Category Archives: Indian

Paneer Bhurji

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I have a bone to pick with my parents.  They never introduced me to enough Indian “street food” or chaat.

A year ago, I stopped off at a local Indian grocery store for a quick samosa and was instantly drawn to the long line at the chaat portion of the store.  I, like usual, watched what everyone was ordering and just went for it.

Who knew an order of aloo paratha with paneer bhurji would be so life changing?  After that, I went on to try aloo tikki, pani puri, golgappa, pav bhaji, etc.

I felt more cheated than ever.  When I asked my mom why she held out, my mom’s only non-responsive response is, “We should try to make it ourselves.”  And, just like that I’m on a new mission to make all my favorites – starting with this favorite.

Paneer Bhurji

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup paneer, grated (you could also try firm tofu)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1/2 serrano, finely chopped (remove seeds if you want less heat)
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 pinch garam masala
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, divided

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Once oil is hot, add onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic/ginger paste and serrano pepper and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add turmeric, cayenne, cumin, coriander and garam masala, and cook until the raw smell of the spices is gone, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the grated paneer and stir to incorporate with the onion/garlic/ginger mix.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the paneer is soft.
  4. Add half of the cilantro and allow it to wilt in the heat and mix to incorporate.
  5. Remove from heat and garnish with additional cilantro.

3 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Indian, Vegetarian

Jalebi

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Indian desserts, to me, are hit and miss.  Jalebis are one of them.  Made wrong, the whole thing is a huge miss.  With that said, you wonder how a form of funnel cake soaked in sugar syrup could go wrong.

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I actually hated these as a child while living in India.  Once I left for the states, I missed them instantly.  A quintessential celebratory dessert, these are perfect for the holiday season or to make for a loved one for the new year.  Whatever the reason, get your stretchy pants ready.

My mother in law makes these every Christmas and this year, I decided to take a try.  I’m glad I did.  Once you get the form right, the whole process is fairly simple.  It helps to know that the batter should be a thinner pancake batter.  Also, make sure the oil is hot when frying and to soak in the sugar syrup as soon as the jalebi comes out.  If the oil isn’t hot or you wait too long to soak, you could have an oily soggy jalebi – a no no.  Also, a squeeze bottle dispenser is somewhat integral to make sure you get the right consistency in the spirals – similar to an empty mustard container or this.

 

Jalebi

adapted from my mother in law

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp chickpea (besan/gram) flour
  • 1 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 quart vegetable or canola oil for frying

Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • a few drops of orange food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of rose water, optional

Directions:

  1. Proof the yeast and lukewarm water in a large bowl (mix the two and set aside for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy).
  2. To the proofed yeast mix, add the flours and mix until all lumps are gone.
  3. Mix in yogurt, sugar and 1/2 tsp oil until you get a thin pancake batter like consistency.  You want it to flow like fast ribbons.
  4. Put the batter aside for 1 hour to set in a warm place.
  5. After setting, mix the batter again.  You will notice little air pockets like pancake batter.
  6. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
  7. While the oil is heating make the sugar syrup because you want the syrup to be warm.  Boil the sugar and water together until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the cardamom, food coloring, lemon juice and rose water (if using) and whisk to incorporate.  Remove from heat immediately.
  8. You can test the oil to see if it is hot enough by dropping a bit of dough in the oil.  If ready, the dough should instantly float back up without burning or getting too brown.
  9. Fill the dough into the squeeze bottle.
  10. Squeeze the batter into the oil in a spiral shape about 3-4 inches in diameter.  Work fast so that the dough doesn’t unevenly cook.
  11. Fry until golden brown and flip the jalebi if necessary to cook evenly on the other side.
  12. Once fried properly, soak in the syrup until fully soaked (about 10 seconds) and then remove.
  13. Serve hot.  Store in an airtight container, which should last you about 4 days.  But, remember, the fresher the better.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Indian

Panjiri

Traditionally in India, after a woman gives birth, the nursing mother is given panjiri.  While seemingly healthy as it is chock full of dried fruit and nuts, more notable is the fact that panjiri is laden with ghee/butter and sugar.  Yet, new grandmothers will tout that this is the greatest snack for new and nursing moms.  I’m somewhat at a loss of how all the butter/ghee and sugar could be healthy.  Moreover, it’s supposed to increase the milk supply.  Again, don’t ask me how.

