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.


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.