What Indian Cooks Taught Me

During our time in India I have been blessed with excellent experiences to learn how to cook authentic Indian food. I shudder at the memory of the days when I cooked “curry” in America. I have learned so much from my Indian friends, I’ll never forget the lessons they have taught me in the kitchen. Here’s a short list of what I’ve absorbed.

 

1. Fresh Is Best

 

What Indian cooks taught me.

 

One of the many reasons that Indian food is so much better for you than American food is it’s always fresh. For nearly all of India the concept of what Americans think of as a “Grocery store” is not a reality. Vegetables are purchased in the open air, daily. You eat what’s in season, and you use it before it goes bad.

 

In our neighborhood the fresh veggies were delivered to a nearby shop twice a week and you bought what you ccould carry home. You get what you get. Maybe there will be carrots this week, maybe there won’t. But you won’t be substituting frozen broccoli or canned corn in the mean time.

 

2. You Can Never Have Enough Onions

 

 

What Indian cooks taught me.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Indian recipe started without first chopping a hefty amount of onions and garlic. A proper Indian kitchen has an endless supply of both and Indian women could put a Food Network host to shame with their deft onion chopping abilities. Speaking of which,

 

Forget what you think you know about chopping onions and peeling garlic.

 

No one chops more onions than an Indian cook and they have honed the perfect method, which is not the one I learned years ago by attending the University of Youtube. Head there and search for “how to chop onions like an Indian” and you’ll find many mesmerizing videos.

 

3. A Little Garlic Skin Never Hurt Anybody

 

What Indian cooks taught me.

 

When you peel dozens of cloves of garlic a day, you’re not so picky about that tiny, sticky bit of garlic skin that didn’t come off easily. This may seem like a small tip, but it was a big revelation for me. I’ve avoided garlic altogether in the past because peeling it is such a pain. Now I’m a lot more devil-may-care with my garlic (and onion) skins. Newsflash: all parts of the plant are edible.

 

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Your Hands Dirty

 

What Indian cooks taught me.

 

The Indian mantra seems to be:

 

“Why use a utensil for what your hand can do?”

 

I’m pretty sure the American mindset is the exact opposite. Where I’m reaching for a spatula, my Indian friends are using what the good lord gave’em. Where I would find my dough attachment for my Cuisinart, my Eastern counterparts are digging in with their fingers.

 

5. Mortar and Pestle, Please

 

What Indian cooks taught me.

 

The mortar and pestle is a brilliant instrument that keeps you from having to chop all of that garlic you’re going to be peeling for all of your Indian recipes. I told you I’ve avoided my beloved garlic in the past because peeling it is a pain. Well, so is chopping it. Enter your lovely M&P.

 

Pound that garlic and ginger into oblivion. Get out your pent up aggression and prep dinner all in one. Check out mortar and pestles on Amazon. Trust me, they’re worth it.

 

Make Time to Cook

 

And lastly, my Indian friends taught me that time spent in the kitchen isn’t wasted. I’ve had more than one person comment that Indian women set a lot of time aside in their life for cooking. They cook fresh, hot food, up to four times a day (breakfast, lunch, tea time, and dinner). It’s inspired me to rely less on frozen chicken nuggets when I return to America. :)

 

 

What Indian cooks taught me.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

If you’re looking for an authentic aloo tikki recipe, this is it. My Indian house helper taught me how to make aloo tikki and it’s easier than you might think. Never again pine for your favorite Indian street food!

 

Aloo Tikki (Potato Burger)

 

Aloo tikki or aloo ki tikki is a simple mashed potato patty that has been fried. It’s often eaten in sandwich form in India and called aloo tikki burger. In fact, if you see a sign on a small shop that says “burgers available here”, they doubtless mean this popular potato burger.

 

Aloo Tikki Burger Recipe

 

Ingredients

  • Potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • salt
  • flour
  • eggs
  • oil for frying

 

That’s it! I told you it was simple.

 

First, boil and peel your potatoes. Or the other way around.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

Now give them a good old fashioned mashin’.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

 

Add some flour. Maybe half a cup? Who can say. True Indian cooks don’t measure.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

Also a healthy dose of salt. Here’s the part where you can season to your taste. Feel free to add garlic, onions, cilantro – what ever suits your fancy.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

Add two eggs.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

Now get your hands dirty and mix everything together.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

Perfect.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

Now, hopefully you’ve been heating some oil in a frying pan. With wet hands, hand-shape an aloo tikki burger and place in the hot oil.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

Rinse, lather, repeat.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

After a few minutes, give’em a turn.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

 

Voila! You’re done.

