I have been thinking about creating a recipe for Vegetable Paella with Fried Paneer for a long time. I love Spanish food and paella is one of my favorites. Fusing a Spanish rice recipe with Indian flavors and ingredients seemed like a match.

I wasn’t sure how some members of my family would like it since the rice is rich in spice and flavor and there are many goodies mixed in with it. Once I made it and served it to the picky member of my family, who will remain anonymous, she loved it! Her facial response looked like a starving person who sees food for the first time after weeks without anything!

Vegetable Paella

Vegetable Paella with Fried Paneer incorporates the spices and vegetables of India with a delicious traditional Spanish rice recipe.

The traditional first step of Indian cooking is to season oil with spices. I use a special blend of cumin, chiles, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and paprika. Before I add a few of my favorite vegetables to get them started in the cooking process. The ones I like in rice dishes are cauliflower, carrot, red bell pepper and onion.

The uncooked basmati rice is roasted in the flavored oil. Vegetable broth that has been flavored with roasted saffron is added and the rice is boiled until tender. Roasting the saffron first brings out the flavor and deepens it to complement the rice. Everything simmers together.

While the rice cooks, several other things happen. Slices of coconut and raw cashews are toasted until golden brown. Small cubes of Indian cheese, called paneer, are fried in a bit of oil until golden. These are added to the rice just when it is tender along with some green peas for color.

Toppings are also prepared. Halved Indian/baby eggplants are seasoned and oven roasted. A sliced red onion is fried until it is brown and caramelized. These are placed on top as a garnish.

The last step is to turn the heat on the stove to high and let a crispy crust form on the bottom of the rice.

It seems like there are a lot of steps in this recipe. Each one is very simple, so it is a matter of just following the recipe. I prepare Vegetable Paella with Fried Paneer in a paella pan. If you don’t have one, just use a large oven safe skillet.

I hope you try this recipe soon. Your friends and family will be so impressed! Your family members who do not allow their food to touch will be your best fans!

Indian recipes have utilized turmeric as one of the key ingredients for centuries. There is a reason for that. Turmeric contains curcumin which is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, both of which are important to one’s health. I am not going to repeat here what hundreds of articles have documented but, I am just going to say, from my experience, that adding a bit of turmeric to one’s diet is beneficial.

Turmeric is a root just like ginger, but it is smaller in diameter than ginger and the color of the flesh is bright orange. It can be used in cooking freshly grated or dried as powder. It has other uses since the bright yellow color seems to stain everything it touches, for example, dyeing fabric.

Many Indian recipes rely on the flavor of turmeric to give them their signature tastes. I think it adds a subtle and rich earthy flavor that provides a good basis for the other spices. I add it to many of my recipes and have learned that it brings the flavor of the dishes up a notch.

Cauliflower Turmeric Soup combines the health benefit of turmeric with tender cauliflower and carrots.

Cauliflower Turmeric Soup combines the health benefit of turmeric with tender cauliflower and carrots. Coconut milk can be added for a creamy version.

When I created the recipe for Cauliflower Turmeric Soup, I was looking for something light and loaded with vegetables. Since cauliflower is one of my favorites, I decided to feature it with the turmeric scented broth. This recipe is very simple to make. Simply fry the turmeric with a few Indian spices to enhance their flavor, then cook onion, garlic, cauliflower and carrots (for color) in the spices. Finally, broth is added to make the Cauliflower Turmeric Soup.

One easy variation on this recipe is to add a cup of coconut milk to make it creamy. My husband and his mother love this version. I prefer it without the coconut milk because I am trying to watch my weight.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Cauliflower Turmeric Soup as much as we do!

Everyone loves to eat meatballs. I think they are comfort food. Meatballs are popular all across the country because they can be served in so many different ways – just by themselves, in tomato sauce on top of a pile of pasta in soup, on a crusty sub roll or dressed in a creamy Swedish sauce.

Every cook has her own favorite recipe(s). I have my version of traditional Italian meatballs that I serve with homemade tomato sauce and pasta. Inspired by that recipe, I decided to create a special recipe for meatballs delicately seasoned with Indian spices that are served in a delicious curry.

