Masala dabba - Indian Cooking

lpinkmountainJuly 27, 2008

Well, after seeing Madhur Jaffrey on Sara Moulton's PBS show, I bought a masala dabba. Basically, it's a stainless steel bowl, filled with seven little bowls to be used for storing spices. That way, when you go to cook Indian, you don't have to mess with a lot of different spice jars, you just open up one lid and have all the spices ready to go. There's a link below to what it looks like.

I have to say that I'm kinda skeptical, I almost returned it. I'm thinking that the spices will fall out of the bowls and get mixed together. Plus I don't know how much I will use it. Anyway, I guess I am going to give it a try, since I have made a resolution to get more into Indian cooking. I'm trying to decide what to put in it, so far I am thinking: fennugreek seeds, cumin seeds, corriander seeds, garam masala, whole hot chilis, mustard seed, and tumeric. I'm not sure though. These are not spices I routinely use, except for cumin, in which case I use ground cumin. I'm not sure about the chilis either, since I am not a fan of hot food, although I don't mind a small amount.

Anyone have any SIMPLE, fast vegetarian Indian recipes that I could take a look at and get an idea of what spices to add. I'd like to try some dishes.

Here's one for starters from that blog -

Aaloo Methi

Originally uploaded by Anupama Puranik. A Family Favorite


8 Baby Potatoes

1 cup green peas boiled

2 tblspns Kasoori Methi (fennugreek leaves, can sub fennel or celery leaves)

1 large tomato pureed

1 onion chopped

2 tspn cumin seeds (jeera)

2tspn Dhana jeera powder (cumin and coriander powders)

1/2 tspn garam masala

3-4 tblspns oil


Peel the potatoes, prick them with a fork and boil them in salted water until cooked but firm. drain the water and keep the potatoes aside.

Heat the oil in a pan (Kadhai), add the jeera and fry for few seconds. Then add the chopped onion. Fry the onion till golden brown. Next add the kasoori methi and fry again for a few minutes. Now add the tomato puree and fry till the oil separates. Add to this the garam masala, the dhana-jeera powder and chiili powder.Mix the masala and the powders well and again fry for one minute.

Lastly add the boiled potatoes and the peas to the mixture and stir them in gently. As the potatoes are bolied in salted water check the taste before adding more salt.

Garnish with chopped coriander and small cherry tomatoes for that special touch.

Here is a link that might be useful: Masala dabba blog

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Manjula's kitchen is a website with easy Indian recipes - most have video's of Manjula making them in her kitchen. Her site has most of the ingredient names in American English which makes it more approachable than the Indian sites where you have to look up a lot of unfamiliar ingredients to find out what they are.

For starters, you might try the Chola Tikki, Chana Masala, or Potato Curry with Yogurt Gravy. The cilantro chutney is very easy - just whirring ingredients in the food processor and she says it can be frozen. If you make chutney or two, it can be used by people to increase the heat of their portion to taste.

My DIL has a masala sauce that takes longer to cook, but we prepare a big batch and freeze it. Once you have pre-made masala sauce, it can be used as a base to make a quick curry.

I think I use more than 7 spices for Indian cooking - I just pull them from the drawer. Lots of recipes have coriander, cumin, cardamom, chili powder (meaning powdered chilis - not American chili powder which has a mix of spices), fennel, hing (asefeotida), cinnamon, tumeric, amchoor (which I haven't gotten yet - I've been subbing sumac), ginger (usually fresh so that wouldn't be in the tin) and garlic.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 12:58PM
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The spice box makes perfect sense. I did not know about those when I made my foray into Indian cooking. But I realized the need and solved it (in a less elegant way) by buying a case of jelly jars. Actually, that wasn't such a bad solution. It gave me a dozen air tight containers. Of course, they had to be opened one by one.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 3:37PM
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Jelly jars, brilliant!! I save my boxes too, so that might work. Plus I will get 12 options instead of 7. I guess I could take the tops off before I make the dish. On the plus side, I'd only take the tops off of the stuff I would use, so that would perhaps help in the accuracy dept.

Well, I went out on a limb and ordered a whole bunch of stuff from Kalustyans--black cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, hot chili powder, amchoor and asefetida. I have some of the other stuff.

I am a huge Manjula fan, but so far haven't tried any of the dishes. My kitchen is so tiny and it only takes one little thing and it looks a complete mess. I just don't have the space for most of the stuff that takes fussing with, like flatbreads and samosas.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 4:08PM
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Manjula's kitchen in the videos looks pretty small. She mostly uses a foot or two of counter. The ones I suggested above shouldn't take much space.

For a start, perhaps try the chana masala. One pan (or two if you will make rice to go with it). Three ingredients (or 4 if like me you use fresh ginger instead of paste) that need to be chopped a little (one tomato, one green chili and a bit of cilantro). Whir a few ingredients in a blender or food processor. Then into the pan for cooking.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 4:45PM
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"I save my boxes too, so that might work."

Yep. It's the box, together with the uniform containers, that keeps it all organized and tidy. Not fancy, but organized.

Hmm. Why don't I go out to my woodworking shop and make a *fancy* box?


