tips
- We freeze tofu for 3 to 4 hours to keep it firm and thaw it for a bit when we need to use it. This way it doesn't crumble when we cut portions of it. 
- Try our other rice dishes made with beets, coconut, and/or lentils

November 3, 2016

Sweet and Sour Bottle Gourd Curry (Sorakaya Antu Pulusu)

We're staying warm this Autumn with comforting food like the dish below. It's got a little bit of everything and lots of flavor. 

- About 10" long Bottle Gourd (also known as long squash), peeled and chopped into 1" cubes
- Size of big lemon of Tamarind
- 3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1/2 tsp green chili paste (or 1/4 tsp of chili powder)
- a pinch of Turmeric
- 1 tsp Salt or as per your taste
- 2 Tbsp Besan (Chickpea flour)
- 2 Tbsp Rice Flour

Ingredients for the seasoning:
- 2 Tbsp Vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
- A pinch of Hing (Asafotida)
- 6 to 8 Curry leaves (fresh or dry) - optional 
- A pinch of chili powder

Soak tamarind in half cup of warm water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the juice using additional water. Alternately add the soaked tamarind into a blender, add additional 3 cups of water and blend for one minute. Then strain the liquid and remove the tamarind fiber. In a small pressure cooker, add the chopped bottle gourd, tamarind juice, brown sugar, turmeric, chili paste, and salt. Pressure cook for 2 to 3 whistles. When the steam is released, open the cooker and boil the mixture on low-medium heat. 

Add the besan (Chickpea flour) and rice flour in half a cup of water to make a sauce like consistency. Mix this sauce into the bottle gourd mixture to thicken the tamarind sauce and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until it thickens. Heat vegetable oil in a small pan, add mustard seeds and when they splutter, add cumin seeds and then hing and pinch of chili powder. Remove from heat and add curry leaves and then add to the bottle gourd mixture. 

Serve hot with rice and/or your favorite flatbread.  

October 31, 2016

Egg Curry with Bell Pepper and Tomatoes

Cooking is more than a hobby for me; it's a way of life. This blog started out as my portable cookbook that contained recipes of dishes that my sister and I grew up eating. I've learned so much over the years, cooking alongside my mother; teaching me the ways of Indian cooking. 

However, as I grew up my tastes changed a bit. I was vegetarian when I first moved here. I slowly started trying new dishes and cuisines and now I'm half vegetarian. I eat eggs, chicken and fish every so often. However, I still stay away from meats like pork and beef. 

One of the dishes I really like is egg curry but my mom doesn't eat eggs so it's up to me to figure it out. I've watched YouTube videos and looked for recipes online. I've tested a few but didn't like the taste so much. A few months, I found a recipe at Archana's Kitchen called Quick and Simple Egg Curry Recipe. I did find her recipe to be simple enough and kind of quick. 

I made a couple changes for my taste, such as adding more vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms or spinach to the recipe. Check out the recipe below:

Yields: Serves 6 (2 egg halves and gravy per serving)

- 6 eggs (boiled, peeled, and cut into half vertically)
- 3 vine tomatoes, pureed
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped into 1/2" pieces and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes
- 12 oz baby Bella mushrooms, chopped into 1/2" pieces (optional)
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder (or Dhanjeera powder)
- 1 tsp Garam Masala powder
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder or cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt (adjust as per your taste)
- a small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Ingredients to be ground to a paste
- 1 large onion, chopped 
- 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 green chilies (or 1/2 tsp of chili paste)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan on low-medium heat. Add the paste made with onion, ginger, garlic, and chilies to the pan. Saute for a few minutes or until the onion mixture turns translucent in color. Next add turmeric powder, sugar, garam masala powder, coriander powder, and red chili powder. Mix until combined well. I added mushrooms next and let them cook a little before I added bell pepper.  Cook for a few minutes while stirring intermittently. Next, add the tomato puree, salt, and eggs. Cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer the egg and vegetable mixture for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Lift the cover and check the salt and spice levels; adjust them to your taste. If you want the gravy to be a bit thinner, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Turn off the stove and sprinkle fresh coriander on the curry and serve with your meal. 

