Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is the most aromatic and fragrant of all Indian spice blends. It is used throughout North India in all types of dishes, from appetizers and soups to yogurt salad and main courses. This blend is indispensable to Moghul and North Indian cooking.

Garam means ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ and masala means ‘spice blend’. The ‘hot’ is not necessarily referring to the kind of heat we find in hot chilies but to the fact that the spices are first roasted then ground. Another explanation given is that the combined effect of the spices in garam masala increases body temperature. Black pepper and cinnamon which are present in the garam masala carry some heat.

Different regions use different combinations of various herbs and spices. The blends also vary from household to household where proportions may vary according to whatever dish it is being used to season.

Ground garam masala is usually added at the end of cooking but I sometimes prefer adding garam masala along with other spices at the beginning of the cooking especially in the case of some meat dishes. This gives different color and flavor to the dish.

Garam Masala powder is easily available in Indian Grocery stores but homemade is more fragrant and fresher.

Garam masala is best made fresh just before cooking, but can be made ahead and stored for about 3 months in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.

Garam Masala Recipe I

This milder version of garam masala is based on the cumin and coriander in combination of sweet spices like cardamoms and cinnamon.

It can be added at the end of the cooking or may even be sprinkled to a dish after serving.



  • Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.
  • Dry roast the peppercorns, stirring frequently, about 3-4 minutes until aromatic. Turn out into a bowl.
  • Repeat with the remaining spices, roasting one at a time until fragrant and stirring to prevent burning.
  • Once cooled, grind them all together, to a fine powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder.
  • Sieve garam masala powder and discard fibers from the skin of the cardamoms.
  • Store it in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.

Garam Masala Recipes:

  1. Sabut Dal Mix
  2. Chana Dal with Bottle Gourd
  3. Paneer 65
  4. Egg Kofta
  5. Amla Sabji
  6. Masoor Dal Kebabs

Garam Masala Recipe II

I use this recipe for Vegetarian dishes. All ingredients are easily available in Indian Grocery Stores.



  • Heat a heavy skillet on a medium flame and gently roast all ingredients, one at a time, except the dry ginger, till they turn a few shades darker and fragrant. Stir them frequently to prevent burning.
  • When the spices are roasted turn off the flame and allow them to cool.
  • Once cooled, grind them all together, to a fine powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder.
  • Sieve garam masala powder and discard fibers from the skin of the black cardamoms.
  • Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.

Garam Masala Recipes:

  1. Black-eyed Beans
  2. Mah Ki Dal
  3. Dum Aloo
  4. Paneer Kofta Curry
  5. Chicken Sagwala
  6. 'Yolk Up' Egg Curry
  7. Ghiya Ke Chhilke

Garam Masala Recipe III

This recipe makes more aromatic and hot garam masala. I prefer to use this garam masala powder in Mughlai non vegetarian dishes.

All ingredients are easily available in Indian Grocery Stores.



  • Heat a heavy skillet on a medium flame and gently roast all ingredients except the dry ginger, till they turn a few shades darker.
  • Turn off the flame and allow them to cool.
  • Grind them all together, to a fine powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder.
  • Sieve garam masala powder and discard fibers from the skin of the black cardamoms.
  • Store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.

Garam Masala Recipes:

  1. Keema Stuffed Tomatoes
  2. Rogan Josh
  3. Kidney Masala
  4. Chicken Kadhai Wala
  5. Ginger Chicken
  6. Shahi Chicken Curry
  7. Lamb Chops

Sabut Dal Mix (Mixed Whole Lentils)

This dal is a combination of sabut dals (whole ) which are highly nutritious. Liberal use of ‘tadaka’ (tempering) enhances the flavor of dal mix.

Serve dal with Nan or Tandoori Roti.


  • ¼ cup Sabut Moong (whole Green Gram)
  • ¼ cup Sabut Urad (whole Black Gram)
  • ¼ cup Sabut Masoor Dal (whole Red Lentil)
  • ¼ cup Chana Dal ( Bengal Gram)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1” ginger finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder
  • A pinch of asafetida
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 whole dry red chili
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 6 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) for tempering
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Onion/green chili/chopped coriander to garnish