    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 6:39PM
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Here's a few recipes I handed out to my "Epicurean Kitcehn Garden" class a few weeks ago (the cuisine was "INdian"). These are the vegetarian dishes:


cup Cumin seeds
2 Tbs Coriander seeds
4 sticks Cinnamon
10-12 whole green Cardamom pods (bruised)
4-5 whole black cardamom pods (bruised)
10 whole cloves
½ whole nutmeg broken
3-4 blades mace
1 Tbs black peppercorns
4 whole star anise
5 whole bay leaves


Roast all the ingredients lightly in a flat bottomed pan.

When the spices give off the fragrance allow to cool slightly. Grind to a powder.

Store this powder in a dry airtight container.


3- ½ Tbs ground coriander
3- ½ Tbs ground cumin
3- ½ Tbs garlic powder
3- ½ Tbs paprika
5 tsp ground ginger
5 tsp mango powder
5 tsp dried mint
5 tsp beet powder (deep red coloring)
4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 tsp annatto seed powder (yellow coloring)


Simply mix the ingredients together well, and store.

Tandoori Dry Mix Masala 2


1 tsp Garlic (Lasun) Powder
1 tsp ground Ginger (Adrak)
1 tsp Cloves (Lavang) Powder
½ tsp grated Nutmeg (Jaiphal)
1 tsp Mace Powder (Javitri)
11/2 Tbs Cumin (Jeera) Powder
2 Tbs ground Coriander (Dhania)
1 tsp Fenugreek (Methi) Powder
1 tsp ground Cinnamon (Tuj/Dalchini)
1 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper (Kalimirchi)
1 tsp ground brown Cardamom (Elaichi) Seeds
2 tsp Red Food coloring

Store in an airtight container. Close the lid tightly after use.

Serves 4-6


1 cup lentil
1 medium tomato
1 small chopped onion
1 Tbs Ghee (clarified butter) or Oil
½ tsp Chili powder
1/8 tsp Turmeric powder
Salt according to taste
A pinch of asafoetida
A pinch of Cumin seeds
A pinch of Mustard seeds
2 tsp Lemon juice
2-3 cup water


Cook lentils. Mash it and set it aside.

Cut tomato and onion into pieces and blend it in the mixer till crushed properly.

Put Ghee in a pan and heat.

Put asafoetida, cumin and mustard seeds. Allow it to sputter.

Let Ghee cool down for a while.

Put red chili powder, turmeric powder in pan.
Add the blended paste to it and stir.

Cover the pan and cook on medium for 5 minutes.

Add lentil and water and lemon juice; stir and bring it to boil.

Serve hot. Garnish with coriander.

Serves 2


¼ cup Moong (green gram [lentils], whole)
Salt, pepper according to taste
Lime juice according to taste
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp butter or ghee
2 cups water
A pinch of asafoetida
A pinch of turmeric powder


Cook washed gram till very soft.

Set aside 1 Tbs boiled Moong. Blend the rest, after cooling.

In a pan, heat butter and add cumin seeds. When they sputter, add the asafetida and
moong soup.

Add salt, turmeric, lime and pepper. Boil for 10 minutes.

Add remaining 1 Tbs whole moong; boil till thick enough for soup.

Serve hot.

Tea is a staple beverage throughout India. It is generally prepared as masala chai, tea with a mixture of spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger boiled with milk.

for 20-24 servings
This makes 5-6 quarts of chai, 20+ servings.


3 ½ ounces mixed whole chai spices
[see Chai spice recipe below]
1 ½ ounces black tea (about 1/2 cup), or 2 ounces rooibos
3-4 quarts water
1 ½ cup brown sugar


Brew and strain, stir in:

2 quarts whole milk, scalded

Serve hot or iced.

For best results, use whole or broken spices, not ground.

To make 3 ½ ounces, start with about an ounce of shelled green or black cardamom and a half ounce of cinnamon bark.

Use some clove and ginger, and make up the weight from your favorites from this list:

Allspice, cracked
Black pepper, cracked
Cardamom, hulled
Coriander seed
Mace and Nutmeg
Star anise
Bay leaf

Makes about 2 (small) cups. Scale it up for more:

1-1/2 cups water
1 inch stick cinnamon
8 whole cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
2/3 cup milk
6 tsp sugar (or to taste)
3 teaspoons any un-perfumed loose black tea


Put 1-1/2 cups water in saucepan.

Add the cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the milk and sugar and bring to a simmer again.

Throw in the tea leaves, cover, and turn ff the heat. After 2 minutes, strain the tea into two cups and serve immediately.

Boil 5 minutes, then steep 10 minutes:

1 Tbs fennel or anise seed
6 whole green cardamom pods
12 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
¼-inch slice ginger root, sliced thin
1/4 tsp black pepper corns
2 whole bay leaves
7 cups water

Add, bring to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes:

2 Tbs Darjeeling tea


6 Tbs honey or brown sugar
1 cup milk


Brooke Bond Red label, Mamri, or Tajmahal Black tea [do not use green or leaf tea, it will ruin the taste]

Cloves, cinnamon stick (good quality), fresh ginger (powder or prepackaged cannot be substituted), whole black pepper, cardamom pods.

Optional items: White khas-khas (Indian name of a spice, which is round dried seeds); and soanph (green dried, not roasted)

Half-and-Half milk. No other milk can be substituted (if you really want the taste of real chai)


In a clean deep container, put 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup milk (Half-and-Half), 1 full teaspoon black tea and spices as follows.

1 pod cardamom
2 pea size fresh ginger (minced)
1-2 whole whole black pepper
1/8 to 1/6 stick cinnamon

On a hard piece of paper, crush all of them together.

