Indian Food Recipes

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Masala Vada Recipe (Indian Urad Dal Fritters) Recipe

Nobody can say no to fried food. These vada (Indian-style fritters) are no exception. The dish is fairly easy to make; all you need to do is soak the lentils long enough before blending them into a mixture slightly thicker than pancake batter. The batter is made of urad dal and mirchi ("chiles" in Urdu), deep-fried, then served with a cilantro chutney. 

We often make large batches of vada on the weekend. The girls and I take turns manning the fry station and preparing more chutney. Frying can be a little scary for kids learning to cook, and I've found that this recipe is a good way of easing them into it. I wouldn't recommend it for small children of course, but my 13 and 14 year old sisters-in-law have really taken to it. Once you try the combination of vada and cilantro chutney for the first time, you'll know why!


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Gulab Jamun (Indian Sweets) Recipe

Gulab Jamun (Indian Sweets)

03.26.10 by Jackie

Gulab jamun is my husband Lulu's favorite Indian dessert. The sweets are deep-fried balls of dough, bathed in rose (gulab) and cardamom syrup. The texture resembles the liquor syrup-saturated French cake Baba au Rhum.

I've just experienced making my own for the first time and it tasted pretty similar to the ones I've had in the past. I added a few saffron threads to impart a brighter yellow color to the syrup and I didn't add finely crushed pistachios as Lulu's great-aunt does, because of my little sister-in-law's nut allergy.

You can eat them cold, but our favorite way to enjoy gulab jamun is to warm them a bit before serving. It adds another dimension to the dish. Gulab jamun is a bit too rich to eat on a regular basis, but it's perfect for special occasions when you want something more exotic than cake.


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Toor Dal Recipe

Toor Dal

03.21.10 by Jackie

Toor dal is a staple dish in Indian cuisine. What I like the most about this dish is that no soaking is required. Like kali dal, the lentil dish is finished with baghar, which is a layer of melted ghee with fried darkened garlic cloves.

Toor dal is a great protein complement for a vegetarian diet when paired with a starch such as rice. Dal is a great way to bring a taste of India into your home.


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Lima Bean Masala (Indian Butter Bean Curry) Recipe

Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are legumes that are a great source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and protein. They have a wonderful buttery, starchy texture and are quite filling. At our home we make a lima bean curry that is eaten with paratha (flat Indian bread). The gravy used is the standard yogurt and caramelized onion combination flavored with Indian spices.

I used frozen lima beans in this dish. Frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and are as close to fresh as you can get without growing them yourselves or finding a local supplier. I never use dried lima beans so no soaking is required with these. That means a faster cooking time, which is always nice.


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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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