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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Coconut Spinach Curry with Paneer and Peas

This is one of those original recipes - something I decided to create based off some flavors I truly enjoy - coconut, curry and spinach.

If you like Saag Paneer and Thai food you'll like this. The spice of the dish is tamed by the sweet of the coconut.

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 cup of onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of garlic-ginger paste
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1 bag of frozen paneer cheese
  • 1 tsp. of garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • 1 heaping tsp. of curry paste
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Heat up oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic-ginger paste and saute.
  2. When onions are translucent, add tomatoes and saute. Add spinach and allow it to wilt.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, chili powder and garam masala. 
  4. When all ingredients are mixed well, add it to a food processor and pulse until it is blended.
  5. In a separate pan, add paneer and a bit of oil and allow it to brown on sides.
  6. In the pot, add coconut milk and blended spinach dish and curry paste. Stir.
  7. When paneer cubes are brown add them, some more salt and peas. 

Serve with rice.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken is one of the more popular dishes non-Indians love to order and eat when they are out in Indian restaurants.

So why not grill some up while you're at home, outdoors on the grill?

Here's a super easy recipe - although I'll say you should probably marinate overnight, for the best flavor.

Also I prefer dark meat chicken because it seems to soak up the flavor better than white meat.

  • 4 skinless thighs
  • 1 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 4 tbsp of yogurt
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp of fenugreek powder
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp of coriander
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • red food coloring, optional.
  • 2 tbsp of oil.


Marinade - for at least 4 hours, overnight for best results.
  1. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the chicken
  2. Add yogurt, spices, oil, lime juice and food coloring in a bowl. Blend well with hands. Add chicken and make sure all chicken is covered in marinade. 
  3. Grill the tandoori chicken as you would normally cook chicken, or if you're cooking it in an oven, then cook the chicken for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Cover for 30 minutes, then uncover for remaining 10 minutes.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Even if you don't like Indian food -- you will like samosas, a crunchy potato filled pastry of YUM!

Usually, you make the pastry dough from scratch as well, and fry the samosas, which cooks the dough to crispiness. But as I've said before, you can make really great Indian food without actually using as much oil as our grandmothers are known to do. I wanted to bake the samosas and if I did that I need something that crisps up in the oven.

When I initially tested this recipe, I used phyllo dough thinking the crispiness of a spanikopita could be replicated. What I learned however, was that I hate working with phyllo dough, it dries too quickly, eek! So I think working with puff pastry may be better -- or trying the homemade dough and frying it.

So although the pictures for this don't show the actual end result, I was enjoying them so much I forgot to take a picture, I'm sure I will eventually make these again, and I'll add a picture then!

SAMOSAS, makes 32--


pastry: puff pastry or phyllo for baking.
or for frying:
  • 7.5 cups flour 
  • 1 tbsp. salt 
  • 3/4 cup clarified butter or ghee, melted (use vegetable shortening or oil for vegan variation) 
  • hot water

  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, boiled and peeled
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 cup of carrots, chopped finely
  • 1 cup of onions, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp. of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp of cumin powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp of chopped cilantro

  1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in melted ghee. Add 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of hot water gradually, tossing and stirring, to make a dough. 
  2. Knead for 2 minutes, then chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. If using a food processor, combine flour and salt in processor bowl. Pour in ghee and blend to combine. With processor running at medium speed, stream in the hot water, then process an additional 15 - 20 seconds. Remove from processor, form into a ball, and chill while you prepare the filling.
  3. In a medium skillet, saute onions, carrots, peas and ginger in tsp of oil over medium heat until onions are translucent.
  4. In a separate bowl, mash the cooked potatoes with the spices and sauteed veggies. Add oil or ghee, salt and cilantro and mixed thoroughly
  5. If you're using puff pastry/phyllo follow care instructions on package and create square pieces to put filling in. The samosas will be flat triangles rather than 3D triangles. Or if using pastry follow directions below.
  6. Divide the dough into 16 equal balls. The easiest way is to keep halving the dough until you have 16 pieces (you'll divide the dough 4 times total). Roll or pat each ball into a 7-inch disc. Cut each disk in half. Roll each half into a cone, overlapping the edges and pinching or wetting to seal. Stuff the cone with a big spoonful or two of filling, then pinch the open end closed (wetting if necessary), forming a puffy triangle. 
  7. Chill finished samosas and continue until you've used all the dough.  
  8. In a wok or large sauce pan, heat several inches of oil to 350, or until a cube of bread browns in 40 seconds. Fry samosas, 3 - 6 at a time, until golden, blistered, and crisp, about 3 - 4 minutes, turning them over halfway through frying. Remove with tongs, drain on paper towels, and continue until all samosas are fried. May be held in a warm (250-degree) oven while you cook all the batches. 
Serve with tamarind chutney.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Coconut Green Beans

Every so often when growing up in an Indian home, there's just not enough time to stew up something - so simple recipes become a way to satisfy the flavors without a lot of work.