Immediately put this mix in dish with water and milk. Keep them on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring continuously.

Add sugar to your taste. Drain on strainer and serve in a cup.

(veggie-balls in a sauce)

Serves 4-6


For the koftas:

2 cups peeled and diced boiled potatoes
1 cup mixed vegetables (carrots, beans, peas, sweet corn)
1 cup paneer cubes
2 Tbs heavy cream
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp red chili powder
½ cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts)
¼ raisins chopped fine
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil to fry the Koftas
For the sauce:

3 Tbs vegetable oil
2 large onions, quartered
2 medium tomatoes quartered
2 Tbs garlic paste
1 Tbs ginger paste
2 Tbs coriander powder
1 Tbs cumin powder
½ tsp red chili powder
1 tsp poppy seeds lightly roasted
and ground into a powder
3 Tbs nuts (cashews and almonds)
ground into a thick paste
Salt to taste
2 Tbs garam masala


Mash the potatoes, mixed vegetables, paneer and cream together.

Add the kofta spices to this mash and mix well. The resulting dough should be firm. If not add some more boiled potato. Season with salt.

Roll this dough into balls and put 1/2 tsp of the nut and raisin mix in the center of each ball. Roll into perfect rounds.

Heat the oil kept aside to fry the koftas, on a medium flame. Deep fry these rounds till pale golden in color.

Drain on paper towels and set aside.

For the gravy, first heat the 3 Tbs of oil in a deep pan and fry the onions till light brown.

Grind into a paste along with the tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin and red chili powders.

Put this paste back into the pan and fry till the oil begins to separate from the masala.

Add the poppy seeds powder and nut paste and fry for another 2-3 minutes.

Add 1 cup of warm water (the sauce for this dish is meant to be thick so do not add too much water) to this masala to form a sauce/gravy. Mix well. Season with salt.

Bring the sauce/gravy to a boil and then reduce the fire to a simmer.

Gently add the koftas to this sauce/gravy and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes.

Turn off the fire and sprinkle the garam masala all over the top of the dish. Cover immediately and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Serve with hot naan or jeera rice.

(chickpea curry)

Serves 6-8


2 cans chickpeas (just under 1 pound)
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 whole bay leaves
5-6 whole cloves
3-4 whole green cardamoms
5-6 whole peppercorns
3 large onions, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbs garlic paste
1 Tbs ginger paste
2 Tbs coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala
1-inch piece ginger, julienned
2 Tbs fresh coriander leaves, chopped fine


Grind 2 onions, the tomatoes, ginger, and garlic together into a smooth paste.

Heat the oil in a deep, thick-bottomed pan on a medium flame.

Add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns and fry for 1/2 a minute.

Add the remaining sliced onion and fry till light golden. Add the onion-tomato paste and fry till the oil begins to separate from the paste.

Add the dry spices - cumin, coriander, red chili, turmeric and garam masala powders. Fry for 5 minutes.

Drain the water in the can from the chickpeas and rinse them well under running water. Add the chickpeas to the masala. Mix well.

Add salt to taste and water to make gravy (about 1-½ cups).

Simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes.

Use a flat spoon to mash some of the chickpeas coarsely. Mix well.

Garnish with juliennes of ginger and finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Serve hot with pooris/bhatooras.
(spinach and cottage cheese)

Serves 4-6


1 pound Paneer
2 medium bunches fresh spinach
½ bunch fresh fenugreek leaves
4 Tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 large tomato, diced
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
1 Tbs butter (to garnish)


Cut the paneer into 1" cubes.

Heat 2 Tbs of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and stir-fry the paneer till golden. Remove and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Add 2 Tbs of oil to the same pan and fry the onions in it till soft.

Add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for a minute.

Add the spinach, fenugreek leaves, tomato, coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala powders and mix well. Add salt to taste and mix well.

Cook till the spinach and fenugreek leaves are soft and like pulp. Mash well into a rough paste. If you prefer, you can also blend this paste in the food processor to get a smoother consistency.

Add the previously fried paneer cubes to this gravy and mix to coat the pieces.
Garnish with butter and serve hot with Chapatis (Indian flatbread), parathas (pan-fried Indian flatbread) or makki ki roti (corn bread).

(black lentils)

Serves 4-6


1 cup split urad daal (black lentils)
2 large onions, sliced thin
2 whole green chilies, slit
Salt to taste
A pinch of asafetida
2 large tomatoes, chopped into cubes
2-inc piece gingerroot, julienned
1 Tbs garlic, minced
2 Tbs coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp red chili powder
½ cup heavy cream, whipped
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds


Boil the lentils with 3 cups of water, 1 sliced onion, green chilies, asafetida and salt to taste till they are very tender.

In a separate pan, heat the oil and fry the other onion till soft. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute.

Add the tomatoes, coriander, cumin and red chili powders and fry for another 5 minutes.

Add the boiled lentils and enough water to make a thick gravy-like consistency and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Pour in the whisked cream and mix well. Turn off the heat.

In another small pan, heat the ghee and when hot, add the cumin seeds and cook till they stop sputtering.

Pour this into the lentils (it will all sizzle) and mix well.

