India’s Fragrant Basmati Rice

Uncooked Basmati Rice

Famous around the world today, India’s long-grained Basmati rice, also referred to as the Patna or Dehradun variety is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas (abode of snow).

About fifteen hundred years ago an Indian story recorded that rice was dressed in ghee with its full accompaniment of curries.  Little has changed since then, for an Indian meal is incomplete without rice.  The Muslims introduced the traditional pilao and biryani festival dishes to India in the eighth century.

The rulers (nawabs) of Awadh (Oudh) and Hyderabad dazzled the world with their culinary delights.  Their unforgettable and incomparable pilaos resembling plates of rubies and emeralds were conversation pieces.  The chefs used techniques that were developed in the kitchens of the caliphs of Baghdad where rice was soaked in saltwater before cooking to give it the luster and sparkle of crystals.

Here is a simple way to prepare Basmati rice.

 

Basmati Rice (Chawal)

Serves 6

2 cups long-grained Basmati rice
10 cups water
1 tablespoon corn oil

Wash and thoroughly rinse the rice three times in cold water until the water is clear.  In a large pot add the rice, 10 cups water, and 1 tablespoon oil.  Cover and boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until rice is almost cooked.  Remove, rinse in cold water, and drain thoroughly in a colander.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Transfer the rice to a baking dish.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes until rice is steaming.

Remove and serve hot with chicken curry, vegetables, plain yogurt, and salad.

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grated Carrots Sautéed with Flavor-enhancing Spices

The fourteenth-century Moroccan traveler and diplomat Ibn Baṭūṭah (1304-1377), in his history Travels (Rehla), described the diet of the people of India as being very dainty with a hundred different ways of cooking their food, which they varied every day.

A vegetarian meal generally consists of rice or roti, vegetables, legumes, chutney or relish, pickle, salad, and plain yogurt, followed perhaps with a sweet dessert or seasonal fruits.   A dry vegetable dish is usually served with a liquid legume accompaniment, such as a dal.

This delicious recipe is from my grandmother’s kitchen and is prepared with marvelous flavor enhancers, such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, and asafoetida and served with the main course.

Grated Carrots Sautéed with Flavor-enhancing Spices (Gajar ka Sabzi)

Serves 6

2 pounds fresh carrots, grated
¼  cup corn oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon split black beans (urid dal)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
1 green chili, chopped fine
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
¼ teaspoon asafoetida
¾ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and split black beans and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until they change color and the mustard seeds start popping.

Add the onions, garlic, ginger, chili, and curry leaves and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions turn soft and golden brown.

Add the asafoetida, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and garam masala and mix thoroughly for 3-4 minutes.

Add the grated carrots and salt and mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the wok.

Serve hot with basmati rice, roti, legumes, raita and cilantro chutney.

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Spicy Lentils with Yellow Squash

Considered highly nutritious and rich in protein, dal is the generic name for all legumes, lentils, dried beans, and peas.  Available at your local supermarkets and Indian grocery stores, dal is always prepared in combination with pungent herbs and spices, such as garlic, ginger, onion, black pepper, chilies, mustard seeds, asafoetida, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds, salt, and oil or clarified butter.  Buy legumes and beans in small quantities and store them in a dry place.

Spicy Lentils with Yellow Squash (Dal)

Serves 6

This healthy recipe is prepared with yellow or pink salmon-colored lentils (masoor dal) and is the perfect accompaniment with rice or roti.  You can use carrots, bell pepper, pumpkin, gourd, spinach, daikon or zucchini.

1 pound pink or yellow lentils
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 quarts water
Salt to taste
¼  cup corn oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced fine
7 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½-inch fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
1 small dried red chili
¼ teaspoon asafoetida
1 pound small yellow squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large tomato, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Soak the lentils in a pot of cold water for 15 minutes.  Rinse and drain the lentils three times.

In a large pot, add the water, lentils, turmeric powder, and salt.  Cover and boil over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are cooked.

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat.  Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and sauté for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cumin and fenugreek seeds change color and mustard seeds start popping.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and red chili and sauté for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Add the asafoetida and stir thoroughly for 1 minute.

Add the cooked lentils, yellow squash, and tomato and stir thoroughly for 1-2 minutes.  Cover and cook for 6-7 minutes.  Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with basmati rice or roti, chicken kebab, vegetables, and yogurt salad.

