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 coconut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coconut. Show all posts

January 22, 2012

Daily Delight's Fresh Frozen Aviyal Mix

Ever since we ate Aviyal at Rajni Restaurant, I wanted my mom to try to make it at home. She found a packet of Aviyal Mix at Subji Mandi (Indian grocery store) last week and tried to recreate it. Aviyal is a mixed vegetable dish with a coconut and yogurt gravy sauce, originating from Kerala.

On the upside:
- All the vegetables needed to make this dish were included and they were straight from the source - grown and packed in Kerala.
- The cost of this mix was under 2 USD.

The packet contained fresh frozen pre-cut vegetables and spices found in a typical Aviyal dish: 
1-2 Drumsticks
50 grams of Elephant yam
1 medium-size Cucumber
50 grams of Snake gourd
50 grams of Long beans
50 grams of Carrot
1 small green mango
3 medium-sized green chilies
10 curry leaves

The only downside is that the packet didn't come with a recipe. Lucky for us, my mom is a genius. I cheered on as she did her magic.    

Below are the ingredients for the gravy:
12oz Yogurt
1/2 cup Coconut (fresh/frozen), grated
1 tsp Whole Cumin seeds
A pinch of Turmeric
Salt, as needed

Let's get started:
1) Empty the cut vegetables into a heavy-bottomed saucepan (3-5 Qt). Add 1½ cup of water, ½ tsp of turmeric, and cook until soft and firm.  Drumstick takes the longest time to cook, so make sure it is soft. Transfer into the serving dish and allow it to cool down.
2) Blend together grated coconut, green chilies, cumin, and approximately 1/3 of yogurt and a pinch of salt until it is a smooth mixture.
3) Add the remaining yogurt, blended coconut mixture to the cooked vegetables and mix well. For seasoning, heat a tablespoon of coconut oil on low heat and add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, cumin, and red chili. when they splutter, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Stir 10 seconds and immediately transfer it into Avial and mix well. 
4) Serve it with warm rice or pooris.

Served hot over brown rice
***Quick Tips:
- The packet includes 3 chilies, use 2 if you prefer less spice level.
- On the packet, the serving size is listed as 3 but we found that after combining all the ingredients together, the dish is enough for 4-6.

Our conclusion: The dish turned out well and didn't require a lot of time since most of the prep work was done. Also, the spices included in the packet were packed separately to prevent any wetness or sogginess. We would buy this mix again.

October 14, 2011

Seasoned Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Curry

What a nice spread of gourds we have here!

Can you name them all? There are pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, sweet dumpling squash and lots of other ornamental gourds. We were passing by this farmer's market and decided to pick up a few to make our fall dishes. 

We love cooking with these sweet and savory gourds because when they are cooked, they retain their beautiful color and flavor. Our two favorite dishes are Seasoned Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Curry and Chunky Pumpkin Sambhar.  

Seasoned Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Curry

This curry is popular both in North and South India and most people eat it with hot rice or roti (also known as chappati). This dish can also be served as the vegetable side dish with your meal. It is enough for 4-6 servings. 

- 1 lbs of Spanish Pumpkin (Calabaza) 
½ lb of Butternut Squash
- 1 cup Frozen Carrots & Peas (optional)
- 3 Green chilies, chopped finely
- 1" piece of Ginger, chopped finely
- 1 tbsp of Cumin/Coriander powder (use ½ tbsp curry powder as an alternate)
½ tbsp Brown sugar/Jaggery
- 2 tbsp Grated coconut (dry)
- 1 tsp each of Mustard & Cumin seeds
½ tsp of Turmeric powder
¼ cup of Fresh Coriander/Cilantro leaves, chopped
1½ tbsp Vegetable oil

1) If the pumpkin and butternut squash are thick and woody, remove the seeds and peel the skin. Cut them into ½ inch pieces. 

2) Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and mustard seeds. When they start to splatter, add cumin/coriander powder, chilies, ginger and turmeric. Stir and then add pumpkin and butternut squash pieces, salt, and brown sugar. Mix well and cook the pumpkin with closed lid for 8-10 minutes or until it is cooked and firm. 

3) Stir the vegetable mixture in between, allowing the condensed water from the lid to fall into the curry for moisture. 
4) When it is done, add carrots & peas and coconut powder and cook under closed lid for 2-3 minutes. Once that is done, garnish it with chopped coriander. 

***Quick Tips: 
- Spanish Pumpkin is also known as Calabaza or West Indian Pumpkin. It is available in most grocery and ethnic stores. 
- The measurements of butternut squash and pumpkin can be adjusted as per availability. 

August 17, 2011

It's Karela, Not Kerala!

We wanted to take this opportunity to clear up some confusion about a certain vegetable that gets mispronounced a lot. Kerala is an Indian state located in the Southwest region of the country.

It is a popular tourist destination, known for its backwaters, natural beauty and Ayurveda medicines. 

Karela, on the other hand, is a tropical vegetable that is also referred to as bitter melon or gourd. It is widely grown in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

It can be identified by its prickly green texture and bitter taste. We love Karela and decided to share our love of this vegetable with you so you can grow to like it too.  

After trying a couple of tricks, we came up with one that works and reduces the bitter flavor. This recipe is called Krazy Karela because some might think we're crazy for eating it. The recipe is enough for 5-6 (2 pieces per serving). 

Ingredients for Krazy Stuffed Karela:
- 1 lb of Bitter Gourd/Karela, slender dark green variety
- Lime size of Tamarind or 1 tbsp of Tamarind paste (i.e. Tamcon)
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Salt, As needed

Ingredients for the filling/stuffing:

- 1 large Red onion, chopped finely
- 3 tbsp of dry coconut powder (should be flaky, not fine)
- 1 tbsp of Chili powder (Adjust to your taste)
¼ cup of Fresh coriander or cilantro, chopped
Salt, as needed

Follow these steps to remove the bitterness of Karela:
1) Cut the ends of the karela and make a slit lengthwise. If there are any woody seeds remove them using a butter knife. Cut the karela into 3” long pieces.

2) In a large pot bring 2 quarts of water to boil. Add the karela pieces along with tamarind, salt, and a pinch of turmeric. Cook karela in the boiling water until they are soft and firm (a knife or fingernail should pass through easily). Drain the water using a colander and remove the remainder of the tamarind from the karela. (skip this step if using the paste)

Then follow these steps to cook the Karela:
1) In a skillet, heat a tbsp of oil and add chopped onion. Saute the onion until it's almost transparent and then add salt, chili powder, and dry coconut powder. 

2) Mix it until the water is evaporated and the oil comes out. Adjust the salt and heat (chili spice) level to your taste. Allow it to cool and then mix in the chopped coriander.

3) Heat oil in a frying pan until you feel the heat on your palm while it's held above the oil (at a safe height, usually 4-5 inches above oil). Turn the heat to medium/high and slowly drop the cooked karela into the oil and fry them to greenish-brown. Remove from oil and stuff them with the onion filling.

It is great as a dish on its own or can be eaten with plain or brown rice. I love eating it on its own; that way you can really taste all the flavors.

***Quick Tip: If coriander or cilantro isn't readily available, try parsley. If you like more gravy-based curries, try the Karela Curry. It's not as bitter. 

June 18, 2011

"Carrots" - A Girl's Best Friend

My sister and I like to cook but with her busy schedule, it's not as easy. Additionally, she says in the city she can't readily find all the ingredients.

What is a girl to do, she says.

Whenever we both have some free time, we chit chat about our lives and so on...

Today, I told her about our new snack, veggie boats. When she saw the posting, she got very excited and I knew why.

A few of the pita pockets were filled with her favorite vegetable dish, carrots and moong dal.

