The other day I was thinking about potato skins and stuffed potatoes. My family frequently orders them as an appetizer when we eat in restaurants. They are a tasty item to include on a menu when you have people over for a party or just to watch a game on TV. Potatoes, in my mind, are the ultimate comfort food. An idea suddenly popped into my head: why don’t I create a recipe that is stuffed with Indian spices?

Twice Baked Potatoes

This Twice Baked Masala Potatoes recipe combines comfort food and Indian spices for a change of pace from the traditional recipe.

It didn’t take long for Twice Baked Masala Potatoes to appear in my mind. Fortunately, it is a really easy recipe to make.

While baking four russet potatoes, I prepare the masala, spice mixture, which will be combined with the potatoes after they are cooked. In a seasoned oil, I fry a chopped onion, garlic and ginger until it turns golden brown. This brings out the sweetness from the onion and contrasts with the flavors of the spices.

Once the potatoes have baked and cooled enough so I can hold them in my hands, I cut them and scoop out the inner flesh, leaving the skins intact. I gently mash the potato flesh and mix in the masala I made while the potatoes were baking. I add a bit of milk and butter to add some richness.

Simply fill each skin with a generous amount of the spiced mashed potato. Bake them again until they are hot. Remove from the oven and top them with a sprinkle of paprika. Serve the Twice Baked Masala Potatoes with a dollop of plain yogurt and a spoonful of chopped green onions.

These are a great addition to any meal and are full of flavor without being spicy. Your family will love these potatoes. In fact, my Indian mother-in-law loves them!

When I was planning the recipe for Masala Chicken with Mushroom Sauce, I knew I wanted a simple sautéed chicken breast with a brown butter sauce. Brown butter sauce is one of the easiest to make. It is always successful without any problems. When I started to make the sauce for this recipe, I realized that I had a lovely selection of fresh mushrooms that I knew would add the substance the sauce needed to stand up to an Indian masala, or spice mix, that I had created for the chicken. I used two of my favorite mushrooms, cremini and shitakes, for their different textures and shapes. I sliced them and added them to the skillet with a bit of chopped shallots, garlic and butter. To this I added a dry white wine which I allowed toand intensify in flavor followed by more butter. Ahh, what a glorious combination. My brown butter sauce became a buttery mushroom sauce.

Masala Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

Masala Chicken with Mushroom Sauce is an delicious, easy to make sautéed chicken recipe served with a butter sauce flavored with wild mushrooms.

Since I seem to be discussing the sauce before the chicken, let me regress to the main ingredient in this recipe. Over the years, I have learned that it is easier to cook chicken if all the pieces are the same size and same thickness. To do this I use my meat mallet and pound them so they are a bit thinner and all the same thickness. This is good therapy after a stressful day and no one is harmed in the process. Take care not to get too aggressive with the pounding; getting too forceful can cause the chicken to tear and have unattractive holes in it. After the chicken is pounded I feel the pieces look larger so everyone will think they are getting more food. Only I know the truth!

To flavor the chicken, I make a masala with ground spices. Authentic Indian cooks would use whole spices, roast them over a fire or in a hot skillet, and then grind them to a powder for the richest flavor. I wanted to make this a quick and easy recipe so I opted for ground spices. I use so much spice in my house, I think they are fresh.

Once the masala is mixed, I sprinkle it generously on both sides of the chicken. The masala has enough character to stand up to the sauce so feel free to use it liberally. After a few minutes of allowing the chicken to rest with the spices, they are sautéed in a large skillet until golden brown.

When the chicken is done, I remove the pieces from the skillet so I start working on the last step of preparing the mushroom sauce.

This Masala Chicken with Mushroom Sauce recipe is easy to make for a perfect weeknight dinner. Add some vegetables and rice for a complete meal.

While I was planning my Mung Beans and Red Potatoes recipe last week, I knew I needed to share my recipe for Mung Dal. This simple, vegetarian recipe is very easy to make. My husband calls it comfort food because dal was served every day while he was growing up in India.