  • Mix Sabut Masoor, Chana Dal, Sabut Urad, Sabut Moong in a bowl and wash thoroughly. Soak the washed dals in water deep enough to cover them completely, for 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours put dals in a pressure cooker. Add 4 cups of water, green chilies, 1 tsp red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt and 2 tbsp of cooking oil. Stir well.
  • Cover the pressure cooker and set on the stove at a high flame. After the first 'whistle' or ‘pressure release’, reduce the flame to simmer and cook for 2-3 more ‘whistle’. Turn off the flame and allow the pressure cooker to cool.
  • Open the pressure cooker when cooled, stir the boiled lentils very carefully and add salt. If it is too thick, add some warm water and stir carefully until the consistency is right.
  • In a small pan, heat 3-4 tbsp ghee on medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds and fry till spluttering stops. Now add the chopped onion, chopped ginger and garlic, chopped tomatoes, and fry for 4-5 minutes till tomato is pulpy. Remove ghee from fire and add to the dal mixture. Stir to blend and simmer for 2 more minutes.
  • Remove dal mix from fire, put into serving dish, mix fresh lemon juice and garam masala.
  • ‘Tadka’ (tempering) for garnishing: Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a small pan on medium flame. When hot add asafetida, whole red chili and 1 tsp of red chili powder. Remove from fire and immediately pour over dal mix before chili gets burnt.
  • Garnish with raw onion slice and green chili and chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve with Nan or Tandoori Roti

Do You Know?

Consumption of wholegrain has been consistently linked with a significant decrease in risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Regular wholegrain consumption lowers LDL and triglyceride levels, which contributes to reduction in coronary heart disease risk factors.

In addition, wholegrain consumption is inversely related to hypertension, diabetes, and obesity when compared to refined grains, all of which are negative indicators in total cardiovascular health.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shalgum Ki Sookhi Sabji (Turnip Curry)

This recipe is really easy and turns out a delicious dish that tastes great when served with hot Khasta Paratha.



  • Heat 3-4 tbsp of oil in a wide, preferably non stick frying pan over medium flame.
  • When hot, add onions, and salt. Sauté till onions are light brown. Add ginger garlic and fry for a minute.
  • Now put in turnip slices; and red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Stir and sauté for a minute. Don't let it burn. Add 2 tbsp water, if it starts to burn. Turnip pieces should be nicely coated.
  • Add about ¼ cup of water. Cover and cook on low heat till turnips are done, stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed; you want dish to be damp wet but not runny.
  • Stir in amchur powder and garam masala. Cook for a minute more.
  • Take out in a dish, garnish with spring onion leaves and serve with hot paratha.

Do You Know?

Turnip is a root vegetable. It’s leaves are eaten as turnip greens.

It is low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is high in Vitamin C. Along with Vitamin C it contains Dietary Fiber, Manganese, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Potassium and Copper.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gaajar ka Halwa (Carrot Halwa) II

Grated carrots cooked in thickened milk, garnished with nuts and raisins.


  • 2 pounds grated carrots
  • 1 liter full cream milk
  • 4 tbsp ghee ( clarified butter)
  • 1 cup sugar (modify according to taste)
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • Almonds slivered
  • Cashew nuts chopped
  • 1 tsp green cardamoms powder
  • 1 tsp Rose water

  • Heat ghee in a heavy base kadhai / wok.

  • Add cardamom powder

  • Add grated carrot.

  • Stir for 2-3 minutes.

  • Add milk

  • Bring it to boil.

  • Cook over medium heat until all the milk is dried up.

  • You should stir the mixture occasionally to prevent any sticking.

  • Add condensed milk

  • and sugar to it.

  • Stir well and fry on medium-low heat until ghee starts separating. At this stage they should turn a rich, reddish color.

  • Heat 3-4 tbsp ghee in a small pan and fry nuts in it.

  • Add this ghee with nuts to carrot halwa and stir well.

  • This gives glaze and flavor to halwa.

  • Remove from fire and mix in the rose water.
  • Garnish with almonds and cashew nuts.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do You Know?

Consuming carrots is also reported to increase the skins resistance to ultraviolet light, so it helps in protecting against skin cancer along with premature ageing. Carrots are rich in fibreand may help reduce blood cholesterol and are said to combat constipation.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Baingan Ki Sabji (Eggplant dry curry)

Cooked in mustard oil and seasoned with panch phoran, eggplant sabji literally takes few minutes to cook.



  • Heat the 3 tbsp of oil in a wide, preferably non stick frying pan over medium high flame.
  • When hot, put in the panch phoran seeds. As soon as the seeds stop spluttering, add ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  • Now put in chili flakes, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt. Stir and cook for a minute.
  • Now put in eggplant wedges and onion pieces; and mix gently. Cover the pan turn heat to medium low and cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring in between, until eggplant is tender.
  • Mix chat masala and lemon juice.
  • Serve hot with Dal of your choice and hot roti (Indian flat bread).

