Comforting kadhi

 Indian Cooking  Comments Off on Comforting kadhi
Apr 132012

Kadhi or curried buttermilk is a popular side dish from India that can also be enjoyed as a soup. It is consumed by villagers and urbanites. Kadhi is great served over rice or khichdi (or khichadi) – a delicious and healthy porridge made from rice, lentils and vegetables. In this photo, red cabbage was incorporated.

There are delicious variations of this popular dish in various states of India. A popular style of making kadhi is from the state of Gujarat. Guajarathi kadhi is normally sweeter and thinner than other styles. Following is a recipe from All Recipes for this version:

Original Recipe Yield 4 servings


4 cups water
2 cups plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan)
4 green chile peppers, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ghee
2 dried red chile peppers, broken into pieces
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1 pinch asafoetida powder
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves


Mix the water, yogurt, and chickpea flour together in a large saucepan until smooth; add the green chile peppers, ginger, sugar, turmeric, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately reduce heat to low; cook on low 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat the oil and ghee together in a small skillet over medium heat; fry the dried red chile peppers, curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seed, and asafoetida powder in the the mixture until the seeds splutter. Stir the mixture into the saucepan with the cilantro. Serve hot.

Nutritional Information

Amount Per Serving Calories: 185 | Total Fat: 9.1g | Cholesterol: 16mg


Curried Quinoa

 Cultural integration, Indian Cooking, Recipes  Comments Off on Curried Quinoa
Aug 092011

Curried Quinoa

I’m trying to find interesting ways to use healthy grains like quinoa. I was inspired by a dish last weekend made by a fellow camper that seemed to be like Southwestern taboule. It had black beans, chives, cilantro and tanginess from possibly lemon. I was going to try to replicate it from taste and sight, but didn’t have black beans on hand. I did have chickpeas, so thought of chole and combining it with quinoa.

I sauteed some red onion and a little chili pepper in coconut oil with cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric, and chopped ginger. I added a can of diced tomatoes and chickpeas. I threw in some chopped spinach from the yard for more nutrition. I let this cook and added it to the cooked quinoa, which I had made in the rice cooker just like rice – 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa.

It satisfied my family, and most importantly, my picky toddler.


Pakoras (vegetable fritters)

 Indian Cooking, Recipes  Comments Off on Pakoras (vegetable fritters)
May 112011


This is a generally standard recipe for pakoras or vegetable fritters from All Recipes, minus the garlic. I included the garlic from the recipe because “why not?” I’ll use garlic whenever possible.

I mentioned I would make these and post on my site to a gal on my Facebook page for “Raising Vegetarian Kids,” so here it is:

1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup water
1 quart oil for deep frying
1/2 head cauliflower florets
2 onions, sliced into rings


Sift the chickpea flour into a medium bowl. Mix in the coriander, salt, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala and garlic.
Make a well in the center of the flower. Gradually pour the water into the well and mix to form a thick, smooth batter.
Over medium high heat in a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Coat the cauliflower and onions in the batter and fry them in small batches until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels before serving.

I used a very small amount of oil to shallow-fry. Other vegetables can also be used, as desired. I used sweet potato. Try using eggplant slices and consider them for veggie burgers! I have even used the pakora batter for chili rellenos! They were crispy, like my husband and I like.

* Note: if you like spicy food, you could add more chili pepper or diced green chili to the batter

Source: Vegetable Pakoras (All Recipes)


Uppama (semolina cereal/cream of wheat)

 Indian Cooking, Recipes  Comments Off on Uppama (semolina cereal/cream of wheat)
Mar 082011


Uppama is a nutritious savory South Indian cereal packed with vegetables. It is one of my favorite comfort foods. It has also turned out to be something my finicky two-year-old daughter will eat (for now).

Uppama is normally eaten for breakfast, perhaps with coconut chutney on the side, but can also be eaten for lunch or dinner. It can also be used as a stuffing for vegetables like tomatoes and green peppers, which I plan to try. The recipe is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s “World of the East Vegetarian Cooking.”

