Jun 292010

I love to improvise and play around with Indian cooking. To me, spices are like paints for an artist. Therefore, cooking is more of an art rather than a science. I like to use what I think would taste good. I often replicate a method rather than using a specific recipe. Substitutions are a rule rather than exception in my kitchen. In this case, I made my version of potatoes and tofu, Indian style.

Adjust oil and spices according to the amount of potatoes and tofu you are cooking, along with your preference. I used about a tablespoon of oil and 1/2 tsp of each spice for about 5 medium potatoes and 1/2 a lb of tofu.


* cumin
* oil
* potato
* tofu
* onion
* curry leaves
* ginger/garlic paste
* turmeric
* coriander powder
* mango powder (amchur)
* coconut
* mixed vegetables
* yogurt (optional)


Sauteeing diced potatoes with onion

Saute diced potato and tofu in oil, add spices and coconut.

With the addition of tofu and coconut

Add water and let potato cook. Add mixed vegetables (fresh or frozen). Add about a 1/2 cup of yogurt for a creamy taste and top with cilantro.

Potato and Tofu Curry with Coconut

Serve with naan. Great as a wrap filling as well.


The Lessons of Ganesha

 Authenticity, South Asian culture  Comments Off on The Lessons of Ganesha
Jun 192010

“It Felt Love. How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being. Otherwise, we all remain too frightened. –Hafiz

In Hindu mythology, Ganesha, Lord of Overcoming Obstacles, is the god with the elephant head and human-like body. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Ganesha is wise and jovial, often impulsive and sometimes careless, but always filling the world around him with laughter and joy. He loves to dance, eat sweets and he rides a tiny mouse, Mushika. Problems and obstacles disappear when he is near. Often depicted with four or more arms he carries a combination of these tools:

* a goad–a type of handheld spur used by elephant drivers that symbolizes good judgment that leads to good action.
* a noose to snare obstacles and sweep them out of the path of people”
* a sweet dumpling or modaka that is a symbol of joy
* an assortment of weapons: swords, bows and axes
* a broken tusk which represents sacrifice
* different fruits such as mangoes and pomegranates that represent abundance and prosperity.

Traditionally people ask for Ganesha’s blessing before a journey, a new job or venture. Known as the master of dance, Ganesha’s gesture of blessing, the abhaya mudra, means “Be not afraid.” In one story where Ganesha is called for help, he meets a demon that is about to take over the world. Ganesha tells the demon, “You are taking up far too much space on this mountain.” Then he swallows the demon, bringing the world back to balance and harmony.

Our own demons and obstacles can have the same impact on our lives. When we are focused on our problems and feeling closed down, there is not space for feelings of joy, appreciation and gratitude for the good things in our lives.

Sharon Salzberg writes in her book Loving-kindness, “The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.”

As in Ganesha’s world, our problems and obstacles can be overcome as we direct our attention to aspects in our lives that bring us joy and inspiration and to the practices that connect us to our own ability to love ourselves and others. It comes down to our ability to focus inward, listen and put our intentions into action. This takes discipline, courage and the desire to move towards what keeps our hearts and minds open.”

I have thought about the image of Ganesha when I felt there were issues to overcome. Visualizing him or looking at a symbol of him allowed me to harness the ability to overcome. Perhaps he is a symbol you can incorporate in your life as well.

Source: Eastern Sun Yoga


Traditional alloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower)

 Indian Cooking, Recipes, South Asian culture  Comments Off on Traditional alloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower)
Jun 132010

Alloo Gobi, Potatoes and cauliflower

Alloo Gobi

I had two heads of cauliflower to use up from my organic produce delivery and a lot of red potatoes. So the first thing I thought of for the two ingredients was alloo gobi. Sometimes, I add tofu, but this time I didn’t, since I was also making masoor dal, which would suffice for protein.

“This North Indian dish, supplemented with stuffed Parathas and Sour Lime Pickle, is put into small, brass “tiffin-carriers” and taken as lunch by thousands of school children and office workers. Rolled in the same parathas, it may be taken on picnics or long car journeys.
(serves 6)

2 lbs cauliflower (1 smallish head)
2 medium-sized boiling potatoes (about ¾ pound)
6 tblsps vegetable oil
¼ tsp whole fenugreek seeds
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 to 2 whole dried hot red peppers
¾ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 to 1 ¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garam masala

Discard leaves and coarse stem of cauliflower. Break head into 2-inch long flowerets. Now cut each floweret lengthwise into very slim flowerets, with the heads never wider than ½ inch. Soak in cold water for half an hour.

Peel the potatoes. Cut them into dice, about ½ x ½ x 1/3 inch. Soak in bowl of cold water for half an hour.

Drain cauliflower and potatoes and dry them in a dish towel. Heat oil in a large 12 – to – 14- inch skillet over high heat. When the oil is smoking, scatter in the fenugreek seeds, the fennel seeds, the cumin seeds, and the red peppers. Stir once and quickly add the cauliflower and the potatoes. Stir again and turn the heat to medium. Sprinkle the turmeric, coriander, salt, and pepper over the vegetables and sauté them for about 8 to 10 minutes. Now add ¼ cup water and cover immediately. Turn heat to very low and steam vegetables gently about 7 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Sprinkle the garam masala over the vegetables, stir once, and serve.”

optional: I like to squeeze about 1/2 a lemon to it at the end.

Source: Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking cookbook


Masoor dal

 Indian Cooking, Recipes, South Asian culture  Comments Off on Masoor dal
Jun 132010

easy dal

Masoor Dal

Masoor dal (red lentils/Egyptian lentils) cooks easily and is tasty. It can also be substituted by mung dal. This is an easy recipe that is sure to please. Although oil or ghee can be used, the ghee adds a richer flavor.

* 1 cup masoor dal
* 1 quarter-sized slice of fresh ginger
* 3/4 tsp salt
* 2 tblsps vegetable oil or ghee
* a pinch of ground asafetida
* 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
* 2 whole, hot dried red peppers

Pick over the dal and wash in several changes of water. Drain, then add 4 cups of water and bring to boil. Skim away surface residue. Add ginger and turmeric. Turn the heat to low and cover so that the lid is a little ajar.

Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until dal is no longer grainy. It can be mashed for a smoother consistency and to quicken the cooking time. Stir, add salt, and keep covered.

Heat the oil or ghee in a small skillet or pot over a medium flame. When hot, put in the asafoetida followed by the cumin and red peppers. Turn the peppers so all sides turn dark and crisp. Pour the mixture into the dal. Cover and allow the dal to absorb the flavors for at least a minute prior to serving. It can be garnished with lemon juice and cilantro.

Source: Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking cookbook

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