Category Archives: RECIPES

Indian Cooking Series: Spices

I’d say one of the most important things when marrying someone from another culture is an appreciation of each other’s native foods. Thankfully, I’m in love with Indian food almost as much as my husband is, and I also enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes.

One thing that was overwhelming when I started cooking Indian food, was the sheer number of spice combinations that needed to be used! I’m not talking about cooking Indian food with “curry powder” – that’s cheating in my book! Anyhow, in addition to the complex spice blends, many of the authentic recipes that I had collected used the Indian names for the spices. I was able to learn which spice was which over time, and am now able to switch seamlessly between the Indian names & English names. This skill is useful when sending recipes to my non-Indian friends & family.

So in hopes to help others who are just learning Indian cooking, here are a few of the common Indian spices and their English equivalents. If you’re just building up your Indian spice cabinet, these spices are good to have on hand.



English Spice Hindi Tamil
Asafoetida Hing Perungayam
Bay Leaf Tej patta Talishapattiri
Cardamom Elaichi Elakkai
Chillies Mirch Milagai
Cinnamon Dalchini ilavangkam
Cloves Laung Krambu
Coriander Dhania Kothamalli vidai
Corriander Leaves (Cilantro) Hara dhania Kothamalli
Cumin Jeera Jeeragam
Curry Leaves Karipatha Kariveppilai
Fennel Saunf
Fenugreek Methi Venthiyam
Garlic Lassan Ulipoondu
Fresh Ginger Adrak Injin
Lime Nimbu Elumichai
Mint Pudina Pudina
Mace Javithri Jathipatri
Mango Powder Aamchur
Mustard Seeds Rai Kadugu
Nutmeg Jaiphal Jathikkai
Pepper Kali Mirch Milagu
Saffron Kesar
Tamarind Pulp Imli Puli
Turmeric Haldi Manjal

Once you’ve stocked up on your spices, make sure to follow these tips for storing them so they maintain their optimal freshness and flavor…
  1. Keep the spices in a cool, dark place – free from moisture and humidity. A spice dabba is a fun and practical solution.
  2. Ground spices can retain their flavor for around a year – whole spices retain their flavor much longer. Try grinding your own spices for a more intense flavor. (use a mortar & pestal or a coffee grinder)
  3. Keep rarely used spices in airtight containers in the freezer.

Stay tuned for more in the Indian Cooking Series.


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 Allrecipes.com 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!


Ingredients:
  • 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!


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.


Aloo Gobhi Anyone?

Friday night, we were invited to an Indian friend’s house for dinner. My husband volunteered for me to bring Aloo Gobhi (potatoes & cauliflower). I’ve had lots of practice making Indian food, including lessons from my Mother-in-Law. But even so, when I make Indian food for people from India, I tend to get nervous. What if they don’t like it? What if I don’t make it right? I normally have a positive outcome (or else everyone is just really being really, really nice!) Friday was no exception; everyone thought the Aloo Gobhi was really good. So here’s the recipe: (adapted from a family recipe)

Ingredients:
● Small amount of oil for frying
● 1 tsp of cumin powder
● 1 tsp of turmeric powder
● 1 tsp of chili powder
● Cauliflower in small pieces
● 4 Potatoes cut into small pieces
● salt to taste
● 1 tsp corriander powder
● 1 tsp dry mango powder
● small bunch of corriander leaves
Directions:
Heat up the pan and the oil. Fry the cumin, turmeric and chili powders in the oil for approx 20-30 sec, while stirring. Add the cauliflower & potatoes and mix well to coat. Mix in the desired amount of salt & water. Put it on medium heat for approx 30 min, and stir occasionally, being careful not to burn! When it is cooked, mix in the corriander & mango pdr, leave it for 2 more min on low heat. Garnish with corriander leaves.
* A shortcut is to cook the chopped potatoes & cauliflower partially in the microwave ahead of time, it speeds up the cooking time and reduces the chance of it burning! Reduce the amount of time and lower the heat during cooking.


Indian Cooking: Shahi Paneer









Making this Shahi Paneer recipe will make you look like a pro!

Ingredients:

● 200 grams Paneer
● 2 Medium onions
● 1 inch Ginger
● 3-4 pieces Garlic
● 1-2 Green chilies
● 1/2 tsp white pepper pdr
● 1 tsp red chili pdr
● 3/4 tsp turmeric pdr
● 1 tsp garam masala pdr
● 3-4 tbsp cream
● 1/2 cup Milk
● 8-10 tbsp. Vegetable oil
● salt to taste

optional:

● Dry fruits (cashew nuts, raisins, makhane) 1/4 cup

Directions:

To make homemade paneer:

Bring at least 4 cups of milk to a boil (in a double broiler). Add 2 tbsp lemon juice, stirring continuously and gently until the milk thickens and begins to curdle. Strain the curdled milk through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Get as much of the liquid out as possible. Set aside under a heavy weight in the refrigerator for about 1-2 hrs to press into a flat shape about 1/2 inch thick. For best results, make the paneer a day before you plan to use it in a recipe, it will then be firmer and easier to handle. cut and use as required – it will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.

To make Shahi Paneer:

Heat oil in a pan.

Cut paneer into small cubes. Fry over medium heat until light brown. Turn pieces while frying. Be careful as it splatters.

Keep the paneer pieces aside.

Sauté the dry fruits in a tbsp of oil.

Grind the onion, ginger, garlic, green chili in a blender and make a fine paste.

Fry the mixture in the remaining oil until golden brown and oil starts separating.

Add salt, red chili pdr, white pepper, turmeric pdr, garam masala. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.

Add milk to make the gravy. Bring the gravy to boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the gravy becomes thick.

Put a portion of the dry fruits in the gravy while it is being cooked. This adds flavor to the dish. Keep the rest of the dry fruits for decorating.

Finally, add paneer pieces and 1 tbsp cream. Heat for 5 minutes.

(you can also add in a little plain yogurt or more milk if it is too thick)

Shahi paneer is ready to serve. Decorate with cream and dry fruits. Coriander leaves are optional.