 

How to make aloo ki tikki burger recipe.

 

Aloo tikki is really just a fancy Hindi way of saying fried mashed potatoes. :) Which, clearly, is something you need in your life.

 

If you visit India you’ll find aloo tikki sold all over the place and they’re most commonly eaten in burger form or with various chutneys. They’re super cheap and quite tasty. Make sure you try some if you’re traveling in India.

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

An Indian snacks vendor cooks aloo-tikki (fried potato cakes) at a roadside shop in New Delhi on October 22, 2014. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Have you ever eaten aloo tikki?

 

PIN IT!

 

How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe   How to Make Aloo Ki Tikki Burger Recipe

Baingan Ka Bharta Recipe

Baingan ka bharta is officially my new favorite food. Who knew mashed eggplants could be so amazing? Indians, that’s who. Once again, Indian recipes take the mundane and make something marvelous.

 

My friend recently started teaching me more Indian recipes and this is the first thing we made. I pretty much want to marry it. If you’re looking for an amazing, authentic recipe for baingan ka bharta, look no further. I’ve never been opposed to eggplant recipes in the past but it’s also never been a go-to vegetable in the Bowman house. This stuff is so delicious.

 

Baingan ka Bharta (Mashed Eggplant) Ingredients

 

  • 2 eggplants
  • 4 onions
  • 4 tomatoes
  • several garlic cloves

 

Spices

 

  • salt
  • turmeric
  • coriander seeds (or powder)
  • cumin seeds
  • fenugreek seeds
  • dried fenugreek leaves
  • red chili powder
  • dried mango powder
  • masala spice blend (we used chana masala)

 

First, we give the eggplant a “deep bake”. To do this in a typical Indian kitchen we put the eggplant directly on the gas burner flame set very low. The knife makes it easier to turn.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

 

We want to grill the eggplant until it’s blackened and quite soft. I’m sure it could be baked in a traditional American style oven but then you wouldn’t get that lovely smokey charred flavor that cooking it directly on the flame provides.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

 

Once the eggplant is thoroughly cooked, give it a little chopping and remove the most blackened and burnt bits of skin.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

 

Now, like all good Indian recipes, we put some oil in our pan and begin frying up our spices and the like.

Add a pinch of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and just a couple of fenugreek seeds to your oil first.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

 

Now add your onions and garlic. Use double the amount of onions to eggplant. We cooked two eggplants on this day so we used four onions. Garlic is to your preference. I say the more the better. Several cloves, at the very least.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

 

Give your onions plenty of time to cook, you want them to be golden brown and for those lovely seeds to get a good frying, as well. While your onions cook, chop up some tomatoes. Also double the amount to your eggplant, so four in this case.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

 

Once your onions are a lovely golden color add your chopped tomatoes and cook them for several minutes until they’re soft.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

 

Now get out your masala (spice) box again!

 

  • A spoon of salt (or to your taste).
  • Two spoons of turmeric.
  • A pinch of dried fenugreek leaves.
  • A pinch of red chili powder, if you like a bit of kick.
  • 1/2 a spoon of dried mango powder, if you have that sort of thing lying around.
  • 1 spoon of your favorite Indian spice blend.

 

Every Indian seems to have their favorite spice blend. Sadly in America we tend to just have the poor option of  “curry powder”, which you will not find in all of India.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

My friend swears by a mix called Chana Masala and puts it in everything. It is a powdered spice blend that includes coriander seeds, dry mango, salt, cumin, red chilies, kachri, black salt, pomegranate seeds, black pepper, tamarind, dried ginger, mint leaves, cassia, fenugreek leaves, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and mace. I don’t even know what some of that is, but I know it’s delicious. You can click the image to find it on Amazon.

 

Now that everything is smelling absolutely amazing, add your eggplant and give it a good mix and mash. Add just a touch of water if needed and let everything simmer together for a bit.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

 

Serve with plain chapati or parantha. I know the finished product doesn’t look like much but oh my goodness at the flavor! No exaggeration, it is one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted in my entire life.