One of these recipes is Coconut Green Beans. Basically it's a bag of frozen green beans with shredded coconut and other spices and takes no time to make.


  • 1 bag of frozen green beans, thawed
  • 1/4 cup of shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of oil

  1. Add oil to a pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add shredded coconut and beans and saute for 7 to 10 mins.
  3. Add salt and pepper

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Indian Mac and Cheese (Masala Mac)

So, I started a new job in the Washington, D.C. area and moved out of New York City, so I'm officially on a mission to find good Indian grocery stores in the area and good Indian food.

But when I went back to NYC for some work training, I got a chance to finally try something I really wanted to eat the entire time I was in the city - masala mac and cheese from S'Mac in the East Village.

It's my favorite guilty pleasure with Indian spices, how can I resist? - or you for that matter.

So I decided I would try to create my own recipe.

  • 1 pound of macaroni, cooked in salted water, drained (use directions on box)
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded gruyere or provolone
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • 2 tbsp. of flour
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of coriander
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • 1/2 of red chili or cayenne
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
  • oil spray
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt butter and add flour to it. Blend to make a roux. 
  2. Add milk to mixture and heat through. Try not to boil it, so stir regularly.
  3. Slowly add cheeses. Each time you add some stir it in until it it's melted through.
  4. Add spices - cumin, coriander, garlic, onion, turmeric and chili.
  5. Add cilantro to the mix and add cooked pasta.
  6. Taste mixture and add salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Place the entire pot of mac in cheese in a brownie pan or casserole dish that has been sprayed with oil.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 mins. covered. Uncover and baked for an additional 10 minutes until bubbly.

To find more info on S'Mac go to:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gourmet: Goan Gobi Curry (Cauliflower Curry)

Excuse the state of the photos, they were taken from my phone, but this was a part of my gourmet meal I had with my mom and roommate Sara, as a part of graduation weekend at Vermillion in New York City.

Vermiilion is a Latin-Indian fusion restaurant off Lexington Avenue, near an area in New York City known as "Curry Hill," for obviously all of it's Indian restaurants and stores. I had originally heard of the place while watch The Iron Chef on the Food Network when Vermillion's chef, Maneet Chauhan, battled Iron Chef Morimoto.

I was so intrigued by the fusion because although I've noticed many similarities in the the types of foods Latinos and Indians eat -- I was excited to find out how the flavors would blend.

Anyway, Sara and I enjoyed so much food, literally SO MUCH FOOD including tandoori skirt steak (seared churrasco in a classic indian marinade, plantain chips, garlic spinach), cauliflower portuguese (stewed in a goan gravy + coconut rice), juhu ki pani puri (street indian chaat, flour shells, spiced potato, chili mint water) and my mom had paneer konkani (cheese, oaxacan crepas de huitlacoche/mexican truffle, inca red quinoa).  THESE PICTURES DON'T EVEN GIVE JUSTICE TO WHAT WE ATE!!!

Anyway, I was really inspired by the food and I wanted to try making the Cauliflower Portuguese, otherwise known as Goan curry. It's called Goan after an coastal/beach area in India known as Goa. After Portuguese conquistadors came to the area, and some later settled, it has been greatly influenced by Portuguese cuisine. Goan cuisine in general is a mix of spicy and sweet flavors.

Similarly, this dish is sweet with the help of coconut milk and spicy with the help of chilies. 

Although many times shredded coconut is blended into the paste, I used coconut milk instead. Also Goan curry is usually accompanied with shrimp, but I made this vegetarian version for the sake of mimicking what I ate at Vermillion -- but using shrimp instead of cauliflower is yummy too!

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 head of cauliflower, stems removed and cut into florets
  • 1 tsp of curry paste
  • 1 tsp of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic minced
  • 1 green chili, chopped with seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric

  1. Over medium heat, place broth in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add cauliflower and allow to steam for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender.
  3. Add garlic, ginger and chili to the cauliflower and allow the flavors to blend. Some to all of the broth will boil away.
  4. Add coconut milk, turmeric and curry paste and allow stew to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. 
  5. Add salt or pepper if desired.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dimer Jhol (Egg Curry)

Even if you're not a fan of hard-boiled eggs - this recipe will make you want them!

