A few weeks ago, I hosted my first three-course Indian food dinner party! It was a lot of work for a newbie like me, but it was much appreciated by our non-Indian guests. To make my life a little easier, I thought about sticking with easy desserts, like fruit. Then I thought about making kheer, a dessert I have always loved and which is not difficult to make!
Kheer (also known as payasam in South India) is a type of rice pudding. It is usually flavored with saffron, almonds, pistachios, and/or cardamom. Kheer has a milkier texture and is not as thick as American rice pudding. If you ever have last-minute company, I highly recommend preparing kheer as dessert because it does not take a long time to make and is liked by most people. Our dinner party guests absolutely loved it!
My husband V and I have been quite busy as of late: we are busy at work, we are planning a few vacations for the summer, and we are looking for a new place to live as our apartment lease is up soon. In the midst of our daily hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to prepare home-cooked meals. Whenever I feel that my days are overwhelmingly busy, I turn to my favorite kitchen appliance: the slow-cooker.
My mom provided me with a recipe for making raajma, a curry made with red kidney beans, which is made on a stove and takes roughly 30 minutes to make. Not that 30 minutes is a lot of time, but the idea of dumping the ingredients into the slow-cooker and not having to worry about it was much more appealing. I often use my slow-cooker to make chili, and it turns out amazing because the ingredients have time to blend together and thicken.
Raajma has always been one of my favorite dishes. It is so comforting, whether you are eating it with bread, rice, quinoa, or by itself. I have found that many cultures have some variation of "beans and rice" as a comfort food.
Aloo gobi raswali is one of my favorite dishes, but this was not always the case! As a child, I did not like the taste or texture of cauliflower. When my mom would make this dish, I would often seek out and eat only the pieces of potato. As an adult, however, I have grown to love the light and crisp texture of cauliflower. This recipe is one of my "new" favorites because it is full of many different vegetables and a variety of nutrients.
I made a slight change to my mom's recipe--to cut down on the amount of starch, I use less potato and added chickpeas instead. The addition of chickpeas makes this an even more well-balanced meal because chickpeas are chock-full of protein. I really cannot think of many other dishes that are so nutritionally well-balanced!
This recipe is also fantastic because you cook everything in one big pot! I am a huge fan of making food that requires the least amount of tools--especially on a weeknight--so that there is less to clean up.
Patta Gobhi is one of my favorite bhaajis. When I was younger, I was not a big fan; but as I've gotten older, I really appreciate that patta gobhi is light, low calorie, and--most importantly--has amazing flavor and a nice crunch. When I go back home to see my parents, my mom makes it knowing it has become one of my favorites. I could honestly eat it by itself in a bowl!
Patta gobhi is a great option on a busy weeknight. It requires very few ingredients and cooks very quickly because you are essentially stir-frying everything. Compared to other Indian dishes, this is a quick and easy fix.
"Patta gobhi" means cabbage. "Chana dal" is the split inner kernel of a black chickpea. These are the two main ingredients in the dish--so you can see why it's pretty low calorie! You can buy chana dal at the Indian grocery store; or, Bob's Red Mill also sells it.
Bhindi bhaaji was a staple weeknight dish for my Mom. It was always one of my favorite dishes because it was not very spicy and my Mom cooked it until it was slightly crispy and crunchy. I love bhindi bhaaji so much that I made sure it was served at my wedding reception!
As a note, "bhaaji" is a Marathi word for a dish consisting of a cooked vegetable. In Hindi it is known as a "sabzi"; in Gujarati it is known as a "shaak." There is a different word in every language, but it is the same thing!
Exploring Indian cuisine and trying to learn the recipes of my family. I hope to help and inspire others along the way.