My dear sister, this recipes is just for you. ENJOY!!

2 lbs Carrots, peeled and grated
- 1/3 cup Moong dal
- ½ cup Frozen peas             
- 1/3 cup Coconut powder (dry), optional
- 3-4 medium sized Green chilies, chopped finely
- 1" piece Ginger, grated
- 1/3 cup Fresh Coriander, chopped*
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 2 tsp Whole Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Salt or according to taste

1) Add ½ cup of water to moong dal and microwave it for 2 minutes, allowing it to soak for 15-20 minutes.

2) Heat oil in a saucepan and add cumin and mustard seeds. When they splatter, add chilies and ginger and stir for a minute. (Hint: In this step, we are sauteing spices to make seasoning for the dish).  Then add grated carrot and soaked moong dal along with water.

3) Add salt, mix and cook under closed lid for 10-15 minutes (on low heat) stirring in between until the dal is cooked and soft but not mushy.

4) Turn off stove and remove the lid and stir in frozen peas and coconut powder. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and serve hot garnished with the chopped coriander.

My sister loves eating this simple dish with rotis or chappatis. You can eat it with soft tortillas or pitas as well.

***Quick Tip: Coriander/cilantro is most often used as a garnish to again heighten the flavor and give color to the dish. Parsley or basil can be substituted if it is not readily available.

June 14, 2011

Go Green Part 2

With the overwhelming storms we had over the last few weeks, it seemed like weren't going to the sun for a while. Knock on wood. However, the rainwater replenished and rejuvenated all our plants and trees making our backyard look like a mini rain forest. The trees spread their branches such that they formed a canopy around our deck. We can now enjoy cool nights and breezy days.

Whenever I settle down on our swing, I feel like I'm relaxing on a houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala or on a hammock in between two palm trees on a tropical island. With weather like this, it's only natural to prepare dishes that add a little beat to your step. I packed this curry and half a cup of brown rice for lunch the other day. It was so good that I couldn't stop eating until I spooned the bowl clean. At that moment, I wished I was eating my lunch on the swing while enjoying the cool breeze passing over me. This "curry" is such a simple and flavorful dish, but don't take my word for it. Go green and make it for yourself and enjoy it.

Here's the ingredients' list and procedure for this dish called Indo-Thai Green Curry:
- 1 lb Green Bell Peppers, chopped into 1" cubes
-  ½ cup Frozen Peas                                   
- 3 Green chilies, finely chopped             
- 1" piece Ginger, grated                                         
- ¾ cup Grated coconut                                             
½ cup Evaporated Milk                           
- ¼ cup Fresh Coriander, chopped
- 1 tsp Whole Cumin or Mustard seeds
- 1½ tbsp Vegetable oil     
- 1 tsp Salt (or as needed)

1) In a blender, blend coconut, green chilies and ginger to a smooth paste.
2) Heat oil in a saucepan and add whole cumin, when they splutter add bell pepper and salt. Mix well and cook under covered lid for about 5-7 minutes until the bell pepper pieces are soft but firm.
3) Now add the coconut paste you made in Step 1 as well as evaporated milk and cook uncovered for about 3-4 minutes or until you notice a gravy consistency.

Remove from stove and mix in the frozen peas. Garnish with coriander & serve hot with your favorite flatbreads: roti, naan or pooris. The curry is also good with rice.

Quick Tips: 
1) For a richer consistency, replace evaporated milk with coconut milk or half & half.
2) You can substitute potatoes for bell peppers (just boil the potatoes in microwave for 5-6 minutes, peel & cube them and follow the directions.
3) Also, coconut can be replaced with 1/3 cup poppy seeds (powder the dry seeds and then add water to make a smooth paste). You can also replace it with coconut milk and dry coconut if fresh coconut is not available with the same measurements. 