Serves 6-8


6 large potatoes boiled, peeled and mashed
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp raw mango powder
½ cup finely chopped coriander
2 onions finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 can chickpeas, roughly mashed
6 whole cloves
3 pods cardamom
8 whole peppercorns
1 cup tamarind chutney
1 cup mint-coriander chutney
Coriander chopped fine to garnish
Chaat masala to garnish
Vegetable oil


Mix the mashed potatoes, red chilly, coriander, cumin and raw mango powders, chopped coriander, 1 chopped onion and salt to taste. Make into a smooth paste. Form into equal-sized patties.

Heat oil on a griddle and shallow fry these patties till crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels.

Boil the roughly mashed chickpeas with the cloves, cardamom and peppercorns and salt to taste. Once done, remove the whole spices and discard.

To serve the chaat, put 2 hot patties in a plate and spoon some chickpea mixture over them. Add both chutneys to taste. Sprinkle chopped onion and coriander to garnish. Sprinkle chaat masala over the whole dish.

A tasty variation to this recipe: add some yogurt (whisk to make smooth) over the chickpea mix and then add the remaining ingredients.

Yellow Rice

Serves 2-4


2 Tbs vegetable oil or ghee
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 cup fresh green peas (or frozen, thawed)
1 cup Basmati rice (a long grain Indian rice)
3 cups water
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
½ cup warm water


Wash the rice well in running water and set aside to soak for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pan. When it is hot add the onions and cook till soft.

Add the peas and stir well.

Add the rice and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the 3 cups of water, turmeric and salt to taste to the rice and set it up to boil on a medium flame.

Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the flame to a simmer and cover the pan.
Cook till the water seems to have almost disappeared - tiny holes will form on the surface of the rice.

Add the 1/2 cup of warm water all over the top of the rice and cover the pan again. Simmer for another 5-7 minutes and turn off the fire.

Allow the rice to sit for 10 minutes and serve.

Potatoes and Peas

Serves 4


2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 whole green chilies, slit
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp dry mango powder
5-6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 8-10 pieces each
1 cup shelled peas (you can use frozen peas)
1 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
2 Tbs finely chopped coriander to garnish


In a wok, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds to it when hot. They will sizzle and soon turn slightly darker.

Add the green chilies and when they stop sputtering add the onions.

Sauté the onions till they turn soft. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and sauté for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, red chili and raw mango powders and sauté for a minute.

Add the potatoes and peas and half a cup of water. Add salt to taste.
Cover the pan and cook till the potatoes are soft.

When the potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat, sprinkle the garam masala over the dish and cover immediately. In a few minutes open, garnish with the finely chopped coriander leaves and serve.

(garlic flavored lentils)

Serves 2-3


1 cup masoor daal (yellow lentils)
3 cups water
2 Tbs vegetable oil
Salt to taste
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 medium tomato, chopped fine
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chili powder
3 Tbs ghee (clarified butter)
3 whole dry red chilies stalks removed
and broken into small pieces
½ tsp asafetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
8-10 cloves garlic


Wash the daal thoroughly.

Mix the daal, water, cooking oil, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt to taste, onion and tomato in the pressure cooker or a deep pan and boil till the lentils are very soft.

In another small pan, heat the ghee well and add the cumin seeds which will sizzle. When they stop sizzling add the garlic and dry red chilies and fry till the garlic is light brown. Add the asafetida and turn off the heat.

Quickly add the ghee and spice mixture to the boiled daal and stir well.

Eat piping hot with rice and other dishes.

"Indian potato salad"

A "Raita" is a salad made out of yogurt. A refreshing relish that is a perfect accompaniment for not only hot and spicy curries but will accompany many Pulaos and Biryanis.

Serves 6


3 cups Yogurt
2 medium Potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubed
(approximately 1 cup)
1 small Onion, chopped finely
½ teaspoon Black pepper powder
½ teaspoon Coriander powder
½ teaspoon Cumin powder
1 ¼ teaspoon Amchur powder (powdered green mango)
1 teaspoon Sugar
Salt to taste


Dry roast the cumin, coriander and black pepper powders in a pan.

Beat the yogurt and add all the spices and potato cubes and chopped onion.

Chill thoroughly and serve.


This is a very easy appetizer. Or you can compare this to a salad and serve it even during a meal. The spicy, tangy taste will be a great side dish with any Biryani or Pulao.

Makes 6-8 appetizer portions


1 can Garbanzo beans
¾ cup Sweet Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbs Finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 whole Green chilies slit thinly lengthwise
1 teaspoon Amchur powder
1 teaspoon Cumin powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon


Drain the water from the garbanzo beans can.

Add the amchur powder, cumin powder, garam masala, salt and lemon juice and mix well.

Add the green chilies and the onions and the coriander leaves. Toss well. Let it stand for 1 hour.

Serve cold.

Serves 8


1 medium Apple, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium Pear, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium Oranges, peeled and segments halved
3\4 cup fresh Pomegranate seeds
1 cup Green seedless grapes
1 cup Red seedless grapes
1 medium ripe Mango - Skinned and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium Bananas - cut into round slices, approx ½ inch thick
1 tsp Salt
3 Tbs Sugar
2 tsp Chaat masala or to taste
Juice of 2 lemons and 2 oranges


Mix the two juices, salt, sugar, and chaat masala well in a large serving bowl.

Add all the fruits one by one into the bowl. Mix well.

Garnish with mint leaves and chill well before serving.


Serves 4-8


For the Koftas:

1 pound boiled, mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup grated cheese (almost any cheese but Mozzarella)
Salt and pepper to season
Oil to fry


Put the mashed potatoes through a sieve.