Dal is a thick savory dish that is made from, you guessed it, dal which is any bean or lentil that has had its skin removed and is split in half. The word is attached to the specific name of the bean or lentil it describes. The advantage of dal recipes is that the cooking time is reduced. For example, whole mung beans boil in approximately 30 minutes while mung dal boils in about 20 minutes. Since the skins are removed the color of the resulting dish matches the color of the bean inside.

Mung Dal

Mung Dal

My Mung Dal recipe is very easy to make. After the dal is boiled, it is added to a masala paste that is made from cooked onion, tomatoes, garlic and ginger and a special blend of spices. Once the tomatoes break down and lose their shape, the dal is added and flavors blend together. Mung dal does not lose its shape like other varieties of beans do. So, make this dish a bit creamier, I smash some of the dal with the side of a knife before mixing it into the masala paste.

Mung Dal can be served with plain rice and chapati in the true South Indian vegetarian tradition or it can be served as a side dish with other favorite recipes.

I have decided to share my Mung Beans and Red Potatoes recipe to continue my series on cholesterol lowering recipes. Mung beans are excellent choice for creating nutritionally healthy dishes as they are:

  • high in fiber, protein and vitamins
  • low in fat and calories
  • quick to cook
  • taste delicious
  • very inexpensive

I could provide more details on these tasty gems but I will direct you to another page for more information on this superfood to save time.

Mung beans bring a mild flavor to any recipe; they taste a bit like potatoes. Unlike some lentils, they retain their shape with a delicate bite when cooked and do not turn mushy. Mushy lentils are fine in dal recipes but when they are used in a recipe where they need to retain their shape, mung beans are a great pick. In addition, mung beans do not need to be soaked overnight or cooked for an extensive amount of time. After they begin to boil, a mere half hour is all that is required to bring them to tasty tenderness.

These beans compliment other ingredients in recipes. They can be added to potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onions, etc. and produce a beautiful colorful dish. They can be used in hot dishes as well as cold ones.

Mung beans can be used in several different ways. They can be used whole as I have done in my Mung Beans and Red Potatoes recipe. They can also have their skins removed and the inner bean split. This is called mung dal. I will share this delicious recipe next week. The third use is sprouting them. Check out this tasty Spicy Sprout Salad recipe.

Mung Beans and Red Potatoes

Mung Beans and Red Potatoes

In my Mung Beans and Red Potatoes recipe, I start by boiling the beans and red potatoes. Next I create the masala that brings the dish together. Like many Indian recipes, I fry the onions, garlic and ginger in a tasty spice blend. As the onions become tender, they absorb the flavors of the spices so they can envelop the cooked beans and potatoes. With three simple steps, the dish is ready to serve. One thing you will like about this recipe is that it only requires one pan. No need to use several pans and wash extra pots when this is finished!

Mung Beans and Red Potatoes can be served as a main dish in a vegetarian meal along with other vegetables, rice and chapatis. It can be a side dish for lunch or dinner. My husband likes to roll a generous scoop of Mung Beans and Red Potatoes and roll it in a chapati to take to work for lunch. This can be served hot or cold.

With summer temperatures hovering at 100 degrees, I am preparing simple meals that can be prepared quickly without heating up the kitchen. I have modified the standard Vegetable Rice recipe to incorporate popular summer vegetables. I include zucchini and carrots that can be found in abundance in many back yards or at farmers’ markets in my Summer Spiced Rice.

Summer Spiced Rice

Summer Spiced Rice is an easy to make, delicious and healthy vegetarian recipe that uses fresh summer vegetables and Indian spices to flavor the rice.

This versatile recipe for Summer Spiced Rice can be served as the main course for lunch or as a side with dinner. I like it with grilled salmon and grilled chicken since their flavors are light.

Summer Spiced Rice can be prepared in about 20 minutes. While the basmati rice cooks with whole Indian spices, the vegetables are cooked and spiced in another pan. I grate the zucchini and carrot, and slice the onion thinly to reduce the time needed to cook them. I add a cup of cooked chickpeas to the pot provide protein and create a balanced meal. While the vegetables cook, cumin, coriander and garam masala are added for a light Indian flavor. One thinly sliced green chile adds a tiny amount of heat to the finished dish.