May 18, 2011

The Many Uses Of Coconuts

I recently attended a South Indian wedding where the girl's family gifted each of these intricately etched coconuts to the family members of the guy's side (Yay to me). I liked it so much I thought I would share it with you too. They even attached these beaded pins at the bottom so it can be displayed on flat surfaces. I've seen fruit being carved into designs but I've never seen it on a coconut. Now that is a work of art I can appreciate.

Just look at the detail!
I believe that the coconut is a very versatile fruit. Its oil can be applied to the hair to make it more shiny and smooth. Usually the water inside the coconut is very sweet and so most often consumed and then the tender flesh is scooped out and eaten. As you can see in the photograph above, even the dried coconuts are used to make decorations or works of art. The oil and milk are also used in cooking. For our cooking purposes, we mainly use shredded coconut (fleshy part) and in various dishes such as Undrallu or Steamed lentil and rice dumplingsRice Kheer, and for today's discussion, coconut rice. Coconut Rice hails from the Southern part of India; specifically from Andhra Pradesh. This rice dish has a bit of everything; lentils, nuts, spices, and even vegetables. Now it's important to remember that too much of a good thing is never a good thing. When we post about rice dishes, we're not promoting that one should eat rice everyday but that it's good to try new things.

Ingredient List:
1 cup of Cooked Rice                                     
- 15-20 halves of Cashew nuts                                     
- (4-5) sliced Green chilies
- ½ cup of Fresh grated coconut                    
- 1 tsp each of Mustard /Cumin seeds                 
- 2 tbsp of Vegetable oil                                     
- ½ cup frozen of Carrot & peas                                   
- 5-6 leaves of Curry leaves                                       
- 1 tbsp of Coriander seeds                                               
- 2 Dry Red chilies                        
- 1 tsp of Urad dal (black gram)                  
- 1 tsp or as needed of Salt

1) In a small sauce pan, fry coriander seeds, red chilies and urad dal with an ½ tsp oil for 5 min or until the aroma of coriander seeds come out. Cool the mixture and grind to a powder and set the spice powder aside.
2) Heat oil in a skillet on medium and fry cashews until light golden, add mustard & cumin seeds. When they splatter, add curry leaves and green chilies. Fry for a minute. Add salt and rice, mix well for 2 minutes. Then add the spice powder (from step 1), grated coconut and carrots & peas. Mix again and cook under low to medium heat for 5 minutes.
3) Serve hot.

***Quick Tip: We use a lot of spices in our dishes to elevate the flavor of the dish. If you don't have a big spice rack or variety of spices, you can substitute whatever you like. Also, freshly grated coconut can be found in most Indian stores, otherwise you can grate it yourself.                                                       

December 10, 2010

~Funky Fast Fungi~

A Mushroom walks into a bar to get a drink. He walks up to the bar area and asks the bartender, "Can I have a drink?" The bartender looks down and says "We only serve people".  So then the mushroom responds, "But I'm a Fungi" (as in Fun guy). 

My Biology teacher shared this joke with the class the first day of the class to start off with a laugh. Until this day I still remember it and it cracks me up every single time. 
Anyways, let's get down to cooking. My mom came up with this recipe post Thanksgiving weekend. We had a lot of vegetables leftover from the holiday grocery shopping trip. So she thought, what better way to use them up but to create a whole new recipe:

Mushroom and Bell Pepper Medley Ingredients:
Serving Size: 4 to 6

- 1 lb of White button mushrooms, chopped
- 3 Green bell peppers,  remove seeds chop into cubes
- 1 medium Red Onion, chopped into cubes
½ cup (frozen) of Carrot and Peas
1-1 ½ tbsp of MTR Vangeebath powder
- 2-3 tbsp of Vegetable oil
2 tbsp of Dry Grated Coconut 
- 1 tsp each of Mustard and Jeera seeds
½ tsp of Turmeric powder

1) In a saucepan heat oil and add mustard and jeera seeds. When they splatter, add turmeric powder, chopped onions, mushrooms & bell pepper.

