Category Archives: Indian Cuisine

You are invited to The Wedding of The Year!

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Yes! You are invited to the wedding of Mili Bharadwaj and Ahaan Kapoor! 

Please join me as they prepare for their life together in my 3rd book—

MILAN (A Wedding Story)

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Milan meaning in Hindi ‘a coming together’—a beautiful story of a traditional arranged marriage that transforms into a real life fairytale, set in the quaint hilltown of Coonoor in the lush Nilgiris (blue hills) in South India.

You will also learn about Hindu marriage rituals, the many colorful traditions as well as sample India’s sumptuous cuisine. Come join me as I embark on this journey. You will not be disappointed. 🙂

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‘Homesick’ Excerpt from ‘Inconvenient Relations’

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Excerpt

Standing in front of the large bathroom mirror, she combed her long thick hair. Should I leave it loose or braid it? Should I put on makeup or go bare? Should I wear all my bangles or just a couple of them? So many questions! Why don’t all men come with a user guide.

She braided her hair, glossed her lips, chose a pair of gold bangles for each side, and figured she was done. Then she offered a silent prayer, thanking God for the absence of her mother-in-law.

Tea and breakfast.

What? Herbal raspberry tea bags and Cheerios! And this man expects me to eat? Her spirits taking a dive, she put her head down on the table and mournfully longed for a piping hot refreshing cup of masala chai with cauliflower stuffed paratha on the side…Mama!

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“Still off in neverland?”

She sat up, startled, to gaze dolefully at him while he smiled cheerfully at her, looking handsome and crisp in casual white shirt and jeans. Why was she always at a disadvantage?

“Care for some hot pizza?” He swept a large colorful cardboard box in front of her nose. “Authentic Neapolitan from our very own Tony’s. My favorite!”

She didn’t care for it, too cheesy.

He frowned at her while she pursed her lips together feeling helpless.

“This is crazy! If you don’t eat, you will disappear in no time. Then there wouldn’t be anything left to send back home!”

She glared at him acutely hurt. They had just reached here, and he was already thinking of sending her back home? What did he take her for?

“I guess I’m homesick.”

“Ah! I see. How stupid of me! Your parents must be terribly worried!”

Getting up immediately, he dialed her home; and yes, they were in a state of panic.Hearing their voices, she nearly broke down…wanting to reach out and touch the loose end of her mother’s sari.

Accha. All right, I shall hang up now,” she said and handed him the phone, just as a tear threatened to roll down her cheek. She rushed to the window—the purple flowers had taken on a silver hue.

***

Imagine how much a new Indian bride has to deal with—

A husband who is practically a stranger, in-laws—and if she is accompanying him to a foreign land; new living conditions, new culture, and a new way of life.

As someone who has been through a similar experience I can tell you the task is not easy. These are the times when memories of home hurt the most.

In my book ‘Inconvenient Relations’ I have through my protagonist Ruhi tried to elaborate on what it is like to be a new bride in a foreign land.

You can find out more about my books here. 

Glossary

Masala Chai: Spiced Indian tea. The spice usually consists of cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, black pepper, star anise and cloves.

Paratha: popular Indian flatbread prepared fresh from whole wheat dough, and served either plain or stuffed with a variety of vegetables like radish, cauliflower, potato, methi (fenugreek leaves) or paneer (fresh Indian cheese.)

Sensual Spices and an Excerpt from ‘The Accidental Wife’

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It is one thing to prepare food for ourselves because we need to eat. It’s mealtime, we’re hungry, what do we have in the cupboard? But it is a whole different thing to cook a special dish or an entire feast because we want to shower someone we love with a caring gesture. It is a gift of indulgence that nurtures the soul, as well as the body. A home cooked meal that has been specially prepared for us, by someone else, can be one of the ultimate expressions of love.

How do we choose the perfect culinary delight to prepare when cooking for others? We might choose to cook our own favorite recipe or we might choose a selection of our guest’s favorite foods. A shopping trip to pick out fresh, vibrant ingredients is part of the delight. In India the menu might include pakora (a warm fritter), curry, tandoori, naan, or just a simple upma (porridge).

India’s aromatic spices are sprinkled into dishes according to taste, added carefully to lend a personal touch. They have been passed down generations and are known not just to add flavor but also nutritive value to food. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, and ginger are a few of the earthy spices, and perhaps most sensual in the world, that are found in India. Spices are also available already blended together for ease of cooking (for those cooks who might want to achieve a well-known flavor) such as Garam Masala or Curry.

The fragrant smell of Indian cuisine, with hints of exotic herbs and spices promise to stir emotions deep in our hearts. Pakora and upma are two of the dishes enjoyed in The Accidental Wife.

Want to learn more about Indian Spices? Visit Spices Board India http://www.indianspices.com

 Accidental Wife Book Cover

Excerpt from The Accidental Wife:

“Oh My God! I suddenly remembered I am hungry! Have you had breakfast?” she asked, suddenly looking annoyed.

“Breakfast? No. But I don’t have any time.” He peeked at his watch again.

“Please!? Not a speck of grain has entered my stomach since yesterday morning. I will die of hunger, then I won’t be of any use to you at all.” She smiled again before heading toward what Rihaan assumed was the kitchen.

“I can make phataphat upma in just ten minutes!” she said peering at him through the open door frame. “Meanwhile you can relate your troubles to me. C’mon spill it. Don’t be shy!”

Rihaan stepped into the tiny kitchen to find it dwarfed by his lanky frame. Folding wiry arms across his chest, he leaned gingerly against the wall and watched as she went about her task in a haphazard fashion. Her attempts at putting on a show of neatness and method were failing hopelessly.