This dish will take quite some time to make.  It is absolutely a labor of love.  Similar to dulce de leche or caramelizing onions, roasting the nuts, fruits and semolina/suji will take some time.  But, I promise you that the end result is absolutely worth the wait.

I cannot attest to whether my milk supply was increased or aided, I can promise you it is delicious.  You can pretty much customize the ingredients to what you have on hand.  Clockwise from top: (1) golden raisins, (2) unsweetened grated coconut, (3) pistachios, (4) walnut, (5) dried apricot, (6) almonds, (7) cashew, and (8) flax-seed meal (center).

And, traditionally, you will see that panjiri contains many different spices and edible gum crystals.  I don’t prefer to have this dish overly spiced and have made it using ingredients that I’m likely to have on hand.

When you make this dish, ignore the health conscious part of your brain that wants to reduce the butter/ghee.  Just add it.  Throw it in and never look back.  You will not regret it.  And you may notice, I keep saying butter/ghee.  I highly recommend ghee, but I also like to cut the full-flavor of the ghee with some butter.  If you end up using all butter, you’ll miss the depth of flavor that ghee offers, but still have a product reminiscent of a sugar cookie – no joke.

If you are interested, as a nursing mother, to increase milk supply, I highly recommend keeping the fennel.  If you don’t have fennel or don’t like it, leave it out altogether.  

Panjiri

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ghee, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided (if you want to just use ghee – just replace it all with ghee)
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup mixed nuts
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup flax-seed meal (optional)
  • 2 cups semolina (suji – coarse)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup white sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large pan, heat 1/4 cup ghee and 1/4 cup butter over medium heat until melted, but not burned.  Add in fennel seeds and cook for a minute just to heat up.  Add in mixed nuts, dried fruit, and flax-seed meal and roast until toasted and the smell of the nuts come through, approximately 10 minutes.  Just make sure to stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn.  Once roasted, remove the mixture from the pan.
  2. In the same emptied pan (be careful not to leave left over pieces), heat the remaining ghee and butter until melted over medium-low heat.  Add the semolina and roast until roasted into a light brown and resembles wet sand.  This is going to take a while – approximately 30-40 minutes.  Do not be tempted to raise the temperature.
  3. Add salt, cardamom, and ginger, and stir to combine and blend.  Cook for another 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, add sugar and mix until fully incorporated and blended.
  4. Let cool and then serve.  Store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

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Filed under Breakfast, Indian, Snacks, Vegetarian

Indian Food Basics: Mint Chutney and Raita

We will be having friends over for dinner every Saturday (starting with this past Saturday) through June.  Binks said it’s great because 1. it forces us to keep our house clean and 2. we eat well.  Obviously – refer to above picture.  I also can’t wait to share some menus with you all.

When a good friend of mine came up from Oklahoma City to visit me, with her new boyfriend, I knew what I wanted to make them.  She and I frequently discussed and ate Indian food while I lived in OKC.  And, while you would think otherwise, one of my favorite Indian restaurants is in OKC proper.  Now, I didn’t know about the boyfriend so I decided to take my chances.  I’m glad I did.  And according to him and his plate, he was glad, as well.  I was especially pleased as he considered himself a sole meat and potatoes kinda guy.

I have made two of the above-referenced dishes (dal and saag), and will give you the remaining recipes soon (especially the butter paneer – heavenly).  

If you should find yourself wanting to prepare a full Indian meal, I’m going to impart some wisdom your way to help you complete your menu, specifically the condiments.  It’s no secret that Indian food can be spicy.  More importantly, with Indian food, you’re going to get a variety of flavor.  Below, you will find your usual accompaniments  to an Indian meal.  If you have been to an Indian buffet, you will have seen these for sure.

First, you have your pickle/achar.  What this is a preserved item with spices.  Popularly, the preserved item is a lemon, mango, or a mixture of both.  There are so many options to pickles/achars that it’s a magnificent condiment.

Second, the chutney.  Usually, from my experience, it’s mint.  And, traditionally, the mint chutney is served with North Indian (as opposed to South Indian) cuisine.  This provides a fresh and crisp side/condiment to a meal.  Comprised of only fresh ingredients, the chutney offers you a clean flavor to be used on appetizers such as samosas and/or pakoras.  I always enjoy using a bit on my rice, as well.

