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 vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetarian. Show all posts

August 29, 2018

Quick N Easy Stuffed Eggplant

This may sound cheesy but I miss home. I miss my parents. I know they are just a bus ride away but absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

You don't really know what you have until you move away and become a grown up and have to do everything on your own. I miss helping my mom in the kitchen. I was her little helper...regardless of how old I got, that will always be the case. 

After work, I stopped by the local vegetable market and bought some Chinese eggplant and fresh coriander. Coriander, garlic, ginger and onions are a must in South Indian cooking. 

I knew exactly what I was going to do with the eggplant. It's one of my favorite ways to eat this type of eggplant and it's easy to make, as per my mom. I gave it a try last night and as you can see from the picture below, it came out well. I didn't burn it or over season it. 

The best part was that my husband really liked it. He ate more than half of the pieces in this plate. I am definitely going to save this recipe and make it as often as I can. 

If you like eggplant, give this dish a try...

- 4 long and slender Chinese eggplant
- 1/4 cup of fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup dry coconut powder
- 1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil (for frying)
- Salt (for rubbing inside eggplant and seasoning) as per your taste

Remove the stalk from the eggplants and then slit them longitudinally. (Caution: do not slit all the way through the eggplant so that it splits into two pieces.) Then rub salt lengthwise and apply oil on the outer surface with your fingers. Next, cut each eggplant into 3 inches long. 

Arrange the eggplant pieces on a microwaveable plate and microwave them with a cover for 4 minutes or until soft. 

Add tablespoon of oil to a medium saute pan on low-medium heat. Transfer the eggplant pieces to the heated pan and fry up to 5 minutes or until all the pieces have cooked through and browned. Remove the pieces from heat and place in a plate to cool. 

Scoop the coconut powder in a small cup, sprinkle some water and microwave for 15 seconds to re-hydrate it. 

Mix together the coconut powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, dry garlic chutney, and fresh coriander. Adjust salt per taste. Stuff a little bit of this mixture in between the slit of each eggplant piece. The stuffed eggplant is ready to be served. 

I love eating the eggplant with warm plain white rice mixed with ghee (or clarified butter). The flavor from the spices and the eggplant's sweetness complements the rice well. I feel right at "home". 

***Quick Tips
- You can use freshly grated coconut instead of dry coconut powder. 
- We like using the dry garlic chutney because it has all the ingredients (coconut powder, salt, and chili powder) in one.  You can buy it in a packet at any Indian store; it is also available on Amazon in a bottle. 

What dish reminds you of home? Leave us a comment. We love hearing from our readers. 

February 10, 2016

Gluten Free Valentine's Sweets for Your Sweetheart

This Valentine's Day surprise your "sweetie" with sweets that don't break their diets!

Ragi Laddus

Go the distance and make something healthy for your loved ones. Ragi Laddus made with Indira Foods Ragi Huri Hittu Special are rich in calcium, iron, protein, fiber and gluten free. These laddus or balls can be enjoyed as a dessert or for breakfast.

The mix contains popped ragi (finger millet) powder, sugar, dried coconut, cashew nut, milk powder, cardamom and nutmeg. 

It is very easy to make these laddus with this mix. For every cup of the mix, you add 1/2 cup of milk and mix into a dough like consistency. Then you roll into lime size round balls. 

Quick Tips
Indira Foods Ragi Huri Hittu Special can be purchased at most Indian grocery stores; we bought ours from Patel Brothers. 

For other gluten free dessert ideas, please check out Ricotta Kalakand (milk sweet) and Mango Rice Pudding. Wishing you and yours a Happy Valentine's Day!!

August 13, 2015

Mirchi Restaurant - Spicing It Up with South Indian Dishes

It has been a while since we went out as a family including my grandmother. This past weekend was surely a delight in that respect. My sister and my brother-in-law came to visit us and spent some quality time with the parents and of course me. All of us went out to dinner together to this newly opened South Indian restaurant called Mirchi (chilies in English) located in Parsippany NJ. This restaurant replaced another Indian restaurant  located in the same complex called Amiya.

When you enter the restaurant, on your right you will see a party room with a bar and as you walk further into the lobby, you will see the concierge desk. To the left of the desk is the entrance to the dining area (click here to see pictures). The dining area is very spacious and comfortable. In the back, there's a glass door leading to the wine cellar, which I thought was really cool.

We started off our dinner with a couple of vegetarian appetizers: Gobi 65 and Baby Corn Pepper Fry

Gobi 65*

Gobi 65 is a dish where well marinated cauliflower florets are brown to perfection (description from menu). These florets were definitely cooked, marinated and seasoned very well. Additionally, the portion size was adequate for 4 or more people. We were a party of 6 so we got about 3 pieces each and were very satisfied.

The Baby Corn Pepper Fry failed to meet the same flavor expectations as the Gobi 65. I felt the corn was more doughy than crispy and the taste was not as satisfying. 