2) Add salt and Vangeebath powder and mix well. Cook the vegetables till soft & firm.

3) Then add frozen peas & carrots. Cook for another 5-6 minutes. Next, sprinkle coconut powder and mix well.
Finished Mushroom & Bell Pepper Medley
4) The curry can be served with hot rotis, rice or eaten by itself.

July 14, 2010

Green Mango Chutney

Before I begin this new post, I must apologize to our fans for being MIA for a couple of weeks. We've been busy cooking and perfecting some interesting dishes for you to try over this hot sultry summer. And of course a lot of these dishes are cooked with "green" ingredients to keep you healthy.

Now I know most of you know about the mango pickles that are found at the Indian stores by different brands such as Mother's, Priya, or Ruchika. They all make pickles with various ingredients such as garlic, gooseberry, and achar. The most common and popular ingredient is green mango because it tastes great raw but when mixed with other spices, it tastes even better. The chutney I would like to share with you is different; and by different I mean it's not pickled in oil and chili powder like the ones you find at the Indian stores.

If you are like me, you love dabbling with recipes that are somethin' to talk about. Try your luck with this one: Green Mango Chutney.


- Firm Green Mango....................... 1 medium size
- Fresh grated coconut.................... ½ cup
- Brown sugar / Jaggery.................. 1 tbsp
- Red chili powder.......................... 1 tsp
- Turmeric Powder......................... ½ tsp
- Salt.............................................. 1 tsp or as needed

Also, like most "karis" that we make, chutneys get their extra little kick from the seasoning or the Taalimpu that we add at the end. You may also recognize the word kari I just used because Alton Brown did an episode about it in one of his seasons. It means curry in English. I just thought I would throw in some of my Food Network knowledge for all you Hardcore Foodies.

Anyways, so get all your seasonings ingredients together too (hint: a Taalimpu or Chaunk box is very handy):

- Asafoetida powder...................... 1 pinch
- Mustard seeds............................. 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds................................ 1 tsp
- Curry leaves................................  5-6 leaves
- Vegetable Oil............................... 1 tbsp


1. Peel the mango and grate it all.

2. When using frozen grated coconut, remove the required amount and allow it to come to room temperature or microwave for few seconds.

3. In a blender add all the chutney ingredients and blend them to get uniform mixture (do not over blend to a fine paste). Try to get it to the consistency as illustrated in the picture below.

4. Taste it to adjust the salt and brown sugar to meet the desired taste. Note: if the mango is sweet, you could use ½ tsp of citric acid to bring in the sour taste.

5. Transfer the contents into a bowl.

6. Heat the oil for seasoning and when hot, add mustard and jeera and when they begin to crackle, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Mix well and add the seasoning to the chutney and mix well.

7. Serve the chutney with hot white rice. It is normally eaten by mixing the chutney into the rice with a splash of oil for added taste.

May 19, 2010

Nice N Easy Kheer

The Ultimate Coconut Grater came in handy for making the following dish. My mom likes adding shredding coconut for added flavor.

It's called Kheer or (Payasam in Telugu). It is a traditional South Asian dessert, made by boiling rice or broken wheat with milk and sugar, and flavored with cardamom, raisins, saffron, pistachios or almonds. (

- 1 cup Basmati Rice
- ½ cup Sugar
- ¾ cup Shredded fresh coconut
- ½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
- 3 cups Milk (1 or 2% fat)
- 1 tsp Cardamon powder
- 10 to 15 Cashew nuts
- 10 to 15 Raisins
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Bay Leaf (Optional)


1) Cook rice either in a rice cooker or stove top using 1-1/2 cups of water and 1 cup of milk.

2a) Transfer the cooked rice into a non-stick sauce pan and add remaining milk, shredded coconut, sugar & brown sugar, cardamom powder and the bay leaves.

