Category Archives: RECIPES

Homemade Dried Ginger

dried-ginger-in-a-jar-770818

I’ve been putting my dehydrator to good use lately… I love to use it for making yogurt and dehydrating ginger.  Why you might ask? Well, my husband might be the one from India, but he is not the only one who likes homemade chai every morning!  I like to mix chai spices “masala” together ahead of time to add to our tea as it’s brewing on the stove. Ginger is a nice addition. If it is dried – it can be added to the spice mixture and it saves me a step when I’m stumbling around the kitchen first thing in the morning!

ginger-in-dehydrator

There really is no “recipe” to share – I simply used my mandoline and sliced the ginger at the thinnest setting. I didn’t even bother peeling the ginger. {I hate peeling ginger!!} Then I spread the slivers of ginger around my dehydrator tray and set it to about 125º and left it for about 6 hours. Check it to make sure it is completely dry – if not, then continue for another hour or two. Finally store it in an airtight container in a cool dark place!

dried-ginger

If you are looking for a way to fuel your chai addiction at home check out my recipe. If you want to know why NOT to call it “chai-tea” or would like to download a free recipe card printable, check out this post.

Homemade Whole Wheat Indian Chapatis

Whole-wheat-tortillas-chapaties-roti

We love to eat traditional Indian Chapatis with our meals – on any given day you might find us having chapatis for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I try to avoid store-bought tortillas as much as possible because of all the preservatives and unnecessary ingredients.  I have finally gotten a routine down, and after lots of practice, I would safely say I can whip up a batch of homemade whole wheat chapatis in no time!

Here is my recipe:

  • 3 cups of whole wheat flour {I use freshly ground hard white wheat}
  • 5 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 1.5 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt

Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer until a smooth dough is formed.  You want to divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Cover the dough with a damp towel and allow it to rest for a while.  I usually mix the dough and form the dough balls a couple of hours before I want to make chapatis.  You can certainly make the chapatis immediately, but the dough might be sticky or end up tough. I use an electric tortilla press to form my chapatis, and then I cook them partially on the press, and finish on a hot cast-iron skillet.  {I use a skillet to make it go faster, I can be pressing one chapati, while cooking another!}  If you don’t have a chapati press, a rolling pin works just as well – and I’m sure with enough practice you might even get round chapatis – I have yet to achieve that feat with a rolling pin though!  As you cook the chapatis, if you press down with a big flat spatula, and turn the chapati, it should “puff up,” flip it over and cook briefly on the other side.  I stack my cooked chapatis in a tortilla warmer and serve them hot!

whole-wheat-chapati-homemade

Do you make homemade chapatis?  Can you roll a round one to save your life? I honestly have a hard time eating a store-bought chapati now.  There is no comparison!  My husband’s only complaint is if we run out!  

Chai Survival Kit

Click to download blank recipe card.
Click to download the chai recipe card.

I recently mailed a “Chai Kit” to my favorite aunt, back home in Texas.  We got to visit her while were were home for Christmas.  While we were there, I made chai for the whole family.  Out of necessity, I outfitted my mom with all the necessary ingredients for making proper Indian chai, long ago.  My aunt saw the spice dabba,  and really liked it, and liked the homemade chai even more.  So when I got home, I decided to assemble a “Chai Kit” and mail it to her.  I included the spice dabba (I had one on hand to use as a gift), loaded with the spices that I use in my chai recipe: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks, sugar (I told her she’d have to buy the fresh ginger herself!).  I also included some tea leaves, straight from India (courtesy of my Mother-in-Law, on her last visit).  The last item I included was the tea strainer – I picked up several packs of these on our last trip to India, but they last for quite a while (even running them through the dishwasher!)  So I had extras to complete the chai kit.  I also designed and printed off a recipe card, so she would be able to have the recipe handy.  It turned out to be a great surprise gift for my aunt – she loved it & is perfecting her chai making skills!  Who knows, maybe I can turn over the chai making responsibility to her on our next visit!  She’s planning on accompanying us to India this year, so maybe her skills will come in handy, did I mention she’s single?  Maybe she can nab her own Indian man!  ;-)

Do you “do” homemade chai – or Starbucks “chai-tea lattes”?  

For your enjoyment, I’m making my chai recipe card available for free download as well as a blank version of the card, in case you have your own special recipes you’d like to use.  Enjoy!

Have you read about my first experiences making chai?  Or about our”chai-dates”?

Making Chapatis in Style!