This curry goes well with plain white or brown rice, jeera rice, quinoa, or your favorite flatbread. Whenever I make this curry, I make two halves and some gravy and a couple of roti for lunch. It's healthy and filling. I would definitely recommend this recipe to anyone who likes eating eggs and wants to try something different. 

Quick Tips
- If wine or plum tomatoes are not readily available, you can buy a crushed tomatoes can. 
- Other vegetables you can add are yellow or orange bell peppers
- You can add evaporated milk for a creamier taste. 

October 28, 2016

Have a Sweet Diwali with Indian Bread Pudding (Double Ka Meetha)

From our family to yours...
Peace, Prosperity, and Good Fortune...May they all be with you in the coming year. 

I am thankful for my loving family as well as my friends (including my extended family at Open Door Toastmasters). They've supported and helped me accomplish a lot in my personal and professional life this year. 

Double Ka Meetha (Indian Bread Sweet)

This Diwali I wanted to show my mom that I have been paying attention to all that she's taught me in cooking and make an Indian sweet that she's only made once since we moved here. The dessert I made is called Double Ka Meetha. 

When I first heard the name, I thought it meant twice the sweetness because I was thinking in English and Urdu. 

Double Ka Meetha actually means bread sweet because in Urdu "Double Roti" means bread. This dessert is from Hyderabad, Telangana. It is a popular dessert in Hyderabad cuisine and served at special occasions such as weddings and parties. It is similar to Shahi Tukra. 

I know you are all dying to find out how to make this dessert, so let's get to it. 

Total cooking time (including prep work): About 2-2.5 hours

- 20 oz White Bread
- 2 sticks of butter or 16 Tbsp Unsalted butter*
- 2 (14oz) Condensed milk cans
- 1/4 cup Almonds or Cashews, chopped into quarters
- 10 Cardamom pods, seeded and powdered
- 1 cup Milk
- 1/2 cup Khoya or khoya powder (also known as Milk-Mava powder) - optional

1) The day before making the dessert, open the bread packet and arrange the slices on a wide plate to allow them to air dry.

2) Set the toaster to medium setting and toast the slices. Afterwards, spread butter on both sides and toast to golden brown on a griddle (shown below). 

3) Cut all the slices diagonally into 4 pieces...


Next, add 1/2 tbsp of butter to an non-stick skillet/pan and then transfer all the toasted breads pieces into it.

4) Next, transfer the condensed milk into a measuring cup and stir in the milk. Slowly pour this mixture on top and around the bread in the skillet/pan. 

Then add the khoya powder as well as the cardamom powder and mix well; making sure all the bread pieces are coated with the liquid.  Hint: Add another 1/4 cup milk if the mixture is dry.  

5) Transfer the contents into a greased tray or dish, garnish with toasted nuts and serve hot (shown above).