Summer Spiced Rice with Salmon

Summer Spiced Rice with Salmon

Just before I serve Summer Spiced Rice, I top it with a thinly sliced green onion for contrasting flavor and texture. The zucchini and carrot provide a light crunch against the smooth rice and chickpeas. This dish is it not heavily spiced so it pairs well with any menu.

Everyone needs a delicious recipe for roast chicken that they can pull out and make when family or friends come over for a meal. There are several variations of recipes that all produce tasty chicken with crispy skin that are full of flavor and beautiful on the table. The primary differences are oven temperature, cooking time and seasonings.

Roast Spiced Chicken

Roast Spiced Chicken is a delicious Indian recipe for a whole chicken that is subtly seasoned with exotic spices and roasted to perfection.

I like this recipe for roast chicken because the meat has a rich savory flavor that stands up to any side dish. The spices that make up the masala that is used to coat the entire outside of the chicken, and the lemon, garlic, onion and fenugreek leaves that are placed on the inside, flavor the meat perfectly.

The steps to prepare this roast chicken are essentially the same as one would find in any recipe. The masala which is made with garam masala, coriander, cumin, red chile powder, fenugreek leaves and turmeric make this recipe special. It is mixed with a bit of oil before it is spread over the skin of the chicken. If you have time you can let the spices infuse the skin before roasting but this is not required. As usually happens in my kitchen, I run short of time so I roast the bird as soon as it is ready.

After I fill the chest cavity, I skip the process of trussing the bird. Instead I simply loop a piece of string around one leg, loop it around both legs then add one more loop around the second leg. I tie the string in a bow to make it easier to remove later.

As the chicken roasts, the kitchen is filled with an enticing aroma. After an hour in the oven, the outside of the bird turns a rich crispy brown color due to the spices.

Roast Spiced Chicken

Roast Spiced Chicken presents heavenly aromas right out of the oven.

Once the chicken is removed from the oven and has cooled for a sufficient amount of time, it can be sliced and placed on a platter or cut into quarters based on your preference. This recipe is so easy to make but it will be a welcome addition to any meal. Serve with any starch and vegetables on the side. I like to serve it with my Barley Pulav recipe which I will feature next week.

A few weeks ago I accompanied my husband to Houston for a short trip. While walking around downtown for my morning exercise, I happened to discover a tiny taco shop near the court buildings. I was amazed at the long line of diverse people, some in suits with briefcases and others in jeans and work boots, standing patiently in a long line to purchase their breakfast tacos. I would have joined the queue but I had not brought any cash with me and walking up in exercise clothes somehow gave me the feeling that I would defeat the purpose of my morning walk.

After I returned home, my kids told me they ate breakfast tacos all the time. This was news to me! So I took my grown kids to the local taco shop and purchased a variety of the breakfast treats. They were delicious. I was hooked and indspired to create an Indian taco recipe.

Indian Breakfast Tacos

Indian Breakfast Tacos are delicious chapatis filled with spiced eggs, chickpea and potato masala topped with roasted tomato chutney, yogurt, cheese and cilantro.

My Breakfast Tacos recipe is rich in flavor. Served on a fresh hot chapati loaded with fluffy scrambled eggs and chickpea and potato masala. it is topped with homemade roasted tomato chutney, fresh yogurt, grated cheese and cilantro.

I make the scrambled eggs simply by adding a little cumin and red chile powder to the eggs. Not so much as to add heat, just enough to add flavor. As the eggs cook I add chopped red bell pepper and green onions for color.

The recipe for the chickpea and potato masala is a simplified version that I make for my Chickpea Masala. I added diced red potatoes because all authentic Tex-Mex breakfast tacos include them. The recipe starts by cooking the seasonings: onion, garlic, ginger and spices. Once the onion browns and the flavor is rich and sweet, I add the potatoes so they can cook through before adding the chickpeas. This is so easy and tasty it can be served by itself as a side dish.

To make the roasted tomato chutney, I prepare the seasonings, then add them to the tomatoes. All of this is blended until smooth. I roast the chutney on the stovetop to cut out the raw taste of the ingredients and to bring out the rich flavor of the tomatoes.

