Tag Archives: Indian food

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.
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Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, 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?

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Filed under Favorites, Indian, Lunch, Uncategorized

The American Tax in India and the Best Meal EVER!

Almost everything in India is negotiable.  If you don’t want to pay full price on that ice cream, just tell them what you want to pay and most likely, (if the amount is reasonable) you get your ice cream!

I of course paid full price for that ice cream because I really wanted to try delicious Indian mango ice cream.  Take my word – it was delicious!

Like I said – all things are negotiable save oneThe American. Whether you’re white, black, brown, orange, green or blue, once the Indians get a whiff that you are from the states, it’s over.

Case and point – Binks and I wanted to mozy along on a houseboat for a long afternoon.  My aunt and some family wanted to join.  So, we all went to the houseboat office to ask for the price.  Despite the fact I’m dressed in a salwar and am not talking, there is something that caused the manager to stare at me and Binks, and tell my aunt: “‘The price for everyone is 18,000 rupees.”  (Approx. $400!)  Ridonkulous!

There were about 5 of us, and my aunt had gone previously for less than half that price with more people nonetheless.  And for once, no one was willing to negotiate.  Everyone thinks, the Americans have dollars and it rains money there.  (A post on this later.)

Needless to say, Binks and I high-tailed it out of there.  We went to Alleppey beach instead.

After being in the sun, I needed a refreshing snack.  Enter the orange:

It looks monstrous but if I told you that these pruney wrinkly things uncover the most delicious orangey orange you have ever eaten, would you believe me?  You must! I think I had one-a-day.  They were that delicious and because I like oranges! 🙂

Now for the kicker, after the beach, we drove about 3 hours to the shopping city – Ernakulam/Cochin.  Upon arrival, everyone was hungry and my aunt suggested lunch at the Grand Hotel.  It has of the best and most reputable restaurants in the city, I dare say the state.

First, the fabulous and lengthy menu:

It has everything you could want and more.  Indian and not.  I went for the usual/classic – The Meal and The Fish.  At first, I had no idea what that meant, but I was all in.

We were started off with light airy papads.

Then arrived The Fish.  It arrived wrapped in banana leaf, which the waiter carefully opened.

I don’t think you can imagine all the steam that came out after they unwrapped.  This was the most delicious fish I have ever eaten to date.  Believe me because I ate the whole thing myself.  And, I have no regrets.

Turns out my meal was the traditional thali, which consists of rice and several Indian side dishes, including but not limited to the following:

different vegetable thorans, fish curry (not pictured),

and different chutneys.

My aunt ordered the mutton biryani.

All of the food was so delicious and totally makes me want to come back!  Such great service and a great presentation.  I will definitely make the 3 hour trip back when I go again to visit (post coming soon).

We went shopping galore.  Spent way too much money for pretty things, and finally made our long  journey back to the house.

After that big meal, an evening snack was sufficient.

That looks like an unripe banana, but it was wonderfully ripe on the inside.  You have to trust me on that.

I’m an American, and it’s non-negotiable.

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Filed under Favorites, Vacation