Meatball Curry

Meatball Curry is a delicious curry made with fresh tomatoes, spices and coconut milk loaded with meatballs that are delicately seasoned with Indian spices.

The meatballs are made with ground beef and cooked vegetables to make them healthier and lighter than other recipes. I use diced onion, potato and carrot. The cooked vegetables can be mashed before mixing them with the meat, but I like to see the vegetable pieces in the cooked balls, so I leave them as is. I add a special blend of spices gives them a delicious flavor before forming it into small balls. They are baked in the oven until browned and cooked through.

meatball curry

Beef meatballs are delicately seasoned with Indian spices.

The curry is made by sautéing onions, garlic, ginger, chiles and tomatoes and flavoring it with a different blend of spices that is designed to complement the spices in the meatballs. As the base for the curry cooks and becomes tender, I blend it until smooth. When it is ready I stir in coconut milk to make it creamy and delicious. As the last step the meatballs are added to the curry.

This flavorful meatball curry should be served with plain basmati rice or a simple pulav. It is rich enough to impress your friends for a special gathering or serve to your family any night of the week. Based on my son’s response, I will be making this as often as I can and take it to him in Houston.

If you happen to have any leftovers, serve a few meatballs and the curry on a large crusty sub roll. It makes a delicious lunch sandwich.

During a recent visit from a friend of our family, I asked Jose about Puerto Rican cuisine and his favorite traditional recipes since I am always looking for new recipe ideas. He still has family in Puerto Rico and visits occasionally. From his childhood, his favorite recipe is Mofongo which is made with fried plantains and seasoned with garlic and pork cracklings (fried pork rinds) then mashed in a mortar and pestle, and shaped in a ball. It can be served at lunch or dinner as a side dish with rice and beans as well as with meat or shrimp. Sometimes it is eaten by itself as a snack.

Mofongo originated in the African countries close to the Gulf of Guinea and was brought to the Caribbean. Now it is popular in many Caribbean countries, including Cuba and the Dominican Republic. It has spread to New York City and other cities in the U.S. where large numbers of Puerto Ricans live.

Later, I was thinking about how to incorporate Indian spices or cooking techniques into the recipe for Mofongo. As I was looking through my recipes from Kerala, I realized that I had the perfect match! Kaya Podimas (Stir-fried Bananas), a specialty of Kerala, is also made out of green plantains, also called cooking bananas. It is boiled then mashed. All I had to do was merge the two flavors and techniques together!

The resulting recipe is called Mashed Plantains. As in the original Kerala recipe, the plantains are cut into small pieces then boiled with turmeric until tender. I mash my cooked plantains with my potato masher. Depending on your preference they can be coarsely or finely mashed.

While the plantains cook, I prepared the seasonings which include mustard seeds, urad dal, garlic, onion, sliced green chiles and curry leaves. After the seasonings are ready, I mix them into the mashed plantains along with grated and chopped coconut.

Mashed Plantains can be served like mashed potatoes or formed into a bowl over which a curry can be served. I like the contrast and visual impression it provides to my Goan Pork Vindaloo recipe when presented in a bowl shape.

As I write this post, I want to thank you for your continued interest in my recipes during this year. I look forward to sharing more unique flavors with you in the new year. Happy 2018!

During a recent trip with my husband to New Orleans, I had the most wonderful surprise at dinner one evening. I had ordered blackened fish, which was delicious and perfectly cooked, and it was served with a side of popcorn rice. I had never heard of popcorn rice but instantly fell in love with the scent and taste of it! Yes, it really smells like popcorn!

The next day I scoured the French Quarter looking for a bag of it to bring home. I bought two 2-pound bags which will have to last a while. When going through airport security on my way back home, I packed the rice in a small bag thinking that it would alert the agents. Of course, the dense rice did cause the agent to pull the bag aside and inspect the contents. I told the agent that I couldn’t buy this variety of rice at home. She let me go with the rice. I think she felt sorry for the crazy tourist and had a story to tell when she got home.