Although this dessert takes time to make, it is sure to please your guests. We served this dessert on Diwali and all of our friends and family enjoyed it. 

~~~Diwali Mubarak~~~

October 10, 2016

Celebrating Navratri on the Eve of Dusshera!

October 1st marked the beginning of the Navratri celebration, honoring the Hindu deity Durga, the destroyer of demons. Navratri means nine nights. During these nine nights and ten days, various forms or avatars of Durga are worshiped. The tenth day is Dusshera (October 11th). 

In the South (specifically in  Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu), one of the traditions of this festival is a display of toys and figurines called Bommalu Koluvu (Court of Toys) in one's home (as shown above). Our display includes divine presence of Goddesses of Laxmi, Saraswati, and Parvati, Lord Ganesha, Buddha, as well as representations of music and dance with the dancing dolls and musical players. 

The significance of this festival is that good triumphs over evil. This holiday is a great way to renew one's self or start over. A way to get rid of evil or obstacles in one's way and head in a positive direction. I've been stuck in a rut at work the past couple weeks and last week I just decided to tackle those obstacles so I can see a clear path for the new quarter. I realized that by destroying my "demons" or "negative thoughts" I can accomplish a lot. What does this holiday mean to you?


October 6, 2016

Aloo Methi with Besan (Chickpea Flour)

When I'm making eggs or pasta, I love throwing some thyme or rosemary into my dish. It adds freshness and flavor. It's the same with Indian cooking. We love using mint, coriander, and methi in our dishes. The most common one is coriander; we chop up the leaves and sprinkle them on every one of our vegetable and rice dishes. 

Another one is methi also known as Fenugreek. This herb can be used fresh or dry and the seeds can be used as a spice. You can even use the fresh leaves or the sprouts as a vegetable in a dish. 

My sister's friend gave us a few bunches of this herb so we couldn't wait to make something with it. Better to use it while it's fresh! We decided to make Aloo Methi Besan which translates to Potato and Fenugreek leaves with Chickpea flour. Let's see how it's done below. 

Potato and Fenugreek Leaves with Chickpea Flour

Serving Size: 3-4
- 2 bunches of Methi (also known as Fenugreek) leaves, washed and chopped finely through soft stems
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed to 1cm size
- 4 to 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp chili powder (or per your taste)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup Fine Besan flour (Chickpea flour) 
- 1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
- Salt per your taste

Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil (on low-medium heat) in a medium saucepan.  Next, add mustard and cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add garlic and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are golden brown. Now add the potatoes and sprinkle a pinch of salt and allow it cook under closed lid for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring intermittently. When the potatoes are soft, add methi leaves and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. 

Remove the lid and continue allowing it to cook more until the excess moisture evaporates and the oil comes out. Now add chili powder and stir for another minute. Next add Besan flour, a pinch of salt, and one more tablespoon of vegetable oil. Stir and fry for 2 to 3 minutes under closed lid. When you smell the fried Besan aroma, switch off the heat and remove from stove. 

Serve with your favorite rice, flatbread or enjoy on its own. I love eating this with yogurt rice and/or roti. How do you incorporate fresh herbs or spices in your cooking? Please share.  

Quick Tip
- If Methi or Fenugreek leaves are not readily available, any leafy green that does relaease too much water when cooked is fine. You can try fresh coriander or kale as well. They will have a different taste. 
- Besan (Chickpea flour) can be found in most Indian grocery stores. Some Whole Foods stores have it listed as Garbanzo bean flour. 

September 16, 2016

Quick and Easy Chinese Bitter Melon Chutney

This summer, we've been pampered with all the vegetables my friend's mom has been giving me from her garden. Every time I visit, she gives oodles of Chinese bitter melon, Asian melon, and peppers. She gave us so many that we've been making all sorts of dishes with them including the Chinese Bitter Melon Stir Fry I posted a few weeks back. 