Last, but definitely not least, my favorite – raita.  As I said, Indian food is quite flavorful and in some cases, spicy.  Whether you use pickle/achar or chutney, you want to offer raita whenever you serve most Indian food.  The raita is the cooling factor in a meal and offers relief from spicy dishes without having to resort to water (which doesn’t actually make it better).

Mint Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 serrano chili peppers (use jalapeno for less heat, and also feel free to reduce the amount of pepper)
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 cup mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp salt
Directions:

  1. Add the garlic, ginger, peppers, tomato, and onion in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  2. Add the cilantro, mint, and lemon juice and puree until smooth.
  3. Season with salt.  Add more salt if required.

Raita

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (or whole milk yogurt)
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tbsp finely minced cilantro leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste (Don’t use too much pepper.  I’d limit it to about a big pinch.)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together.   Serve cold.

7 Comments

Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

Masala Chai

Almost every Sunday, the parents come over to visit the baby during the early evening.  While we are still in the beginning stages of this tradition (if it has reached tradition status), I relish tea time with the family. While, tea is a regularly scheduled program for most Indian families, it’s a rarity in mine.  Binks does not like milk tea, and the inconvenience of making two separate teas is obviously enough to preclude me from making tea everyday.

Everyone makes masala chai differently, using varying levels of spices based on your preference.  Cardamom and ginger are a must.  A must.

Serve alongside some biscotticookies, or cake, and savor this most special time of day.

Masala Chai

Yields about 2-3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked and seeds separated (keep it all though)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 1-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 1/4 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 cups milk (preferably whole)
  • 2 tbsp black tea

Directions:

  1. Bring water, cardamom pods (all of it), cloves, fennel, cinnamon, peppercorns, and ginger to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Once boiling, add the tea and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Once it’s boiling again, add milk, reduce heat to medium and bring to a simmer and finally until it’s boiling again.
  4. Remove from heat, and pour the tea through a seive.
  5. Serve hot.

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Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Slow Cooker Urad Dal Curry

My mom and MIL swear by their pressure cooker.  I think a lot Indian women do.  I, on the other hand, am scared of it.  What I’m about to say is not logical at all.  My fear is that the top of the pressure cooker will fly off once it starts whistling and the steam will burn my face off.  Again, completely devoid of logic.

Give me a slow cooker any day.  Slow and steady wins the race for me.

Combining the rich black lentils (urad dal) and rajma (red kidney beans) with several spices in a slow simmer for 8+ hours pretty much guarantees comfort in a bowl.

I had every intention of eating this as a side with my rice or roti.  However, what started as a taste turned into me just pouring a bowl for dinner.  And for many dinners after that.  I served with a side of onions and tomatoes splashed with lemon juice.  Delicious, nutritious and easy-peasy.  And, if you didn’t want to use the slow cooker, or don’t have one, you can just as easily cook this over the stove using the same heat settings.

Urad Dal Curry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup urad dal (dry black lentils), washed
  • 1/2 cup rajma (dry red kidney beans), washed
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, diced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper (Adjust to taste.  If you don’t prefer that spicy, start with 1 tsp.)
  • 1/4 cup ghee (or butter)
  • salt to taste
  • chopped cilantro to garnish (some people prefer to mix it in but if you don’t, omit altogether)

Directions:

  1. Soak the urad dal and rajma in a bowl of water overnight (at least 8 hours).
  2. The next morning, place everything except the salt and cilantro in the slow cooker.  Fill with enough water where you have at least two inches above the beans.
  3. Cook on high for 4 hours.  After 4 hours, add salt, starting with 1 tsp and increasing to your liking.*
  4. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 4 hours.
  5. Serve with chopped cilantro.

*At this point, I add a little less salt than I think the dish calls for.  As the dish continues to simmer, the salt gets concentrated so I hold back until after the full 8 hours to add more.

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Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

Dosa & Coconut Chutney

Have you heard of dosa?  Certain Indian restaurants, offering Kerala or South Indian food typically offer masala dosa as a part of the menu.  Masala dosa is just a dosa (cooked thinner) and then filled with potatoes.  Yum!