What is popcorn rice? It is a variety of long-grain rice, grown in Louisiana, which has a wonderful rich, nutty aroma and flavor that really does smell like popcorn. This variety is considered an artisan grain and is a hybrid of basmati rice, with the same texture. It even pairs well with curries and meat dishes. Popcorn rice is cooked in the same way as other rice varieties. It is delicious and has become a staple in my kitchen.

This special variety of rice inspired by recipe for Baked Spiced Popcorn Rice. It is based on a basic spiced Indian rice recipe.

Baked Spiced Popcorn Rice

Popcorn rice is delicious when prepared with Indian spices, formed into cakes and baked until the outside is golden.

The first step is to season a little olive oil and butter with whole spices including cumin, bay leaf, cloves cardamom and cinnamon. I fry some white onion and garlic so it can become tender before adding the rice. The popcorn rice is fried in this oil for just a few minutes to bring out the flavor of the grain before the broth is added. I boil the rice in the broth until it is tender.

When the rice is ready, I form individual rice cakes using a small ramekin and bake them briefly in the oven just before serving so they keep their shape.

These easy to make Baked Spiced Popcorn Rice cakes will impress everyone at your table. They are as much fun to eat as they are to make. Enjoy!

Finishing my series on soup, I am switching from vegetable to lentil based soup this week by making Toor Dal Soup.

Toor Dal Soup

A special blend of Indian spices complement this vegetarian Toor Dal Soup recipe. Carrot and tomatoes are added for color and texture and make it delicious.

One of the most popular lentils in Indian cuisine is toor or red gram, even though it takes longer to cook than other lentils. It has a tan skin with a pale yellow pea inside. The meaty, nutty texture is perfect for spicy dishes. When its skin is removed and split in half it is called toor dal. In the U.S. it is sometimes called pigeon peas.

Toor dal cooks in about a half hour. I simply put it in a pan with some water and simmer until the dal is tender. If it isn’t fully cooked, it will yield a lumpy or gritty soup. To see if the dal is done, press a few lentils between your fingers. If they squish without resistance, it is done.

While the dal cooks, I season some olive oil in a pot with an assortment of Indian spices. In this oil, onion, garlic and tomato are cooked until they fall apart and become a thick paste. When the dal is ready, it is added to the pot and mixed well. I add a cup of water to loosen consistency so I can use my immersion blender to purée it. After it becomes smooth, add more water to reach your desired consistency.

I add a thinly sliced cooked carrot to the soup for color, variety and just for fun. I like finding vegetables that are hidden in my soup.

This vegetarian Toor Dal Soup can be served at lunch or dinner as the main dish with a piece of naan or as a starter with dinner. It is a warm treat on a cold day.

It appears that I have started a series of recipes for soups so I am sharing my Spinach Soup recipe this week. I am cooking soup recipes that are hearty but do not need heavy cream or a lot of oil to make them taste good. Now that the weather has dropped 25 degrees from highs in the high 90s, soup season is finally here!

Spinach Soup

A special blend of Indian spices complement this vegetarian Spinach Soup recipe. The main ingredients of spinach and a potato make it creamy and delicious.

I start making my Spinach Soup by seasoning just a little bit of olive oil with select Indian spices: mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and, of course, red Madras chile powder.

I cook the onion, garlic and potato in this oil until they are tender then add vegetable broth. When the broth is hot, I add the spinach one handful at a time until all of it is tender. Using an immersion blender, I purée the soup.

The finished soup is topped with a pinch of dry roasted cumin seeds before it is served.

The potato, as well as the spinach itself, make this Spinach Soup recipe creamy. It is a healthy and easy recipe to make.

I serve this vegetarian soup at lunch with a piece of French bread or as a starter at dinner. My mother in law loves this soup; I hope you do too.

I started working on the concept for an Indian-styled Roasted Pumpkin Soup a year ago. By the time, I had enough of the recipe written, Thanksgiving was over and the fresh pumpkins had disappeared from the store. I was so disappointed all last winter that I couldn’t finish the recipe but I wasn’t inclined to try using canned pumpkin. I had to put it away for nearly a year until I discovered the new crop of fresh pumpkins a few weeks ago.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Incorporating Indian spices with roasted pumpkin is a perfect match. Roasted Pumpkin Soup features vegetables, roasted spices and coconut milk.