Add the grated cheese.

Add the cornstarch and salt and pepper for taste. Mix and knead it well.

Make one-inch balls and deep fry in oil. Set aside.

For the Curry Sauce


2 tablespoons butter
2 whole bay leaves
1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
½ cup tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon Pepper
¼ cup powdered cashews
1 teaspoon cornstarch
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup yogurt


Heat the butter. Add the bay leaves.

Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes till golden brown.

Add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry till light brown. Add the chopped tomatoes. Sauté till the oil starts to separate.

Now add the garam masala, turmeric powder, coriander powder and mix well.

Add the yogurt, cashew powder, salt, and pepper.

Add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and stir continuously till it is all mixed in. Cook till the mixture is thick. Remove from heat and add the heavy whipping cream.

Add the koftas into the curry.

Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot with Parathas.

Vegetable medley in a mild creamy sauce

Serves 4 to 6

Navrattan Korma is a mildly flavored creamy dish made with essentially 9 kinds of vegetables. The word "nav" means nine. This particular one is made with 5 common vegetables. You can add your favorite vegetables to make it your own. This is an easy way to make one of the most popular vegetarian curries. The actual recipe is quite time consuming.


½ Cup Green beans, cut into 1/4th inch
½ Cup Cauliflower, small florets
½ Cup Diced carrots
½ Cup Peas (frozen, thawed)
3 Medium Potatoes, peeled, diced into 1/2 " cubes
½ Cup Onions, sliced
1 cup Heavy cream
4 Tablespoons Ketchup
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 cup Milk
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Teaspoon Red Chili powder
1 Â1 ½ Teaspoons Garam Masala
Salt to taste ( or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon)
A sprig of Cilantro for garnishing


Pre-cook all the vegetables except the onions by boiling them individually for 3 to 5 minutes or Microwave each of the vegetables in a bowl of 1 cup of water for 3 to 4 minutes.

Mix the whipping cream, 4 tablespoons of ketchup, 2 Table spoons of flour and 1 cup of the milk in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Heat the butter in a pot. Add the onions and fry till golden brown. Add the vegetables and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the red chili powder, garam masala and mix well. Sauté for a few minutes till the spices start to give out a wonderful aroma. Add the whipping cream mixture and stir well.

Let it cook for 6-7 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve hot with Plain rice or naan.

(Red Kidney beans curry)

Serves 8


2 cans Red Kidney beans
2 large onions, chopped finely
4 large Tomatoes, chopped finely
(or canned chopped tomatoes, ¾ cup)
2 teaspoons Ginger paste
2 teaspoons Garlic paste
2 whole Bay leaves
1 piece Star anise
2-inch stick Cinnamon
2 to 3 teaspoons Cumin powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons Oil
3 teaspoons fresh Mint leaves, chopped finely
(or ¾ teaspoon dried mint leaves)
¼ cup Coriander leaves, chopped finely


Heat the oil (or ghee), add the bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick and the ginger and garlic paste. Sauté for a few minutes.

Add the chopped onions and fry till golden brown.

Add the tomatoes and sauté till the oil starts to separate.

Add the cumin powder, garam masala, salt, sugar and mint leaves. Mix well.

Add the 2 cans of Red kidney beans and sauté for a few minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of hot water and cook for 5 to 8 minutes.

Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves chopped finely. Serve the Rajmah with Parathas and Kachumber.

Spiced rice with vegetables

Biryani: An elaborate dish made from spiced saffron rice cooked with pieces of lamb, chicken or vegetables. It is usually made on special occasions since it takes a long time to make; but it is surely worth the effort. It always tastes better the next day since the spices marinate and flavor the meat, vegetables and rice. This is an easy version of the same.

It is generally served with a yogurt based salad called a Raita or a freshly made vegetable salad or Kachumber.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


2 ½ cups Basmati Rice
1 medium green pepper, sliced lengthwise into 2 inch strips
½ cup potatoes, cubed
½ cup green peas (frozen, thawed)
½ cup carrots, cubed
¼ cup oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole green cardamom pods
1 large stick cinnamon
Salt to taste
A few mint sprigs for garnishing

Blend all the ingredients listed below for the "Wet Masala" to a fine paste adding water if necessary.

Wet Masala Paste

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
½ cup onions finely chopped
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ cup freshly ground coconut
(or use the unsweetened dry coconut)

Vegetable Biryani

Onion Almond Garnish

1 cup onions finely sliced
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
5-6 tablespoons oil


In a medium skillet, on medium high, heat 5-6 tablespoons of oil; fry the onions till golden brown. Lower the heat. Now add the raisins and almonds and sauté till the almonds are lightly brown. Set aside. This is the garnish.

Make the garnish and the west masala paste.

Wash the rice, drain the water and let it sit with no water for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot. Add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks. Sauté for 30-40 seconds.

Add the "Wet-Masala Paste" and sauté till golden brown and until the oil starts to separate.

Now add the bell peppers, potatoes, peas and carrots, sauté for a few more minutes. Add the rice and salt mix well. Sauté for a few more minutes.

Transfer into a microwaveable serving container. OR cook in the same pot.
Add 5 (approx.) cups of water.

Cook the rice until all the water has been absorbed. At this point, stir the rice and add half of the Onion-Almond-Garnish and mix it in.

Cover the container and finish cooking. Remove and garnish with the remaining garnish and a few mint leaves.