I like to set out each component of my Breakfast Tacos in separate bowls and let everyone customize their taco. I noticed that my kids made very simple tacos but my husband and his mother loaded them with roasted tomato chutney! They made our brunch turn into a fun meal, a lot of eating, talking and laughing.

Indian Breakfast Taco buffet

Indian Breakfast Tacos set out buffet-style.

Use fresh chapatis when serving my Breakfast Tacos for authentic flavor. If they are not available, feel free to substitute whole wheat tortillas.

While trying to use all of my fresh sweet corn that my friends in Iowa sent to me, I was inspired to incorporate it into biryani, a traditional Indian rice dish that is enhanced with the essence of several spices, layered with vegetables and cooked in a closed pot to bring the flavors together. I envisioned this recipe to have kernels of corn mixed in the vegetables and spices as they placed between layers of spiced rice, and then topped with small pieces of corn on the cob to complement the primary ingredient in this recipe, corn.

The main crops in Iowa are corn and soybeans. In keeping with the Iowa fresh from the farm theme, I decided to add a few soybeans to the biryani vegetables. They are full of protein and bring a firm texture to the dish as well as the vibrant green color! Perhaps I should call this recipe Iowa Biryani… This recipe is dedicated to my friends and partners in Manning, Iowa who inspired this recipe.

Sweet Corn Biryani

Sweet Corn Biryani ready to serve

The first step in preparing Sweet Corn Biryani is to cook the rice with a few whole spices so it becomes fragrant with the aroma. While the rice cooks, an array of fresh vegetables, including onion, carrots, cauliflower, corn, garlic and ginger are cooked until tender.

Instead of mixing the vegetables and rice together, they are layered in true Indian style in a large dish to form the biryani. Between the layers, warm milk that has been infused with the flavor and color of saffron is drizzled so it is evenly dispersed throughout the biryani.

After the assembly is complete, the lid if placed on the pot and the Sweet Corn Biryani is steamed for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend and the ingredients to cook fully.

Sweet Corn Biryani

Sweet Corn Biryani

To serve Sweet Corn Biryani, place a generous scoop of it on each plate, along with a piece of corn, and serve with plain yogurt on the side. It can also be served with Onion Raita.

When cooking chickpeas I always use dried rather than the ones in cans because I think the canning process alters the flavor. Since soaking and boiling are so easy and can be done at the same time as many other tasks around the house I don’t mind the few extra hours that it takes to get them ready for use. However, there is a way to get even more flavor from chickpeas when buying fresh ones.

Last week I found a huge box of fresh chickpeas at my local Indian grocery store that I couldn’t resist so I bought a huge bag of them to bring home. There are so many uses for them that I knew they wouldn’t go to waste. Fresh ones are popular in north India as a snack when they are in season.

Green Chickpeas

Fresh green chickpeas that have been shelled and are ready to roast.

Green chickpeas are the same thing as the dried, brown ones but have been harvested while the pea and the pod are green, before they have matured on the vine and turned brown. They are more delicate in texture and sweeter than their dried counterparts. To use them, I simply pop the pods, yes they do make a popping sound, and remove the peas. Most of the peas are healthy and fully formed but a few are withered; those I discard. Shelling these chickpeas is best done with other people as it takes a while to work through an entire bag of chickpeas with one, and occasionally two, peas in each pod. At the end of the shelling process my fingers had turned black from the sap that stuck to me while crushing the pods. Don’t worry, it washes off very easily.

They are usually blanched in boiling water for about 3 or 4 minutes, dunked in ice water to stop the cooking process and are then ready to eat either by themselves or popping them into soups or salads. They can be used as substitutes for edamame. Add them to any rice recipe like Vegetable Pulau or any other vegetable dish.

Here is my recipe for a healthy snack of roasted chickpeas:

 

Simple Roasted Chickpea Recipe

Roasted Green Chickpeas

Hot roasted green chickpeas ready for tasting.

