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 29, 2019

For the Love of Podis - Peanut Podi

In Andhra cuisine, bhojanam or meal is comprised of rice and a variety of dishes that are eaten with that said rice, including wet/dry vegetable curries, rasam, and plain yogurt. 

SOMETIMES, WE CRAVE FOR SOMETHING MORE YUMMY THAN JUST CURRIES. In those times, we eat rice with pickles or podis. These pickles and podis are usually pre-made and in large quantities, so they are always on hand for those CRAVINGS!! 

Tonight, I ate something I haven't eaten in 2 years, and it was so good. From the moment, the rice ball mixed with the PEANUTTY PODI hit my mouth, I was in podi heaven. 😋

You may be thinking, is she crazy?  I'm not.

I just love the simplicity of Andhra cuisine. Some dishes are super easy to make with very few ingredients. Below is the recipe for Peanut podi, which is my favorite out of all the podis and by far the easiest to make.

  • 1 cup of peanuts
  • 2 dry red chilies
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Clarified butter (ghee), optional

Shallow fry the dry red chilies with a few drops of vegetable oil and then add the peanuts. Then fry these together for 5 to 7 minutes on medium to low heat (or until you smell the roasted aroma). Remove from heat and let the mixture cool down. Grind the peanut and chili mixture together with salt in a blender (on medium speed) until you get a coarse powder. Adjust the chili powder and salt quantities as per your taste.

If you love peanuts, then you will love peanut podi. I add enough podi to the rice until I get the peanutty flavor. I also add a couple of drops of vegetable oil to the rice and podi mixture because it brings it all together and also enhances the flavor. You can add ghee instead of vegetable oil if you are not diet conscious.

December 27, 2019

For the Love of Podis - Putnala Podi

You know what I love about Indian cuisine, the fact that it's not just all curry. It's not tikka masala or some sauce-based cuisine. There's more to Indian cuisine because there are 29 provinces or states in India. We are all Indians but the dishes are as diverse as the people who live there.

I am originally from Andhra Pradesh which is in South India. We eat "curries" with rice. The curries can be dry or wet depending on our mood really. We also eat rice with pickles or podis.

Indian pickles are not pickled cucumbers. Pickles are vegetables or fruit which are cooked and cured/pickled in oil and spices. 

Podi is a Telugu word for powder. Powder sounds a bit odd because it's not like powder that you put on your face or even confectioner's sugar which is finely powdered sugar.  

Podi is a coarse powder. It is generally made with roasted lentils and whole spices which are then ground to perfection (consistency depends on you). 

Today, we're making Putnala podi or roasted chana dal powder. 


1 cup of chana dal (roasted chickpeas)
1 tsp jeera (cumin)
½ tsp chili powder
¾ tsp salt

Grind all of the above ingredients together in a blender until the chana dal is powdered. It is alright if
the jeera or whole cumin do not get powdered. Adjust the chili powder and salt quantities to your taste.

We like eating putnala podi with warm, white Basmati rice. Heat up some rice, add some ghee
(clarified butter) and mix in this podi. This mashup of rice and podi goes really well with vegetable fry
as well.

There are many podi varieties. Putnala podi is the well known amongst my family. There is also Peanut podi, Dry Garlic podi, Mint podi, Karvepaku (made with curry leaves) podi, Poppy seeds podi just to name a few. This post is first of many in a series about podis. Stay tuned for more.

October 31, 2019

Diwali - All You Need is a Spark!

When tensions are high and there is political unrest...we all need hope. We all need to be positive and have faith that things will get better. It is also the time to come together, not let our differences get the better of us. 

Although, my husband and I have different backgrounds, we still make the time to learn about each other's cultures and celebrate together. Every year, my family celebrates Lunar New Year with his family and they celebrate Diwali with mine. We don't let our backgrounds hold us back and don't let them divide us either.  