Serve hot with mint chutney and raita

(vegetables in tomato gravy)

Serves 8


2 cups chopped mixed boiled vegetables
2 medium chopped onions
4 Tbs chopped green bell pepper
2 medium chopped tomatoes
½ to 1 tsp chili powder
A pinch of garam masala
2 Tbs chopped coriander
4 Tbs grated paneer, plus a little extra for topping
1 ½ cups tomato sauce
4 tsp oil
Salt according to taste


For a first time, use greens beans, carrots, cauliflower and green peas as the mixed vegetables.

Heat the oil and fry the onions for 2-3minutes. Add the bell pepper and tomatoes
and fry again for 2 minutes.

Add the vegetables, chili powder, garam masala, coriander and salt and cook for a few minutes.

Spread the tomato sauce on top and sprinkle a little grated paneer over it.

Bake in a hot oven at 375 degreed F for 10 minutes. Serve hot.


Serves 4-6


1 whole head cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
1 ½ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fennel seeds, roasted and crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp Almonds, soaked in water for 2 hrs
2 medium tomatoes
¼ cup very finely chopped coriander leaves
3 tbsp cooking oil or ghee (clarified butter)


Blend the tomatoes and almonds to get a smooth paste.

Heat the oil and fry the cauliflower till it is well browned.

Now add all the spices to it and keep frying.

Add the chopped coriander, salt and the tomato paste. Adjust water till you get the
proper gravy consistency you need.

Cook covered for about 10 minutes. When it comes to a boil, take it off the stove.

Serve hot.

Serve hot with chapatis or plain rice/daal.


Serves 6


¾ cup each chopped cabbage, beans, carrots, potatoes
and cauliflower
1 small onion, sliced
2-3 tbsp Oil
Salt according to taste
Coriander leaves for garnish

Blend for the sauce:

½ dried coconut, shredded
1 small onion
5-6 cloves garlic
1 tsp grated gingerroot
2 tbsp plain yogurt
½ tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 whole green chilies
2 whole dry red chilies
2-3 whole peppercorns
½ tsp fennel seed
1 small stick cinnamon
1 whole cardamom pod
2-3 whole cloves
1 tbsp cashews
1 small tomato
2 tsp thick tamarind juice or 2 tsp. lemon juice


Steam the vegetables till they are about half done. Remove and set aside.

Heat the oil and fry the sliced onion till it starts changing color.

Now add the blended masala and fry till the oil starts leaving the sides of the
masala. If the masala starts sticking to the pan, lower the heat and sprinkle a little water and continue frying, stirring continuously.

When the masala is fried well and turns aromatic, add the half cooked vegetables
and salt to taste. Add some water to get a medium-thick sauce. Mix well.

Bring it to a boil on low heat. Cook until the vegetables are soft and tender.

Remove from heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot with chapatis or plain rice.


Serves 6-8


12 small potatoes, peeled
2/3 cup yogurt
¼ cup Ghee
2 medium onions, grated
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp Chili powder
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
1 2/3 cup Water
½ cup Peas
2 tbsp cream
½ tsp Sugar
Salt according to taste

To be grounded to paste :

4 whole Cloves
2 tsp Poppy seeds
2 whole Green cardamoms
2 small Green chilies
1 tsp ginger paste
3 cloves Garlic


Prick the potatoes with fork and place them in a cold water bowl and allow them to soak water for about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then mix them with the Yogurt, grounded paste and salt. Allow to stand for 1 hour.

Melt the Ghee in a pan and fry the grated onion in it for a few minutes.

Add the coriander, cumin, chili powder and turmeric. Continue to fry for 5 minutes.

Stir in the potato mixture and water, heat to simmering point and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender. This should take about 20 minutes.

Add the peas, cream and sugar, stir well and cook for a few minutes until the peas are tender, then serve hot.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 10:02PM
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Wow Joe, I am blown away!! Have you made all these dishes? Do you have a spice grinder? Does a blender work? I don't have a spice or coffee grinder. I'm kind of on the austerity plan these days when it comes to kitchen stuff.

Do you make your own paneer? I'm not sure if I can get it in the store. I'm wondering if there's some other kind of farmer's cheese I can sub?

Mint coriander chutney sounds good, do you have a recipe? I have mint and coriander growing in the garden right now. It it just the two things mixed? I have cilantro leaves and dried coriander seed ground.

I would definately need more than seven spice jars for these recipes!!

This week I am using up my mediterranean ingredients, but by next week I hope to be trying something Indian. It's a pretty big investment in all those spices though. I guess that's why I don't cook Indian. Isn't worth having all that stuff around unless you will use it all the time.

Thanks so much for posting these recipes!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 11:31PM
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Yes, I have made all of these recipes, some of them several times.

These were only the "vegetarian" dishes out of about 55 recipes that I give to my students when we cover Indian cuisine. My class is not a "cooking" class, per se; it's a gardening class. I lecture on the fruits, vegetables and herbs that go into various cuisines and then I give them these recipes to make (and bring to class) to inspire them to try new foods as well as to see how common vegetables, fruits and herbs can go into different types of dishes. We can grow everything here.

I have two spice grinders. One's an old coffee bean grinder but since I don't do coffee, it works well. The other is a green-topped grinder that I've had so long the brand name has worn off the side.

When I don't feel like going through the whole process of making paneer, I simply buy some nice ricotta and drain it through cheesecloth overnight.