This time we let the bitter melon ripen to yellowish color and use them to make chutney to eat with rice. WE LOVE RICE!!

Below is the recipe for this Chinese Bitter Melon Chutney. Check it out and let us know what you think. 

- 2 large and ripe Chinese Karela or Chinese Bitter melon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 Tbsp chutney powder
- 2 Tbsp dry coconut powder
- 1 tsp tamarind paste (or walnut size of tamarind, soaked in water)
- 1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt (or as per your taste)
- 1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Heat oil in a medium saucepan and saute onions and garlic for 2 minutes until onions are translucent. Then add the bitter melon and salt, saute for an additional 5 to 6 minutes or until the bitter melon is cooked. Allow it to cool. In a blender, add the sauteed bitter melon, and the remaining ingredients and grind to smooth consistency. Adjust the salt as per your taste.

The Chinese Bitter Melon Chutney is ready to be enjoyed with your favorite rice or roti. Bona Appetit!!

Hope you enjoyed our Bitter Melon recipes. Check out our recipes page for more delightful and easy dish ideas. How do you enjoy this not so bitter and healthy vegetable? Feel free to share. 

September 12, 2016

Pizza Night with Eggplant Bharta Pizzettes

5 Steps to Making Naan Pizza

Whenever it's my turn to make dinner, I choose to cook with my favorite vegetables: carrots, eggplant, and beetroot. Tonight I treated my family to eggplant bharta pizzettes. The spicy, sweet and tangy flavors of the eggplant bharta pairs well with the cheesy goodness of Cabot Pepperjack cheese. I also love using Stonefire Tandoor baked mini naans from Costco. They are small and easy to handle so each pizzetta is personalized just the way my family likes them. 

First you chop all the vegetable for making eggplant bharta and make it. Next, grate the cheese and spray each of the mini naans with margarine or pam. Spread the eggplant bharta on to each of the naans and top it with the cheese. Last, bake it in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes or until the bottoms are crispy. 

Bon Appetit! They are ready to eat. 

What do you make for pizza night? How do you personalize your pizzas? We would love to hear from you.

For more fun and easy dishes, check out our recipes page. 

Quick and Easy Szechwan Vegetable Rice

We love trying new ways to spice up our meals and making them healthy at the same time. Sometimes, that is hard to do when you are busy working and do not have a lot of time. That is why we love products like Steam in Bag rice blend from ShopRite or Birds Eye Protein blends. These steam in a bag blends usually have rice/quinoa/brown rice with assortment of vegetables.

For our semi-homemade Szechwan Vegetable Rice dish, we used the Steam in Bag - White Rice with Vegetables from ShopRite. It's easy to use. Check out the recipe below:

Serving Size (4 to 6 people)
- 2 packets of 12oz ShopRite Steam in a Bag - White Rice with Vegetables
- 1 large (or 2 medium) green bell pepper
- 1 medium onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp Szechwan chutney
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 slab of tofu*

Slice bell pepper and onion into thin slices and cut into halves. Next, steam the rice bags as per the instructions on the bag and put aside. Heat oil in a medium sized skillet, and add garlic, onion, bell pepper and tofu. Stir for 2 minutes. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and saute the mixture under closed lid for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the bell pepper's color changes to light green (soft texture).

Then add the Szechwan chutney and remaining salt, mix well. Add the rice from the steamed bags and mix well. Allow the rice and the vegetables to cook under closed lid for 3 minutes. Then stir for another 1-2 minutes without lid.

Voila! Szechwan rice with vegetables is ready to be served.

***Quick Tip:
Tofu chunks or slices tend to fall apart when stirred. If the tofu tub is frozen for few hours and then allowed to come to room temperature, the tofu tends to become spongy in texture and absorbs the flavors and easy to use. 

September 5, 2016

Celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi with Family, Food, and Fun

Lord Ganesha's "birthday" always comes around this time of the year. And every year, my family celebrates this special day with his favorite dishes in addition to performing the prayer. One of my favorite parts of the festival (besides the food) is my dad's narration of how Lord Ganesha was born. 

