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 dishes.

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: 




Ingredients
- 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

Procedure
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.





Ingredients
- 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


Procedure
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

Procedure
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. 




Ingredients
- 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

Procedure
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 
Ingredients 
- 1 can mango puree 
- 1 can condensed milk (14oz)
- 1 packet, 6oz orange gelatin
- 10 oz whipped cream


Procedure
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.   

Ingredients
- 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

Procedure
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:

Do's 
  • 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 .

Don'ts
  • 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!



January 16, 2019

Rice Crispy Snack Mix


Happy New Year everyone! I can't believe it's 2019 already. It's been over a year since I got married and settled down in my "new life". 

2019 - Is a new year of opportunities, possibilities, and of course recipes. We're starting the year off with a fun snack that is not only for children anymore. In fact, adults may jump up for joy for this snack as it's crunchy and has a bit of kick to every bite. 




We had so much fun making Indian snacks with corn flakes (corn flakes mixture), that we wanted to make more snacks with other cereals like such as Rice Krispies cereal.  You can use Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal or a generic brand. 

This snack mix is simple and easy to make. We took an ordinary cereal and kicked it up a notch with some spices. 

Ingredients
- 8 oz Rice Crispy Cereal or Rice Krispies cereal
- 1 cup peanuts
- 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
- 15 to 20 curry leaves (optional)
- 1 tsp citric acid
- 1 tsp chili powder (adjust per your taste)
- 1 tsp Dhan-jeera powder (ground coriander and cumin)
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp Chat Masala
- 4 to 5 Tbsp vegetable oil

Procedure
1) Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Fry the peanuts and then add chili powder, dhanjeera powder and fry the mixture for 15 seconds. Next, add curry leaves and fry until they are crisp. Then, add citric acid and salt and mix well for another few seconds. 

2) Transfer the rice crispies into a large microwaveable bowl, and then, add roasted chana dal, pumpkin seeds and all the fried ingredients. Mix well and microwave for 4 to 5 minutes based on the microwave oven power in 2 minute intervals mixing intermittently. Adjust salt and chili powder if needed and microwave for another minute. Sprinkle the chat masala and mix well. 


3) Allow the mixture to cool down for 10 minutes.The mixture is ready to serve. Enjoy on its own or with your favorite beverage.