Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Samosas are relatively easy to make as long as you have all of the proper equipment to make them. They also can be bought frozen or even in the refrigerator of many Indian grocery stores. Out samosas are filled with the Traditional Potato Masala. However they can be filled as many ways as there are under the sun. A thick palak paneer, chickpea curry, masoor dal and rice.

For the dough

2 C AP flour
1/2 t salt
4 T oil
4 T + water
1 t oil

Mix the flour salt and oil in a bowl until it forms small pea like clumps. Then mix in the water slowly until it forms a stiff ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and hand kneed for 7 minutes or mix in a KitchenAid for 2-3 minutes. Lightly cover the ball with the 1 t oil and wrap tightly in plastic wrap for 30 minutes to rest at room temperature. This would be a good time to make your samosa filling.

Roll the dough out into a snake and divide into 8 even balls. On a floured surface roll each ball into a 7 inch round. Cut each round in half. Fold the semi-circle in half and use a little water to join the flat edges together. Now you should have a little cone. holding it in a loose fist. Fill it almost full, this will take practice to get right. the dough will stretch a little bit, but it will tear if you stretch too far. Use a little more water to seal the top of the cone closed. I like to use a fork to crimp the seams. This seems to work pretty well. Once it is sealed let them sit uncovered for a few minutes for the extra water to dry up and the seam to become well bonded.

Heat 3 inches of oil in a large pan to 325F you'll need a thermometer for this. If you just wing it you might end up with overly browned samosas. To test the oil take a small peice of bread and throw it in to pot it should be hissing and slowly turning brown over 40 second, if it's not hissing the oil is too cold and if it is browns faster then that the oil is too hot.

Cook samosas in small batches so you don't drop the heat of your oil too much, this will make for less oily samosas. Turn them frequently until they are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Masoor Dal

As a devoted near-carnivore, a true lover of meat, the only thing I can say about this dish is... it's made of lentils... and I LOVE it. Definite meat replacement item here.

I think along with strong spices this is one of the secrets of the Indian vegetarian diet. Lentils, especially highly flavored thickly textured lentils like these give the same satiation as meat for me.

To the recipe!

1 cup brown lentils (dal)
1/4 cup orange split dal
4 Tb oil
large pinch fenugreek seeds
2 curry leaves
1/2 medium onion
2 small tomatoes finely chopped
1.5 Tb ginger garlic paste
1 teas cumin seeds
1/2 teas black mustard seeds
1/2 Tb cumin powder
1/2 Tb coriander powder
1/2 Tb cayenne
1/2 teas tumeric
1 teas salt to taste
Fresh chopped Cilantro
Lemon wedge to taste when garnishing

Rinse both the brown and orange lentils (dals) together and soak them in plenty of water for for 6 hours to overnight. In a large pot heat the oil add the curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. When they begin to crackle, add the onions.
Cook onions on medium heat till they are a light brown and then add the ginger-garlic paste. Mix well. Allow this mixture to bhunao lightly before adding the tomatoes. While the tomatoes are cooking remove the dal from the soaking water and reserve the soaking water for cooking. Add the dry spices, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and tumeric powders and allow to become fragrant. Add the drained dal and mix well. Add 2 cups of the soaking liquid back into the pan to cook with the dal for a mushier version and add 1 cup of the dal for a drier version

Add salt to taste Appx. 1 teaspoon.

Garnish with a lemon wedge and roughly chopped cilantro.

This can be eaten alone or with bread, or simply served over a bed of rice. It is the perfect vegetarian meal, heck it's even vegan! And believe me... it makes me shudder to even think that word.


Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is prepared much like other types of rice in asia. The main difference is after rinsing with 2-3 changes of water it can be soaked anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours then thoroughly drained usually set into a fine mesh colander and left to drain for 15 minutes. Then it's cooked in just enough water to thoroughly hydrate the rice.

1.5 cups of rice
2 3/4 cups water
1 t salt

After rinsing the rice well set into a pot and soak for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Sources say that the shorter the soak the easier the final product will break into shorter grains and will be more sticky. It's really a balance of time vs reward.

Bring the water, rice and salt to a boil in a saucepan. reduce heat the to lowest setting and cover with a tightly fitting lid. Cook for 10-12 minutes. after 10-12 minutes remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes covered.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Classic Chicken Curry

This is a classic chicken curry recipe, it's not very dynamic, but it's a good introduction for the curry shy and as long as you use the correct techniques it can be very delicious. The first time we made this was before learning how to Bhunao, which is the technique of lightly browning the spices with the onions and ginger garlic pastes. This heats the spices well beyond the boiling point of water which allows the aromatic oils in the spices to be released and to more fully infuse the dish.Without bhunao this dish is quite bland and lacking. It's like a soup without any salt in it. The flavor components are there but the overriding taste is more like cardboard then curry.