My relatives were visiting this past weekend, so the "kids" (my cousin, his fiance, my sister and I) performed the prayer and of course enjoyed the food afterwards. 

Top Right: Payasam / Top Left: Undrallu - Steamed Rice, Lentil and Coconut dumplings / Bottom: Pulihora - Tamarind Rice

After all the festivities were done, we all relaxed and enjoyed the evening by sharing memories of past times and childhood stories. We would love to hear about your celebration and food you prepared for the festival; feel free to leave us comments.

Wishing you and your family a happy holiday! May Lord Ganesha remove all your obstacles and make your way or success smoother. 

To learn more about this festival, also check out this article by Lassi with Lavina.

August 22, 2016

Chinese Bitter Melon Stir Fry

- 2 Bitter melon (also known as Chinese Karela)
- 1 large onion, sliced and chopped in half
- 5 to 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
- 1/4 cup dry coconut
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
- 3 to 4 tsp vegetable oil
- salt for taste

First cut the bitter melon once lengthwise and then chop into 1/4" thick slices.

Heat oil (on medium flame) in a medium saucepan and add garlic and onion. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add bitter melon, sprinkle salt and cover with lid. Stir every few minutes until onions and bitter melon are caramelized about 8 to 10 minutes. When the bitter melon is soft, remove the lid and add tamarind paste and fry the mixture for another 3 to 4 minutes or until oil comes out.

Next add chili powder and coconut powder and continue to stir fry for another 3 to 4 minutes. Switch off heat and add coriander. Serve hot with rice or roti.

August 17, 2016

Silky Broccoli Parmesan Soup

Recently, my grandma had to go to the hospital for some testing. In preparation for the test, the hospital emailed us a detailed list of all the food she had to avoid for 24 hours but maintain a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. My mom and I were trying to figure what that means and what to make for dinner that evening.  

You see, non-vegetarians can manage with boiled/steamed chicken or fish and vegetables. My grandmother is a pure vegetarian and has certain diet restrictions. After browsing through our pantry and refrigerator, we settled on soup. Everyone loves soup. 

Below is our version of a "creamy" and silky Broccoli Parmesan soup that is both high in protein and low in fat. 

- 3/4 lb Broccoli floret
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp chili paste
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 2 Tbsp milk powder
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- fried onions or croutons, for garnish
- 1/2 tsp salt or as needed
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cut the broccoli floret into 1/2 inch pieces including the stalk. Make sure to peel the stalk before cutting it into pieces and transfer the broccoli pieces into a microwaveable container. Next, add ginger-garlic paste, chili paste, milk powder, and drizzle with olive oil. Microwave with covered lid for three minutes. Transfer the steamed broccoli into a blender and add milk and 1/3 cup of water and blend it to a smooth consistency. Transfer the soup into a saucepan and add Parmesan cheese and bring it to a boil. If it is very thick, add additional water or milk. Serve the soup hot, garnishing with fried onions or croutons. 

Quick Tip
We recommend using a high powered blender like the Vitamix blender or Magic Bullet for blending the ingredients together. 

June 13, 2016

Mint Chutney - Minty Freshness with a Spicy Kick

Refreshing Mint Chutney

This past Friday (6/10), we celebrated National Herbs and Spices day with Mint. 

I love mint. It's one of the easiest herbs to grow. Just sow some seeds in soil and watch it spread like wild fire. Every once in a while, we just chop off a bunch and make something with it. With the hot weather lately, we decided to go with mint chutney. It's cool and refreshing.

This chutney can be eaten with rice and/or spread on bread and enjoyed as tea sandwiches.

- 3 cups Mint leaves
- 3-1/2 Tbsp Chutney powder
- 1 Tbsp peanut butter
- Size of lime of Dry Tamarind, microwaved for 45 seconds and set aside
- 1/2 tsp chili powder (or as per your taste)
- 1 Tbsp Brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Dhanjeera powder (ground coriander and cumin seeds)
- 1/4 cup Dry coconut powder (optional)
- 1 tsp Vegetable oil