Diwali known as the Festival of Lights symbolizes the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Although the day started out gloomy and wet, by sunset all was well.  

We enjoyed the Diwali lunch with yummy food including dishes, such as Indian fried rice served with cucumber raita, cauliflower and potato curry, egg curry with mushroom and bell peppers, mixed vegetable curry, Singapore mei fun, and of course garlic naan. There was a dish for everyone! 

After lunch, we relaxed and played cards. I taught everyone how to play Egyptian Rat Screw, everyone can play this game. After cards, we indulged in some yummy sweets: jalebi, milk cake, badam halwa, and fresh fruit. 

Of course, it wouldn't be Diwali without fireworks! It was truly the Festival of Lights Sunday night! 


We all gathered outside the house to light the night with sparklers and fireworks.

I really enjoyed spending time with my family and friends. Everyone joined in the fun; for a moment it felt like we were in India again. 

How did you celebrate Diwali this year? Please share it with us in the comments below. 

October 27, 2019

Diwali Wishes - From our family to your family

May the brightness of shimmering lanterns always stay in your life and make you bright!

*!*!*Diwali Mubarak*!*!*

September 26, 2019

Easy Dahi Vada aka Yogurt Doughnuts!

Dahi Vada garnished with Tamarind & Date chutney

Whenever we visit my parents, Michael puts his best foot forward...especially when it comes to eating. Of course, my mom loves that he wants to try everything. I'm not her favorite anymore...Grr! 

On our most recent visit, he asked my mom the following:
Michael: Aunty, "Do you have any more yogurt doughnuts?" 

My mom: "Yogurt Doughnuts? Oh, you mean Dahi vada. Yes, I made it knowing you and Jahnavi will be coming over."

Michael's response: "Thanks, aunty. I hope Jahnavi will learn to make this soon so we can enjoy at home too." He looks over to me and says with a smile, "Happy husband, a happy wife!"

Alas, he's right. It's a win, win for both of us. Dahi vada does make him happy and it doesn't have anything bad in it, so I'm happy to make it and enjoy it. 

Below is the "secret" way to make Dahi vada without actually making the wadas. Shhh! Don't tell anyone. 

- 13 Frozen Medu Vadas (from Amma's Kitchen brand, 24 pack)
-  2.5 lb or 41 oz plain whole milk yogurt 
- 3 small green chilies, finely chopped
- 1" piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
½ cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
½ Tbsp salt or per taste

For seasoning:
- 1 tsp urad dal (black gram lentil)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp whole cumin
- a pinch of Hing
- a pinch of turmeric powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable oil or Canola oil

Procedure (for preparing the yogurt or dahi):
1) Transfer the yogurt (or dahi) into a large Pyrex container with a lid. Churn the yogurt with a big spoon or a churner to make it smooth, adding ½ to ¾ cup water (use ½ cup for homemade dahi and 3/4th cup for Desi dahi brand of yogurt).

2) In a small pan, heat oil on medium heat for seasoning and add urad dal and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds splutter, add in whole cumin and then add hing.

Stir for few seconds and then add chopped chilies and ginger and a pinch of salt.

Stir for 30 seconds and add the seasoning into the yogurt. Next, add chopped coriander and mix well and set aside.

Procedure (for preparing of Vadas):

1) Transfer frozen vadas onto a microwavable plate and microwave for 3 minutes to defrost and warm the vadas (depending upon the wattage).

2) Remove the vadas from the microwave, and immediately using a fork pierce into the vadas at three or four locations and put them into the prepared yogurt mixture for soaking.

Continue this step with all the vadas and ensure they are completely immersed in the yogurt mixture. Soak the vadas in the yogurt mixture overnight or at least 4+ hours.

Procedure (for serving the Vadas):
Serve 1 to 2 vadas with some yogurt mixture into a bowl and garnish them with Tamarind & Date chutney, coriander chutney, some sev and enjoy!!