This recipe uses a whole 4- to 5-pound pie or sugar pumpkin and roasts it in the oven. I simply cut it in half, oil it and cook it in the oven until it is tender. I love the pumpkin aroma that fills the house while it cooks! When it is done, it is easily pierced with a fork and some parts of the pumpkin may seem to cave in.

While it cools, I prepare the base for the soup by frying chopped shallots, garlic, ginger and green chiles then adding roasted ground cumin and roasted red chile powder in addition to other spices, the roasted pumpkin, vegetable broth and coconut milk. Roasting the spices first helps to enrich their flavors. I use an immersion blender to blend everything together so it is smooth and creamy.

The final step is to create the special seasonings that are used as a garnish. In Indian cuisine, spices are fried in hot oil and stirred into a dish just before serving it. This step is called tempering. In my Roasted Pumpkin Soup, I temper the spices along with a few curry leaves and pour them on top of the soup as a garnish.

My Roasted Pumpkin Soup is delicious for lunch or dinner as it has a rich flavor but isn’t spicy hot. It is a great recipe for vegetarian or vegan meals.

Now that fall has arrived, I have started roasting vegetables in the oven. Summers are so hot in Texas that I try not to use my oven during hot months as it makes my house even hotter. I love the ease of preparing them to be roasted as well as the flavor and texture they have when they are right out of the oven.

My daughter and I love roasted cauliflower so we try to make it as our vegetable for dinner. We season it with a few of our favorite spices and voila, it is ready in about a half hour. Unfortunately, we usually give in to temptation and eat three quarters of it before my husband comes home from work!

Roasted Cauliflower Chickpea Masala

This recipe combines roasted cauliflower and spiced chickpeas into one delicious and savory vegetarian dish that can be served as an entrée or a side.

Based on my love of roasted cauliflower and spiced chickpeas, I created the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala to combine them into one rich and savory vegetarian dish.

To make this recipe, the cauliflower florets are gently seasoned with cumin, turmeric, garlic and chile powder that have been mixed with olive oil. They are roasted in the oven just until tender.

Meanwhile, a sauce, or masala, is prepared on the stovetop with onion, garlic, ginger and tomato that is seasoned with a mix of cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala and chile powder. The chickpeas are simmered in the masala to allow them to absorb the flavor.

In the last step, the chickpeas and cauliflower are mixed together then cooked for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Roasted Cauliflower Chickpea Masala

Roasted Cauliflower Chickpea Masala makes a simple and healthy lunch when served with chapati.

This recipe is easy to make and is perfect as a main course or as a side dish. It reheats well so it can be taken to work for lunch. Enjoy!

Now that everyone is back in school and fall projects are underway, the need for quick and easy recipe is at a peak. I designed my Indian-Style Grilled Chicken recipe to be just that.

Indian-Style Grilled Chicken

Indian-Style Grilled Chicken marinated in a special mix of Indian spices then grilled to perfection in this easy to make Indian recipe.

I love to serve chicken during the week because it is easy to cook without much fuss. Using boneless chicken breasts make it even easier because they cook evenly without those end pieces overcooking while the center is still raw. To make it even easier, wrap the chicken between two pieces of wax paper or plastic and pound it with a meat mallet, if you have one, or with your fist (as I do) to make the overall pieces have a consistent thickness.

I start making this recipe by combining garam masala, cumin, red chile powder, turmeric and other spices with minced garlic, ginger and yogurt. After mixing it together well, transfer it to a zip top bag. Add the chicken pieces and coat them evenly with the marinade by squeezing the bag. Refrigerate.

I let the chicken marinate for 3 to 4 hours before grilling it. I tend to cook the chicken indoors on my grill pan to save time running back and forth to the outdoor grill. The chicken can be placed in the marinade in the morning then cooked in the evening to facilitate dinner prep.

The cooked Indian-Style Grilled Chicken can be served whole or sliced. Since the chicken breasts in my local grocery are so large and serve two people comfortably, I slice them before serving.

Any leftover Indian-Style Grilled Chicken is delicious for lunch the next day on top of a salad or as a sandwich. Enjoy!