It's super easy and ingredients can be adjusted - you can add potatoes or leave them out or you could ask various vegetables like cauliflower.

4 Eggs, hard boiled and shelled
2 Medium-large potatoes (optional)  
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato
1 tsp. of tomato paste
1" cube of fresh ginger, grated
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli
1 level teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed (dhanya)
1.5 teaspoon turmeric powder (halood)
1 level teaspoon ground cumin seed (jeera)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 cups of warm water or chicken broth
salt to taste


  1. Once you have gathered the ingredients peel the potatoes and cut each into 6 pieces. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot fry the potatoes for 4-5 mins turning them over from time to time. Take them out and place aside when they are done
  2. Next make 2-3 small slits in each egg, coat with half of the turmeric powder and fry eggs in the remaining oil in the pan until slightly browned. You must continuously turn the eggs. When these are done set them aside.
  3. In the remaining oil add the crushed chilli and the garam masala and fry for one minute (medium heat). Next add the ginger and garlic and fry for another minute. After this you add the chopped onion, tomato and tomato paste and fry for 5 minutes, lower the heat to "low" and add the chilli powder, coriander and cumin and curry powder. Stir and fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Now add to the pan the potatoes, salt and turmeric, turn up the heat to medium again and stir to coat the potatoes with the spices. Add the water and bring to boil. Once it starts boiling lower the heat and cover the pan with a lid and allow to simmer till the potatoes are almost done (10 min). Add the eggs and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are well done.
Serves: 4 people
Serving ideas: plain boiled rice and postho or just with roti

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake w/ Ginger Ice Cream

This recipe I stumbled upon one day when I decided to make dinner with my roommate. Although most of the dinner was Asian-inspired after tasting this cake - I knew it would be something my family would enjoy.

So I thought I'd share it with you.

It's inspired by a recipe on Simply Recipes - however, I've changed the caramel topping a bit - and also changed some ingredients within the cake recipe as well.


Caramel Topping-
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1 can (20 oz) of pineapple slices.

  • 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp cornmeal
  • 6 Tbsp of ground almonds (from about 2 oz of whole almonds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream


  1. Start by making the caramel topping: Take sugar and butter and combine and melt in a saucepan on medium heat until sugar dissolves. Stir in the molasses and wait until the mixture is bubbly, this should take several minutes.  Pour mixture into a 10 inch diameter stick-free cake pan with 2 inch high sides. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer ontop of the caramel mixture. About 7 slices fit.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk the flour, corn meal, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and butter together until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream in 2 additions each, beating well after each addition. Pour cake batter over caramel and pineapple in pan.
  3. Bake cake until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 to 14 servings. Serve with ginger ice cream - I'm recommending Haagen Daaz.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bandhakopi (Spiced Cabbage with Potatoes)

Our graduate school is having a potluck where the various school ethnic groups are making dishes to share. I decided to make bandhakopi (pronounced: bah-da-co-pee) because it's a Bengali classic.

Although a cabbage dish never really sounds that appealing - this one is great. It actually brings out the sweetness
of the vegetable itself, but the spices give it a depth of flavor and the potatoes add some substance.

When I was younger this was served as a side, along with another vegetable or meat dish and a bread accompaniment.

  • 1 head of cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 tbsp. of oil
  • 1 tbsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp. of chili paste or 1/2 tsp. of chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. of cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. of coriander
  • 1 tsp of ginger paste, or 1/2 inch of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp of ghee (a clarified butter) or 1 tbsp of butter.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp of salt, check to taste
  • 1 tsp of sugar


  1. Heat up oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Once heated add cubed potatoes and 1/4 tsp of salt. When browned remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the remaining oil, add the sliced cabbage and remaining salt. Stir and cover the cabbage so it may wilt over medium low heat. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. There will be some water in the pan rendered from the cabbage - to that add spices to create a paste.
  4. Add sugar and salt to taste - and add cooked potatoes and 1/4 cup of water.
  5. Continue to stir - looking for gravy to thicken - and then cover the cabbage. 
  6. Finally add ghee to coat the dish.

Serves 6. Prep: 20 min. Cook: 25 min.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Teriyaki Turkey Banh Mi w/ Asian slaw and green-chili mayo

So one complication of growing up in an Indian household is sometimes older members of the family really like certain flavors - mainly Indian, spicy, curried and etc.

