All posts filed under: India

An Indian lunch for kids or work

Indian Curry for Lunch

Ava’s school encourages outdoor play – even when it snows. For this I am  SO grateful (if kids in northern climes like Alaska, Sweden, or Canada can go out to play when it’s cold outside my daughter can handle it, too). But if she’s going to face the elements, she also needs a hearty lunch to keep her furnace running. Curry is great for taking the snarl out of the winter air. This vegetarian chana masala warms with tomato cooked down into a bed of spices – cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic and ginger. A healthy toss with chopped Serrano chilies will add pleasing heat, but it’s easily left out of the dish for mild sensibilities. As for the rest? Like most kids (?) Ava loves rice. And a heaping spoonful of plain yogurt and soft naan balances any heat. Finally: green peas because, yum! That’s Ava’s lunch. What’s in your lunchbox? Tips Add a little salt to the plain yogurt to give it a savory quality little ones will really enjoy While you can certainly make naan (I have a yogurt …

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besan doodh recipe

Besan Doodh: A Drink Worthy of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Malala & Kailash

One thought crossed my mind every time I took a sip of the Besan Doodh. The thought overwhelmed the bold cardamom and it distracted from the warm milk tinged with saffron. A small thing, really – a sentence, again and again, bringing tears to my eyes. “I didn’t clip her wings.” These are the words of Malala Yousafzai’s father. Malala is a young woman from Pakistan – just 17 years old. She is easily the greatest superstar in the peace movement right now thanks to her unapologetic opposition to those who would keep girls from receiving an education. Though she’d been blogging for the BBC since she was 11, the whole world paid attention when she took a shot to the head on the way to school at age 15, two years ago. As of Friday, Malala is the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and the first Pakistani winner. In a nice nod to her work for children’s education, she found out about the award during chemistry class. Malala’s father was the first person to write a girl’s name on the family …

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Chana Masala Recipe

Chana Masala & The Remarkable Quest of Chris Guillebeau

Psst… Be sure to enter the giveway at the bottom of this post! I want to tell you a story about Chris Guillebeau – a man who traveled to every country in the world. It took him 10 years.  He’s not the first to do it, and he won’t be the last. And yet his quest is remarkable. Let me explain. From Quest to Calling I stumbled across Chris’ journey a few years back  when he had about three years left in his quest. I read with amusement about his jogging escapades on strange terrain, how airport lounges can double as offices (and triple as bedrooms!), and how he managed to maintain relationships with his family and friends all while exploring the world. Like many people, I was immediately smitten with Chris’ quest.  It’s not simply that his journey mirrored my own (cooking every country in the world for anyone stopping by) – but it was the fact that Chris was able to escape the confines of standard travel blogging to become a remarkable life blogger. That is to say, he used …

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Lemon Rasam - one of Gandhi's favorite recipes.

Celebrating World Vegetarian Day with Gandhi and Lemon Rasam

In our house we live by Michael Pollan’s addage: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  This week we’re going one step further, invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s strict vegetarian diet in honor of World Vegetarian Day (October 1st). While most people think of Gandhi as a famous pacifist, he also had a lot to say about eating a pant-based diet, led in great part by his compassion and respect for the lives of even the smallest creatures. Not one to mince words, Gandhi wasn’t afraid to puts his beliefs in black and white:  No flocks that range the valley free To slaughter I condemn Taught by the power that pities me I learn to pity them – Gandhi (1869 – 1948) Our daughter Ava has been eating mostly vegetarian for a while now, so she was particularly happy to celebrate World Vegetarian Day with a new-to-us dish. What to eat for World Vegetarian Day? While we have hundreds of vegetarian and vegan recipes from around the world, I thought it’d be fun to try a dish Gandhi might have enjoyed …

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5 Secrets to Springtime in January, thanks to the Hindu Harvest Festival

You know that old saying, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere”? Well the same can be said of springtime. Even while ice and and snow pummel the northern hemisphere and hot days sizzle in the southern, there are plenty of people celebrating springtime in India and other South Asian countries… Yes, in January. After the wild hair seventy degree day we had a couple of days ago, Ava and I were ready to say goodbye to winter, too. So how do we get there? This January 14 marks Makar Sankranti, the Hindu Harvest Festival. While Makar Sankranti is intended to celebrate the winter solstice and last year’s good harvest,  it also celebrates the arrival of spring. This is one of those “looking forward” to warmth, while looking back with appreciation. To Hindus, the Sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makara Sankranti signifies that we should turn away from the darkness of delusion in which we live, and begin to enjoy a new life with bright light within us to shine brighter and brighter. We should gradually begin to …

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Monday Meal Review: India

THE SCENE On my brother Keith’s last day in Tulsa, in the very last half hour, he said something that will stick with me for a long time. I was sipping my tea, watching him play with Ava, thinking how happy I was. Conversation turned to our next visit and how work always tries to ruin plans. The way they make you guilty for taking even a little time off.  How, inevitably, they squeeze as much out of you as they possibly can. Rather abruptly he said: “I won’t cancel, no matter what.” I nodded, and took another sip of tea, appreciating his sincerity. “Three weeks before Damien died I was supposed to visit you two,” he continued, looking off towards the fountain, watching the water tumble into the cool pool. “Work begged me to reschedule my flight – to stay for a big project. Damien was crushed. And I didn’t get to see him before…” He trailed off and grew silent.  After a long pause, he quietly added “I’ll never do that again.” I …