We had never dined here before so we had no idea about entree portions. We ended up ordering 5 separate dishes to make sure everyone was happy.

My parents and grandmother are vegetarian so they ordered mixed vegetable Uttappam, Rava Masala Dosa, and Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani.

According to my dad, the Mixed Vegetable Uttapam was a good size and tasty. The Rava Masal Dosa and Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani didn't make the cut. Both my mother and grandmother were disappointed in their dishes. 

Top Left -  Garlic Naan
Bottom Left - Vegetable Biryani
Right - Malabar Fish Curry

My sister, brother-in-law and I (the non-vegetarians) shared the Shangri-la Biryani and Malabar Fish Curry with Garlic Naan. All 3 of us really enjoyed the Malabar Fish Curry served with plain white rice. The fish curry was made with selected fish pieces simmered in tamarind pulp and coconut milk. It was quite tasty and flavorful. You can't go wrong with coconut milk; it makes everything taste better and rich-er. 

Third disappoint of the evening was the Shangri-la Biryani,  combination of Chicken 65 and biryani. Before we placed our order, we specified that we all wanted our dishes to be Medium spicy, which in my book means, add some chilies to our dish. However, our biryani and the chicken lacked flavor. It was not until I added the spicy raita that I actually tasted something in my biryani. It was like eating saffron rice with crispy chicken. The combination was did not suit us at all.

Takeaways from our experience - 3 STARS 
- The portions for appetizers and entrees are big enough for two people.
- When placing your order, specify your spice level: Mild, Medium and Spicy. If you order biryani, it should be spicy, not bland.
- The best part of our dining experience was the service. The waitstaff were helpful and friendly.

Although half of our dishes were disappointing, I would definitely dine here again as it was my first time. I would never dismiss going to a particular restaurant again if it rated 3 or more stars in the first experience. Next time, I will stick to regular Hyderabadi Dum Biryani instead something totally exotic. Also, I will steer clear of anything on the menu with dish titles ending with 65, not my cup of tea.

***Until next time, happy eating. If you know of a good Indian restaurant for us to try, let us know.  Looking to dine out, check out our Restaurant Reviews page for suggestions. ***

May 16, 2015

Happiness Can Come in Small Packages Too

Choco Cashew Biscuit

I love when relatives visit us. My aunt and her family were here in the States on vacation, and stopped by our place for a short visit. We caught up on old times and exchanged news about each other. I love hearing stories about my hometown and how things have progressed or changed.

It was a night of fun and good food. We figured they would like something different than Indian food, so we made penne a la vodka with vegetables served with garlic bread and dark chocolate brownies for dessert. They were a hit, especially the brownies. They were going like hot cakes!

Afterwards, we looked through family photos and talked late into the night. Before they left in the morning, they gave us a "small package" of happiness. I could hardly contain myself. How did they know about my love for these crumbly and delicious biscuits from Karachi Bakery?

Fruit biscuits

Karachi Bakery has a variety of biscuits/cookies, cakes, pastries, chocolates, sweets and gift packs. Whenever we're in Hyderabad, we always stop by this bakery and pickup a box of biscuits or their light and moist pineapple cake.

Bakery Locations (in Hyderabad, India only)
Mozzamjahi Market (original location)
Khanchand Towers in Banjara Hills
Hitech City
Hyderabad Airport

Have you been to Karachi Bakery? What are your favorites? Please share with us. 

May 12, 2015

Mother's Day Special - Vegetarian Maqluba & more

I've always been curious and adventurous about cooking. When I was little, I used watch my mom cook in the kitchen. The aroma of the taalimpu or tadka (tempering of the spices) was so energizing. When she mixed those spices with the various vegetables, my mouth was watering and I couldn't wait to eat what she had made. It was that joy of cooking that drove me to learn to cook our ethnic food. 

I'm all grown up now and I still find the tempering of spices euphoric. Just a whiff of whatever is being cooked in the kitchen is enough to make me run wherever I am to the stove. I thank my mom for getting me excited about Indian cooking and teaching me the ways. She's always encouraged my sister and I to experiment and not be afraid to try new dishes.

I feel that some of that energy or spunk has rubbed off on my dad as well. He's been testing out a lot of recipes he finds on the Internet and gets feedback from my mom.

This Mother's day was no different. He was catching up on his daily dose of world news and found an interesting recipe for a rich dish called Maqluba; a Middle Eastern dish that literally means "upside down", The dish includes meat, rice and fried vegetables in a pot which is then flipped upside down when served. Leave it to my dad to come up with the menu for this special day. He researched further and found a vegetarian version of this dish on the Serious Eats website.

Vegetarian Maqluba (Rice Layered with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Cauliflower)

Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Spice Ingredients

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
We adapted this recipe to what we had at home and used garam masala for all the spices except turmeric.

Other Ingredients
  • 1-2/3 cups basmati rice, rinsed until water runs clear
  • 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4" thick slices
  • About 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium cauliflower, divided into medium florets
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4" thick slices
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • Plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
  • Hot sauce such as sambal oelek, for serving (optional)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or coriander, for serving (optional)


Adjust oven racks to middle positions and preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover rice with water, stir in 1 tsp of salt and let soak. 