Dosa (and idly – both made from the same batter, just cooked differently) is a staple in the Kerala cuisine.  It is served as breakfast food, usually served with sambar and/or chutney.  I, on the other hand, love to eat it whenever.  During the beginning of my pregnancy when nausea was at its peak, dosa was all I craved.  Now, while nursing, I still love the stuff as it’s comforting and packed full of nutrients.

Now, if a dough mixed with lentils wasn’t healthy enough, my mom upped the ante as always.  She found chia and hemp seeds in my fridge and went to town.

If you have never had or heard of dosa before, the only thing I can compare it to is injera.  Light, airy and spongy.  All three of those are good things with regard to dosa.  I promise.

Oh and the coconut chutney, I could drink the stuff.  And I do.  I have issues.

Dosa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup parboiled rice
  • 1/2 cup skinned black lentils (urad dal)
  • 1/4 tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt

 Directions:

  1. In one bowl, after washing the rice, soak the rice with water.  Add enough water to the bowl of rice to where you have water at least an inch above the rice.
  2. In another bowl, soak the lentils and fenugreek with water.  Add enough water to the bowl of lentils and fenugreek to where you have water at least an inch above the rice.
  3. Let both bowls soak overnight.  (At least 6 hours.)
  4. In a blender, grind the lentil mixture until smooth.  Once smooth (like a smoothie), move to a large bowl.
  5. In the blender, grind the rice mixture until smooth.  Add the rice mixture to the lentil mixture.
  6. Stir the mixtures in the bowl until combined.
  7. Cover and let sit overnight on your counter so that it ferments.  When it’s cold in Dallas, I place the covered bowl in the oven with the light on.  It keeps it just warm enough to ferment.
  8. The next day, add salt to the mixture and mix again so incorporated.  The batter should be runny (slightly runnier than pancake batter).  If it’s too thick, just add water, a tablespoon at a time until it’s a runny consistency.
  9. Heat a flat pan over medium heat.
  10. Take a paper towel, soak with oil and rub on pan.
  11. Take about 1/4 cup worth of the batter (I use my ladle) and spoon onto the middle of the pan and swirl the batter out making it thinner.  It should be thickness of a thicker crepe.
  12. Once the bottom of the dosa becomes golden brown, flip over to cook the other side.  You will notice air bubbles on the top of the dosa before the flip.
  13. Cook the other side until golden brown and serve hot.

Coconut Chutney

Ingredients:

  • fresh grated coconut, 1/2 cup
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • cayenne powder, 1/2 tsp
  • 1 red dry chili (optional), broken up into pieces
  • few (2-3) curry leaves (if you can’t find it, don’t worry about it – best with it but go on without it)
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water, added in increments

Directions:

  1. Blend the coconut, shallots, and cayenne pepper with water until reaches a smooth pancake batter consistency.  You may not use the whole 1/4 cup.
  2. Over a small frying pan, heat oil over medium high heat.
  3. Sputter the  mustard seeds (be careful, it pops).
  4. Add red dry chili and curry leaves.  Cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut/onion mix and salt.  Cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with dosa.

8 Comments

Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Comfort Food: Dal Curry

For the past few months, Binks has decided to cut meat (save fish) from his diet.  My job has then been to make sure he incorporates healthy proteins to ensure he is full and satisfied with what he eats.

The easiest, cheapest and tastiest way to do this?

Lentils.  Specifically, dal curry.

There are several ways to prepare dal, but this is the absolute favorite for me.  It’s comforting and flavorful.  On top of it all, it packs a healthy punch.

I used to make this version often (given to me by my MIL) until I perfected this version.  Now, it’s one of those dishes where I’m absolutely satisfied with the results and acts as a “go-to” recipe for me.

For this recipe, I use yellow split lentils as it cooks fairly quickly and does not need the overnight soak that other lentils typically require (i.e. urad dal).  You can also use masoor dal (red lentils) as it cooks quickly, as well.