Do You Know?

The name eggplant, used in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada refers to the fact that the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen's eggs.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Besan Ka Halwa (Chickpea Flour pudding)

The Halwa is one of the most popular Indian desserts that have spread in every corner of the World.

Chickpea Flour Halwa, great to taste, hardly takes few minutes to be prepared.



  • Heat ghee in a wok on medium heat, add besan and fry till it becomes light brown.
  • Add warm water and sugar together. Stir continuously. When it thickens remove from heat.(Add little water at a time, and stop adding water when you get right consistency of halwa).
  • Mix in cardamom powder and nuts.
  • Serve hot.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Moong Dal Payasam

Moong dal is cooked in thick sweetened and thickened milk


  • 1 cup Moong dal (split skinned green gram)
  • 1 cup jaggery
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk(can use tinned)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp Ghee
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • Cashew nuts and raisins
  • 1 tsp rose water


  • Cook the Moong dal in a pan with 4 cups of water till soft (avoid cooking in pressure cooker).
  • Add the jaggery to the dal and let it boil for 5 minutes; add the coconut milk and boil for some more time.
  • In the mean time fry the cashew nuts and raisins separately in ghee till golden brown.
  • Add the cashew nuts and raisins with the ghee to the dal. Add the cardamom powder.
  • Add milk just before serving. Tastes good when served hot.

Do you Know?

Payasam (as it is called in southern India) or Kheer (as it is called in Northern India) has been an important cultural dish throughout the history of India. It is usually found at ceremonies, feasts and celebrations. There are so many different varieties of Payasams.

In South Indian meal, payasam is served after rasam, rice, while curd rice forms the last item of the meal. In traditional lunches, payasam is served on the flat banana leaf instead of cup.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rogan Josh ( Hot Lamb Curry)

Rogan josh is an aromatic curry dish popular in India. Rogan means clarified butter in Persian, while Josh means hot or passionate. Rogan Josh thus means meat cooked in clarified butter at intense heat. The lovely color of Rogan Josh comes from the Kashmiri dry red chilies used to prepare it. These chilies have 'more bark than bite'! There are several versions of Rogan Josh and this one is tried and tested several times to great success.



  • Heat the oil in a large, preferably non-stick pan. When hot, put in asafetida, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, bay leaves and whole cloves. Fry till they turn slightly darker in color.
  • Add lamb pieces; stir and cook uncovered, over high heat for about 5 minutes or until almost all the water released by the meat disappears and the meat browns very lightly. Keep the fried mutton pieces aside in a plate for later use.
  • Now put in the onions and fry till they turn golden. Put in the ginger garlic pastes and fry for a minute.
  • Then add powdered spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric, Kashmiri chili) and salt. Stir and fry for another minute.
  • Stir in the fried meat and juices. Now put in one tbsp of yogurt. Stir and fry for about one minute or until the yogurt is well blended. Add the remaining yogurt, a tbsp at a time, in the same way. Stir and fry for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Now add two cups of water. Cook covered on low heat, stirring occasionally, till the mutton is completely done and the oil surfaces.
  • Sprinkle the garam masala over the meat.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with plain boiled rice or roti.

Do You Know?

Since ghee (clarified butter) is oil, it can bond with lipid-soluble nutrients and herbs to penetrate the lipid-based cell membrane of the body. It is stated to increase the potency of certain herbs by carrying the active components to the interior of the cells where they impart the most benefit.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is a Tomato Fruit or Vegetable? Do you know?

To determine the difference between fruit and vegetable let’s examine what makes a fruit a fruit and what makes a vegetable a vegetable.
If you are speaking in a botanical or scientific context, then pumpkin, tomato, capsicum, cucumber, and squash are fruits because they all have seeds. If you are speaking in culinary terms, they can all be properly called vegetables.

What are vegetables?
‘Vegetable’ is a culinary term. Its definition has no scientific value and is somewhat arbitrary and subjective.

All parts of herbaceous plants eaten as food by humans, whole or in part, are generally considered vegetables. Therefore vegetables include leaves (Spinach, Celery, Lettuce, Cabbage), stems (Asparagus, Celery, Kohlrabi), flowers (Broccoli, Artichokes, Cauliflower), fruits (Tomato, Pumpkin, Squash, Zucchini Cucumber), seeds (peas, beans), root and tubers (Radish, Beetroot, Carrot, Sweet Potato, Yam, Turnip), or bulbs (Garlic, Shallot, Onion).

Vegetables are relatively low in fructose and have a more savory or starchy taste.

