Menu: India

Somehow the stars aligned and Ava’s second birthday (July 4) fell on the weekend I cooked India.

What does that mean?

Ava’s second birthday party was definitely not the candy/pizza/ice cream fest that is standard in so many homes. Nope. Instead, my yard was dotted with tots running around with kulfi pops and adults sipping masala chai (which I served iced, thanks to Oklahoma’s outrageous 101F temperatures).

It was really rather grand and quite possibly epic, as far as toddler birthday parties go.

What would you try?

Saag Paneer [recipe] with homemade Garam Masala [recipe]
India’s answer to creamed spinach. Our version is mildly spiced with ginger, turmeric, homemade garam masala, and serrano chili peppers – finished with a touch of half and half.

Homemade Paneer (cheese) [recipe]
Whole milk naturally curdled with lemon juice and pressed into creamy, sliceable cheese.

Masala Chai (Spiced Tea) [recipe]
Black tea steeped with cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, and other spices until fragrant. Mixed with milk and sugar for an irresistible treat. Drink hot or break tradition and enjoy over ice.

Kulfi Pops (Indian frozen treat) [recipe]
Kulfi is a common street food in India – a frozen, molded dessert made with sweet milk, sliced bread, and pistachios. Our version is seasoned with cardamom and rose water. I put a Popsicle stick in them so the kids could run around with them easier, although they are often eaten with a spoon.

*As usual, all recipes and meal review will be published by Monday morning.


  1. Happy birthday Ava! Just a week younger than my little guy. I love India, have such great memories there. Looking forward to your next post.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Happy birthday to your boy – hope he had a great day!

  2. That is awesome. And you’ve picked some of my favorite dishes… can’t wait for the recipes!

  3. Jessica Bennett says

    It all sounds good to me (although I think one day you should try aloo gobi- not sure why- I guess I just think it would appeal). And watch out Ava, that doll is eyeing your kulfi pop.

  4. mom says

    That doll is as old as Sasha….older!!…saved for Ava…who knew?!

  5. Joanne says

    My son (28 this year) had that exact same doll (with the same yellow and white knit outfit) when he was small like Ava (given to him in anticipation of his brother’s birth).

    • Sasha Martin says

      Wow! Amazing. Mine has a date on the back – it’s several years older than me – hard to believe.

  6. Brian S. says

    Have you thought of including recipes that you considered making but didn’t have time, in order to give people a better idea of the panoply of diverse cuisines that is India? For instance, from the South, relatively and sadly unknown in the U.S., you have Chettinad style food from Tamil Nadu, Kerala cuisine which is itself incredibly diverse, the fabled biryanis of Hyderabad, etc etc. One example is this recipe for Madras Fisherman’s Curry, which I got from Gourmet Magazine:

    Yield: Serves 4

    2 teaspoons coarse salt
    1 teaspoon turmeric
    four 6-ounce orange roughy fillets (of course in Madras, they use local fish)
    1 1/2 teaspoons brown or black mustard seeds
    2 medium onions
    2 small fresh serrano chiles
    1 cup packed fresh cilantro sprigs
    1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
    1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
    1 cup warm water
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    In a small cup stir together salt and turmeric and sprinkle on both sides of orange roughy fillets. Let fillets stand at cool room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, 10 minutes.

    With a mortar and pestle or in an electric coffee/spice grinder coarsely grind mustard seeds. Coarsely chop onions and, wearing protective gloves, chop serranos. In a food processor coarsely grind onions, serranos, cilantro, and coconut, scraping down side occasionally. In a bowl dissolve tamarind concentrate in water, stirring.

    In a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook mustard seeds about 30 seconds. Stir in onion mixture and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Add fillets and cook 1 minute on each side. Add tamarind mixture and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until fish is just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.


    • Sasha Martin says

      Brian, while the thought is nice, I am only one person. I have ideas (big ideas!) for ways readers to share their favorite recipes. It’s just a question of time, to implement them.

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