In my family, cuisines from Thailand, China and Mexico are loved greatly alongside specific Japanese foods - like teriyaki - no sushi for them. (note: I love sushi, so do my brothers and sometimes it makes us rather sad our family won't try a bite of spicy tuna.)

So when making a sandwich, we must find ways to satisfy this need for Asian flavors and after trying a Banh Mi sandwich at Baoguette, I knew I had to invent one myself - my family could enjoy too.

So here is a Teriyaki Turkey Meatball Banh Mi, with an Asian inspired slaw and green chili mayo.


  • 1 package of frozen turkey meatballs (you could make your own, but it's easier)
  • 1 bottle of Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce (could use regular teriyaki as well)
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced thinly into half moons
  • 1/2 of cabbage or iceberg lettuce head, shredded
  • 1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper (you want the sweetness), sliced thinly
  • 1/2 an English cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 tbsp. of red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp. of oil
  • 1 tsp. of honey
  • 3 tbsp. of mayo
  • 1 green chili, chopped with seeds
  • 4 hearty rolls or baguettes, pictured is the focaccini from TJ's
  • black pepper to taste


  1. Place the 4 meatballs per person in a saucepan with the jar of soyaki. Heat over medium-low heat for 15-20 mins or until meatballs are heated through.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine lettuce or cabbage, bell peppers, onions and cucumbers. Toss with oil, red wine vinegar and honey. Add black pepper to taste.
  3. In another smaller bowl, combine mayo and chopped green chilis. Set aside.
  4. Toast rolls in over or toaster.
  5. When meatballs are heated through, take a roll and slather mayo on either side.
  6. Cut each meatball in half and place on on side of roll. 
  7. Top with slaw and cover with other half.

Serve: 4 to 5 people, Prep Time: 15 min., Cook Time: 20 mins.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Indian Spice Cupboard

After months of talking about how to cook Indian food, one thing I've failed to mention are the essential spices needed in any Indian food-lover's pantry.

The main spices one must always have are cumin, corriander, turmeric, red chili and garam masala. In most cases, Indian households have both whole and ground versions of each spice, although turmeric is only found in powder form.

Garam Masala is a special mix of a few Indian spices which is what creates a certain flavor. It literally translates to "hot mixture" and is used in both cooking and as a garnish. It has black & white peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, black cumin, cumin seeds, cinnamon; black, brown, & green cardamom, nutmeg, star anise and coriander seeds.

Some of these spices like cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise and bay leaves are also necessary in Indian spice cupboards.

Another used concoction is curry powder. However, unlike the mix of curry powder you can find in a grocery store, this isn't just curry leaves ground up.

It is this specific combination:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 dried red chiles, broken in pieces, seeds discarded
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
Other spices to keep around are mango powder, used to sweeten dishes and add color, hing (which is like ground fennel, has a strong smell and tastes like leeks), fenugreek leaves or powder (which has a salty and bitter taste) saffron (expensive, used to color and flavor sauces, rice), allspice, mace, tamarind (sweet),  and mustard seeds.

As you can see there are many spices used in Indian cooking. The best thing to do is get them in their whole form and blend a small amount to use regularly when cooking. The spices in powder form lose flavor after about 6 months, while whole spices, if left in a cool, dark, dry area can last more than a year.

Have fun with the spices. Try them raw and see what they taste like and how adding them can change the depth of your dish.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala and Onion Relish

So on Saturday night after prodding from some classmates - I decided to throw an Indian dinner party, showcases some of the recipes from the blog.

The great thing about it was that I got to test the written recipe versions of the ones I wrote on this blog and make sure they came out the same way each time. There was a slight difference in the saag paneer recipe but I attribute it to the adjustment I made for the headcount. Instead of using two bags of spinach i used three, and so the cream addition should have been only a half more, and I think I might have doubled it... but it didn't affect the flavor. What did though, was forgetting to add the spices prior to blending the spinach. So the flavor wasn't cooked out of the spices and instead I added the spices in afterwards and it was sorta raw.

Anyway, Sara, my roommate, tested out a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, I was hoping to try and eventually place on this blog. It turned out amazing! I was so proud of her. What was better was we had some of my classmates come by, some who are Indian, and they said they enjoyed it as well - which is a huge compliment!

So here's how you make it. It's take a bit of time, but it's worth it. We ended up adding some more red chili powder, maybe a little too much, but it gave it a great kick. Also some sugar helps to balance out the flavors - and if you let it sit for a bit, the flavors blend even more.