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Spiced Tea with Milk | Masala Chai

Serves 4 I’ve officially learned how to blackmail my brother into doing anything I want. Make him a pot of masala chai. He drank this sweet, milky treat his entire visit. A mug was never far from reach. The flavor is as intense as any local coffee shop, but the satisfaction is 200% greater, as we made it ourselves. One more thing – you can serve it hot or cold which makes it the perfect drink in my book. I’m honored that this recipe was featured in Penzy’s Spices’ 2012 early summer catalog. Ingredients: 6 cups of prepared black tea I used 2 Tbsp looseleaf black tea brewed in 6 cups water, but this can vary by brand. Spice blend: 10 cardamom pods, shelled 1 tsp fennel  seeds 5 black peppercorns 1 cinnamon stick 2 quarter sized slices of fresh ginger Finishing touches: 1/4 cup sugar, or to taste 1/2-1 cup whole milk Method: Open the curtains. Let in the light. Pile spices into your life. First, brew the black tea. Then remove the tea bag …

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Makes 4.5 cups The sweet, rich flavor of kulfi will transport you (and any toddlers you know) to India quicker than quick. No need for fancy equipment, either. Freeze the kulfi in any mold you have – I used plastic shot glasses from a party supply store. The two year-olds I polled had no problem with this. Ingredients: 1 12 oz can evaporated milk 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk 2 slices bread 1 cup cream, whipped 2 Tbsp pistachios 1 tsp rose water 1/4 tsp cardamom red food coloring, optional Method: Pack your bags. We’re headed to beautiful Vagator beach in India. Once there, we’ll sit down with a few kulfi pops. You’ll need whipped cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, bread, rose water, cardamom… … and pistachios. Add everything *except* the rose water and cardamom to a blender. Once smooth, divide the mixture in two. Season one bowl with rose water and the other with cardamom. If you’d like, you can make the rose water pops pink with a drop of food …

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Saag Paneer

Serves 4 It’s creamy. It’s earthy. It’s one of my favorite dishes from India. Ladle saag panner over basmati rice and it’s also a surefire way to get a picky man to eat his spinach. Ingredients: vegetable oil 1 tsp fresh grated ginger 1 tsp fresh grated turmeric 2-3 tsp homemade garam masala 1 onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic Serrano chili, sliced thinly (to taste) 1 lb frozen spinach, thawed, juices retained homemade paneer, to taste salt pepper finishing touch 2 Tbsp butter 1/4 cup half and half (or more to taste) Method: There’s only one way to get a picky man to love spinach. Load it up with good flavor. Blend it so it’s no longer slimy. And add some delicious cheese to distract him from all the green. First step: gather the ingredients. Whole Foods had fresh turmeric this week (see bottom right), so I did my happy dance. Next, toast the ginger, turmeric, and garam masala in vegetable oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add the onion, garlic, and Serrano chili. Cook until softened, …

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Dreamy Homemade Garam Masala

Makes about 3 Tbsp Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Imagine you’re in India. Having trouble? I can help. Let’s make some Garam Masala. Garam Masala is possibly the most well known spice blend from India. Grandmas all over the northern region grind up fresh batches of this earthy goodness for dinner every day. They’ve got the right idea. Grinding whole spices as needed is the secret to bold, flavorful dishes. You, too, can fill your home with the warm, sweet smell of India. And then you’ll be able to visualize. To travel. With nothing more than your imagination. Ingredients: 1 Tbsp coriander seeds 1 Tbsp cumin seeds 1 tsp peppercorns 2 cinnamon sticks 10 seeds from green cardamom pods 10 whole cloves Method: Let’s take a stroll over to an Indian spice market. Forget the car. Parking isn’t really worth the trouble. But the spices are. While we’re there, let’s gather a bounty of spices. We’re going to make a ritual out of delicousness. Buy spices you recognize and spices you don’t. Breathe in the …

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Homemade Paneer Cheese

Makes 1 block of cheese Cheese lovers, come closer. I have a secret to tell you. I never thought I’d be able to do this. I thought it would be hard. I thought I’d just waste a bunch of milk. I didn’t. The truth is, the only thing standing between you and great cheese is a half gallon of milk, salt, and a little lemon juice. That’s pretty ridiculous. And empowering. Trust me. If you’ve never made homemade cheese before, you’ll delight in the simplicity of Indian Paneer. And it just might make you feel better if you’re having a rough day. Ingredients: 2 quarts (8 cups)  whole milk 1 1/2 tsp salt 4 Tbsp strained lemon juice Cheesecloth Method: Every once in a while life gets frustrating. Everything just… drags. Like you have too much on your shoulders. Maybe you feel a little bit lonely. Maybe you’re bored. Or maybe you’re just hungry. It’s hard to know for sure, sometimes. On days like this it’s nice to take a stroll in the desert – to …

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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 …

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