1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh coriander
6-8 cloves garlic
1" piece of ginger
2 green chilies
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps lime juice

Peel garlic and ginger and remove stalks from green chilies.
Grind these and all the remaining ingredients into a smooth paste in a food processor.
Chill and serve.

Don't "use up [your] mediterranean ingredients" just yet. This week's "Epicurean Kitchen Garden" class covers Southwestern Cuisine but next week's class is all about "Mediterranean Specialties (the fruits, vegetables and herbs native to the Mediterannean Basin)".


    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 1:20AM
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Wow! I have been interested in Indian cuisine for awhile but have been hesitant to try it. I think I just got the push I needed.
Joe, would you be willing to share some more of your recipes for your gardening classes? I sure do wish I lived closer to you.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 5:17AM
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I'm getting a push too, to give Indian cooking another go. I'm crazy about vegetables, even though I'm not a vegetarain, and those recipes are very appealing.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 1:37PM
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That's the problem Joe, I cook mediterannean all the time, my whole kitchen (and herb garden) are set up for it. That's why I don't do Indian, it requires space, spices and contraptions I don't have. It is unbelievable how little counter space I have in my kitchen, I have to use the stovetop half the time, which has resulted in a fair share of burns and melted items when I accidentally turn on the wrong burner! That's why I'm such a fan of "one pot" meals.

Anyway, I have a small food processor, a large food processor, a stick blender and a regular blender. Will any of them work for grinding spices? If not, I am going to have to stick with recipes that call for whole or preground spices. BTW, that chutney sounds wonderful, I can't wait to try it, probably this weekend.

OK Indian cooking adventurers, let's get to it!! Post your tales here. I know I don't cook except on weekends so I won't be starting right away. But I definately sense some chickpea stew in my future, I love them! I've already got lentil soup to use up in the fridge, so I'll probably go with some kind of raita or whatever you call it salad and rice to go with it. The way I cook, I make stuff on weekends to eat during the week. I don't get home til late and have a lot on my plate with work that I need to do during the week.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 7:27PM
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Is your small food processor one of the mini ones? A mini food processor should work when you want to grind a handful of spices - but might not do much with a teaspoon or two. I use a mortar and pestle for most of my spice grinding. Grind spices and get your aggressions out at the same time. :^)

I figure that it's easier to clean a mortar and pestle than a spice grinder.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 8:30PM
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Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery is one of my treasured kitchen bibles. However, I'll confess that I rarely roast or grind my own spices. I stock whole and ground cumin, cardamom, and coriander, and make do as necessary. I have a little mini-chopper/blender that is great for making the ginger/garlic paste that is the basic curry starter for many of her recipes.

When I feel the need for a Indian veg meal, I usually do something simple like dal (lentils) and rice. I cook the dal with a bit of cumin seeds, maybe some sliced ginger, then stir in some fried onions and/or cabbage before serving.

BTW, I don't have any special type of spice containers for my Indian spices. I have shelves and shelves of various bottles and jars containing all sorts of stuff, most of which gets used regularly.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:30PM
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Wow, Joe, you have quite a collection there. Thank you for sharing. Indian cooking has intrigued me but I know no one who does it except the restaurants around here. I've seen some of the Manjula videos, she makes it look so easy but some of the spices are not easily found or I don't know where to look or what to suhstitute as yet.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:49PM
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Terrapots, which spices are giving you trouble?

Perhaps some of us can suggest an alternate name or a substitute. I was having trouble finding hing (asofeotida) and amchoor powder (mango powder). Hing adds a flavor similar to garlic or onion, so I have just been skipping it or adding a bit of garlic instead. Amchoor powder is a sour flavoring so I've been substituting sumac; lemon juice or vinegar could also be used.

I just googled Indian groceries and found that there was one tucked in an inconspicuous building a few miles from me so I'm now equipped with amchoor and hing.

Some other items such as tamarind pulp (for the tamarind chutney) and besan (chickpea flour) were at the Middle Eastern market, but they didn't have amchoor or hing.

The Spice House has amchoor powder and asafoetida - that was my back up plan if I didn't find them locally.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 8:23PM
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I hand out about 30-60 recipes for each cuisine/class meeting. I've done about 20 cuisines. That's a lot of recipes.

I suspect that I will offer appropriate recipes when a poster requests such.

If you're interested in a particular cuisine, say so and I'll send you an email to your address.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 8:24PM
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CLoud - The Spice House has tamarind paste, too. Just in case. :)

Indian cookbooks - Julie Sahni's books are good. Very clear instructions.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:42PM
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Oh this has been a great post!
I am sending back the masala dabba because I made my own following Jim's suggestion to use canning jars and an old canning jar box. It is now sitting on my back kitchen counter, on top of the microwave. I also just got my order of spices but am thinking about sending some of them back. I do not want to have a bunch of stuff sitting around that I don't use, or don't need to use.

Here is what I have in my masala dabba at this point, a lot of it was stuff I had for making chai.
Whole nutmeg
Dried ginger root
Cinnamon sticks
Green cardamom pods
Whole cloves
Whole fennel seed
Whole yellow mustard seed (which I sometimes use for canning)
Ground corriander
Dried celery leaves (which I figured might sub for fennugreek leaves)

Here's what I bought and am definately keeping:
Black cumin seeds, whole

Here's what I'm debating about sending back
Fenugreek seeds, whole
Kashmiri chili powder--can I use my dried ancho or red pepper flakes? I'm out of cayenne so if I could sub this for cayenne it might be a keeper. But I also have Thai hot sauce in the fridge that I sub for cayenne, so I don't know what's what.
Black mustard seed--do I really need that and the yellow ones too?
Corriander seed--is maybe ground corriander enough?