Chicken Tikka Masala
serves 6, marinade: at least an hour, prep: 30 min., cook: 1 hour.

* need various amounts of spices, so keep them handy...
  • coriander powder
  • cumin seeds
  • ginger paste
  • garlic paste
  • chili powder
  • turmeric
  • fenugreek leaves, ground
  • garam masala
  • cashew nuts
  • salt
  • lime
  • cream
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, cubed
  • 2 bell peppers (two different colors), cubed
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • a bunch of cilantro
  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed.

  1. Marinade the chicken, bell peppers and 1 tomato in yogurt and spices. Recipe below.

  • ½ tsp. of chili powder
  • ½ tsp. of coriander powder
  • ½ tsp. of turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. of ginger paste
  • 1 tsp. of garlic paste
  • ½ tsp. of fenugreek leaves, ground
  • ¼ tsp. of salt      
  • ½ of the juice of a lime
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 cup of yogurt

  1. Take the other tomato and add to blender or food processor and 1 tbsp. of cashews and create a puree.
  2. In a medium pot, add a tbsp of oil. Once hot – add 1 tsp. of garam masala, chopped onions, 1 tbsp. of cumin seeds, 1 tsp. of turmeric, 1 tbsp. of coriander, 1 tsp. of chili powder – and cook it the spices for a bit. Add ½ a cup of water and allow it blend with the spices. Then add the tomato puree. Add 2 cups of cream. Add another tsp. of fenugreek powder and cover the pot and allow to boil until combined.
  3. Taste and add salt to taste.
  4. On a grill or in a non stick or cast iron pan grill vegetables and chicken. Sear outside of chicken and cook through.
  5. The add in chicken and vegetables and allow the masala to simmer.
  6. Add cilantro to the dish and serve over rice.

In addition to the dishes of chana masala, dal, and lamb keema - she made onion relish, the type you get with pappadum at Indian restaurants as sort of an appetizer.

We found a basic recipe online, but had to make adjustments. 

Fiery Onion Relish

  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 4 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or red chili powder)
  • 1 tsp of white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of tomato puree
  •   Salt to taste
* if you don't have tomato paste available, cut out the sugar, vinegar and salt - add 1.5 tbsp of ketchup instead.


1.      If you prefer your onion to be less pungent, soak it in salted water to cover for about 30 minutes, then drain and rinse it.
2.      Combine all ingredients and set them aside for about 30 minutes while the flavors blend.
3.      This relish should be spicy hot, so add as much cayenne as you dare! Refrigerated, this will keep for several days.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Desserts: Payesh (Rice Pudding)

So a week or so ago, on my way to interview someone about my master's project, I decided to go grab a Bahn Mi, or a Vietnamese sandwich at Baoguette in Manhattan. When I got to small shop off Lexington Avenue, I was impressed with the small but delicious menu. 

I decided on a Sloppy Bao - spicy curry pork, green mango, cilantro and lemongrass. It's placed on a french baguette - and there was awesome Asian flavor in every bite.

So I'm thinking that this weekend - I will try to experiment with this and create two Indian sandwiches. I'm thinking one with ground lamb and one with pulled chicken... or if I'm really good another vegetarian version.

I'll definitely place the recipes up once I'm done with the experiment.

On a completely different note - I was really craving Indian sweets - which rarely happens - so I thought I'd talk about one of my favorites - rice pudding, or as known in my family - payesh. There are various versions of payesh depending on which part of India a family is from - however one thing is for sure, it's a simple and sweet dessert that is easy to make.

It's also a really easy way to get rid of bad milk. Literally, in my house we knew someone was gonna make payesh when the power went out and the milk went sour. The boiling of the milk removes any bacteria.

Bengali Payesh
serves 4, Soak: 1 hr., Prep: 5 min., Cook: 40 min.

  • 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) whole or skim milk (depending on how creamy you want it)
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice (soaked for at least one hour)
  • 10-12 cashew nuts, chopped
  • slivered almonds, 1/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup of sugar, or of jaggery**
  • 1/4 cups of raisins
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 green cardamoms

** jaggery is a unrefined sugar usual found in block form in Asian grocery stores. It almost looks like dark brown sugar.

  1. Bring the milk to a boil in a pan. Add the bay leaves and green cardamoms and let boil further for 8-10 minutes on medium heat. When 3/4 of the milk remains, add the soaked rice, sugar, cashew nuts, almonds and raisins.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer until only half of the milk remains in the pan and the rice is tender. Keep stirring from time to time throughout the process.
  3. Allow to cool.  Cover and refrigerate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Baigan Bhartha (Spiced Mashed Eggplant)

So if you're a fan of Baba Ganoush - the Mediterranean pureed eggplant dish - Baigan Bhartha is a great dish to try.