Semolina – 1.5 cups

Ghee – 1 T + ½ tsp

Oil – 1 T

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Urad dal – 1 tsp (optional)

Channa dal/split garbanzo beans – 1 T

Curry leaves – 5 to 6

Dried red chillies – 2 broken into pieces (use the seeds please)

Cashew nuts – 1 T, roughly chopped (optional)

Asafoetida – 1/8th tsp

Water – 3 cups

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup mixed vegetables

Salt – 1 tsp or to taste

Coconut – 1 T, grated

* Heat 1 T of ghee in a sauté pan and sauté the semolina until it slightly changes color.
* Transfer the semolina to a plate
* Heat oil in the same sauté pan and when the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal, curry leaves, chillies, cashew nuts and asafoetida.
* When the channa dal starts changing color, add onion and saute for a few minutes. Add mixed vegetables (or other vegetable(s), coconut and salt.
* Slowly stir in the semolina while continuing to stir with the other hand, alternating with water.
* Reduce the heat to medium low. All the water will be absorbed. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for roughly 3-4 minutes

Great with a side of Indian pickle and plain yogurt!


Healing Spices

 Alternative Medicine, Indian Cooking  Comments Off on Healing Spices
Mar 042011


Most people in India are aware of the healing effects of the spices they use. Or they are just very accustomed to their use in everyday cooking and take for granted the additional health benefits they receive. It has been an interesting observation that the incidence of Alzheimer’s in India has not been very common. This phenomenon has been attributed to the widespread use of turmeric, a key ingredient in curry powder and mustard.

The author of Healing Spices, Bharat B. Aggarwal, states that there are 50 spices that may help prevent or heal particular diseases or conditions. For instance, cooked bay leaf releases antioxidants and is a natural medicine for arthritis, cancer, ulcer, mosquito bites and wounds. He points out to look for whole, dark, and larger leaves.

Cumin has been considered to “be as effective as an anti-diabetes drug in controlling diabetes in lab rats.” It can also protect bones and prevent food poisoning. “Agarwal recommends buying cumin as whole seeds rather than ground.”

Ginger and garlic is normally found in most Indian dishes and also has medicinal properties such as enhancing our immune system. Other uncommon beneficial spices include lemongrass, nutmeg and thyme.

It’s good to know that in addition to enhancing the flavor of our foods, spices can be a natural source of healing.

Source: USA Weekend, my column


Eggplant sambar

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Sep 302010

Eggplant sambar

I love Indian food and South Indian food in particular. One of my favorite South Indian foods is Sambar. This is a delicious soup or stew that is served with Indian crepes called dosas, vadas (lentil “doughnuts”) or rice.

I like eggplant and like it even more in sambar. The addition of carrots adds a sweet taste in contrast to the sour from tamarind. Coconut adds more sweetness and texture. The dal is packed with protein. Enjoy a tasty and healthy addition to your diet, and an option to regular dal.

Here is how I made it; feel free to modify it to your taste. Measurements are approximate.

* diced eggplant (about 1 medium size)
* 1/2 cup diced carrots
* 1/2 cup onion
* toor dal (about 1 cup rinsed and soaked)
* 1 tblsp coconut oil
* 5-6 curry leaves
* 1 tsp mustard seeds
* 1 tsp turmeric
* 1 tsp tamarind
* 1 green chili
* 2 cups water
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tblsp cilantro
* 1/4 cup coconut (optional)

Saute spices with onion, carrots and eggplant. Add dal, water, and cook until dal is tender. Mash it to the consistency desired. Try it in a slow cooker!

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.


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

May 192010

Improvised Indian Fried Rice

I’ve been busy lately and felt like eating some Indian food and also felt the need for some comfort food. I also wanted to use up some leftovers at the same time. I had some leftover rice and some cooked potatoes that were a recent breakfast side dish. I decided to make some improvised Indian fried rice.

I started with a little asafoetida, some cumin and diced red onion that I sauteed in a little sunflower oil. I added some mustard seeds, a little turmeric, mango powder and maybe some coriander. Sometimes my powdered spices look a little similar and I just go around in my steel spice holder getting about a quarter tsp of each using my tiny spice spoon that sits in the container. The kitchen was starting to smell wonderful with the Indian spices cooking, a scent that is very familiar, comforting and appetizing to me.

I added a can of washed kidney beans, the potatoes and then the rice, adding some water to get the consistency I wanted. I added some salt, garam masala, and a little Brewer’s Yeast for added nutrition.

I heated some saag I made previously and had the rice mix with that. However, having it by itself with a little pickle and yogurt would have been just fine as well. I topped the Indian fried rice with a little diced red onion I had set aside. Yumm! I was done just in time for my daughter to wake up, who shared it with me.

After finishing my meal, I discovered some left-over broccoli that I could have used. I just added it to the leftover fried rice for next time.

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