Amchur Recipes

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Indian Sabzi Recipe: Spicy Butternut Squash Recipe

Spicy butternut squash sabzi is an Indian vegetable dish made with cumin seeds, fennel seeds, ground coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, sweet and sour ingredients (mango powder, lemon juice and sugar), butternut squash and its skin. I know what you're wondering. Yes, butternut squash skin is edible; it's just a matter of taste. I discovered this while learning to cook Indian food with Baji, my husband Lulu's late grandmother. If the skin is cooked long enough with a generous amount of water, it becomes soft and tender. The skin also helps prevent the squash from falling apart and turning all mushy.

Butternut squash sabzi is traditionally served with puri (fried flat bread). Baji tried teaching me how to make puri and all sorts of Indian flat bread, which I always failed at miserably. I find kneading and folding the dough very tricky, so usually I ask Lulu's aunt, Sheerin Auntie to make them for us. She was over recently so we got to enjoy a nice meal of puri and sabzi. Everyone should have their own Sheerin Auntie!


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Chana Masala Recipe (Chole) Recipe

Chana Masala Recipe (Chole)

04.17.10 by Jackie

Chana masala, also known as chole, is my father-in-law's favorite Indian dish. It is a very common dish sold by street vendors in India. Daddy is a vegetarian like Lulu, so the garbanzo bean-based dish is perfect for their diet. Garbanzo beans are full of protein and make a complete dish when paired with a starch such as rice -in the case of this dish- a bhatura. The beans are cooked in thick, spicy tomato-based gravy and finished with amchur, a dried mango powder which lends a sour note to the garbanzo beans.

As I mentioned, chole is traditionally served with bhatura. If you're not familiar with Indian cuisine, bhaturas are deep-fried bread rounds. They are similar to, but slightly larger than puris, which I love. I'll post that recipe soon.


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Kali Dal (Indian Black Lentils) Recipe

Kali Dal (Indian Black Lentils)

03.10.10 by Jackie

The flavor combination of kali dal ("black lentils" in Urdu) is simple: black lentils, ginger and a few chiles to enhance the flavors. In this case, simple is beautiful. The dal is finished with a hint of acidity and tartness with dried mango powder. It is both tasty and healthy, especially if you're on a vegetarian diet and need the protein.

Since I'm married to a vegetarian, I have had to educate myself about how to create nutritious meals that are meat-free. What I learned is that the basis of any well-balanced vegetarian meal is a starch and a legume. This isn't too surprising; almost every culture has a combination like this, be it rice and beans, rice and tofu or bread and chickpeas. I've personally come to really enjoy rice and dal, which is the Indian version of this combination. Black dal in particular have a wonderful earthy, complex flavor that is hard to describe and impossible to forget. At the very least, try them the next time you go to an Indian restaurant, or better yet, make them at home. It's definitely worth the effort.


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