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Curried Mushrooms, Potatoes, and Bell Pepper

The turmeric-colored south Indian kari podi, or the Anglicized curry powder, was one of the exotic treasures that many sailors in the past brought back home to their wives or mothers.  In 1792, the following instructions for a “Curry of Chicken” recipe appeared in a book printed in Philadelphia: Get a bottle of curry powder.  Strew it over the chicken when frying… if it is not seasoned high enough, put in a little cayan (cayenne).

The basic art of Indian cooking lies in the careful blending of different spices to yield subtle variations in the flavor of foods. The khansamas or chefs of India have always been true alchemists, capable of mixing myriad spices that intensify the flavors of almost every kind of food.

Today there are thousands of variations of freshly bottled or canned spice powder blends (garam masala), mixes, and curry pastes.  In time, a master cook in the art of seasoning and preparing sumptuous meals will develop a sixth sense for her or his ingredients without any assistance from recipes or measuring tools.

Curried Mushrooms, Potatoes, and Bell Pepper (Masalewali Khumben, Alu, aur Simla Mirchi)

Serves 6

This is a very popular North-Indian style vegetable curry from my mother’s kitchen.

3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
¼  cup corn oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
5 medium cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 small green chili, chopped fine
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
Salt to taste
1 large tomato, chopped fine
2 medium bell peppers, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
2 cups water
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat.

Add the onion, ginger, chili, garlic, and bay leaf and stir for 3-4 minutes until onions are soft and golden brown.

Add the turmeric, curry powder, and salt and stir thoroughly for 3-4 minutes.

Add the potatoes and tomato and mix thoroughly for 3-4 minutes.  Add water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are tender.  Add bell pepper and mushrooms and mix.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with basmati rice or roti, legumes, and yogurt salad.

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your family and friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Delicious Cashew-Flavored South Indian Upuma

Every country has its signature semolina, farina, or cream of wheat breakfast dish.  Simple to make and ever so popular in South Indian homes and restaurants, upuma is served for breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner and always accompanied with coconut chutney and spicy lentils (sambar).  You can also prepare upuma with vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, peas, coconut, cauliflower, and squash.  Always use coarse semolina to prepare this delicious, healthy meal!

1 pound coarse semolina
¼ cup corn oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon split black beans (urid dal)
½  cup raw, unsalted cashew nut pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped fine
¾-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
2 small green chilies, chopped fine
¼ teaspoon asafetida
Salt to taste
4 cups water
2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine

Heat the wok over high heat.  Add the cream of wheat and roast over medium heat, stirring constantly as it changes color to a light golden brown.  Transfer to a pan and set aside.

Heat the oil in the wok over high heat.  Add the mustard seeds and sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the seeds start popping.  Add the black beans and cashew nuts and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they turn golden brown.  Add the onion, ginger and green chili and stir thoroughly for 3-4 minutes until the onions turn soft and golden brown.  Add the asafoetida and stir thoroughly for a few seconds.

Add the cream of wheat and salt and mix thoroughly for 2-3 minutes.  Add the water and stir thoroughly for 2-3 minutes until cream of wheat is cooked and most of the water has evaporated.  Add clarified butter and cilantro leaves and stir thoroughly.  Remove and serve  with tomato chutney and eggplant lentils.

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your family and friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Braised Meatballs in Yogurt

From Kashmir on the North to the Deccan in central India, the Mughals exerted their political influence and creative genius.  Nowhere is the mystery of these great connoisseurs more evident than in the presence of the timeless wonder of the Taj Mahal and in their remarkable cuisine.  The Mughal-influenced cuisine of northern India is distinguished by its non-vegetarian Arab, Persian, and Mughal influences, which include an emphasis on lamb and chicken.  Northern Indian cuisine overwhelms one with the delicacy and seductive flavors and textures of its luxurious sauces of dahi, cream, and crushed nuts, and with its succulent lamb and chicken dishes.  Today this legacy is widely admired throughout India and the rest of the world.

Braised Meatballs in Yogurt (Dahiwala Kebab)

Serves 6

1 cup plain yogurt
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled
½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped
1 fresh green chili
1 teaspoon roasted ground coriander
1 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
2 pounds ground lamb or chicken
1 egg
2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
Salt to taste
¼ cup corn oil

In a food processor, place the yogurt, onion, garlic, ginger, green chili, coriander, cumin, turmeric,  and mint leaves and puree to a fine mixture.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add the ground meat, egg, bread crumbs, and salt and thoroughly mix.  Divide into 20 uniformly sized meatballs and set aside.