There are many botanical fruits that are labeled as vegetables due to their culinary preparation as well as cultural use. The tomato, eggplant and bell pepper are traditionally thought of as vegetables.

Corn kernels and pea pods are also referred to as a vegetable but classified as a fruit. These particular fruits are routinely served in entrées as part of a savory dish and are therefore, from a cultural perspective, considered to be vegetables.

Mushrooms are fungi, not herbaceous plants; they are considered vegetables due to their inclusion in savory dishes or entrées.

What are fruits?
The term fruit has different meanings dependent on context, and the term is not synonymous in food preparation and biology.
Fruits are sweet because they contain plenty of fructose, which vegetables usually lack.

Botanical fruits:
Scientifically, a fruit is a seed-bearing part of a plant. It is a ripened ovary. It cannot be formed without pollination of a flower. During pollination male gamete is transferred through pollen, to the stigma of the flower, and then to the ovary where it joins the female gamete and forms a zygote. As the developing seeds mature, the ovary begins to grow and ripens. The ovary wall, may become fleshy, or form a hard shell (nuts are also fruits). Fruit development continues until the seeds mature. Plants develop fruit to help them spreading the seeds to preserve and multiply the species.

So, the seeds are what make a fruit a fruit (however, there are certain fruits which are seedless). However, a great many common vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, are the fruit of the plant species they come from.

No one terminology really fits the enormous variety that is found among plant fruits.

Culinary fruits:
Any sweet, edible part of a plant that resembles fruit, even if it does not develop from a floral ovary, is known as culinary fruit.

In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and surrounding tissues.

In cuisine, when discussing fruit as food, the term usually refers to just those plant fruits that are sweet and fleshy, examples of which include plum, apple and orange.

Rhubarb may be considered a fruit by some Botanists, though only the astringent petiole is edible.

In the commercial world, European Union rules define carrot as a fruit for the purposes of measuring the proportion of ‘fruit’ contained in carrot jam.

Amazing Nutrition Facts:
  1. In the culinary sense, a fruit is usually any sweet tasting plant product associated with seed(s), a vegetable is any savory or less sweet plant product, and a nut any hard, oily, and shelled plant product.
  2. Some fruits are considered fruits in both culinary and botanical senses. Ex, Mangoes, Grapes, Water melon, Pomegranate Oranges etc.
  3. Many items commonly called ‘vegetables’ are technically fruits. Ex, eggplants, tomatoes, pumpkins, bell peppers, Bitter gourd etc.
  4. Most of the cereals are technically fruits termed a caryopsis. The fruit wall of cereal grains, such as corn, wheat and rice is very thin and fused to the seed coat. Therefore, they are considered by some as edible seeds.
  5. Some spices like peppers and chili are technically fruits.
  6. Many culinary fruits including Figs, Pineapple, and Strawberries are not fruits in the strict botanical sense.
  7. The precise meaning of fruit and vegetable may also depend on local culinary traditions as well. For example, in Brazil the avocado is traditionally consumed with sugar as a dessert or in milk shakes, and hence regarded as a fruit; whereas in other countries (including Mexico and the United States) it is used in salads and dips, and hence considered a vegetable.

So, there you have the difference between fruit and vegetable and an amazing nutrition fact that scientifically a tomato is a fruit while in culinary and legal terms it is a vegetable.


Delicately flavored with saffron, cardamom and rose water; kalakand makes a great dessert for anytime of the year.


  • 6 cups milk
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup sugar (modify according to your taste)
  • 2-3 tbsp khoya powder (available at Indian Grocery Stores)
  • 2 tbsp Chopped nuts
  • ¼ tsp green cardamom powder
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ½ tsp rose water


  • Boil 4 cups of milk.
  • Add yogurt as milk comes to boil.
  • Once the chhena settles, drain excess water (whey) and keep it in a plate.
  • Now put the remaining milk to boil in a thick bottomed pan.
  • Add chhena and boil till it turns thick.
  • Now sprinkle sugar and khoya powder; cook till the mixture turns lumpy.
  • Cool it; mix cardamom powder and rose water.
  • Garnish with saffron, cardamom powder, and chopped nuts.
  • Serve chilled.

Do you know?

Chhena is a crumbly and moist form of paneer, used to make desserts. It is created in a similar process to paneer except it is not pressed for as long.

It is most popular in Orissa and Bengal (States of India) and is made from Domestic Asian Water Buffalo milk. The milk of these animals have higher fat content. Rasgulla, Rasaballi, Chhena Kheeri and Chhena poda are among the most popular desserts made from chhena.

Chhena is a good milk substitute for lactose intolerant people.