Recipes for an Indian Cookbook

A trip to India is on our itinerary this week. Although I include at least one Indian dal in the menu each week, this time we are going all out. Indophiles and foodies, be forewarned, this is the place for you! Why exactly am I making an all-Indian menu, especially after making a big deal last week about cooking lighter dishes that highlight the summer veggies? One reason is that I personally am plagued by a thirst for variety, and so I changed my mind. The second is that I was being "for reals" when I said I would be working on an e-cookbook. The first in the series of ebooks will be on Indian Cuisine (surprise!). So one of the things that I am working on is the recipe selection. There is only room for 5 recipes (we are starting small), and there is a lot of competition. It is kind of like "America's Got Talent" in that way- hundreds of people competing for a few slots. I am counting on all of you to fulfill the role of the judges and tell me which of these recipes are your top favorites to eat, and which recipes you are dying to have so you can try making them in your own kitchen.

These actually are two separate criterion - your favorite dish to eat and your favorite dish to recreate (ie. not to complicated or time-consuming). Ideally, the recipes that I include in the cookbook will score well on both lists. Since you all don't yet have access to my versions for each of the recipes on this week's menu, you can't really judge how easy it is to follow it.

So step one is to order - far & wide! Order as much as you can so you can make a thorough case study as to which recipe is your dang-diddliest most favorite one.

Step two - Send me an email or a text telling me which recipes you would be interested in reviewing.

Step three doesn't involve you (whew! sit back and relax). I need to put said recipes into written form.

Step 4 - I send you the recipes to you that you asked to see.

Step 5 - You send me your SHORT (don't get overwhelmed, People) feedback on which recipes make the judges' cut.

Step 6 - I write the ebook.

Step 7 - You all download it enmasse and tell all your friends about it, thus making another testament to the power of The People

(photo abcdsofcooking.com)

I hope you all are as excited about this cookbook project as I am! Here are the recipes up for review this week. We have brown rice and South Indian Tamarind Rice to choose from. Nothing says "South Indian" like tamarind - well, except for coconut. Coconut and tamarind are definitely two of the distinctive flavors of the Indian South. Tangy, a little spicy, and bursting with taste sensation, this rice becomes a bona fide teleportation device, whisking you away to the sultry land from whence it came. Please do specify if you would like Tamarind Rice, and add $2 to your order. Regular orders with brown rice are $8 per 2-cup serving.

This Week's Menu:

Entree #1 - Khichari. Based on the number of people who have asked me to make it, I would guess that khichari would be a winner in the "want-to-make-at-home" category. It is relatively simple to prepare, and so worth the effort, in terms of taste and nutrition. Khichari is made by cooking rice and dal beans (usually split mung) together until it reaches a bit of a porridge consistency. Then you add just (photo thespicedlife.com) about any vegetables to it (scoring it flexibility points) and temper up some Indian spices (flavor points), thus making it a winning one-pot

(photo steamingpot.com)

Entree #2 - Tomato Toor Dal. Recently a customer requested me to cater an event for her. I guess the word got out that I specialize in Indian cooking, and she asked me to create some Indian menus to choose from. I actually became a little perplexed while drawing up the menus for her. It wasn't because I couldn't figure out what to make, but because there are just so many dal and vegetable curry options that I couldn't figure out what to narrow it down to. After some difficult deliberations, I picked this dal as one of my options. I love the tangy flavor that toor dal beans have. When you add fresh tomatoes, tempered with curry leaves and Indian spices, the result is a soup that is at once light and mouth-pleasingly robust.*GF, soy-free

Entree #3 - Green Split Pea Dal with Spinach and Coconut Milk. As far as dals go, this one is the epitome of "simply delicious." It calls for relatively few ingredients and spices, yet is unmatched in its creamy, green goodness. Hot chilis are a standard ingredient, even in mildly spiced Indian dishes. However, this dal truly has none; it only uses ginger to create heat, thus making it a great soup for little ones (unless of course they don't do green food. Sigh). The coconut milk makes this so rich and creamy though, that children with greenaphobia might not even notice the color...*GF, soy-free

(photo vegrecipesofindia.com)

Side Dishes:

Mixed Vegetable Pakoras - $3/servings or $5 for two. In terms of popularity, pakoras remain the King of Side Dishes. Everyone loves pakoras (the Indian version of onion ring kind of things). Pakoras are made by taking a variety of thinly sliced vegetables like red peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, etc and dipping them in a batter of spiced chickpea flour. They are then fried to golden yumminess. I fry them in grapeseed oil, so at least they are a few steps up from anything you will buy that is commercially fried. For an extra dollar, enjoy them with our famous Coconut-Cilantro chutney. *GF, soy-free

(photo monpetitfour.com)

Coconut Milk Khir (Sweet Rice Pudding) - $4 a serving. Traditionally khir is made with whole cows' milk, and is stirred continuously over a low flame for a LONG time. In this way the milk thickens into condensed milk. If you are lucky enough to taste khir made by someone who really knows what they are doing... Well, it's like dying and going to heaven! Unfortunately, I am not that person who can patiently stir a pot for 30 + minutes. I also am mostly vegan, so... this recipe is a perfect solution. Coconut cream (Trader Joe's is my favorite) is way thicker than milk, so that takes care of the time/impatience issue, as well as the vegan issue. Oh and it is also supremely delicious with a little saffron, cinnamon, and raisins. At last, a vegan way to die and go to heaven! ;-) *GF, soy-free

We look forward to serving you!

Tastefully yours,

Rangadevi Hernandez


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