 1 lb boneless chicken cubed
2 T oil
1 large onion
2 T ginger garlic paste
2 t garam masala powder
1 t red chilli powder
1 t coriander powder
1 t cumin powder
1 stick cinnamon
1 c yogurt
3/4 C tomato puree
2 medium tomatoes diced
2 medium potatoes diced boiled and drained

Heat oil in a pan add onion, ginger garlic paste and cinnamon stick and saute for four to five minutes. Add the garam masala powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and chicken. Bhunao the mixture by reducing all of the water out of the vegetables and allowing them to stick to the pan lightly, if anything starts to burn add a few tablespoons of water and then repeat try to brown the chicken on all sides. Add the yogurt and tomato puree and diced tomatoes, bring it to a simmer do not boil it or you will make your chicken stringy and dry. Just a light simmer always for proteins. You can either add in the potatoes now or eat them on the side.

Not so Nommy yet.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Masala Yanks

Jessie and myself have been experimenting with indian food for a couple of weeks. One morning I was in the shower and thinking about making some of my killer hash browns when it hits me, Why don't I make Indian hash browns! Thus was born my first fusion dish... god that phrase even makes me shudder!

Why is it that great inspiration comes while in the bathro
om? Sometimes I think the only time I'm truly creative is when I'm in there. 

Aloo - Potato
Masala - cooked heavily with spices
Yanks - an american variety of hash browned potatoes.
Aloo Masala - This is a classic indian dish often used as stuffing for Dosas or Samosas.

So Jessie and myself have a very different idea of the right amount of oil to make hash browns with. Thus hers are a bitter cracked desert of wasted potato (This may not be an accurate description of her hash browns) while mine are a fluffy on the inside crunchy on the outside little plate of heaven.

This recipe is somewhere in between our two oilynesses, In fact Jessie would never use anywhere near this amount of oil to make regular hash browns, however, like in most Indian foods, large amounts of oil are absolutely necessary to properly distribute flavors from the spices and infuse them into the ingredients.

This is the minimum amount of oil you could use and still get good results (IMHO).

1 lb. New potatoes
1 t Ginger paste
½ a medium onion, grated
3 T Vegetable oil
½ T Garam Masala mix (see below)
Garnish with Riata (optional)

Cut the small potatoes in halves or quarters to make 2 inch chunks of potato. Put into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer covered until a knife as very little resistance poking into the middle of the potatoes. Drain the potatoes.

Add the oil to a frying pan, add the onions and ginger paste. Cook on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until the onions start to brown. Reduce the heat to medium and add the Garam Masala mix. Stir the spices into the oil and allow them to infuse the oil for a couple of minutes.

Add the drained potatoes to the onion spice mixture and smash the potatoes once with a cup or jar, this will give them a nice fractured texture. salt well at this point. Mix the pan well to coat all of the potatoes in spicy oil. Staying on medium heat, allow the potatoes to brown on the bottom without stirring for 3-4 minutes, then turn them and allow the other side to brown. Pour onto a plate and serve. You could garnish with riata or eat plain.

- NOM!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Masala Crusted Tilapia

This is delicious! Very easy and quick. I am going to be keeping this spice mixture on hand to sprinkle on fish on a whim! We often make quick meals of fish fillets and rice. I have found a new twist. Nom Nom Nom. Tilapia is a very versatile fish, it has very little flavor of its own but takes on other flavors very well. Kind of like chicken.

4 tilapia fillets
2 T oil
wedge of lime

Indian Blackening Seasoning
1 T cayenne
2 t garlic salt
2 t toasted and ground cumin seed
2 t toasted and gound fennel seed
2 t garam masala
1 t salt

Coat tilapia fillets in blackening seasoning, we let them rest for 30 minutes for the flavors to seep in. Fry fish on medium heat in the oil. Flip gingerly. When it's done all the way through, carefully plate the fish and squeeze some lime juice over it. Enjoy! Serve with steamed rice.

For a healthier option you can bake it in the over at 375 for 10 minutes, flip half way through.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Notes on technique: Baghar and Bhunao

 Baghar AKA Tadka or Chonk (instant flavoring or Tempering) 

This is one technique that is fairly unique to Indian cooking, whole spices are dropped into oil to infuse. this technique is called Baghar, Tadka or Chonk.

1. Heat oil quite hot but not so hot that it starts to smoke and then drop in whole spices which then release their flavors into the oil.
2. Larger harder spices like stick cinnamon, and star anise can be added first. (stir constantly)
3. Once the larger spices have started to swell and and change color. (stir constantly)
4. cardamom can be added, and shortly thereafter (stir constantly)
5. Smaller spices like fennel seed, cumin or coriander seed can be added last and will only cook for 30 seconds depending on the heat of the oil. (stir constantly)
6. Stir constantly until the smallest spices are fragrant and have darkened in color.
7. Remove from heat.

