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.


Showing posts with label Birthday Specials. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birthday Specials. Show all posts

June 14, 2012

Karela is the New Kraze!

Food Network seemed to have a Sweet Genius marathon tonight. One of the episodes caught my attention when I saw the Judge introduce Karela, as one of the main ingredients. I dropped what I was doing and sat down to watch it. There's no way, Karela was going to be incorporated into a dessert? This I had to see for myself. For those of you who are not familiar with Karela, it's a bitter tasting gourd/vegetable. Each chef managed to incorporate it into their dish in various forms: toasted and candied, as a relish and even as sprinkles. It was amazing to see their creativity and enthusiasm in making this bitter vegetable tasty.
I got the feeling that some of them weren't very eager to use it. It's pretty bitter! I love it though. And once you acquire the taste, you can't help but eat more of it. I'm happy to see Karela gaining more presence in the international culinary scene. Did I mention that it's good for you too? Oh yes!

Spotted Karela Ras (juice) at the Indian store
It's used as a dietary supplement (not my cup of tea in that form though). Here are some ways I've eaten it: stuffed Karela, cooked in a gravy sauce, and as a Fry (kind of like French fries). The latter is today's specialty.

For close up of Karela Fry, click on picture!
- 1 lb of Karela, small and firm
- 1 medium Potato
- 1 medium Onion
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
- 2 tbsp Dry Coconut Powder
- 1 tsp Chili powder (adjust to your taste)
- 1 tsp Salt (adjust to your taste)
- 3 to 4 tbsp of Vegetable oil

Remove the ends of the Karela and cut into half, lengthwise and then chop into thin slices. Do the same with the potato and onion and set aside. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a non-stick saucepan and add karela and potato. Sprinkle salt and cook on medium heat for 6 to 7 minutes under closed lid. Hint: Mix the vegetables in between to prevent them from sticking to the pan. When both the karela and potato are tender and cooked, remove the lid and add onion. Then add the remaining oil and fry the vegetables (for maybe another 6 to 7 minutes) until the karela is golden brown. Then add chili powder, dry coconut powder and a pinch of salt. Mix well. It's ready to be served and enjoyed!

***Quick Tip:
- Avoid selecting fat karelas because they tend to have lot of seeds and are really bitter. That's a no, no!

For more Karela recipes, check out Indian Vegetarian Recipes blog as well. 

June 10, 2012

My "Glassy" Weekend In Corning - Day Two

The first day of my birthday getaway went so well, I couldn't wait to dive into the second. I read about glass blowing and sculpting before but it was amazing watching it live and actually participating in the activity to create a beautiful piece. Every time I pass my room, I stop to admire the glass flower I helped make. It's so colorful and pretty. It's an amazing experience.
The next day we planned for some outdoor fun and drove to Watkins Glen State Park on Seneca Lake (one of the Finger Lakes). It's a great place for hiking, camping, walking trails and picnics. I love the outdoors...but I'm a scared cat when it comes to camping. We decided to do a bit of hiking and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We packed a backpack with all the necessities and made our way to Gorge Trail (one of the most scenic and longest trails in the park). It took us away from all the hustle and bustle of the town and made us one with nature. A nature full of streams, springs, waterfalls, cool breezes, tall trees, flora, and occasional bugs.

The Gorge Trail is about 1.5 miles long and it roughly took us 3 hours to reach the end and head back up. I was expecting rugged paths but it was totally different. We hiked on a 'manufactured pathway, through chiseled tunnels, and over mortared bridges' (as stated on the park's website). Above are a few more shots from our adventure. After the hike, we decided to have lunch at a nearby vineyard and maybe do some wine tasting as well. Fun!!
Lakewood Vineyards - Watkins Glen, NY
First we went to Lakewood Vineyards where we had to choose from two categories of wines: Flight A (Dry Whites & Dry Reds) or Flight B (Semi-Sweet & Sweet). Our group opted the latter one. Out of the ones we tasted, my favorites were Niagara 2010 and Vignoles 2012 (their best selling wine). After wine tasting, we took a stroll along the vineyards and enjoyed the nice breeze before heading to the next another place for lunch. Onwards to Castel Griech Winery where we enjoyed German cuisine.

We stayed in the wine country until early evening and headed back to our hotel. We headed back home mid Monday morning to beat the holiday traffic and I have to say we got really lucky with traffic. We whizzed through with minimal delays. Overall, I must say I enjoyed myself quite a bit. It was just what I needed to get away from the norm. I would recommend more people to venture out into New York State. There's so much to do and see. I can't wait for my next visit...NEXT ADVENTURE!!