Roasting the eggplant allows it to have a smoky flavor - which is enhanced by the cumin.

Baigan Bhartha 
serves 4, Prep: 20 min, Cook: 25 min.
  • 1 eggplant, grilled in oven
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 green chillies (adjust to taste, I used Indian green chillies)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 lime wedge or tbsp of lime juice
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
  • Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees. Use 1 tbsp. oil to cover the skin of the eggplant and wrap it in aluminum foil. Grill the eggplant for 30 min. or until soft- then cool, peel, mash and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a pan add the chopped onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic with a pinch of salt.
  3. When the onions turn pink (don't brown it too much), add the chopped tomatoes. Mix well and cook covered for about 10 mins, stirring once or twice in between. 
  4. Once the tomatoes are cooked soft, put cooked veggies in a bowl. Add the garam masala, coriander powder and turmeric to the bowl.
  5. Add the grilled eggplant and mashed. Once blended with other veggies, add cilantro and lime juice.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chana & Aloo Curry (Chick Peas and Potato Curry)

This dish is an adaptation of Chana Masala which I made earlier in this blog. However, this chick pea dish also includes potatoes and other veggies.

Chana & Aloo Curry
serves 4 to 6, Prep: 20 min., Cook: 25 min.

  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp. of garam masala (it's a blend of spices you can buy in the ethnic food aisle.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp of fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp of tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp. of corriander
  • 1/4 cup of water or vegetable stock.
  • 2 tsp of oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp of sugar 
  1. In a large skillet or pot, add cubed potatoes and brown over medium heat with 1 tsp of oil. Add turmeric and 1/2 tsp of salt to potatoes.
  2. Once potatoes are browned (about 7 mins.), add onions and saute with garlic, ginger and tomatoes.
  3. Once the onions are translucent and the peppers and tomatoes. 
  4. Add the chick peas and saute.
  5. Add salt to taste, sugar, tumeric, corriander, bay leaf and garam masala and the 1/4 cup of stock or water. Let it come to a boil.
  6. Let the stew simmer... until it is the how you want it. Some people like it a little soupy while others want it thicker.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dining Out - Desi Style

Growing up, my father and grandmother (my mom's mom) cooked Indian meals at home. My mom was practically scared to enter the kitchen, other than to clean, during that time because they would always cook.

We did go out and eat sometimes, but after my father passed away - we ate out a lot more. Most Indian cuisine in restaurants are north and south Indian and not a lot of it is cuisine from where my family is from in Calcutta.

The other day I went with a friend to dinner at Dhaba, a restaurant off Lexington Ave in New York City. I was surprised to see that this restaurant had cuisine my family would be familiar with, stuff I grew up on and stuff they snacked on from street cars.

According to the Web site, the restaurant is a part of a chain, each restaurant with different names, located in Westport and Greenwich, Conn., Lee, Mass., Elmford and Brewster, NY and two other locations in New York City.

We ordered keema, a ground lamb dish, and navarathan korma, cauliflower, vegetables and paneer in korma, a sweet cream-based sauce. We also got a mango lassi, a mango milkshake, shared garlic naan and mehti pakoras, or fried fenugreek.

Keema is something I regularly grew up on - probably because it was easy to make and could be eaten with already prepared breads.

Here's a recipe for Keema. The ground meat can be chicken, beef, lamb or turkey. Also the one we had in the restaurant had chopped boiled egg in it as well. There are a lot of spices - but it tastes incredible at the end.

Lamb Keema
serves 6, Prep: 20 min., Cook: 30 min.


  • 3 tbsp of cooking oil
  • 1.5 cups of finely chopped onions (preferably ground):  
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 inch of finely minced ginger
  • 2 serrano peppers, chopped
  • 1.5 pound of ground lamb
  • 1/4 tsp. of turmeric powder 
  • 1 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half 
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 black cardamons, crushed
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of tomato puree
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 eggs, boiled then chopped, if desired.