2b)Cook on low-medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes until the mixture is thick and cooks well. Add water or milk if needed if the mixture is too thick. Remove from stove.

3) Melt butter and fry the cashew nuts until golden brown and add raisins and mix well. Transfer the contents into the pudding. Serve either hot or cold.

Quick Tips
- If you have some leftover rice, using it to make kheer from step-2 on wards is a good way to turn it into a hearty and healthy dish. And if you are worried about sugar calories, use a sweetener instead and adjust the measurements.
- Also for a rich texture and taste, whole milk can be used or evaporated milk can be added instead of water. Two tablespoons of condensed milk can also be used before removing from heat when the pudding is cooked with 1% milk, but reduce the sugar quantity accordingly.
- Not everyone is too keen on buying whole coconuts and figuring out how to grate the flesh inside. Freshly grated coconut is available in the freezer section in most Indian grocers such as Patel Borthers or Subji Mandi.

May 17, 2010

Evolution of Kitchen Gadgets

I'm always curious about the different gadgets used in the kitchen these days. Last week for Mothers' Day, my mom wanted to make a dessert that's quick and easy (according to her). So she sent my dad on a mission to find our handy dandy Coconut Grater. I don't know about you, but the grater we have is very unique, sharp and it gets the job done. Here's a brief description of what it looks like...see if you can picture it with my details: The stainless steel blade is fixed onto a 9" piece of wood rectangular in shape. We used to grate the coconut by placing the gadget on the floor and stepping on it and grating the coconut on the blade. When we moved to the United States, we realized that it would be more practical to clamp it to the counter space to keep it steady and using the gadget that way. Nowadays, there are more varieties of these gadgets that are being released to make this process more manageable.

**Indian Coconut Grater:
I know you're dying to see this baby in action. Just click on the video for a demonstration:
I just love watching my dad use this gadget. It grated all the juicy coconut flesh out of the shell. This beats chipping the coconut pieces with a knife and grinding them down with a chopper. Less work, if you ask me!

While my dad was grating away at the coconut, my mind wandered a bit and I started thinking about a few questions about the ease of culinary masterpieces created these days. Whenever I tune into my favorite cooking shows, I wonder how all their ingredients are so perfectly grated and diced and proper. Then it dawned on me that maybe they replaced the old clunky ones that got the job done but took too long with newer and faster ones...likes the ones found on the web link below:
By the looks of some these gadgets, I felt that they just got fancier but can they really get the job done? If you look at the link above, there are gadgets for almost everything you can think of...even an Avocado slicer? OMG! Are you kidding me? I just use a big spoon and scoop it out. Then I mash it up myself; but hey if you are making a presentation with Avocados and want to make the dish look nice, you can use the slicer.

What Gadgets or contraptions do you use at home that you think are better than the modern/techie versions? Please feel free to share!

**FYI: The Coconut Grater in this post is from India. If you are looking for one like ours, you can inquire for one from your local Indian grocer.

April 8, 2010

Cuckoo for Coconuts!!

I can't stand this sudden heat wave that has hit the Tri-State area. For the past week, it's been in the 80's and it's only first week of April. It's like Mother Nature got Hot Flashes and it's spewing them onto us. Whenever I feel like the heat is getting to me, nothing makes me feel better like a cool refreshing drink. During my lunch break I drove to Penang restaurant, which is about 10 miles and bought a couple of Fresh Coconuts. The cool sweet taste of the coconut water just makes it all worthwhile to drive so far.
Ahh! That's much better. I got camera shy, sorry for not smiling.
The best part after drinking all the juice is the tender white coconut flesh!! I scooped it all out and enjoyed it ever so slowly.
Now you don't have to get these fresh coconuts from only Malaysian restaurants, you can climb up the nearest coconut tree and cut yourself one too. Just kidding!! They are available in Indian stores or any grocery stores. I like it from this particular restaurant because the coconut is ready for you to drink and eat from it. That's what I call service.
Happy Drinking!!