Product Review
We bought this Amma's Kitchen Medu vada packet twice and thought the vadas in the packet were good for the most part. We ate them on their own and also enjoyed them in the dahi vada recipe. They were very tasty and would recommend buying it. One thing to note:  Sometimes, you may find a couple of them that fall apart or not in good shape. This may occur if the packets at the store weren't stored properly. If you do not mind that they are perfectly round, then you can still enjoy them. Just make sure that if you are not using all 24 pieces in one recipe, that you store the packet properly in the freezer so the vadas do not go stale or fall apart. We purchased this medu vada packet at our local Indian grocer, Delight Bazaar (Parsippany, NJ) 

September 6, 2019

Quick N Easy Bhel Puri

Aloo Tikki chaat, aloo papdi chaat, pani puri, bhel puri, and samosa chaat are popular Indian snacks. You can buy all of these cheap eats from the street vendors in all over India. One of my favorites is Bhel Puri. 

There are also many restaurants and cafes in the New Jersey/ New York City area where I can go to enjoy this snack, such as Hot Breads (Parsippany, NJ), Moghul Express (Edison, NJ), Sukhadia's (Edison, NJ), and most north Indian restaurants have it on the menu as well. 

However, I'm not in India right now and I don't feel like driving to go get this snack. What I can do?? No worries. 

Mom to the rescue! She always knows what to do when I'm craving snacks. 

She told me about Bombay Kitchen's Bhel mix. This mix is made up of puffed rice, sev, and spices. This mix is also gluten-free because sev is made from chickpea flour and puffed rice is made from, well, RICE. DUH!!

Making Bhel puri is quite easy once you have the two ingredients I mentioned above. The snack is typically made with puffed rice, sev, tomatoes, onions, fresh coriander, and sprinkled with tamarind sauce.

I was excited to see that my mom has multiple bags of this bhel mix. Now I can make and enjoy this snack to my heart's content.

Below are the ingredients I used:

- 1/3 cup of Bhel Mix by Bombay Kitchen (which is a mix of puffed rice, sev, and spices) 
- 1/2 to 1 ripe but firm plum tomato, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion
- a few sprigs of fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 to 2 tsp of tamarind and date chutney
- 1 tsp Coriander Chutney (optional)

Mix together all of the above ingredients in a bowl and enjoy! That's it. That's the recipe. Now, go make it. It's nice and easy. You can adjust the ingredient amounts above as per your taste. 😀

Word of caution: do not wait too long after you mix all the wet and dry ingredients together because it will get soggy. That's no fun. 😥

I would definitely recommend all to buy this bhel mix. It tastes good on its own or you can use it to make your favorite snacks. It's great for parties. And it is reasonably priced. 

Bombay Kitchen Bhel Mix is available at most Indian grocery stores. It is also available for purchase online, at

August 10, 2019

My Fruity Piece of Heaven

I finally found someone who loves fruits as much as I do...of course, I'm talking about my husband!

He proudly boasts that he can eat 4 or 5 oranges in one sitting without concern. Geez! Besides, oranges he also loves pomelo and longan (also known as dragon eye).

I don't know if I can eat that many oranges in one sitting, however, jackfruit is another story.  I LOVE jackfruit. Ever since I found out that our local Jmart (Asian grocery store) stocks this fruit during the summertime, I make it a point to go every week to get some.

It was hard to come by when I was in Jersey but now that I'm within walking distance to this store, I go often. I ate my share and then some this summer, which by the way isn't over yet...

Every time I eat this fruit, I'm in heaven. And when I run out, I'm sad. :(

💡 Did you know that jackfruit is a fruit that is composed of hundreds to thousands of individual flowers, and the fleshy petals of the unripe fruit which are eaten? I didn't know that. Thanks, Wikipedia! 

I did know, however, that it is not easy to cut open a jackfruit (like the one pictured above). You have to be prepared to spend at least a few hours to cut it open and take out all the "fleshy petals". The above will feed a lot of people. 

