Category Archives: Indian Food

Cooking for Indian Company

We do a lot of entertaining in our house – everyone knows in Indian culture hospitality is a huge thing! (click here to see my earlier crash course on Indian hospitality) So recently we had an Indian family stay with us for a few days, and it was up to me do plan the menu. This family has just recently immigrated to North America, and they are eager to try typical “American” foods, however, from my previous experience, I’ve found that it is best not to just rush out to McDonald’s for the very first meal, instead, I like to try and ease my company into American foods a little at a time by providing home cooked meals that blend the flavors of East and West.
I like to make sure these fusion meals have some familiar aspects of Indian food, but still remain true to their Western heritage. So here are a few ideas I’ve come up with to help bridge the gap between East and West…
  • Make sure you serve rice if possible (especially if you are hosting South Indians). From my husband’s own mouth: “Sometimes I just don’t feel full unless I’ve had my rice!”
  • Try and make something with a sauce or gravy – even if it has no flavors of curry – gravy is a huge theme in many Indian dishes
  • Remember to spice it up a little! Most Indian palettes are used to flavorful cooking – so broiled chicken and steamed veggies probably won’t get you rave reviews among Indian circles!
  • Meat doesn’t have to be the star – experiment and see what you can do with veggies and starches – in most Indian households, meat is not eaten in huge quantities like it is in the West. My husband’s uncle and aunt moved to America years ago, and invited their new colleagues over for a meal. They served the meal family style, and they were horrified to find that all the meat was finished by the time it reached the third person!
  • Always have a dessert – from my experience Indians are like everyone else in the world – they love their sweets and they will be more than willing to try some of your sweets too – chocolate cake, here we come!
Here are a few “Western” meals I’ve had success serving to Indian guests:
  • Biscuits and Gravy (with hot sauce on the side)
  • Pot Roast with lots of Gravy and Rice, served with hot sauce on the side (if you are entertaining non-vegetarians, that is!)
  • Indian Style Pizzas
  • Baked Beans & Potato Salad
  • Green Bean Casserole & Corn Casserole
  • Sweadish Meatballs with extra gravy and Rice (you could make these veg as well)
  • Try going south of the border – Enchiladas and other Mexican foods are very similar to Indian – tortillas make great chapattis!
  • Did I mention chocolate cake already?
What about you? Do you stick to Indian only cooking with Indian guests or do you try and introduce them to other cuisines? I’d love to get some new ideas on fusion meals, so speak up if you have had success in this area before!

Naan with Texas Chili?

While we were back home on our vacation, I cooked Indian food for my family and some friends. We cheated and bought ready-made “Tandoori, Garlic & Cilantro Naan.” It wasn’t too bad – but I had to laugh when I flipped over the package and read the directions, “Gently warm Naan and serve with your favorite Texas Chili OR curry.”* You know you’re in Texas when….
*Sorry for the awful photo – I just had to capture the evidence with my iphone in poor light!
**emphasis, my own!

Indian Recipes from the Web

The other night, I was in need of a fast and easy recipe, so I did a quick web search and found an Indian-inspired dish: Butter Chickpea Curry. It had pretty good reviews, and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand (except I used plain yogurt instead of milk/cream and instead of using curry powder I used a mixture of my own spices – I never keep curry powder around). It came out pretty well and I was glad I went out on a limb and tried it.
It is rare for me to try an Indian recipe off of the web – I tend to stick with tried and true family recipes more. Somehow I feel that I’m “cheating” if I don’t make an entire Indian recipe from scratch. However, my husband even enjoyed this one, so maybe I’ll make it again! I did spice it up a bit more than the original recipe. :-)
Find the recipe here.
Do you have a favorite resource for Indian dishes? Do you ever try random web recipes?
Photo is from by stacy_j.

Yummy Indian Dhal Recipe

On nights when I have no idea what to cook, this recipe for Indian style lentils has become my faithful standby. My Mother-in-Law taught me how to make it, and I’ll always be grateful! It’s quick and simple to make, and always turns out great – well, except for that one time when I forgot I was using red chili powder from India (instead of the kind I was used to from our grocery store) and it was so spicy we had smoke coming out of our ears! So hopefully you won’t make that mistake!

  • 1 cup of lentils (yellow split peas – washed and drained)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp sambar powder
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. ginger paste
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1-2 green chilies -split in half
  • salt to taste

Fry the following ingredients in a small amount of oil in a separate skillet & keep aside:

  • 3-4 dried red chilies
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1-2 curry leaves

Mix all of the above ingredients in a pressure cooker.* Cover with water. Seal pressure cooker and boil on high heat until you hear two “whistles.” (about 5-7 min). Allow the pressure cooker to cool off completely before opening it.** Add some water (to bring to desired consistency) and bring to a boil with the lid removed.