Dal Curry
Ingredients:

–  1 cup dal (I use yellow split lentils or toor dal)
–  2 cups water
–  1/4 tsp turmeric
–  1 tsp salt
–  3 tbsp olive oil
–   1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to your taste – if unsure, start with a scant 1/4 tsp and go up if you want)
–  1/4 tsp cumin
–  1/4 tsp turmeric
–  1/2 tsp coriander
–  2 tsp ginger paste (you can also just grate fresh ginger)
–  2 serranos, diced (you can use jalapenos and/or adjust the amount per your taste)
–  1 small onion, diced
–  3 cloves garlic, minced
–  2 small tomatoes, diced
–  big pinch of garam masala
–  salt to taste

For tadka:
–  1/2 tsp cumin seeds
–  2 dry red chili, tear apart with your hands
–  pinch of asafeotida
–  1/2 tsp garam masala
–  2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
1.   Place 1 cup dal, 2 cups water, and 1/4 tsp turmeric into pot and boil until the dal until the dal is soft.  Mash some of the dal in the pot.  Add salt to the dal mix.
2.  In a separate pan, heat oil over medium-high heat, and add cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, coriander and ginger paste (or grated ginger) and fry until the raw smell of the spices vanish, about 2 minutes.
3.   Add the onion, garlic and serranos (or jalapenos or any other pepper you decided to use) and saute for another 4 minutes until the onions have browned a bit.
4.   Add the tomato and cook for another 5 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and mixed with the spices and onion mix.
5.  Add the dal mixture (water and all), and lower the heat to medium.  Now, taste to see if you need more salt and add if you need.  Once properly salted, add a pinch of garam masala to ‘finish it off’ and stir to incorporate.  Cook the dal over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  (At this point, if you want the consistency to be more watery or soupy, add boiled water, 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.  I prefer my dal a bit thicker so I just usually add 1/4 cup.  Remember, as the dal cools, it thickens so add water accordingly.)
6.  While the dal is cooking, in a separate pan, you prepare your tadka.  Over medium-high heat, heat olive oil.  Once the oil has heated, add cumin seeds and let it sputter for approximately 1 minutes.  Then add the dry red chili, asoafeotida, and 1/2 tsp garam masala.  Cook until the raw smell of the spices is gone and the red chili peppers have toasted a bit.
7.  Pour the tadka into the dal and stir.
8.  Serve hot, preferably with rice.

I love the combination of this dal curry with brown rice.  Talk about hearty and perfect for a fall night.

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Filed under Dinner, Favorites, Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian

Lunch with the Inlaws

Binks and I designate every other weekend as parents weekend and we usually go to the parents’ houses for lunch and dinner.  This past weekend, after finding out that we are having a baby boy, I thought we should do a gender reveal party just for the parents.  However, due to our severe excitement to blurt it out and scheduling issues, we just told everyone and had a lunch with Binks’ parents for his birthday.

‘Tis a rare occasion that I cook for my in-laws.  ‘Tis a rarer occasion that I cook Indian food for my in-laws.  I love my MIL, but cooking Indian food for her is a stress that I have imposed on myself.  The lady can cook.  And, I am a hot mess and I get nervous.  So, in order to pull off a seemingly-easy-full-course Indian meal was something I had to gear up for.

Menu

–  Appetizers:  Fresh cut veggies and lemon wedges. To me, this is the perfect beginning of a heavy Indian meal.  And it goes great as a salad on the side of the meal itself.

–  Main Course:  Naan, Fried Rice, Chicken Tikka, Palak Saag, Potato Sabji, and Raita.

I must apologize.  The only picture I got of the naan was this.

This is the dough at the initial stages.  I totally intend on making this again soon so recipe to follow I promise!

The chicken tikka recipe I used (my absolute favorite) can be found here.  This time, I doubled the sauce because you can’t have enough for soaking with your naan or pouring over the rice.

The saag again is another favorite of mine.  I have to say I love the preparation and ease of saag.  First, you start out with a sink full of greens.  Literally – a sink FULL.

And it all cooks down to this:

The potato sabji is favorite of mine.  It’s truly comfort food for me.  Recipe to come soon!

Finally, to me, no meal is complete without raita.

Dessert:  The best yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting!

Meal Preparation

An Indian meal, in my opinion, takes a long time to prepare.  Unless, you’re my aunt who somehow does everything in an hour.  So, to prepare my meal (as a novice) and have time to clean up (so it looks somewhat effortless), this was a two-day process.