If you are planning to enjoy on your own and do not want to buy the whole fruit, you can buy thick slices of it at the store. That's what I do. 

Quick Tip 1: If you are not going to buy the whole fruit, make sure you pick slices where the "fleshy" petals are deep yellow and are mature. You know the petals are mature when they are thick. This means the fruit is ripe for the picking. The thicker the petals, the sweeter they will be and also the seeds will be tastier when boiled. 

Quick Tip 2: Make sure that there aren't any parts on the slices that are going bad. You don't want that. Carefully inspect the fruit slices before buying.

Below is a picture of one of the slices I bought as well as all the utensils needed to cut this sucker open. 

You will need:
- vegetable oil
- knife
- napkins or paper towels
- a bowl (to collect the seeds)
- bowl(s) to collect the petals
- newspaper or place mat

I rubbed oil on my hands and also on the knife which I will be using to cut open the jackfruit slice. I usually start cutting on one corner and move to the center so I can split it into pieces. Then I carefully remove the "fleshy" petals and seeds.

After you remove the fleshy petals and seeds, discard the green spike peel. The knife you use may get sticky time to time so re-apply oil as necessary.

This accumulation is from two thick slices of jackfruit!

Quick Tip 3: Don't throw away the seeds. I remove the thin yellowish layer off the seeds and wash them thoroughly. Then I let them dry completely and then I boil them for about 5 to10 minutes (depending on quantity). 

They taste just like boiled chestnuts. I love that you can eat the fruit and the seeds. Less wastage! My husband likes them too.

💡 Did you know that you can also cook with unripened jackfruit? You can find recipes for jackfruit curry or jackfruit biryani. I haven't tried it or made it as of yet...but you never know!

💡 Interesting Fact: Ripened "fleshy petals" have dietary fiber. Don't eat too many in one sitting unless you want to have diarrhea. I learned that the hard way! Now, I eat a few pieces at a time.

Have you tried jackfruit before? Do you like or dislike it? Please share your comments below. 

July 14, 2019

What do Elephant Yam, Potato and Taro have in common?

They can all be fried, seasoned and enjoyed just like fries! We celebrated National French Fries Day yesterday with our own version of fries. 

Hello Everyone. When I say, Elephant yam, what comes to mind? A yam that's really big, right? It is really big and is sometimes called Elephant foot yam because it looks like an elephant's foot. It is a tropical tuber crop grown primarily in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and tropical Pacific Islands. 

However, I know this yam as suran  or kandagadda and it is widely consumed in Southern India. In Kerala, they steam this tuber and serve it with various chutneys. In Andhra, we cook this tuber in couple of ways. One way is to make pulusu (stew) with it. The other is to fry it. 

I love fries! However, we eat our "fries" in a different way. The fries we make with potatoes, sweet potatoes, or taro (arvi) are eaten with rice. We call this type of fries, vepudu in Telugu. 

You can find this tuber in most Indian grocery stores but we normally buy it frozen because it is much easier to cook with this way. It has been peeled, chopped and sold in packets. 

Check out the recipe for Suran fries below: 

- 1 (12 oz, Swad brand) packet of frozen Suran 
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp red chili powder
- 3/4 tsp Salt (or per taste)
- oil for frying

Transfer the frozen suran pieces from the packet into a microwaveable container. Sprinkle some salt and water on it. Mix well. Next, microwave it for 5 to 6 minutes under closed lid. Take it out of the microwave and discard any water that's in the container. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.  

In a flat skillet, heat a 1/4 cup of oil on low-medium flame. Add the suran and stir fry until suran is fried to golden brown color. Remove the fried suran with a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle garlic powder, red chili powder and a pinch of salt over the suran. Mix well and serve hot. 

Have you tried Elephant yam before? How do you cook it? Please share your cooking stories with us. 

