In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Indian Cooking

Indian food and I go way back to my college days -- I hung out with a bunch of International students when I was an Granola-head undergrad at Duke University, and before you know it, I was wearing a sari and learning how to REALLY cook vegetarian food!

I'll never
forget my first lesson in mixing my own batch of curry. I had watched my various Bengali and Gujurati friends cook, and thought I was ready to give it a try. SOOOO, I started throwing in the spices into the pan, then added the vegetables. The supervisor of the day was Dhiren (later my boyfriend), and he tasted the batch right after I had added the veggies, and declared it inedible: "Many mistakes can be fixed, but not the overuse of turmeric!" He then unceremoniously dumped all the vegies into a colander, rinsed the spices off, and had me start over!

I love Indian food, and even though I now do not often have the time to cook a whole Indian meal with lots of courses, but I do enjoy cooking a feast on special occasions (Alas, not many of our American friends seem to appreciate this cuisine, being sceptical of anything too foreign or spicy -- I think they're missing out!)

My bookshelf includes Madhur Jaffrey's Foods of India, which my husband bought for me after I kept on checking it out from the library over and over -- he figured it was cheaper than paying the overdue fines... This is one of those recipe book with lots of gorgeous pictures that makes you just want to pack your suitcase and travel to that country!

And now for some recipes. First of all, there's the staple of all Asia:
rice. Cooked plain, or with just a tad of butter (ghee) and a few select spices. There's a huge variety in flavors added, such as onion, garlic, lemon, tamarind, coconut, etc. (NOT all in the same recipe, mind you!!!). But first, you gotta know the basics of cooking rice, and I point you to a wonderfully written account by my Philippine friend Megatonlove in her post entitled Prat du jour -- she's a new blogger and wonderfully talented writer!

Here's a new recipe I intend to try out soon:

Cashew Rice

A recipe from Northern India, from in

Rice 2 cups
Cashew nuts, roasted and powdered 3 tbsps.
Salt to taste
Dry grated coconut 2 tbsps.
pinch of turmeric powder
pinch of asafoetida
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp.
2 red chillies
Oil 2 tbsps.
few corriander leaves (we call this cilantro)

Heat oil. Add mustard seeds, red chillies and asafoetida. Next add the cooked rice and the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Sprinkle chopped corriander leaves. Serve with cheese curd.

And the next couple of vegetable recipes are from --their wonderful recipes can be found in their weekly publication the Glacier Grist. Go down to the bottom of the bar on the left side and click on the issue number listed for the recipe (there is also an index to all their wonderful recipes).

Indian diced potatoes with greens (Glacier Grist #11)

Indian-spiced roasted potato salad with carrots (Glacier Grist #1)

spicy indian cabbage & yellow split mung beans (Glacier Grist #22)

Last, but not least, a new way to cook cauliflower (a vegetable that needs all the help it can get, as it is, admittedly, rather boring!)

Curried roasted cauliflower

cauliflower, cut into florets

oil (such as peanut or sunflower oil)
curry powder, salt

Toss the cauliflower with oil, then add spices. Spread on a roasting pan and bake around 400F until done.


  1. I think roasted cauliflower is a relatively unknown delight. It's really the only way I can eat cauliflower. Now, I'll give it a go with the curry. Thanks!

  2. Curry and coconut are also really good for roasting sweet potatoes. I lived with a number of Indian girls this summer, and how they abhorred the idea of a recipe! They said that girls either learn to cook from their mothers, or not, you don't learn how to cook from a book. One of the girls didn't learn how to cook from her mother, and had completely accepted her helplessness. She just ate packaged Indian food and pound cake, she had no interest in learning kitchen skills from any of us or her male friend who cooked (this household at two rice cookers).

    I was always amazed at how thei sauces came into existence. When I cook my version of "curry," I sautee veggies, make a sauce, and simmer the veggies in the sauce. When these girls made curry, they just sauteed their veggies with the right amount of spices and oil, and added the right amount of water, creating delicious sauce covered vegetables. Whenever I tried it that way, I got veggies-on-a-puddle-of-spicy-water. I never really got the hang of Indian cooking and the girls' way of life (it involved eating dinner between 9:30 and 10:30 and staying up til past midnight, sleeping in until 7:30, half an hour before work, eating really sweet snacks and lots of dairy, and going shopping for fun), but I made almost-successful chapatis by the end of the summer, and definitely won their admiration for my relatively healthy diet and active lifestyle. It was a good experience that I'd rather not repeat.

  3. I love that spice picture. I'd like to hang it on my wall. All my favorite fall colors!