Add the fried spices to the dhal mixture and stir. Serve over rice. Tastes great with ghee and mango pickle!

*If you don’t have a pressure cooker, boil the ingredients until the lentils become soft.

**Make sure to follow the directions that came on for your specific pressure cooker.

Tandoori Turkey Success!

I just wanted to report back that the Thanksgiving Tandoori Turkey was a success! I was a bit nervous to make my first whole Turkey -and that with a recipe I’ve never tried before. The photo above was taken just before we dove in. We had a total of 8 people. Most of them were from various countries. We had 4 friends from India (including my husband), two from America (including myself), one from Holland and one from Malaysia.
We had a great time together. It was a different Thanksgiving for me and my husband – to be out on our own and not around any of our family, but I’m sure we made memories that we’ll talk about for along time. Who knows, maybe Tandoori Turkey will become our tradition! Isn’t that what an intercultural marriage is all about – taking the best of both worlds?!
By the way, I loved the Cranberry Chutney recipe also – the spices really added a special touch!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving today! This time last year, my husband and I were in India, for a 3 week visit. Since Turkeys are not readily available in India, we decided to be a bit unorthodox and celebrate Thanksgiving dinner at Subway – eating Turkey subs!
We took the whole family – parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunties, and even a few friends. I told the story of the origin of Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it. One auntie couldn’t understand why we had to eat Turkey – so she got an “Indian-ized” veggie sub. If you’ve never been to Subway in India, check out the photo above for some of the local flavors. Turkey or no turkey, we made some great memories that we still cherish and talk about today.
Well, back to the present – I better get my Tandoori Turkey into the oven – or we’ll be celebrating at Subway again this year!

Tuesday’s Tip: What goes with Tandoori Turkey?

I got inspired by yesterday’s post about Thanksgiving dinner with an Indian twist. I began to wonder, what can I serve with the Tandoori Turkey that will stand up to the strong flavors…
After some research, here are a few ideas I’ve found to help complete Thanksgiving Indian style:
I’m definitely going to try a cranberry chutney recipe and a pumpkin curry! When I was carving pumpkins for Halloween, my MIL asked me if I was going to use any for pumpkin curry. I had never heard of such a dish, but now I think I must try it!

Make it a Tandoori Thanksgiving

So if you live in the USA, you know that Thanksgiving is on Thursday! How is it already the end of November?
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but this year my husband and I are on our own for Thanksgiving. We get to go to visit my family for Christmas, but it is too far to make two trips so close together! So in the spirit of intercultural marriages, and bring both cultures to the “table” – so to speak – I am planning to make my first ever whole Turkey with an Indian twist!
Maybe some of you are fans of the American version of the Japanese show “Iron Chef.” If you tuned in for the Thanksgiving special, you saw one of the chefs prepare a Tandoori Turkey. What better inspiration could I ask for?
So I rounded up a few recipes, and if you’re still struggling to come up with something interesting this Thanksgiving, give one of these recipes a try. Better start thawing that turkey right now!
(whole turkey recipe)
(uses tandoori cutlets)

Indian: Deliciously Authentic Dishes

While my best source for Indian recipes has come from my Mother-in-Law & other Indian relatives, I have found an Indian cookbook that I love! It was given to me by my husband’s aunt and uncle. It is a beautiful book, cover to cover.

The recipes are basic and easy to follow – and so far, I’ve had good success with what I’ve tried. The ingredients are usually readily available in an urban area. Recipes come from all over India.

An added feature is that some of the recipes contain nutritional information and are indicated as “low-fat recipes,” which is very helpful in menu planning, plus there is a list of suppliers in the back of the book. The only thing that I don’t like about the book is that they don’t always use the Indian names for the dishes. They might call Biryani “Rice Layered with Chicken.” I suppose it must be catered towards Western cooks. But overall, it is my favorite Indian cookbook!

The recipes are easy to prepare, and for a non-Indian learning to cook Indian food, it has been a lifesaver. There are beautiful full-color photos of each dish and also of the step-by-step process. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to impress their Indian husband/wife, or in-laws! Click here to find a copy.

Yum! Authentic South Indian Food

We spent the day yesterday in Vancouver, B.C. and met some friends at great South Indian vegetarian restaurant, called Saravanaa Bhavan for dinner. This restaurant is a part of a chain of over 48 restaurants in India, USA, UK, UAE, Singapore and Malaysia. They have a great selection of food and Indian sweets too!
I ordered the Saravanaa Special Meal – also known as a “Thali.” Thali is the Hindi word for “plate.” My thali included 2 pooris, channa masala, rice, sambhar, rasam, special kulambu, two different vegetable curries, raitha, curd, appalam, pickle & sooji (see the photo above). The reason that I love getting a thali is because you get to try so many different dishes! I never know where to start – but the worst part is being too full to finish! My husband was a dear and helped me out though! :-)