***Quick Tips:
- Pack bug spray, sun screen and water for the trails. 
- Get a head start by going to the park early and beat the crowd. Also check the weather so you don't get stuck in a downpour. 
- There are about 30 or so vineyards along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail (Finger Lakes Region). Do your research and make a weekend of it. Each place charged a minimal fee for wine tasting. Oh and the wine pourers are friendly and fun. It felt great supporting the local brewers.

June 3, 2012

My "Glassy" Vacation At Corning - Day One

If I had to sum up my vacation in one word, it would be, Magical. My friends pitched in and gifted me with a sweet getaway to a destination of my choice for my big birthday. I chose Corning, New York. 
Over the Memorial Day weekend, we drove up there and it took us about 4 hours to reach. We booked rooms at the Radisson Hotel, which was minutes away from all the tourist attractions. I picked activities that would please everyone, like the Museum of Glass, hiking in Watkins Glen State Park and then wine tasting on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Thankfully the weather was pleasant all weekend long. Since there was a Glass Festival happening there that weekend, we had lots to see and savor.  I love street festivals.

Corning Glass Festival @ Gafford District (Downtown Corning)
It was nice to walk through and find so many various kinds of art forms. A few that caught my eye were stands displaying jewelry made with glass beads, vintage pyrex, sculptures made with glass, metal and/or wax. My friend bought an interesting metal sculpture for his dad called Reading on Toliet. Check it out! I was moved by the artists' passion for their trade and how excited they were in engaging the visitors. In addition to the street vendors, there were bbq parties, a concert in the park and water fountains' sound and light show.

After lunch, we headed to the Museum of Glass for some interactive fun. I signed everyone up for Make Your Own Glass was the most fun I had in a while. Each workshop was about 40 minutes long and in that time they explained the procedure, the tools involved and safety precautions.

Check out my head to toe protective gear! I didn't waste much time and got right down to business. Here's a shot of my finished project:

Beautiful, isn't it? Looks so professional. It was a proud moment for me when I picked it up the next day. After our sessions, we explored the rest of the museum. As you walk through the museum, you can get a sense of how glass making had evolved through the ages; specifically with the usage of tools. They also had live demos such as flame working, optical fiber, hot glass show and glass breaking. Pretty cool stuff!
The only thing left to do after a whole day of fun was to eat. We settled down at a nice spot in the park with pizza and beer and enjoyed the ambiance.

***Quick Tips:
- If you plan on making a trip over a holiday weekend, start early.
- AAA members get discounted tickets at the museum and hotel. 
- It's a good idea to reserve the Make Your Own Glass workshops ahead of time; especially if you're planning to go on a holiday weekend and in large groups.  

May 25, 2012

A Birthday Bonanza!

I've heard it a million you get older, you gain more wisdom and maturity. I guess that's what happened to me over the weekend. I celebrated my new found virtues with a new hairstyle and outfit.

I decided to keep it simple this year and hung out with family over Sunday brunch. We sat outside and enjoyed the only sunny day from the whole week of rainy weather. On every birthday, my mom prepares our favorite dishes no questions asked. So this year, she made me chili pakora and they were good but not really spicy. (I'm a chicken when it comes to spicy food, so take it from me when I say they weren't).  

May 9, 2012

~*My Birthday Specials*~

Left to Right: Chunky Chana and Potato Dip, Chili Pakora, Karela Fry, Sarson Ka Saag w/ Makki Roti
Every year, my mom asks us what special dish we want prepared on our birthdays. This year, I asked for chili pakora, also known as stuffed chili fritters. Golden brown battered and fried chilies stuffed with onions and spices. Can't wait to feel the heat. Here are some of my other favorite dishes that I enjoyed on my birthday over the years. Chunky Chana and Potato curry served as a dip or eaten with naan or rice as an entree. Seasoned Karela Fry* is so delicious and not so bitter. Last but not least, is the Sarson Ka Saag with Makki Roti (corn flatbread similar to arepas). This is as authentic as you're going to get with North Indian food and is simply delicious. I ate this on my last India trip and wish they doggy bagged it for me but that concept hasn't reached there yet. Shocking, I know!

***Other vegetables that make awesome fries are Arvi (Taro root), green plantains, sweet potato and of course, potato.