July 11, 2019

Throwback Thursday: Creamy Kantola Curry

I started this blog with my mom because I wanted to learn about Indian cooking and all the dishes she made for our family.  When I was away at college, I used to call my mom and she would recite the recipe to me over the phone for the dish I was preparing at the time. Over the years, I learned a lot about spices, how to pick vegetables, and of course how to cook them. 

When I got married and moved away, I felt like I was in college again. Not only was I cooking for myself now but also for my husband...who, by the way, loves Indian food. He's my guinea pig now, I mean my loving partner! 😍

Even my mom says I've come a long way and that she's proud of me. It's all thanks to this blog. Even though I'm far away from home, whenever I'm cooking a dish from the blog, I feel like my mom is right there with me. Sometimes, it really does feel like she's here with me because I call her to ask questions about ingredient substitutions. 

I made two curries tonight, Paneer Bhurji and Creamy Kantola curry. 

The recipe below is for Creamy Kantola Curry - a dish I really like and am so happy I got to cook it tonight for dinner. I haven't eaten this vegetable curry in a long time and I enjoyed making it.

- 1 packet (12oz/340g) of frozen chopped Kantola*
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/8 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

Ingredients for the gravy
- 1.5 Tbsp peanut butter (alternately you can use Tahini as well)
- 1/4 cup grated coconut*
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp Tamarind pulp

Ingredients for seasoning
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp whole cumin
- 1 tsp urad dal (black gram lentil) optional
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1) Heat oil in a medium saucepan on medium flame and season with urad dal, mustard, and cumin. When the mustard splutters, and dal is fried, add onions and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Now add turmeric and chili powder and mix well.

Add frozen Kantola, brown sugar, salt and 50 ml of water. Mix well. Cook under tightly closed lid until Kantola is cooked and soft (about 10-15 minutes). You should be able to split the pieces easily with a spatula.

2) Remove the lid and add the ingredients for the gravy (peanut butter, grated coconut, plain yogurt, and tamarind). Mix well and add more water to loosen up and cook on low heat for 5 to 6 minutes until the mixture thickens. Taste and adjust salt and brown sugar per your taste.

3) Remove from stove, transfer into a serving bowl and garnish the curry with fresh coriander. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

***Quick Tips

- On the left is the frozen Kantola packet I bought at my local Indian grocer.
- If Kantola isn't readily available, you can also use Chinese bitter melon or Karela (bitter gourd). If using Karela, you may have to add more brown sugar to tone down the bitter taste as needed. 

- I didn't have plain yogurt to use for the gravy, so I used coconut milk instead and it still came out well.
- I used dry coconut powder instead of freshly grated coconut. You can also buy grated coconut at your local Indian grocer (in the frozen section). 

July 8, 2019

Paneer Bhurji with Sweet Peppers

Is it possible to dream about a dish? Every time I see pictures of this dish, I start drooling. My family thinks I have issues but I cannot help it. Of course I am talking about Paneer Bhurji!

Ever since my sister and I ate at Ganesh Restaurant in Jaipur, I've been craving it. It's the perfect combination of spices, vegetables and cheese. Don't take my word for it, just take a look at the picture of this yummy dish below:

Dhaba Style Paneer Bhurji from Ganesh Restaurant in Jaipur
The guy at the restaurant topped the curry with fresh butter and more paneer. Just look at how the butter is melting on top of the warm curry. I'm drooling again. We enjoyed this curry with freshly made garlic naan. What more can you ask for?

I've eaten this dish again a few years back at this Indian restaurant that used to be close to my parents' place but it's not there anymore. Why does it have to be so hard to get what you LOVE? 

My mom made tofu bhurji but it wasn't the same for me. Whenever, I look back at our vacation pictures from Jaipur, I think about the food we had and how much we really enjoyed it.

I started craving it again this past weekend and decided enough is enough. I'm going to make it. I researched online and found a few recipes and realized I didn't have the exact ingredients. However, I didn't let that deter me from making it.

