Sep 3, 2019

Cumin seed and Curry leaf

Disclaimer: These are spices and herbs that I use for my personal wellbeing. I am just sharing what worked for me, an adult Indian male. Effects may vary in your case. This is not a dietary or medical advice.

Today we will quickly go over the benefits of Jeera (zeeraka/cumin seeds) kashayam (infusion) as well benefits of curry leaves (
Murraya koenigii).
cumin seed and curry leaf
Helps me with: gastric issues (bloat), acidity (sometimes). They also say it helps in cooling, all over India people drink jeera water with some salts. I think the general hydration helps more, but I digress.

My Grandma's Recipe:

Dry roast 1 table spoon of good quality cumin seeds without any debris.
Roast on medium heat with light stirring till they sputter. (Takes 3-4 mins max for me)

Transfer to a quart pan, add two cups of water and bring to boil. Let the water level go down to ~1-1.25 cups, then switch off the stove. Add a drop o two of ghee. If you don't have ghee, you can substitute for the fat content with a tiny amount of coconut oil or peanut butter. 

Allow liquid to cool, filter out the infusion. (I use a separate tea mesh strainer, you can use fine cheesecloth for better filtration). Drink it lukewarm where possible. During summer you can drink this over ice, with a squeeze of lemon and little honey.

A recipe that is similar with pics is here

Curry Leaves:

Roast 6-8 curry leaves in half a tsp of hot oil, it will sputter so use a splatter screen, or a partially closed lid. 
Add as a garnish to any salad or curry.

Helps me with: Antioxidant properties, digestive health. They also supposedly help with cholestrol balance, hair growth, kidney health, etc .

Where do you find these? 
1) Cumin seeds: This is so common now that you can find it all regular grocery stores in the spices section. Of course, Indian grocery stores carry larger sized packets. It may be recommended to get certified organic products if you have a concern about the supply chain/contaminant/residue from spraying etc.

2) Curry leaves - US: typically Indian grocery stores in most cities and suburban areas carry these. Ask for fresh curry leaves at the store and they will point it you. In some states like Florida you can even buy a small plant (to grow in warm conditions - aka indoors)
One such link that also discusses some benefits/uses is:  Thanks,  Nari

Aug 5, 2019

Chana Masala Veggiefied- Chickpeas with Vegetables with rice


This is a variation on the traditional north indian dish of "chana masala" - aka Chhole. most recipes that are popular from the north indian state of Punjab. Back in India, the road side truck stops are the ones that rule in flavor contests on this dish.

I have taken the general recipe and added lot of vegetables to it, extra fiber!

Let's do it!

You would need to have onions, tomatoes, green chilis and ginger-garlic as the minimum # of fresh ingredients needed for this recipe.

Some of the illustrations I will use include in mixed to rice, which is a common way to consume this in India. Many folks also eat it with rotis or chapatis or naans (aka 'naan bread'). Don't forget to keep some water H2O or perhaps even milk to keep your cool if you end up adding extra chilis to this dish.

Note: the general cooking procedure for most "curries" involves making this tomato-onion sauce base

  • roasting cumin seeds in hot oil, let crackle,
  • then add chopped red onions, sauteing those for 2 mins on medium heat, 
  • Next add the minced garlic, ginger, saute for a min, then add veggies (optional) ,saute for 2 mins,
  • add tomatoes, sprinkle turmeric and red chili powder- cook for a min or two, 
  • then add the pre-cooked chickpeas, simmer for few to 10 mins.
  • Remove from heat - garnish with cilantro, serve with a lime wedge, with warm rice.

1) Chana masala (chickpea dish with indian spices) in tomato/onion sauce. Any lenti or beans should work as substitute. If you plan to cook from dry beans, soak them tonight!