Day Before:
–  Grocery shopping
–  Marinade chicken
–  Make saag and refrigerate in the same pot you made it in.
–  Make raita
–  Clean up entire kitchen.
–  Set out the plates/serving ware you want to use.  This will give you a great head start for the next day.
–  Set out butter before bed to have it softened by the next morning.

Day Of:
–  Make dough for naan.
–  Make cupcakes.
–  While dough is rising, prepare chicken tikka.
–  While chicken tikka is simmering, boil potatoes for potato sabji.
–  After naan dough has its first rise, roll into balls and allow for second rise.
–  Heat saag on low in the same pot.
–  Make buttercream.
–  Frost cupcakes.
–  Plate and set out food, dishes, cups, drinks & utensils.
–  Clean like crazy.
–  Make fried rice
–  Once rice is cooking covered, plate your other dishes.
–  Make naan.

I make naan last so it’s most hot and fresh when people arrive and if people were to arrive when I’m making naan, it’s not as bad or as busy as if people were to arrive when I’m plating or cleaning.  You know?

The best thing to show you would have been my detailed calendar for the day, complete with time frames.  I’ll save that craziness strategy for another post.

How do you plan for guests?  Do you start days early?  What do you take into account when planning a menu?

14 Comments

Filed under Favorites, Indian, Lunch, Uncategorized

I Lied.

I Lied.

I said I was going to make naan.

I didn’t.

I made fried brown rice.

I said I would make dal makhani.

I didn’t.

I made “Everyday Dal.

Christin @ Purple Bird Blog requested I make saag aloo.

I didn’t.

I made regular Saag.

And, my MIL made aloo gobi.

I’m horrible I know.

I’ll make up for it.

I made rajma.

That’s one step above and beyond.

Right?

I’ll make it up to you – and me – with the naan.

I promise.

You can trust me.

😉

Fried Brown Rice Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed well and drained
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter  (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 bay leaf*
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick*
  • 1 tsp cloves*
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn*
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds*
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups boiling water – I start my tea kettle around the time I start adding oil to my pot

Directions:

  • Heat the oil/butter in a heavy pot until melted.
  • Add cinnamon stick, cloves, black peppercorn, cumin and bay leaf.
  • Saute over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  (The flavors really will just come alive.)
  • Add rice and saute for another 3 minutes.
  • Add salt.
  • Add water.
  • Cover and let it cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until rice is perfectly done.   The water (after 20 minutes) should have been absorbed.  If not, leave it covered for another 5 minutes.  Brown rice does take longer to cook than white rice.

*Do not replace the actual ingredients with the powdered version.  You are better off leaving it out altogether.

Saag

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch of spinach, chopped
  • 1 bunch of greens (turnip or mustard), chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, chopped (please adjust based on your spice preference)
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • salt, as required

Directions

  • In a large pot, add olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add onions, ginger, garlic, peppers and saute until tender.
  • Add the spinach, greens and a cup of water.
  • Cover and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes until the leaves of the spinach and greens are tender.
  • Take spinach mixture and pour into a blender (if you can’t fit it all into a blender, split it up into batches).
  • Puree until the spinach mixture is fairly smooth.  I pulse about 4 times for 20 seconds each to leave some leaves still in tact.
  • Return the mixture to the pot over medium heat.
  • Add salt to taste.  I usually add about 2 tsp and increase from there based on my taste.
  • Simmer mixture over medium heat.  The longer you simmer, the better and concentrated the taste.
  • Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  I have left it on simmer for more than an hour, and the flavor just intensifies.

Everyday Dal

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry brown/green lentils, rinsed and drained – I can’t quite tell if my lentils are brown or green.  It’s a mixture and the kind you get anywhere.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of ginger, minced
  • 2 jalapenos or serranos (again, please adjust to your liking)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 cups water

Directions:

  • In saucepan, boil lentils  in 3 cups of water over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils start getting soft.  Do not drain after.
  • In a separate pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add onion, garlic, ginger and peppers, and saute until tender.
  • Add turmeric, garam masala, cayenne pepper, cumin seeds and coriander.  Mix until the raw spice smell is gone.  Warning: the cumin seeds may sputter so be careful.
  • Add the spice/onion mixture to the cooked lentils.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Allow the whole mixture to boil/simmer for another 30 minutes until the water has absorbed more into the lentils and the mixture becomes thick (rather than watery).

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