There are two "parts" for making this curry. First is making the paste or base and then adding the paneer and other spices and cooking it all together. Below is the list of ingredients with some substitutions since I didn't have all the ingredients from the original recipe:

Ingredients for making the paste or base of the curry:
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 to 1½ tsp crushed red peppers, seeds removed
- 3 cloves
- 3 whole peppercorns
- 2 green cardamom
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
½ inch ginger, chopped
½ tsp of red chili powder
- 2 to 2½ cups wine tomatoes (ripe but firm), chopped

Other ingredients:
1½ cups grated Paneer (I used Nanak brand), grated or crumbled
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp whole cumin
½ cup onion, finely chopped
½ to 1 tsp red chili powder (or as per taste)
- 1½ tsp dhanjeera powder (coriander and cumin powder)
½ to 1 tsp salt (or per taste)
- 2/3 cup of red and orange sweet peppers, finely chopped (1cm size pieces)
½ to 1 cup Water
- 1 tsp Kasoori methi, crush between your palm
½ tsp garam masala
- 2 Tbsp coconut milk*
- fresh coriander, finely chopped for garnish

1) Heat oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Once you feel the heat on your palm, add in the spices (bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, red chili powder and crushed red peppers). Saute for a few seconds and then add the ginger and garlic. Saute for a minute. 

2) Mix in the tomatoes and cook them till they are soft. Remove from stove and let the mixture cool down. Then puree the mixture. 

3) Wipe down the saucepan and bring it back to the stove. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat. Once it reaches the temperature, add whole cumin. When they splutter, add the onion. Cook the onion until it's translucent in color. 

4) Then mix in the tomato puree mixture. Cook until all the moisture evaporates. Stir intermittently so the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. It should start leaving the side of the pan. 

5) Next add red chili powder and dhanjeera powder. Mix well and cook for another minute. Then add sweet peppers. Mix well. Add water to make the gravy consistency. Let it simmer for 3 to 4 minutes so the peppers get cooked. 

6) Then add garam masala and kasoori methi. Mix well. Next add the paneer and mix again. Simmer for a few minutes. Add more water if needed. 

7) Add the coconut milk. Mix well and cook for another minute. Remove from stove and garnish with fresh coriander. Paneer bhurji is ready to be served. Can be enjoyed with naan, chappati, rice or quinoa. 

Not bad for the first try. I made this for dinner tonight and my husband really liked it. It wasn't dry and was good with garlic naan. It brought back memories from my family's Jaipur trip. Looking forward to visiting again sometime and relive those memories.

Quick Tips
- I think the hardest part of this recipe is that you need all the spices and herbs. It seems like a lot but it makes a difference in how the dish will taste.
- I didn't have heavy whipping cream or malai so I used coconut milk.  I also made a paste out of soaked cashews to give a richer flavor.
- You can also substitute paneer for tofu or scrambled eggs. Check out our recipe for tofu bhurji.

June 30, 2019

Instant Tapioca Kheer

"Do you remember
When we fell in love
We were so young and innocent then
Do you remember
How it all began
It just seemed like heaven so why did it end?"

This first verse from the song, Remember the time by Michael Jackson is exactly how I feel when I think about the wonderful taste of kheer (payasam/pudding). It takes me back to my childhood when everything was simple and sweet. 

Back then, I didn't know I had an issue with regular milk. That's why I am so glad that my mom made it for me again after all this time with Lactaid milk. Same great taste. 

- 1/2 cup of mini sabudana (tapioca pearls/balls), soaked in 1 cup of water for 2 to 3 hours. 
- 2-1/2 cups Lactaid milk (regular milk can be used as well)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup plain sugar
- 3 to 4 cardamom pods, seeded and powdered

Transfer the soaked Sabudana into a non-stick saucepan, add water and heat on low, stirring intermittently until it starts bubbling and the pearls turn transparent. Add milk and cardamom powder and continue to cook until it thickens somewhat. Now add sugar, mix well for 1 minute and remove from heat. The kheer or pudding may look slightly runny but it will thicken in time. Serve hot.