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp oil

1/8 tsp garam masala

1/8 tsp red chile powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup fresh green chickpeas

Steps:

  1. Mix the garam masala, cumin and salt together in a small bowl.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat then add the oil to the pan.
  3. Add the chickpeas to the skillet and dry roast them until they turn brown in spots. Take care to shake the skillet often so the chickpeas roast evenly and don’t burn.

    Roasted Green Chickpeas

    Fresh green chickpeas roasting in a pan.

  4. As soon as the chickpeas are done, remove from the skillet and toss in the spice mix to coat. Add more salt if needed. Serve while hot.

Tips:

– Shelling your chickpeas in advance is optional and based on your preferences.

– These Roasted Chickpeas are a perfect accompaniment to beer.

 

Turmeric is a rhizome, a stem that grows underground, that looks like a mini version of ginger. It is available in two colors: yellow and white. The outside skin of both varieties looks and feels very similar to that of ginger, its cousin, but the inside color is bright orange or off-white (like ginger). Yellow turmeric smells just like commercially available powdered turmeric, musky and earthy, while white turmeric is citrusy and sweet. There is more to this story than just pretty color and flavor.

 

Fresh yellow and white turmeric

Fresh yellow and white turmeric

Uses of Turmeric

Everyone knows that turmeric adds a tangy and earthy flavor to food thus turmeric is an important ingredient in Indian cooking. Turmeric is usually added to spice mixtures because it has properties that bond with the healthy and tasty attributes of the other spices to give a delicious flavor to food. It is always added to lentils when they are boiled. I asked my mother-in-law why it is so but she had no definitive answer other than this is the way it is done. Supposedly it adds flavor to the beans. I’m not totally convinced since the cooking liquid is discarded when the beans are done. Perhaps it helps in the cooking process to tenderize the beans. I add a pinch of turmeric when cooking egg whites for breakfast so that they have some color. I suspect that the source of this unwritten rule lies in the history of Ayurvedic medicine.

Medical Uses of Turmeric

Turmeric is also good for you for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Many people now believe that a bit of turmeric a day can prevent or reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis as well as improve memory. Based on some of the reading I have done, it sounds like turmeric is a miracle cure that can reduce heart attacks, cancer, ulcers and several other ailments as well. I have even seen turmeric pills for sale on the Internet – of course, without any governmental regulation or approval.

Based on the volume of articles on the benefits of turmeric, I plan to continue to use it in my every day cooking. If indeed the studies are valid, I might be one step ahead in warding of one or more of the diseases that this magic spice may cure.

 

Fresh yellow and white turmeric with fresh ginger

Fresh yellow and white turmeric with fresh ginger

Making Turmeric Powder

Turmeric is peeled and boiled, then dried and powdered before being used as a dye and in cooking. I wanted to try out making my own turmeric powder. So after peeling off the skin, which was very easy to do, I put the pieces in a pan of water and boiled them for 25 minutes. By the time all of the yellow turmeric was peeled, my hands and nails were stained yellow. I even had small yellow spots on my face where juice had splattered. The water in which I boiled the yellow turmeric turned deep red, just like a glass of strong tea. Once I removed the turmeric from the pan, I cut it into small pieces and spread it out on a baking sheet.

I set my oven on the lowest temperature setting possible and let it bake for 3 to 4 hours, turning the pieces over every half hour so it would dry out. The length of time required to dry it is a function of the size of the pieces you cut. When the turmeric is hard, shriveled and dry, I removed it from the oven and let it cool for a half hour before putting it in my spice grinder and powdering it.

One word of caution, since this is fresh turmeric powder, the color is very potent. As I peeled the turmeric, the yellow juice turned my cutting board yellow. Fortunately it is glass and I could easily wash it. The powder permanently stained the plastic list of my grinder. The red cooking liquid even stained the plastic cup into which I had poured it so I could get a clear view of the color. Please take care when making your own powder.

 

freshly roasted and powdered turmeric

Freshly roasted and powdered turmeric brings color and flavor to your cooking.

My fresh turmeric is full of flavor and color, almost as though it has been concentrated through the preparation process. You can use less of it than you normally would since it has not been sitting on a shelf in a plastic bag for an unknown period of time!

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for many delicious recipes that use turmeric!