Any thoughts?

I had a chopper that went with my hand blender but it broke with the cheap plastic parts on the top. Made me sick, but I was tired of looking at in in the cupboard and it couldn't be fixed and you can't buy just that attachment that I am aware of. So I threw it out, and now the smallest food processor I have fits onto my blender motor with a base attachement, it holds about two cups. That's the best I can do for grinding whole spices. I know it seems pedantic, but I'm just not going to use a mortar and pestle, I don't have the patience. It's not a time issue, it's a dexterity issue. I really don't enjoy the process of cooking all that much, but I do it because I REALLY enjoy eating good food!

I am only working part time and looking for job so I really can't afford stuff for the kitchen right now. That's why I'm wondering about all the spices too, as long as I'm sending stuff back. But I do want to expand my experiences some. Moderation you know, like the Buddha said!

The reason I am so interested all of a sudden in Indian cuisine is because the middle and near east are becoming such prominent cultures on the world stage and I want to know more about them in a first-hand way. I think cooking the traditional foods of a culture is an excellent way to get to know the people and their take on life.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 10:06PM
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I forgot to add that I have garlic and bay leaves and whole peppercorns in with my mediterannean kit.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 10:18PM
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Joe, I would be interested in your Indian recipes for right now (the others to go with these vegetarian ones). I am planning a trip to the Asian store here that also has many Indian food products. I am determined to try some of your recipes in August.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 2:43AM
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Here's what I'm debating about sending back
Fenugreek seeds, whole
Kashmiri chili powder--can I use my dried ancho or red pepper flakes? I'm out of cayenne so if I could sub this for cayenne it might be a keeper. But I also have Thai hot sauce in the fridge that I sub for cayenne, so I don't know what's what.
Black mustard seed--do I really need that and the yellow ones too?
Corriander seed--is maybe ground corriander enough?

Fenugreek seeds - It is a common ingredient in curry powders, but I haven't had that many recipes that use it. For starters, perhaps you could do without fenugreek.

Kashmir chili powder - You could sub other red chili - kashmir is suppose to be relatively mild so perhaps ancho would be a closer substitute than cayenne. Ground chili looses potency over time which might be a reason to try to stick to a smaller number of varieties that you can use more quickly. Many of the recipes I've seen don't specify the type of chili, so I end up using something I have and tasting to adjust the heat.

Black mustard seed - black is suppose to be a bit stronger than yellow but other than that the flavor is about the same so you could substitute but you might increase the amount a bit. I like the black because it is prettier :^)

Coriander seeds - I'd keep those. Some recipes have you dry roast the coriander and cumin first to develop their flavor and then powder them or have the coriander and cumin added to the oil and fried for a moment before adding the rest of the ingredients. I don't think you would get the same flavor adding them as a powder without toasting. Also the powder looses strength much faster than the whole seeds. I stock only the whole seeds and grind as needed.

Don't be too sad about loosing the chopper that came with the hand blender. It probably wouldn't have been that good for grinding spices anyway.

I originally had a little mortar and pestle which required patience to use but since it sometimes wasn't big enough and I wanted something faster, I bought a big one with a big pestle - grinding spices goes surprisingly quickly with that, but the downside is that it takes some strength especially getting it out from the cabinet or moving the thing around. I always watch where my toes are. So it's not for everyone.

The two cup food processor on your blender is about the same size as my mini-Cusinart. That sounds like your best bet unless you get a spice grinder.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:57AM
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Thanks so much Cloudswift!

Well I went down into my canning shelves in the basement last night and found a motherlode of spices. Even more red pepper flakes, so I'm definately sending back the Kashmir chili pepper. I'm going to wait until I use up what I have and then can order a new kind for a refill. I have a couple of different kinds of chili powder already and I want to use it up, because like you said, it doesn't last forever. I experimented with my small food processor last night to try and grind the chili pepper flakes. It didn't work very well, which doesn't seem very promising because chili pepper flakes aren't all that hard. So I think I'm going to limit my whole spices for now.

I also found a lot more mustard seeds (yellow) so I am going to try and use those up before buying the black. Also found a ton of celery seed which I think I can sub for the fenugreek, at least for now.

I'm sending back the corriander seeds to. I really have to, to cut expenses. I love corriander, but I have a large jar of the ground, that is going to have to do for now.

Maybe I'll ask for a spice grinder for Christmas!! I have wanted one, but I may be moving so I'm trying to not get loaded down in the kitchen, trying to be as minimal as I can. Sure wish I could find a permanent roost!!

So my tentative plan is to get started with that cilantro mint chutney in raita this weekend, and a kidney bean curry that I have in mind to make in the crockpot. And also maybe some eggles egg salad which is just curried tofu salad. I already eat brown basmatic rice all the time, I love it, it is like one of my most favorite foods. August is going to be my Indian month. I may even try saffon rice, another dish I have wanted to try for a long time. I have the saffron, lol!!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 12:23PM
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i checked a website which is very food in Indian food.I tried the recepies and it came out really very good so i want to share with everyone.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 4:57PM
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