Quick Tips & Facts
- Milk amount can vary depending upon the desired consistency of the kheer. 
- A cup of sabudana or tapioca pearls has about 1.5 grams of dietary fiber. 

June 24, 2019

Quick N Easy Desserts - Mango Mousse

Summer is here and everyone is in the mood to party and making plans for a party. Every party needs to be planned. Whenever my mom and I plan parties, we brainstorm ideas for the menu as per the occasion and the company. Sometimes when the menu has a lot of dishes, we make sure the dessert is simple enough so we don't stress out. 

My favorite part of every meal is the dessert! I will sometimes even eat the dessert before the actual meal if I can't wait. 

Mango and mousse is always well liked, so why not put them together? We searched online and found a couple of different recipes for Mango Mousse. We combined the recipes and below is the result of our efforts.  

Serving size: 1/2 cup / Serves: 12 to 14 people 
- 1 can mango puree 
- 1 can condensed milk (14oz)
- 1 packet, 6oz orange gelatin
- 10 oz whipped cream

Dissolve gelatin in one cup of hot water and mix until it dissolves. Next, in a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together gelatin mixture, mango puree, condensed milk and whipped cream. Then pour the mixture into a clean air tighter container or glass baking dish. Cover with the lid or aluminum foil. Let it set in the fridge overnight. 

Once it was set, we scooped it into single serving cups and garnished it with Cool Whip and sliced strawberries. You can also top the mousse with chocolate chips or shavings and/or other fresh fruit. You can't go wrong with toppings. 

You'll guests will come back for more...

April 30, 2019

Simple Guvar Beans Stir Fry

I visited my parents this past weekend and enjoyed some good ol' home cooking. I love simple stir fry dishes especially if those stir fries are made with guvar, tindora or snake gourd. 

It can be difficult to find these vegetables in the fresh produce section in supermarkets. That's why we buy them frozen in the Indian supermarkets. Check out the recipe below for simple Guvar Stir Fry.   

- 12 oz packet of Cut Guvar beans (frozen)
- 2 green chilies or per taste, chopped finely
- 3 gloves of garlic, sliced finely
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp sesame powder (sesame seeds roasted and powdered)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

Ingredients for seasoning
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp Urad dal (also known as black gram lentil)
- 1 tsp whole cumin
- 1 tsp mustard seeds

In a small pressure cooker, heat oil on medium and when you feel heat on your palm, add the seasoning ingredients: urad dal, cumin, and mustard seeds. 

When the dal is roasted and the mustard seeds splutter, add the green chilies and garlic. Toss until the garlic aroma comes out (about 1 minute). 

Now add turmeric, guvar beans, salt and brown sugar. 

Mix well and add 50 ml of water and pressure cook on low to medium heat until 3 whistles. Wait until the pressure is released from the pressure cooker and heat the curry on low heat to allow the extra water to evaporate and then add the sesame powder. Mix well and serve hot. 

You can serve this stir fry as a side dish or with rice. I like eating it with warm rice, topped with ghee (clarified butter). 

Quick Tips
- If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can make this dish in a skillet as well. Cook under tight lid mixing intermittently until the beans are cooked well and soft. Add sesame powder, mix well and serve hot. 

January 20, 2019

Reflections on Our Travel to the "Land of Smiles"

My husband and I did a lot of research before going to Thailand reading travel books from the library and watching a ton of YouTube videos by trekkers. We learned the most when we were ACTUALLY in Thailand, also known as the Land of Smiles.