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Spicy Snacks Beside the Sea- Juhu Beach, Mumbai

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On a pleasant December afternoon (Yes, December!) take a break from hectic metro life and wander onto the famed Juhu Beach in Mumbai, India. And there, enjoy the sight of the locals drinking  Kala Khatta (Indian blackberry juice, spiced with black salt, lemon juice and pepper and eat spicy Bhel (puffed rice, vegges spiced with tangy tamarind juice) or if you are brave enough sample it yourself. 🙂

Roti, Sabzi aur Raita! (Bread, Vegetable and Yoghurt!)

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Sabzi  (Hindi) or Vegetable is a vital component of any NORTH INDIAN meal (lunch or dinner)

Any combination of vegetables (in this instance: Steamed potatoes, Tomatoes, Bell Pepper, Spinach, Corn) are stir fried in oil spiced with cumin, turmeric, paprika and salt.

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Roti/Chapati is Indian style bread made from unleavened stone ground whole wheat flour or atta is a NORTH INDIAN staple.

Served with cooling Raita or lightly spiced yogurt.

Food- A Celebration

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When the simple act of partaking food becomes a sacred event, one just doesn’t feed the stomach but feeds the soul.

A very good example is the traditional South Indian meal that is served on a banana leaf (biodegradable and lends a special flavor). The food is simple and wholesome, prepared from scratch, with love and devotion. The distinct aroma and flavors achieved by the correct blend of fresh spices such as  curry leaves, mustard seeds, coriander, ginger, garlic, chili, pepper, cinnamon,cloves, green cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, coconut and rosewater.

Whenever I travel back to my homeland, I have the pleasure of savoring such meals in the homes of my family members where tradition is still adhered to especially during festivals and formal occasions. The above picture shows a very basic South Indian vegetarian meal that consists of cooked white rice, banana chips,  lentil papadam (thin, crisp, disc shaped, deep fried appetizers), beetroot poriyal (vegetable),  savory lentil vada (fritter), yogurt and payasam (pudding made by boiling rice, cracked wheat or vermicelli with milk and sugar).

The wooden man is dressed in traditional South Indian attire of cotton dhoti (long loincloth) and angavastram (upper garment).

Coconut Water- Mother Nature’s Sports Drink!

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There used to be a time when one had to fly thousands of miles across the seas to get a taste of pure refreshing coconut water. Just the thought was enough kindle a picture of tall swaying coconut palms along virgin tropical beaches.

But no more! They are available right here in my grocery store — and flavored ones too! Cafe Latte anyone?

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Marketed as ‘Mother Nature’s Sports Drink’ and endorsed by leading athletes and celebrities, this product has taken off!

It has fewer calories, less sodium and more potassium than the leading sports drink. All you need to do is like the taste which isn’t hard to do. It is slightly sweet and nutty in flavor.

But no matter what, nothing beats the taste of fresh water drunk directly out of the young green coconuts followed by eating the soft white meat inside. Ahhh.. PARADISE!

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Fresh Sugarcane Juice- A Taste of Home Right Here!

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During a recent visit to the Midwest, I was pleasantly shocked to find a desi (Indian) fast food joint that boasted a mind boggling variety of mouth watering delicacies from all over the homeland. And the most wondrous among them all was fresh sugarcane juice–simply YUM!

Where:

Neehee’s

 http://www.neehees.com/

45656 Ford Rd  Canton, MI 48187
(734) 737-9777

 Speak Indian : Desi : देसी (Hindi) meaning Indian

 

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A classic Sugarcane Press

Indian Cuisine: Favorite Bread – Paratha

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Wholesome breakfast: Fresh pan fried whole wheat bread (Paratha), seasonal fruit, fresh homemade yogurt.

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Paratha [par-AA- THA] Hindi पराठा is one of the most popular types of unleavened flat breads in Punjabi North Indian Cuisine and Pakistan.

Prepared from pan frying whole wheat dough which usually has ghee (clarified butter) or cooking oil in it, parathas are often stuffed with vegetables such as mashed boiled potatoes or aloo, cauliflower (gobhi), radish (mooli), other vegetables and or paneer (fresh Indian cheese).

Parathas, particularly the stuffed ones, are simply eaten with pickles, chutneys and or yogurt on the side and make for a wholesome meal at any time of the day.

Indian Cuisine – A Vegetarian Barbecue.

No discussion on India would be complete without mentioning its food which is as rich and colorful as its residents. And I am not kidding when I say that travelling from one region to another will not only introduce you to different languages and dialects but also to markedly varied cuisines.

And of course, spices are essential in our cuisine. The spice trade which began during the ancient civilizations was considered to be the trigger for the ‘Age of Discovery’ during which Europe began exploring for new routes to the East Indies.

I still have very fond memories of my Grandma’s kitchen where food used to be prepared the way it should be—from scratch. It was labor intensive but also a lot of fun. I know because I used to help. Water was drawn from the well in the yard, spices were ground in ancient stone grinders, so was flour for bread, batter for idlis (steamed rice cakes), dosas (crepes made from rice and lentil batter) and chutneys (fine and coarse sauces made from fruits, or vegetables and spices.) And when the food was being cooked, the aroma would fill the entire neighborhood. My favorite was the one of rasam (a light and spicy south Indian lentil soup.) It still is.

Now I would like to share with you some of my personal favorites.

I begin with a special Indian Vegetarian Barbecue which I had the privilege of indulging in last time I was in India. I wish to thank my wonderful cousin and her husband for this experience. We were in Khandala (a hill station near Mumbai,) in a private resort bungalow with our very own personal chef and this is what we were served on our first night there. YUM!!

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Thick pieces of Paneer (fresh Indian cheese) marinated in spices,  tomatoes, onions, green bell peppers, cilantro and mint chutney.

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Mounted on skewers and slow cooked over charcoal.

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Finished product served with vegetable biryani (basmati rice cooked with veggies and spices)!