We’ve been trying to eat healthier lately, and I realized that store-bought tortillas/chapattis are full of preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients. So why not just get really good at making chapattis at home? Well, I’ve tried making tortillas/chapattis from scratch before, but lets just say they don’t come out very round! (incidentally, my first “cooking lesson” from my Mother-in-law – the week after we got married was making homemade chapattis – I tried to pay attention, but I don’t think the lesson stuck very well!)

I needed help! So I did a little online research and found these electric flat bread makers that double as a tortilla press. Hmmm….sounded promising! So I begged for one for my birthday. I happily unwrapped this Chef Pro Flat Bread Maker and I couldn’t wait to try it out.
Since the goal here was to make this as easy as possible, I made the dough in my food processor with the dough blade attachment and then took it out and kneaded it by hand a little. (I’ve since found that it is just about as easy to mix it by hand as it is to pull out and dirty a food processor or mixer). I let the dough rest for a bit (cover with a damp towel to keep the dough from drying out).

Meanwhile I pre-heated the Flatbread Maker in the open position…

When it is good and hot, insert a ball of dough…


Close the lid, and press and release a few times to let the steam escape.
And? Voila! A ROUND preservative-free Chapatti!

My first attempt wasn’t too bad. I did realize halfway through that I should be pressing harder to make them thinner. The first few were a lot smaller in diameter and thicker.


A few tips that I’ve picked up since that first attempt on making great chapattis:
  • Start out with 2 cups of flour (all whole wheat or half all-purpose)
  • Add water and salt – to make a smooth dough
  • Kneed well (another secret for soft chapattis! You can also ad oil or ghee to the dough for a softer dough), once the dough is a smooth consistency, let it rest for 10-20 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 1.5 or 2 inch sections and roll into round balls (roughly the size of a golf ball). Make sure the balls are smooth and crack-free. (otherwise you’ll end up with oddly shaped chapattis!)
  • When cooking, flip the chapatties a few times and apply gentile pressure with the lid of the Flat Bread Maker to help the chapattis to puff up.

Hey it works for me – and I find it a lot more fun than rolling out dough with my rolling pin! What about you? Do you make chapattis at home? Would you try a electric press or a manual press, or just do it the “old-fashioned” way?

I love Momos!

Momos are one of my all time favorite things to eat in Southern Asia. I grew to know and love them in India, but they are actually native to the Himalayas of Nepal and Tibet. Basically they are a steamed dumpling (similar to a pot-sticker or wonton). They take a bit of work, but they are totally worth it!
Here’s the recipe:
Wrappers:
While you can make your own dough for the wrappers, I’ve found the best way is to use Chinese wonton pre-made wrappers (found in your local grocery store – check next to the tofu!).
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. lean ground lamb or chicken (or any ground meat) (for veg momos substitute cooked mashed potato or paneer for the meat)
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (corriander leaves), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 green chili, minced
  • 2 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee)
  • Salt to taste
Filling:
In a large bowl combine all filling ingredients. Mix well, adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow all ingredients blend and to improve the consistency of the filling.
Assembly:
Hold wrapper on one palm, put one tablespoon of filling mixture and with the other hand bring all edges together to the center, and seal, making pleats. Brush the edges with water to help the pleats stick together.
Pinch and twist the pleats to ensure it is sealed.
Heat up a steamer, oil the steamer rack well to prevent dumplings from sticking.
Arrange uncooked momos in the steamer. Close the lid, and steam until the dumplings are cooked through, about 10-15 min.
Take the dumplings off the steamer, and serve immediately.
To serve, arrange the cooked Momos on a plate and serve with tomato achar or Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.




Our Chai Dates

A few months ago I posted about a morning ritual in our house – which we affectionately call “chai dates.”  My husband and I still try and make time to squeeze this time in as often as we can.  Today was a relaxing morning at home for both of us – so I made my mother-in-law’s chai recipe and our favorite Indian breakfast – Indian style scrambled eggs.  (I’m sure there is an official name for this – but we just call it “Indian eggs”).  I posted the recipe over in the IndianTies forums a while ago, but in case you missed out, I’ll repost it here.

Here’s how we make them:



  • 6 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 medium onion, cut up
  • small amount of oil to fry the onion
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (depending on how spicy your chili powder is – you can add more or less)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green chili, cut in half
  • salt to taste

First, fry the diced onion until it is browned, add in all the other ingredients (except the eggs and milk) and fry for one to two minutes.  Finally, add the eggs and milk and cook until they are done.  

Serve with warm chapattis (we cheat and use tortillas) and please don’t forget the mango pickle!

