Vegetarian Indian Food Recipes

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Fusion Raita (Indian Yogurt Sauce) Recipe

Raita (click on the link for the traditional version) is an Indian condiment made with yogurt. It is paired with a lot of spicy dishes like biryani, tandoori chicken or vegetarian cutlets because dairy products have a cooling effect when food is extremely spicy. If you follow Ted Allen's show, Food Detectives, you've probably seen the premier episode which asks "What is the best way to cool your mouth after eating spicy food?" After some experimentation it was clear that dairy was the most effective.

This particular recipe is my take on traditional raita. Similar to the Greek sauce called tzatziki, I add dill, lemon, and olive oil. Being French, I also add some Dijon mustard to add some more complexity to the flavor. 

I know, some people are going to balk at my additions, but I think that sauces are the highlight of a meal, so why not enhance them with a lot of flavor? Sometimes I also add cilantro or dill, depending on what's available in my garden. I'll try to post the traditional recipe soon so that you can make your own variations to your taste.


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Masoor Dal Khichdi (Indian Orange Lentil Rice) Recipe

Kitcheri is a very simple recipe that requires only a few ingredients from the pantry. It's a blend of coral-colored lentils, called masoor dal, with basmati rice and a few other typical Indian spices.

It's very nutritious for all the vegetarians in the house. The lentils provide a lot of protein. The key to a good kitcheri though is a flavorful raita, or yogurt sauce. Check back tomorrow for the recipe!


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Vegetarian Quinoa and Eggplant Caviar Recipe

"Chose promise, chose due!" This is a French expression that translates as promises are made to be kept.

As promised, this is the recipe of the vegetarian equivalent of fish caviar that I served my "vegetarian" dinner guests last night. I paired it with mini-crumpets and a little dollop of crème fraîche in between.

This recipe was inspired by the Tassajara Cookbook by Karla Oliveira, which is an excellent resource for vegetarian party food recipes. The quinoa grains and eggplant seeds resemble the original fish eggs. It is basically eggplant caviar, very similar to baba ganoush, mixed with cooked quinoa.

For more flavor, I topped it with an Asian-style mint and cilantro sauce that added a beautiful, bright green color.


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South Indian Spicy Nut and Puffed Rice Snack (Chudwa) Recipe

Chudwa, sometimes called chevda, is for South Indians what trail-mix is for us. It's a blend of nuts, dried fruit, puffed rice and various typical Indian spices.

It's very easy to make, but like eggrolls, it's time-consuming. It's a big production. One of my sisters-in-law is in charge of assembling the ingredients. My mother-in-law is the one frying the puffed rice flakes. One other sister's job is to sprinkle the spices as soon as the ingredients are out of the oil. My job is to toss the whole thing and, last but not least, the other 2 younger sisters' job is to taste.  It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.


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Palak Paneer (Fried Indian Cheese in Garam Masala and Cream Spinach) Recipe

There are few dishes as synonymous with Indian cuisine as palak paneer . After tandoori chicken and naan (Indian round fluffy bread made of white flour), it's probably the most common item on menus at Indian restaurants. Variations of the dish are prepared all across the country.

At the core, though, palak paneer is a very simple dish. Spinach (or palak in Urdu) is cooked with a spicy cream mixture and studded with fried Indian farmer's cheese, called paneer. The cream is spiced with the same masala that is used in many other dishes. If you're new to Indian cuisine, this is a great introduction. You'll never go back to regular old cream spinach again.


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