Below are some tips we wanted to share with you based on our experience:

  • Buy a SIM CARD - it costs about 20 US dollars and it's very useful. Make sure your phone is unlocked so the sim card will work. We used our phone for GPS, hailing Grab taxis, Mobile Hotspot, and researching places we wanted to visit. 
  • BARGAIN, BARGAIN BARGAIN!!! Try your hand at negotiating when buying souvenirs, handicrafts, or fruits at street markets. If you are going to buy multiple items, there's more room for bargaining. It doesn't hurt and you can save some $$$.
    • We were at the Fisherman's village night market in Koh Samui and got lucky with a vendor who was selling the intricately painted coconut shells. It was about to rain and he wanted to make a sale, so he agreed to my price. Lucky me!! 
Right to Left: Intricately painted coconut shell bowls, clothing, coconuts carved into monkey figurines
Desk lamp made with coconuts, porcelain elephant incense holders, garlands made from fresh flowers
Khaosan Spa, handmade postcards, bells

  • SHOP AROUND/ COMPARE PRICES when booking tours, renting scooters or even getting a massage. These vendors are dime a dozen and prices vary. 
    • Khaosan Spa in Bangkok was really good. They were the only ones who washed our feet before massaging them. Hygene is a plus! 

  • Stay hydrated; always carry bottled water with you when you go out on day trips. We actually bought a gallon water jug and refilled our bottles if we stayed in a hotel that didn't replenish the water bottles daily. 
Drinking coconut water helps too. It was cheap and sweet most of the time

  • Take a Cooking Class! There are dime a dozen cooking schools in Chiang Mai. We picked one that provided transportation to and from our hotel and of course a school with lots of good reviews. We took a half day class at Asia Scenic Cooking School located on 31 Rachadumneon Soi 5, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand. It's woman owned and the teachers are all knowledgeable, funny, and great. We enjoyed our class a lot!! This is a good spot. 
We are enjoying the fruits of our labor with our group. We had so much fun learning to cook Thai food.

  • Check out 7-Eleven: It is everywhere i.e. Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks at every corner in NYC. We bought water, soft drinks, hot sandwiches, snacks, flip flops, and even stamps to send postcards to the US (it costs 15 baht). 
    Check out this cool 3D postcard I found in 7-Eleven to send to friends and family

  • Explore your palate. Thai cuisine is diverse and quite flavorful. I was surprised to learned that tamarind and palm sugar are used in making Pad Thai. We really enjoyed the cuisine. Check out our foodie pictures on our Instagram page .

  • Be vary of the Tuk Tuk Mafia! Our tour guide at Grand Palace told us to be aware of the tuk tuk drivers. They may try to cheat you or give you high fare rates for your destinations. We used our Grab app to navigate when we took a tuk tuk to get around. We used the Grab app to negotiate the fares with the tuk tuk drivers.  

  • Short shorts or bikinis aren't allowed everywhere. There are strict dress codes at places like the Grand Palace (where the Jade Buddha resides) and Wat Pho (where the reclining Buddha resides).  Tourists who do not adhere to the dress code, are asked to rent or buy clothing to cover up inside the sights. 

I'm so glad I packed a kurti and tights. I didn't have to change my attire at the Grand Palace. 

Availability/Mode of transportation
  • In Bangkok: we used Grab Taxi (download app; compatible for iPhone and Android). We were able to track our driver's movements until he came to pick us up.  
  • In Koh Samui and Chiang Mai: we hailed Songthaews like the one above to get around everywhere; they do not cost much. You will see these driving around all over the city or island.
My husband, Michael, is trying to enjoy our ride in a Songthaew to the night market in Chiang Mai. It feels like you're sitting in the back of a pick up truck with a roof. Not the most comfortable!
  • You can rent scooters as well but make sure you know how to drive one and get one that's at least 150cc for climbing steep hills/roads. Make copies of the first page in your passport. All of the transportation vendors ask for your passport as leverage; a copy works just as well. 

Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Thailand and I am looking forward to going there again in the future. Until then, tata!