Indian cuisine is a medley of sophisticated aroma and subtle flavor comprising of spices,herbs, vegetables, legumes and rice. There exists regional dishes and cooking styles. Each region has a main ingredient. I hail from Southern part of India where most dishes comprise of rice as a major ingredient in contrast to the North, where they prefer wheat based diet. Pickles and chutneys are quite famous throughout India. Unlike in US or UK, pickles in India are the sun-dried vegetables marinated in salt, oil and spice powder. They could be stored for months together and its preparation process is a major family event. Some do have family recipes for it which has been carried from one generation to another.
Many of my non-Indian friends love spicy Indian food. I had been to a restaurant with my labmates once. There is an Indian restaurant near my lab. We were five of us, each one of us from each part of the world. To my surprise, everyone loved the food (samosa with channa masala, paneer wrap, dhal, naan) and I went bit curious to know whether they would go to an Indian restaurant again. The reply was that they started eating Indian food long time back and that they love its flavor and taste. Our conversation landed on the complexity of Indian cooking and everyone finds it difficult to whip it in their kitchen.
There is a strong belief that Indian cooking is time-consuming and complex. I am here to prove it wrong. Here is my easy ways to make exotic Indian food at home. My first advise would be to come up with a shopping list and understand the know-hows of Indian cooking. Click on the words to read more.
Here is a recipe for one of the easiest yet healthiest South Indian dish with beets. It’s called as BEETROOT PORIYAL And I have re-named it as Warm Beetroot Salad as I eat them with grilled paneer or shrimp and lettuce. Most of the vegetable stir-fries follow a similar protocol. Spices like mustard, urad dhal, dry red chilies or cumin are added to the heated oil in a cooking pan and are made to splutter. This flavors the oil and then green chilies or curry leaves are added in progression. These ingredients coat the vegetables with a wonderful flavor Almost every Indian dish is made tasty by the addition of turmeric powder ( an antiseptic) and chilli powder. The beetroot curry is a very simple dish made by using little oil. The sweetness from beets and onions blended wonderfully with green chilies and unfolds a delicious taste out of it. This curry is made in every household atleast once a month. They are nutritious and healthy. They taste absolutely delightful with roti, naan, chapati, rice/ yogurt. You can read more about beets/beetroot in my post here.
You can mix it with plain rice and pack it as lunch for your kids. It’s sweet, healthy and packed with flavours for them to relish.
SOUTH INDIAN BEETROOT PORIYAL / WARM BEETS SALAD
Serves : A family of four
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil / olive oil
- 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon urad dhal
- 10-12 curry leaves – chopped
- 3 serano peppers or 2 thai green chilly: de-seeded and chopped (add more or less as per the heat tolerance)
- 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 small red onion – chopped
- 2 beetroots, about 1 lb : finely chopped (pretty looking cubes) – discard the leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1000ml water or enough water to just cover the beets
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened dessicated coconut
- Peel the skin, clean and wash the beets. Finely chop them into small cubes. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large cooking pan that has a fitting lid. One they get heated up, throw in the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the urad dhal and let it cook for a minute.
- Now add the curry leaves and serano pepper/green chilies Mix in the onions and little salt and let it sweat and brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add a dash of turmeric powder and saute till the raw smell disappears. Add the chopped beetroot and give it a complete mix. Pour in the water, coconut and cook covered on medium flame for 30 minutes on medium low flame. Cook until they turn soft. If needed add another 1/4 cup water and cook for further 15minutes.
- Serve hot with rice/chappati/roti. You can also serve them as wraps with lettuce, ketchup and mayo.