Prepare the barbecue charcoal grill or heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Gently place the meatballs in the oil.  Cover and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the meatballs are golden brown and crisp.  Turn over the meatballs, cover and cook for another 7-10 minutes.  Remove the lid and stir gently until the liquid has evaporated.

Serve on roti with Sweet Mint Chutney and salad or skewer each meatball with a toothpick and serve as hors d’oeuvres.

 

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Zucchini Lentils

Considered highly nutritious and rich in protein, dal is the generic name for all legumes, lentils, dried beans, and peas.  Available at your local supermarkets and Indian grocery stores, dal is always prepared in combination with pungent herbs and spices, such as garlic, ginger, onion, black pepper, chilies, mustard seeds, asafoetida, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds, salt, and oil or clarified butter.  Buy legumes and beans in small quantities and store them in a dry place.

Zucchini Lentils (Tori ka Dal)

Serves 6

This healthy recipe is prepared with pink salmon-colored lentils (masoor dal) and is the perfect accompaniment with rice or roti.  You can substitute zucchini for yellow squash, pumpkin, gourd, spinach, or daikon.

1 pound pink lentils
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 quarts water
Salt to taste
¼  cup corn oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced fine
7 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½-inch fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
1 small dried red chili
¼ teaspoon asafoetida
1 pound small zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large tomato, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Soak the lentils in a pot of cold water for 10 minutes.  Rinse and drain the lentils three times.

In a medium pot, add the water, lentils, turmeric powder, and salt.  Cover and boil over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are cooked.

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat.  Add the cumin seeds and sauté for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cumin seeds change color.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and red chili and sauté for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Add the asafoetida and stir thoroughly for 1 minute.

Add the cooked lentils, zucchini, and tomato and stir thoroughly for 1-2 minutes.  Cover and cook for 6-7 minutes.  Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with basmati rice or roti, chicken kebab, vegetables, and yogurt salad.

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

South Indian-Style Deep-Fried Bean Savory

 South Indian-Style Deep-Fried Bean Savory (Vadai)

Split black beans or gram (urid dal) are pale cream in color and cook to a thick consistency.  This variety is very popular in South Indian cuisine.

½ cup water
1 cup split black beans
Salt to taste
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
1 fresh green chili, peeled and chopped fine
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine
1 cup corn oil

Wash the beans and soak in a pot of cold water for 4 hours.  Drain the beans in a colander.

Place the water, beans, and salt in a food processor and puree to a fine paste.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Add the onion, ginger, green chili, and cilantro and mix the bean mixture thoroughly.

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat.  Reduce to medium heat.  Using your right hand scoop a small portion of the bean batter and carefully place 5 or 6 in the wok.  Fry the vadai for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.  With a steel spatula turn over and fry for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove the vadai and drain on paper towel.  Repeat this process until all the vadai batter is fried.

Serve hot with cilantro or coconut chutney and chai.

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Mango Lhassi

Here is a favorite summer drink of millions made from the honey-sweet ‘Champagne Mango’ of Mexico!

Mango Lhassi (Aam ka lhassi)

Serves 6

1 cup plain yogurt
5 cups water or whole milk
6 ripe mangoes
Sugar to taste
½ cup crushed ice

Peel the mangoes and remove the pulp.  In a food processor, add the yogurt, water, mango pulp, sugar, and crushed ice and blend to a smooth, thick consistency for 2 minutes.

Serve immediately in medium glasses.

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Carrots and Squash Sautéed in Garlic and Turmeric

There are more than five hundred million vegetarians in India, where cooks reflect regional standards and tradition.  In the villages many still embrace a diet similar to their ancient ancestors.  Every morning all over India, the vegetable bazaars and markets (sabzi mandi) are a remarkable sight, with every conceivable fresh seasonal vegetable and fruit.  Small, tender seasonal vegetables are much more succulent than large ones because they are easy to digest and considered nutritious.

Carrots and Squash Sautéed in Garlic and Turmeric (Sabzi)

Serves 6

4 medium carrots
2 medium yellow squash
2 medium zucchini
¼ cup corn oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
Salt to taste

Wash and cut the carrots, squash, and zucchini lengthwise into 2-inch pieces.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden brown.

Add the turmeric, coriander, and cumin powder and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Add the carrots, squash, zucchini, and salt, and stir.  Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Serve hot with basmati rice, legumes, and salad.

 

Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well!  Discover and share my dazzling repertoire of authentic, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-prepare recipes of diverse flavors with your friends from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.