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.


April 21, 2010

Spice It Up Baby!!

According to Wikipedia, there's a difference between "to season" and "to flavor" with herbs and spices. For instance, to tenderize meat, one may add salt which improves the flavor. Other seasonings like black pepper and basil may transfer some of their flavor to the food.
In addition to how seasonings are used as described above, the timing of when spices are added to the dish is also important. In Indian cooking, there is a technique you could say is used to enhance the flavor of the food. Besides Chaunk, other words for seasoning are Talimpu, Tadka, or Popu which can be all translated to say tempering in English. This technique is often used in dishes from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Whole spices are fried briefly in oil or butter to release essential oils which enhance the flavor of the dish. Then this mixture with the oil is combined with the dish you have prepared.
It is the last thing we do before the dish is done. One time, my mom was making mango daal and she put it aside to make some other dish. I was so excited about the daal, that I just spooned it up with some rice and ate it. Immediately, I realized something was missing. Can you guess?? The chaunk wasn't added to the dish and it tasted weird to me. Anyways, she took her little saucepan out and heated up the oil, added all the spices and mixed it into the daal and Voila! I ate it twice that night.
Here is the little secret I have been dying to share with you so far. Most Indians keep something called a Spice Box (Chaunk or Taalimpu box) in their spices cabinet for easy access. This box contains the following ingredients from counter clockwise: cumin seeds, mustard seeds, dried red peppers, red chili powder, coriander & cumin powder, garam masala, and turmeric.

It is easy to prepare this box; just use a container (with a tight lid) that can hold smaller containers to hold all these spices which can be placed in a kitchen cupboard. You would be surprised to know that this box isn't just used in everyday cooking. Professional chefs use this too to enhance their cuisines. Don't take my word for it, just take a look at the Iron Chef episode with Executive Chef Maneet Chauhan (from At Vermilion restaurant) vs Chef Morimoto: up the video to :40 seconds to see the camera focusing on the Spice Box. In our box, we included the spices we use most and we have salt in a separate container because we use that in everyday cooking. If you would like to learn how to make seasoning for your dishes, please follow this link or take a look on our Cooking 101 page:

Well, my friends until next time...keep on Cookin'!!! 

April 18, 2010

Not Your Everyday TOFU!!

I made some mango milkshake to eat with my tandoori tofu. It is a good blend of sweet and spice.

I have tasted my share of different kinds of Indian curries before and let me tell you this...most of the ones you eat at North Indian restaurants like Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Makhani...tend to taste the same to me. They both have similar tomato based gravies that were cooked with the chicken. Been there, done that. Now for someone who is vegetarian, these curries wouldn't even be appealing. So what would they eat? Vegetarians I have chatted with have told me about Tofurkey and Tofu burgers which have the firmness of meat but are made from Tofu and seasoning.
You know, that stuff still sounds Bland to me. I need flavor and spices. I'm not saying, I'm a full fledged Hot curry eater, but I like taste in every bite. My parents are vegetarian and they are always looking for ways to "spice" up their cooking with Indian and American ingredients. My mom decided to make Tandoori Tofu curry to eat with naan (Indian bread). I've had Tandoori chicken at restaurants where the chicken was marinated with the Tandoori spices and grilled, then served with onions and chilies...if you dared to eat them RAW!! We took the concept of mixing the Tandoori spices and marinating them with Tofu. The tofu sucked up all the juices from the Tandoori mixture and when eaten with naan, it was like I was swimming in a pool of flavor. The best part is that it fills you up and it's good for you.

I couldn't wait to share it with everyone I knew...Hey, don't take my word for it, make it at home and let me know how it came out.

Tandoori Tofu Curry:
- 12oz (340g) of **Tofu (steak style, seasoned) 
- 2 tbsp Tandoori Paste
- ½ cup Tomato puree
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Medium Onion, chopped finely
1 tsp of Ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp Oil, for cooking
1 tbsp of Fat- Free Sour Cream, optional
2 tsp Salt (to taste)
½ tsp of Red chili powder
1 tbsp of Coriander (Cilantro), chopped and used for garnish

1. Remove tofu from its packing and drain the water well. Cut the tofu block into 1-1.5” cubes.
2. In a mixing bowl add yogurt, tandoori paste and mix well. Add the tofu pieces into the bowl and using a flat silicone spatula cover the mixture onto tofu. Marinate for 30min to 1hr.
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium flame. Add onions and sauté until they are golden brown, then add ginger garlic paste, chilli powder and mix well for 1min.
4. Add tomato puree and mix the mixture for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the tofu along with the yogurt into the pan, add salt and cook for 7-10min until the gravy thickens.
5. If you want to add more color, you can add frozen carrots and peas mix to the curry while its on the stove. Just before removing from heat, add some sour cream and mix well. Do not over mix the curry as the tofu pieces may break.
6. Transfer the curry into a serving dish and garnish with coriander.
7. Serve the curry with naan, rotis or rice for a delicious, nutritious and scrumptious meal. Side additions of raw onions and green chilies will go well with roti or naan (typical north Indian style).

Quick Tips
Please Note: Tofu Steak can be found in the cut fruit and veggie section of Shoprite. In case the tofu steak variant is unavailable, use the extra-firm type to avoid breakage of pieces