Stir together all the spices in a small bowl. (In our case, we measured the garam masala and put it in a bowl). In a large bowl, toss eggplant slices with 3 tbsp oil, 1/3 of the spice mixture, salt, and pepper to taste. Lay eggplant out on two rimmed baking sheets and roast, turning slices once, until eggplant is browned and tender (see example below), about 20 minutes.  

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower, with 2 tbsp oil, 1/3 of the spice mixture, salt, and pepper to taste. Lay cauliflower out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once, until cauliflower is browned and tender, about 20 minutes. 

Time to assemble the Maqluba
Line the bottom of a Dutch oven with a circle of parchment paper, then brush paper and sides with melted butter. Assemble tomato slices in a circle, covering bottom of the pot and overlapping the slices as you go. Follow with the eggplant, Arrange cauliflower over eggplant. Drain rice thoroughly, then spread over cauliflower. Stir remaining spice mixture and 1 tsp salt into vegetable, and pour over rice. Scatter garlic pieces over top. 

Place pot over high heat and bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove pot from heat, remove lid, drape a clean tea towel over top of pot, and quickly replace lid, letting dish set for 10 minutes. Quickly invert rice dish onto a large round platter; do not remove pot for 2-3 minutes. Remove pot and circle of parchment and serve maqluba with plain yogurt, hot sauce and chopped fresh cilantro, if desired. 

Although we substituted some ingredients and used a different pot, our Maqluba dish still turned out well. 

We also tossed together a healthy salad (my sister's recipe): baby spinach, cooked beets (purchased from Costco), walnuts, crumbled goat cheese, diced apples, flax seed powder, and diced carrots. This salad can be eaten as it is or with poppy seed salad dressing. Every since my mom tasted this salad at my sister's place, she always asks her to make it whenever she's visiting us. 

I'm not a big fan of salads, but I love the ingredients in this recipe. I couldn't believe my sister came up with it on her own; she always seems to surprise me with her ingenuity. 

For dessert, I made Dark Chocolate brownies with walnuts using Pillsbury brownie mix and just added chopped walnuts. After we all tasted these brownies, I don't think we're going back to the original kind. I don't feel as guilty eating these since the only calories are from the oil and cacao. Once in a while, it's okay, right. 

My mom loved her Mother's day surprise dinner and we enjoyed cooking together after a longtime. 

Quick Tips
- We realized the importance of parchment paper after we flipped the pot into the serving dish. Some of the rice and vegetables fell out of place. If we had used the parchment paper as suggested in the recipe, everything would have stayed in place and looked more presentable. 

- We forget to garnish the dish with fresh cilantro or coriander. It would have added more flavor. Lesson learned and looking forward to making it again. 

- You can always cut down the recipe by half if you're making it for less people. 

Have you made or tried Maqluba before? What did you do for Mother's Day? Please share your thoughts with us. Happy Mother's day to all the mommies and to be mommies!

August 6, 2010

A Vegetarian's Delight!

The Lotus Stem Surprise

Unlike NYC where there are a variety of Indian restaurants in almost every neighborhood, NJ has a few to choose from; especially in our neck of the woods (Morris County area). Don't get me wrong there are Indian restaurants but none that I would bet my money on. I've had the chance to go to a few with my parents over the years and narrowed down the list that I would go back and try again. Those will be ones I'll share with you today.

Most recently, we went to Chand Palace in Parsippany next to Subji Mandi (Indian Store) off of Rte. 46E. I haven't been there in years so it was a nice surprise. If you are vegetarian, you will love it because it's all VEG. I love a good Veg Buffet here and there. Now mind you, the day we went, we were all exhausted from moving and unloading into our new house so we were famished and wanted to eat some real good food. My parents have gone to this restaurant a few times and suggested it.

As you enter the restaurant, you will see a Guest Check In and then the table setting and in the back is the buffet table. I could already smell all the goodies. I couldn't wait to jump in line and try everything. I decided to stay healthy and started off with salad (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots...etc). Then I headed towards the manchurian Gobi (cauliflower) and kamal kakkadhi (Lotus Stem). That was just the first plate. I was not too impressed with the Cauliflower manchurian but I liked the Lotus Stem so on my second run, I grabbed more salad and Lotus stem with naan and rice. My friend who joined us for dinner said the lotus stem curry reminded him of being back home in India when he used to go over to his friend's place for food.

The rest of the curries were alright. I liked the lotus stem one the best. They also serve mini dosas with the buffet so there is plenty of food to go around. Oh. and don't forget to try the desserts.  Overall it was a good experience. I went over the weekend so I'm not sure how the buffet is on weekdays. If you have been here before, let me know how you found the place.

I apologize for the picture quality, I only had my phone with me at the time. Until next time, keep on eating and enjoying!!