Separate the mint leaves form the woody stems, and then wash and dry them thoroughly. Next, chop the leaves finely. In a shallow pan, heat oil on low-medium flame, and the chopped mint. Fry them until wilted and keep aside and let it cool.

In a blender, add the cooled down mint along with the other ingredients. Next add 1/2 cup of water and grind to a coarse sauce like consistency. Additional water may be added if needed. Adjust the salt and spice level.

And Voila!! It is ready to be served and enjoyed. We enjoy eating this chutney with rice, roti, idlis and/or pongali.

May 16, 2016

Cool Down with Eggplant Raita (Yogurt Dip)

GOT EGGPLANT?? My mom stopped by the farmers market the other day and bought this large and round eggplant. She couldn't help it; it was so beautiful. It called out to her, "bring me home and cook me". So she did. 

Eggplant is such a versatile ingredient. You can make anything with it: dips, curries, stew, or just throw it on a grill. I especially love eating eggplant with my grilled cheese sandwiches

Tonight, my mom decided to cook it another way to help us stay cool in this weather. She made eggplant raita (yogurt dip) to eat with rice and roti. Eggplant raita closely reminds of Baba Ganoush, a popular Middle Eastern dish. 

Eggplant raita dish has two of my favorite ingredients: eggplant and yogurt. Let's get cooking:

- 1 lb large and round size eggplant, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp urad dal
- 1 tsp whole mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
- A pinch of turmeric powder
- 2 green chilies, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup Whole milk plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp Salt (adjust to your taste)
- A few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped finely (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat oil on low-medium temperature. Once you feel the warmth on palm, add urad dal, mustard and cumin seeds. Then add green chilies and turmeric powder. Once the mustard cumin seeds start to splutter, add the chopped eggplant. Stir the mixture together and cover and cook under lid for 8 to 10 minutes. Lift the lid after that time and check to see if the eggplant is cooked. 
(Hint: take a flat wooden or silicon spatula and try to cut or split the eggplant to see if it's cooked. If it cuts easily, then it's cooked. If it doesn't then, cover with the lid and cook for a few more minutes.) Once the eggplant is cooked, add salt and transfer the mixture into a serving dish and let it cool. Once it cools, add the whole milk plain yogurt and mix thoroughly, Garnish it with coriander and voila!

Quick Tip
- If using 2% or 1% milk plain yogurt, please add 1/4 cup of sour cream to the dish to make it thicker. 

April 8, 2016

A Special Surprise, Just in Time for Ugadi!

It's always a delight when relatives come to visit, especially during the holidays. My grandma arrived a few days ago and just in time for Ugadi.  She makes the journey every year even though she's aged quite a bit. It's always a delight to see her nonetheless. 

I don't mean to sound childish but I always get excited when my grandma unpacks her things. She always comes bearing gifts...they are usually sweets and savories of all kinds. 

I collected all the sweets together to show you guys. Most of the Indian sweets are made from rice and lentil flour. 

The top plate shows all the sweets I grew up eating. Pootarekulu (also known as paper sweets) is a popular sweet from East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. Powdered white sugar or brown sugar is stuffed in between the thin sheets made from rice flour. 

Next to Pootarekulu is Pheni, which is shredded, flaky rice flour roasted in ghee. It is usually eaten with sugar and hot milk. We eat this from time to time for breakfast. We put a handful in a bowl, mix in sugar and pour hot milk on top. It is really yummy. 

Next to pheni is cashew nut brittle made with cashews and jaggery (Indian brown sugar). Last but not least is Arisalu, which is behind the brittle. These thin, round patties are popular in Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and are made from rice flour, brown sugar, and ghee. Arisalu are one of my sister's favorite Indian sweets. 

The bottom plate has an assortment of sweets made from lentil flour, rice flour, nuts and dates. Some of these sweets are Kaju Kattli, Milk peda, Mysore Pak, Bandar Laddu, Kajja, and Balushahi. Milk or doodh peda has become one of my favorite sweets. They pedas are heavenly and I can easily eat all of them in minutes. 

The first thing we do on Ugadi is pray and eat Ugadi pachadi. I did just that before leaving for work.  After work, I came straight home and indulged in more Ugadi specials like Halwa poori (a popular sweet from Telangana), and Green Mango Pulihora that my mom made. 