So do you have a favorite South Asian breakfast recipe?  When I first went to India, I was surprised at some of the breakfast foods.  Curries for breakfast kind of blew my mind.  I’m more of a cereal girl – although my family is from the South and we have our own peculiar breakfast foods (my husband still doesn’t like grits – but he does appreciate biscuits and gravy!)

Once I got married it did not take long to find out that our ideas of breakfast did not mix… in my husband’s family, cereal would have been the first course for breakfast – followed by something a lot more substantial.  While staying in India with my in-laws, if I requested a bowl of cereal, they would always try to get me to eat something else afterwards… and if I politely declined, they were quite troubled that I wasn’t eating enough.  Most of the time I would give in and eat curries or appam or dosa or whatever they were having.  I was always relieved if they were having something “normal” like sausages and toast and jam.  I love almost all Indian foods that I’ve ever had – just not first thing in the morning!

I wonder why Americans are so obsessed with sweet foods in the mornings?  Most of our breakfast foods are very sweet (hey I’m not complaining!).  But from what I’ve found, Indian breakfasts are more savory – and to be honest, at first they looked more like lunch or dinner than breakfast to me!  It took me a while to catch on, but once I figured out that my husband starts his day off much better with a full stomach, I gave in and started making bigger breakfasts. (But we do compromise and we rarely have “curry” for breakfast – although that’s a great way to get rid of leftovers!)

And I have to say, I really do love me some Indian eggs and chai.



Fun Weekend

I hope you all had a fun weekend! My friend and I had a joint birthday party tonight – at the beach. It was so much fun, and we had a big crowd of friends there. We had ice cream sundays and popcorn. We found a recipe online for Indian Sweet and Spicy Popcorn (find it here), and it was fabulous! You have to try this recipe at your next event… not too sweet, not too spicy. To make things more festive, we served the popcorn in paper cones, made from 8″x 8″ scrapbook paper. I was totally addicted to the popcorn the whole night. (as were a few other friends!) What a perfect way to celebrate our birthdays!


There was a beautiful sunset to match the wonderful evening!


Happy 4th of July! Why not make Kulfi?

I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July (Independence Day)! We are spending the day at a friend’s house – sort of an all day food-fest! Our town has a really neat Old Fashioned 4th of July parade as well, so that will be fun to watch. There will be lots of street venders and an antique car show. Basically your small-town America 4th of July! Then around 10:30 the city has a fireworks show over the bay. (Yes 10:30 is late for fireworks, but believe it or not it is still not completely dark!) There is something beautiful about fireworks over the water! Our friends who are hosting all of us for the day have a front row seat for the fireworks – since their house is situated right over the water. My only complaint (being a Texan girl) is that I usually have to wear a sweatshirt or jacket because it gets so cool. That is a completely foreign concept for me in the middle of summer!
My husband even gets into the festivities. He of course loves the FOOD and the fireworks. I think all Indians love fireworks – well maybe not ALL Indians. But fireworks are certainly a big part of the Diwali festival and other festivals in India. Of course, my husband likes setting off his own fireworks or “crackers” as he calls them, which we never did as kids – the best we got were sparklers!
So I’m responsible to bring some sort of dish to the party – I remember last year my Mother-in-law was here and she made this awesome Indian potato dish. Everyone loved it. I was thinking of doing something Indian as well. Then the idea struck me – 4th of July = homemade ice cream. Why not fuse East and West and make Kulfi? If you haven’t tried kulfi (an Indian ice cream with all sorts of yummy flavors like pistachios, cardamum, mango, etc…) you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve made it once before, and it turned out great. You don’t even need an ice cream freezer (although I did use one when I made it).
So if you’re up for trying it out, here are a few recipes:
Mango Kulfi (pista chips are pistachios)
Cool Kulfi (with dried cranberries and pistachios)
I might give one of these recipes a try – the recipe that I tried earlier came from my favorite Indian cookbook. There seem to be lots of methods of making Kulfi – so the best way is to pick one and run with it! Your friends and family will thank you!
Anybody tried making Kulfi before? Success? Failure? I’d love to hear about it…


Chai


We are totally addicted to chai these days. I’ve always liked it, but in the past, I was too lazy intimidated to make it myself. My Mother-in-law makes wonderful chai for us when she visits from India. But when she wasn’t around, we just tended to go without.

