Tag Archives: Indian

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


  • 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


  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.


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


  • 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)


  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.


Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, Vegan, 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

–  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

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.


Filed under Dinner, Favorites, Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian

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.


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

I promise.

You can trust me.


Fried Brown Rice Recipe


  • 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


  • 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.



  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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).


Filed under Favorites, Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian

Christmas 2010: My Dessert Smorgasbord

Hello Post-Christmas to all!

hope each of you had a fabulous Christmas.  I know I did. This year my mom did it up right.  And let’s just say, I overdid it with the desserts.  If you follow me on Twitter, you would have read that I really almost had a panic attack at the amount I was baking.  But, in the end, it made for a great spread and I left with no left-overs!  Always a great sign.

All in all – I made 7 desserts (I cut it down from eight):  cranberry and walnut shortbread, thumbprint cookies, homemade Pocky sticks, brownies, Mexican wedding cookies (aka Russian tea cakes), mini cheesecakes, and a delicious rum cake to boot!

The best rum cake I have ever tasted – and I promise you I’m critical with my cooking!

These are my all-time favorite go-to brownies.

I cannot believe that it took me this long to make these Mexican wedding cookies.  This will not be my last time – let me tell ya!

Yes, I did use Halloween cupcake liners, but would you deny these treats for that reason?!  I think not!

I used blackberry jam for these thumbprint cookies.  My favorite!

And my MIL did it up right by bringing the classic Jalebi.

So, basically I caused a diabetic’s nightmare! 🙂

Not to fret, there was other food at dinner.  First, some appeteasers with Indian puffs – puff pastry filled with ground beef:

and my mom’s infamous samosas:

The blurry picture doesn’t do it justice.

And the main course had fried rice, beef/chicken kabobs, raita, salad, green beans, and even a pasta casserole my dad whipped up last-minute that was a hit!

In addition to this fabulous food, the night itself was fantastic.  I have a great family and I was truly blessed that Christmas 2010 included ALL of them!

In addition to my family, I am extremely thankful for you, my blog readers.  I have only been doing this a short time, but the people I have ‘virtually met’ have been absolutely short of wonderful.  I love the positive energy that everyone exudes and I have to say that it has changed my life.  So, thank you from the bottom of my happy holiday heart!


Filed under Cake, Cookies, Desserts, Dinner, Indian

Baingan Good Time

Yesterday, my mom came over and it was a food fest in my apt – lucky me!  My mom is probably the nicest person I have met in my entire life.  With that said, she is probably the quirkiest!

She and I were cooking together in my tiny kitchen and I told her – “move mom, move!”  She responds:  “When I move, you move – just like that”  Uhhhh…..

HOLD UPLuda?!  This 50-ish-yr-old tiny Indian woman, who watches no American TV/Movies has the strangest things come out of her mouth!  I asked her where she learned that from, and she said she’s in the know!!!  When did this happen?!

Oh lawwdddd….have mercy.

So, let’s get cooking.  I must preface this by saying I LOVE LOVE LOVE eggplant.  It is one of my – nay – my favorite vegetable!  An old favorite that I recreated myself was baingan bhartha.  Went deliciously with my mom’s chapathi.

With my mad skillz (in honor of Luda), I turned this:

into this:

And then magically the oven timer goes off and this appeared:

I swear to Moses I only had TWO!  I resisted my little grabby fingers I did.

I’m not one to say my mom and I are best friends.  Man, we have duked it out from 13-26.  Then, 27 hit and somehow she and I had more in common than we knew!

Now if the woman would only teach me where she learned to be such a lyrical gangsta!

Baingan Bharta


–  1 eggplant

–  2 tsp garlic, finely minced – I use garlic paste

–  2 tsp ginger, finely minced – I use ginger paste

–  1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

–  1 roma tomato chopped

–  1 jalepeno – (adjust to the level of heat you want)

–  1/2 tsp cayenne pepper – (adjust to the level of heat you want)

–  1/2 tsp garam masala

–  1/2 tsp turmeric

–  1/2 tsp ground coriander

–  1/2 tsp ground cumin

–  1/2 tsp black pepper

–  1/2 tsp salt

–  olive oil



1. Preheat oven to 450F

2.  Wash and cut the eggplant in half, lengthwise.

3.  Place eggplant cut-side down on a well oiled cookie sheet.

4.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes.

5.  Once cool, cut the eggplant in bite-size pieces.  (Many baingan bharta recipes say you should scoop out the flesh but I keep the skin because it contains alot of nutrients.  Moreover, I don’t mind it!)  Set aside.

6.  In pan, heat oil.

7.  Saute onions and jalepeno on medium heat until the onions are golden brown.

8.  Add ginger paste, garlic paste, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, turmeric, garam masala, salt and pepper.

9.  Saute spices with the onion and jalepeno until the raw smell of the spices are gone – for approximately 5 minutes.

10.  Add tomatoes and saute for another 3 minutes.

11.  Add eggplant and again saute for another 5-7 minutes – until the eggplant is soft and has absorbed some of the spices.

12.  Serve and enjoy!


Filed under Dinner

You Live. You Learn. You Rajma. You Run.

So after yesterday’s DISASTER, I definitely needed to decompress.  I also did a mini-soul-searching session yesterday on my drive home and realized that I need to set goals for myself and focus more on myself. So, starting next week, I will be posting goals that I want to attain for the week!

Well, after reaching home, it was time to cook.  For the past week there been nothing in my fridge and I was eating out way too much!  So I started on the rajma.

Rajma is a North Indian red bean curry dish, and it went a little something like this:

You got black pepper, cardamom, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, and turmeric.

After sauteing the onions and chili peppers, add in the spices and cook for about 5-7 minutes.

Add tomatoes until it cooks down.

Add the beans (un-drained) and cook down until it gets thicker – for another 10 minutes.

Sorry for the blurry picture – but you really have to know that this was delicious!!!  I ate it like soup yesterday but you can have it over rice or your favorite roti or naan!

I also was rushed because I had to run – Week 2, Day 1 – I’m keeping up!!! 🙂  The run was exactly what I needed to clear my head!

Happy Thursday everyone! 🙂


Filed under Dinner