    1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add onions and sauté onions till clear about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and serrano pepper. Continue sauteing for about 90 seconds.
    2. Add ground lamb. Over medium heat break up lamb and cook until browned.
    3. Grind whole spices in coffee grinder. Add all spices to the lamb and saute.
    4. Add tomato puree and mix through.
      Add water and bring it to a near boil. Turn the heat down to low. Cover and simmer covered for 15 minutes, then uncover and cook until most of the water is evaporated.
    5. When meat is tender, stir in baby peas. Shut off heat. Do NOT cook peas for long time, they loose color and become mushy. If desired add in chopped boiled egg.
      Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

    Serve with paratha, puri (puffed bread) or naan.

    We also drank mango lassi. It is so easy to make. You can also use peaches, strawberries or pears

    Mango Lassi
    4 to 8 servings, Prep: 15 min., no cook time

    • A can of mango puree (for four people you need 8 oz. for eight people you need 16 oz.).
    • 16 oz. of yogurt (8 oz. for 4 servings, 16 oz. for 8 servings)
    • 1 bottle of rose water (found in Indian grocery stores).


    1. In a blender, add desirable amount of mango puree. 
    2. Add equal amount of yogurt
    3. Add four to six drops of rose water.
    4. Blend and serve over ice.

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Macher Chochori (Fish & Spiced Vegetables)

    For Bengalis, like me, fish is a staple in most meals. I believe it's because Calcutta is a coastal city, so fish is regularly accessible, but it's also one of those foods that everyone can afford. The fish doesn't have to be the best cut, and many times various fish can be used depending on the season.

    We had a this fish dish at Christmas, although it was by a caterer. The dish was darker in color than this recipe will turn out, and a lot spicier, but it's a interesting dish if you're a fan of fish. I haven't tried to make this yet - but this recipe is from a Bengali recipe Web site I have linked. I have changed the measurements to reflect the measurements we use in the U.S.

    Kechki Maacher Chochori (Minnow Fish Chochori) 

    Serves 4 people, Prep: 20 min., Cook: 30 min.

    • 1/2 lb. of Kechki maach (Minnow fish), other fish will work too, like tilapia and catfish.
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 tsp. of garlic paste
    •  ½ tsp. of ground turmeric
    • 3 to 4 Green chilies, chopped
    • 2 tbsp of cilantro, chopped
    •  ½ tsp of cumin powder
    • 1/2 tsp of salt
    • 1/4 cup of oil
    1. Wash the fish carefully in water. Rinse and drain properly.
    2. Fry the fish in a little bit of oil in a pan until seared. Then set the heat of very low, so the fish dries slowly. This will keep the fish intact and retain its fresh look.
    3. In another pan, brown onions in oil over medium heat.
    4. Add garlic, turmeric, salt and some water (about 1/4 cup) . Saute thoroughly.
    5. Add the fish and chili.
    6. Once the fish start to dry up and become flaky, add fried cumin powder and coriander.
    7. Wait for a few more minutes to let the oil separate out, and serve.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    An Indian-American Holiday

    So Christmas is a big deal in my family, even though we're Hindus. My mom and i both went to Catholic schools growing up and grew up in an environment where Christmas was a big deal, so we've carried on this tradition.

    Plus as a family we're pretty open-minded religiously, so we don't mind celebrating the birthday of someone who brings so many people joy. And - on top of that my aunt is Jewish, so we're open to anything, we'd do Hanukkah too if we had a chance.

    Anyway, like any family gathering we have a mixture of American and Indian cuisines.

    This year the menu was extra special - my Wednesdays of planning and preparing International foods with my roommate, Sara, paid off, and I decided to cook some of those recipes. Most of my family enjoyed all of the food, although I will admit, the brussel sprouts may not have been their favorite. But it's never a bad thing to open your family's culinary palate.

    Because these recipes come from other Web sites - I will link to those sites, but I have made adjustments to some of the recipes. Most Indians don't eat pork products, so bacon is a no no. I also adjusted any vegetarian recipes so they didn't include chicken stock and used veggie stock instead.

    Maple-Roasted Chickens with Sage Butter
    Instead of using turkey as Tyler Florence's recipe calls for, I used two chickens and roasted them side-by-side in the oven. I did not stuff the chickens with stuffing because I personally think that is gross, plus vegetarians then can no longer eat the stuffing.
    Another trick - cook chicken breast side down for 30 min per chicken first and then flip over a cook normally according to directions that come with the package.

    Southern Cornbread Stuffing
    Again unlike Paula Deen, I did not use chicken stock. I substituted with veggie stock. I also did not add poultry seasoning. You can use a store bought italian seasoning, or just add salt and pepper.

    Balsamic Braised Brussel Sprouts
    so this recipe, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, another food blog, uses pancetta. I cut that out and the flavor didn't change.