2) Jeera rice (rice made with roasted cumin seeds and cardamom)

3) *maybe* Ajwain parantha - unleavened bread with marjoram or caraway seeds. << -- Low probability with ajwain, I cant find mine haha. Might substitute with jeera seeds or with mashed potatoes!
Major ingredients involved:

For 1) Chickpeas (or red kidney beans or black beans or some lentils)
For a 2 servings size:
1 can Garbanzo beans (or some other beans - see comments below)
1 large/med Tomato or canned diced tomatoes
1 medium Onions
2 cloves Garlic (fresh preferred)
2 tsp 1 inch size Ginger (fresh preferred or powder ok) optional
2 tsp Cumin seeds
2 tsp Coriander seeds
2 tsp powder turmeric
1 tsp black pepper powder or.. 2 small Green chilis chopped (optional)
2 tbsp oil - use any high/med heat oil - I am using canola oil
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp cilantro chopped - optional. (seriously dont measure this but I am adding a measure so *some* people dont use a cupful)

2) 1 cup Rice (basmati preferred but any grain should work- even barley in some cases)
2 cups water

3) Paranthas - Dont think this will happen today (Apr 25 online class), but you can substitute this with wheat tortillas or wraps or store bought naans if you have them!
Whole wheat flour <----
1/2 cup water to knead (more if needed later)
1 tbsp oil
Marjoram or caraway seeds - but is optional

Saute the veggies in a small amount of hot oil. Start with onions, as it starts browing, add green and red bell peppers, green chilis, minced or finely chopped ginger and garlic. Red chili powder (optional for a kick), salt, cumin powder can be added.

Throw in drained chickpeas (I used a can).
Mix in the already cooked rice. I used basmati rice, added a spoon of ghee for flavor.

Mix it up to coat the rice well and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves or provide them at table for garnishing on serving plate. Provide wedges of lemon or lime at the table to enhance flavors on the plate.

Jul 20, 2019

recipes philly summer


Koottu - Lentil-vegetable stew.


  • 1 medium - Kohlrabi (similar to Chow chow)
  • 1/4 cup - green peas (optional)
  • 1 medium- Chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup - moong dal (yellow) or red lentils
  • 1.5 tsp - sambar powder or garam masala (depending flavor profile sought)
  • Turmeric powder, a pinch
  • Asafetida, a pinch
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Seasoning:
  • 1 tsp - Coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp - cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp - mustard Seeds
  • 1 sprig - curry leaves

  • Peel the skin of kohlrabi squash. Chop other vegetables.
  • Slow or pressure cook them with rest of the ingredient and water for 3 whistles.
  • Prepare the seasoning using the flame temperture method and add it to the mixture.
  • Serve with hot rice.

  • See detailed recipe for similar lentil stew recipe here
  • Dal - lentil stew - Indian cooking class in Philly

    DAL (Dahl)– Lentil stew/soup

    Dal with Carrots (Indian lentil stew with carrots)
    Red lentils or Moong /Mung beans - 1.5 cups
    [you can do this procedure things with canned beans/canned vegetables too]
    oil – coconut oil or vegetable oil etc. – 2 tbsp
    cumin seeds or powder – 2 teaspoons
    coriander seeds or powder – 2 teaspoons
    chili powder or thai green chilis per taste
    red onions (diced) – 2 medium
    roma tomatoes (diced) – 3 medium
    Water – 3 cups (usually 2:1 ratio is needed for most lentils. You can use stock to reduce dilution.
    Carrots - chopped to 1 inch pieces
    Kohlrabi/beans/turnips/pumpkin etc –peeled if needed then chopped to 1 inch cubes
    cilantro leaves (fresh or dry leaves) – remove large stalks, rinse, pat dry, chop fine or chiffonade.
    lemon (optional) – I medium – cut into wedges, salt to taste.

    1.            Wash the lentils and soak for an hour in warm water if needed. (Soaking is needed for some of denser lentils). Alternately, heat water in an electric kettle and then use hot water for cooking lentils.
    2.            Cook lentils and carrots in a large pot starting with at least 21/2 to 3 cups for water for each cup lentil.
    3.             Bring to boil then lower flame and cook at simmering temperature till lentils are cooked to soft consistency. Some people prefer to cook these in a pressure cooker. You can do that if you are comfortable and well trained to work with those.

    4.             In a small pan heat some oil, once hot, add cumin seeds, let them crackle and brown,
    5.            Reduce the heat, then add onions and cook them till they whiten or slightly caramelize (personal preference).

    6.            Next, add tomatoes and cook till tomato-onion mixure is bubbling lightly and the tomatoes are soft. Transfer entire contents to the pot with the stew and mix well.
    7.            Add salt to taste.
    8.            Finally garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.
    You can squeeze lemon juice just before serving or add to the plate.
    Sometimes you can take a short cut, do the seasoning in a pot and then throw everything into it and boil.

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