The purpose of this technique is twofold, to infuse the oil with as much of the flavor from the spices as possible, and to toast and brown the spices themselves which will further develop new flavors in the spices which will infuse the oil.

When baghar (translated as instant flavorings or tempering) is performed correctly there is a physical change in the spices, they will become toasted and more brown, dry spices will uncurl and expand slightly, and the smell will change from a raw spice flavor to a more intense toasted flavor.

Remember to heat your oil before adding your spices, add from the most hardy to the smallest spices, wait for the color change and smell change before moving on in the recipe.

This technique can be used in two different ways, either use the oil in the pan to cook other ingredients or to pour the oil over a completed dish to add another kick of flavor at the end.

Bhunao (sautee)
This is not a French sautee, although it is similar up to a point. Almost all curries and thick sauce dishes use this method of cooking at one point or another. To develop a great Indian sauce this technique is paramount!

1. Oil or ghee is heated in a frying pan (sometimes Baghar(see above) is performed to flavor the oil first). Then wet ingredients are added, it could be vegetables or marinated meat.

2. These ingredients are then cooked over a hot flame to reduce to a thick paste. stir occasionally to keep the ingredients mixed and heating evenly.

3. Once its lost almost all of it's liquid, you can reduce the heat to medium or medium high. Stirring every so often and allowing the paste to lightly stick to the bottom of the pan, then scraping it off with a spatula.

4. Once it begins to stick so much that you can't lightly scrape it off you drop a few tablespoons of liquid into the pot until the stuck parts will dissolve while you mix and scrape them (deglazing the stuck on foods)

5. This is then mixed into the rest of the paste and you then let the excess liquid evaporate.

6. Repeat the sticking and deglazing 3-4 times.

The real key is to let it stick a little bit and actually brown, just like you let meat brown to get that delicious brown outer crust. The more times you repeat this process and the deeper the browning the more deep and flavorful your paste will become. Just don't let it burn!

This can be done with any liquid that is being added to be pot such as tomato puree, broth or water.

Notes for food nerds

While Bhunao sautéing breaks the rules for a true french sauté it's actually a process that is intrinsic to Cajun and Creole cooking. This cooking tradition uses the exact same process for cooking sauces and bases for stews and thick dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, etc.

The browning and maturing of the spices in the Baghar process as well as the browning of the vegetables and marinades are both a result of a Maillard reaction, named after the chemist Louis-Camille Maillard. This process is  a very complicated synthesis of organic flavor compounds created by the reaction of sugars with amino acids. They form a vast array of flavor compounds that as of yet haven't been adequately studied. However, they taste... awesome. These are behind some of your favorite cooking flavors, browned meats, toasted bread, toasted marshmellows, maple syrup, roasted coffee, French fries, etc.

Notes on Equipment

There are a few essential pieces of equipment that I think are absolutely necessary to cook traditional Indian food.

Blender/food processor/emulsion blender
A lot of the sauces and gravies use onions as a base and they need to be pureed to get the textures right.

Spice grinder
I bought a cheap coffee blender at big box store X 20 bucks will get you a nice model. I would not suggest doing double duty with a coffee grinder. you'll just end up with funny tasting coffee and funny tasting indian food.

Good Sharp Knives
Really this is essential for any sort of cooking, but Indian food usually has a large number of ingredients and a lot of prep work. You're going to be doing a lot of chop chop chopping. I would suggest getting a nice set of knives or sharpening up your current knifes. 

Pictures of these neat pieces of Equipment
Less essential for cooking Indian food but more essential for me writing about cooking Indian food. I'm going through a break-up and don't have access currently to these lovely pieces of equipment to take pictures of them. This will be remedied some day. I will just have to trust everyone out there to know what these things are. 


This blog actually started almost 9 months ago. My sister mentioned that she wanted to learn how to cook Indian food. Being the kind awesome brother that I am I figured, I can learn how to cook Indian food and create in Indian cookbook that is aimed at creating flavorful, traditional Indian food which is laid out and explained for the American laymen home cook. The original recipes ended up being a cookbook I made her for Christmas.

Most likely you know how to cook and enjoy doing it if you are looking at this site. Think of this as a primer on Indian cooking. I had many pitfalls and learning opportunities in the making of these recipes. I sourced original recipes on line, in books, from friends, and blended them together through repetition to make a master recipe.

I try to focus heavily on a few unique techniques which are not common amongst western European/American cooking. This more then anything else is the key to making flavorful Indian food.

One of the most important steps to making good Indian food is to find a good indian specialty store in your area. You are going to need them. Most cities have them, little hidden gems filled with exotic spices and ingredients you are not going to be able to find anywhere else. Get to know your grocer, they are going to be invaluable to your progress. Stock up on spices. Explore some new flavors, try new ingredients, ask questions about ingredients you've never heard of or seen before.

I'll try to keep this blog updating every Wednesday. Please enjoy and