    Butternut Squash Risotto
    This recipe was delicious - even about 3 or 4 days later. Just make sure you have a lot of stock on hand, because the rice take s along time to cook. Ina Garten uses chicken stock and pancetta, which I again replace with veggie stock. Still tastes amazing.

    As for the Indian dishes:

    My grandmother made fried rice. I will test out a recipe soon and add it as a separate entry.
    My mom made my chick pea masala recipe from this blog. My mom's friend, Sonai, brought two very traditional Indian dishes - Dhokar Dalna and a fish dish, I'll figure out what it's called later and add a recipe to the blog. This recipe was a adapted from Ahaar, another blog about Bengali cuisine.

    Dhokar Dalna, a lentil cake in sauce.
    serves 6 to 8, Prep: 30 min., Cook: 45 min.

    • 1 cup cholar dal (chana dal/Bengal gram)
    • 2 medium tomato, chopped
    • 2 large Idaho potatoes, chopped into cubes.
    • 1 tsp ginger, grated
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp cumin seed powder
    • pinch of asafoetida
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1 tsp chilli powder
    • 2 green chillis
    • 1/2 tsp garam masala
    • 1/2 tsp ghee
    • 2-3 tbsp oil
    • salt to taste

    1. Wash and soak Bengal gram lentils in water for 4-6 hours. Drain water and grind the dal to a paste in a mixer.
    2. Heat 1 tsp oil and temper it with 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, asafoetida, 1/2 tsp ginger paste, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and salt. 
    3. Pour the ground dal and cook till the mixture is soft and sticky, but not completely dry.
    4. Smear little oil in a dish. Pour the cooked dal and spread evenly on the dish. Press lightly with your spoon so that it sets properly. Cool and cut the dhoka into square or diamond shapes. 
    5. Heat two tbsp oil and fry the dhokas to light brown. Remove and keep aside. 
    6. Then heat the rest of remaining oil in a deep bottomed pan and temper it with the 1/2 tsp remaining cumin seeds. Fry for a minute till it stops sputtering. 
    7. Add cubed potatoes and brown. They will become more tender as they stew in the pot with other ingredients.
    8. In the meantime, puree the tomatoes, ginger and green chillies together. 
    9. Add the pureed mixture with turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin seeds powder and saute for 3-4 minutes on low heat.
    10. Then, add about two small cups of of water and salt and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes. 
    11. Add the fried dhokas, and bring the curry to a boil. 
    12. Reduce heat and simmer for another 4-5 minutes till the dhoka starts to soak up part of the curry.
    13. Put ghee and garam masala and take it off the heat. It should be the last thing added. just before the dish is taken off the heat. 
    Serve with warm rice. 

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Freezer Desi

    While I will be the first to tell you that most pre-produced or frozen Indian meals are disgusting, I have decided that Indian food can take time to cook, so it may be nice to know what are some quick foods to eat when you're on the go and want some Indian food.

    Because I live in New York City currently, frozen Indian meals can pretty much be found everywhere from Walgreens and CVS to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, as well as pre-cooked packaged meals that can be stored in a cupboard.

    However, if you're not in a big city, it may not be as readily available, but there are most likely Indian groceries stores somewhere nearby and so it can be found.

    In an earlier post, I discussed Trader Joe's Dal Makhani. It wasn't like my grandmother's - but it was edible. However, the Palak Paneer was disgusting. Seriously, it looked like gelatinous green stuff with over processed cheese in it. Not edible at all.

    I also tried, TJs Chicken Makhani which is frozen and served with rice. It was actually really great. Their frozen vegetable samosas are awesome too.

    The Mirachi brand is also good, according to my mother, as well as the Deep brand.I have heard through Food Network reviews that Amy's brand has good Indian food as well, and I believe it's organic.

    If you like Indian breads, like naan, parathas and kulcha, you can find them frozen in most Indian grocery stores - as well as, in some gourmet sections too.

    If you're me and really like to make your own foods another short cut is too just buy a spice mix or the sauce itself. My chicken makhani recipe used Patak's brand sauces, and I use their curry regularly too.

    Trader Joe's and Whole Foods both have pre-made sauces in jars. We recently tried TJs Korma Sauce. It tasted good, but it was a little runny. I'd suggest thickening it up a bit with a roux or adding cream.

    If you're a New Yorker, try shopping in Jackson Heights, Queens and "Curry Hill" which is in Manhattan in the 20s on Lexington Ave. Curry in a Hurry surprisingly has some good Indian cuisine, even though its marketed as fast food.