Wishing you Happy Ugadi from our family to ours!! 

March 29, 2016

March Lentil Madness - The More Lentils, the Merrier!

Just because National Nutrition Month (March) is coming to an end, doesn't mean your effort to eating right has to. It's important to eat a well balanced meal with protein, carbohydrates, and fat to maintain an active lifestyle and enjoy life.

Below are few more lentil enriched dishes that we know you will enjoy:

Chunky Chana (chickpea) and Potato Curry

Steamed Rice and Lentil Dumplings (Undrallu) with Ginger and Coriander Sauce

Easy Indian Chili


Easy Dal Makhani

 The fun just started! We have more dishes for you to try...

March 24, 2016

March Lentil Madness Continues with Yellow Cucumber Dal

There are a variety of dishes that can be made with different kinds of dal. In South India, when we make dal, we usually cook it with vegetables and spices and eat with rice. One of my favorite dishes is with Dosakaya.  

Dosakaya dal mixed with rice and garnished with sesame and potato vadiyalu (fritters)

Dosakaya is a type of cucumber; which is yellow in color (pictured below). We use this vegetable when making this dish as well as when making pickle. Pickle means vegetables and spices that are cured in oil (like kimchi). 

It's time to get cookin'. Below are the ingredients for making the Dosakaya dal:

2 medium firm Dosakaya (yellow cucumber, pictured above)
1 cup Toor dal
1 tsp chili powder or as per taste
1 tsp Tamarind paste (or lime size tamarind can be used)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt, as per taste
Ingredients for seasoning
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
10 to 12 curry leaves (fresh or dried)
1/8 tsp Hing (Asafoetida)

We like using our pressure cooker when cooking dal. It's easy and cooks the dal fast. Let's begin: 

Peel and chop dosakaya into 1" pieces. (Please note: we don't discard the seeds; it's as per your taste.)

Add toor dal to the pressure cooker and wash dal. Then add water to the cooker so that the water reaches 1" above the dal. Next add dosakaya, turmeric powder, chili powder, and salt. 

Pressure cook the dal and dosakaya for 12 to 15 minutes until done. After the pressure is released, open the lid and mix in the tamarind. (Please note: if using tamarind, soak it in hot water and squeeze out the juice to add to the cooked dal mixture. If using tamarind paste, just measure out the amount and add it). Mix lightly to not mash the dosakaya pieces. 

In a small saucepan, heat oil over a low-medium flame for the seasoning. Next add mustard and cumin seeds. When they splutter, add hing (asafoetida), and curry leaves. Turn off the stove, and add the seasoning with oil into the dal and serve hot.  

Bon Appetit! 

March 21, 2016

March Lentil Madness - Spinach and Mango Dal


As college basketball season gains momentum, so should our focus on eating better and putting the Spring back into our step. We're celebrating National Nutrition month with dal or lentils. Dal dishes can be prepared and enjoyed in many ways.

Spinach and Green Mango Dal

1 medium green (unripened) mango, peel and chop into 1" cubes
10 oz (or 250g) frozen chopped spinach
1 cup Toor dal (also known as pigeon peas)
1-1/2 tsp red chili powder (or 3 green chilies, chopped)
1/2 tsp fenugreek powder (also known methi powder)
1/2 tsp Turneric powder
1-1/2 tsp salt or as needed
Ingredients for seasoning
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp (a pinch) Hing

We used a pressure cooker for this recipe but a heavy bottomed saucepan or Dutch Oven can be used as well.

Cook toor dal, mango, green chilies, fenugreek powder, and turmeric with sufficient water in a pressure cooker until dal is cooked well. Then set aside. Next, heat oil in a medium saucepan and add mustard and cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add hing and garlic. Stir for one minute and add the frozen spinach. Mix well and cook under closed lid for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and add the cooked dal and mango mixture. You may add additional water until it's to your desired consistency. Finally, add salt and cook under covered lid for additional 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat.

The spinach and green mango dal is now ready to be served and enjoyed with your favorite grains, whether it be rice or roti.  

We received an honorable mention on 2016 National Nutrition Month Blogroll - Savor the Flavor of Eating Right for this post. We're so excited!!