My husband and I were talking a few months ago about how we’re always rushing around in the morning and never take time to connect before we start our day. So we decided to have “Chai dates” every morning before we go to work. (I’ll admit, we still don’t do

this every morning, but it is a fairly regular event now – and we both love it!)
So in order to make these “chai dates” happen, I had to…learn how to make chai. So I called up my MIL and got her recipe. After some trial and error, I think I’ve mastered it.
Here’s the recipe and a few pointers for beginners. (By the way, everyone makes chai differently – so feel free to experiment and try out new stuff!)
Ingredients:
Equal parts: Milk & Water
Fresh Ginger (grated – 1 tsp or so)
Green cardamom pods (opened – 3-4)
Cloves (4-5)
Cinnamon sticks (1-2)
Sugar (to taste)
Loose Tea Leaves (2-3 tsp.)
Directions:
I usually make chai for just the two of us, so I start out by filling one teacup full of water and one of milk (that way I know I’ll get a full 2 cups). Dump the liquids into a sauce pan and turn the heat on to medium-high.
Next, add some fresh ginger,* and all the spices. Bring to a boil.** Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir. Finally add loose tea leaves and let it brew for a minute or two until it is strong enough for your tastes. Strain out the tea leaves and spices, serve and enjoy!
*At first I added chopped up fresh ginger, but I found that you use a lot less if you grate the ginger (with a cheese grater) straight into the saucepan. Go light on the ginger until you find out how strong you like it – the first time I grated it, we had some super strong ginger-tea!
**Do not turn your back on the saucepan – the minute you do, it WILL boil over. Just ask me…
Other tips:

Cardamom pods can be tricky to open. The best method is to open it from the flatter end, not the end that is pointy. They look like a banana, but you want to open cardamom opposite than you would a banana. It is waaaay easier, let me tell you!

Use whole milk, chai will never turn out as rich as it does in India unless you use whole milk!!! (we also use non-homogenized)
Please don’t use those “chai-tea” mixes (WHY do people insist on calling it Chai-tea?? That’s like saying Tea-tea) …it is really fun and not too difficult to make chai yourself.
Other Chai resources:
A great thread in the IndianTies forums: Chai
Do you have a chai addiction? How do you get your fix? Tips – favorite recipes? We want to know!


Indian Cooking Series: Homemade Chicken Tikka Pizza Recipe



So last time in Part 1 of the Indian Cooking Series, we talked about spices. Spices are an integral part of Indian cooking. Now that you’ve got your spice cabinet stocked, why not put them to good use and make a truly intercultural meal – Chicken Tikka Pizza! It doesn’t get much better than this!

The recipe might look intimidating – but most Indian recipes call for lots of spices – which makes the ingredient list terribly long. One thing I like to do is when a recipe calls for several spices to be added at once, I measure them out ahead of time into a small bowl – that way I can just dump them in at the right time. If I can make this, you can too – and you’ll probably impress your dinner guests along the way!


Homemade Naan:
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 4 tbsp warm milk
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 cups of all purpose flour (I used 2 c. all purpose and 2 c. whole wheat **trying to be healthy!)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cups milk
  • 2/3 cups plain yougert, beaten
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp ghee, melted (clarified butter)
  • flour for dusting
  • ghee for greasing

Directions:
Mix the yeast, warm milk and sugar and leave to become frothy. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and add yeast mixture, milk, yogurt, egg and ghee. Fold in all the ingredients.
Kneed the dough well. Tightly cover the bowl and keep in warm place until the dough doubles in size. When you push your finger into the dough, it should spring back. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. Make each naan into a pear shape, about 10 inches long. Place on greased trays/baking stone in preheated oven for 10-12 min.

**I cheated by using my bread machine to make the naan dough. It probably came out better when I made it by hand once before, but this was lots faster!

**Or you could REALLY cheat and just BUY some naan! Why didn’t I think of that??

Chicken Tikka:
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ginger pulp
  • 1 tsp garlic pulp
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together and add chicken pieces. Marinate for at least 2 hrs. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. You can either skewer the chicken pieces or place them on a grilling rack and bake for 20-25 minutes. Keep aside.



Pizza sauce:
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2/3 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 4 green cardamom pods (split open)
  • 1 tsp ginger pulp
  • 1 tsp garlic pulp
  • 1/2 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • cilantro leaves, chopped

Directions:
Fry the onions until golden brown and translucent. Add the spices and fry for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, mix well and finally add the yogurt. Add more yogurt as needed. (remove whole spices before serving)


Assemble the pizzas:
Brush the hot naan with ghee, spread the sauce over the naan. Place chicken pieces on top and cover with cheese. Melt in a hot oven 4-5 minutes. Garnish with raw onions and cilantro.