 

Baingan Ka Bharta

 

Every week I fall more in love with Indian food. I swear, Indian spices could make dirt taste good. Last month I didn’t know baingan ka bhurta existed. Now I can’t get enough of it.

 

What’s your favorite Indian dish?

 

PIN IT!

Baingan ka bharta recipe. If you're looking for a creative eggplant recipe or an authentic Indian recipe, this is the dish for you. So amazing.     Baingan ka bharta recipe. Eggplant like you've never tasted before!

 

 

Egg Curry Recipe

Egg curry is yet another thing that I didn’t know existed until we came to India. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it on a menu in South Asia but our ayah used to cook it for us and we couldn’t get enough of it.

 

I love collecting Indian recipes and this boiled egg curry is now in my repertoire. It’s a pretty simple and standard egg masala recipe and, assuming you have access to authentic Indian spices, I’m sure even a beginner cook can whip this up.

 

Indian recipes

 

Boiled Egg Curry Recipe

Ingredients:

  • boiled eggs
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • tomatoes
  • indian spices (turmeric, coriander, masalas)

 

First, boil some eggs. Pretty easy.

 

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Chop up some onion and garlic, as usual. I don’t think any dish our ayah ever cooked didn’t start with garlic and onions in oil.

 

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Peel your boiled eggs and give them a little roll in some turmeric powder.

 

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Now fry them briefly in oil. Just enough to give them a little texture.

 

Egg Curry Recipe

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Now throw your onions and garlic in your oil and give ’em a nice cooking.

 

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Cut up a couple of tomatoes and add to the mix.

 

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Add your standard Indian seasonings. Salt, coriander powder, turmeric, kitchen king blend, maybe some garam masala. Don’t be shy here.

 

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Peel and cut up a couple of potatoes and toss them in, too.

 

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Occasionally had some water as things cook down. More water = more soup for spooning over your rice. The amount is really your call.

 

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Add your eggs back to your pan and serve over rice. NOM NOM NOM

 

Egg Curry Recipe

 

Have you ever tried egg curry? Check out more of my Indian Recipes.

 

I knew that I liked Indian food but we’ve become complete converts since arriving in Asia. I pretty much only cook Indian now. If you have the right spices most Indian recipes are really quite easy. I know we’re going to miss this stuff fiercely when we get back to the states. I’m going to have to find an Asian market so that I can find all the ingredients to make my favorite dishes.

 

Do you have a favorite Indian dish?

 

Egg curry recipe

Jessica

 

Chutney – Green, Fast, and Fantastic

Chutney is one of the many things I couldn’t believe I hadn’t properly encountered before visiting South Asia.

 

Indian recipes

 

Green chutney, or coriander chutney, is so easy to make. It doesn’t even count as cooking, it’s that easy. But its definitely something you need in your life. Especially if you’ve mastered making those parathas. :)

 

Chutney recipe

 

Chutney Recipe

 

What you need:

  • cilantro

  • garlic

  • chilies

  • tomatoes

  • salt

 

First, coarsely chop your cilantro, cut the tops off of your chilies, and peel your garlic.

 

chutney

 

Now add everything to your blender. We used two roma type tomatoes, two chilies, and a generous helping of salt.

 

chutney

 

 

Blend until gorgeous.

 

Chutney recipe

 

Seriously, that’s it. You’re done.

 

And it’s soooo good. Cilantro and garlic are two of my favorite things in the world so it’s not surprise that I love this stuff so much.

 

Pair with anything and everything!

 

 

Jessica

 

Paratha: Prepared Practically Perfect

Since we may be relocating soon, mastering a paratha recipe has suddenly become pretty high on my to-do list. In fact, taking careful notes of all the delicious desi dishes that our house helper makes for us suddenly seems like life or death.

 

Indian recipes

 

I had never heard of paratha (or parantha) until we first visited India. It’s a common Indian street food and a popular breakfast or teatime snack, from what I understand. We occasionally have them for lunch and practically gorge ourselves on them.

 

For us western minded folks, I think the best description of a paratha is to call it a stuffed tortilla. Do I have your attention now? *salivates*

 

Paratha Recipe - an Indian dish that's equivilent to a stuffed tortilla!

 

Disclaimer: the recipes that I share on here are going to be laid back but I will do my best to gauge approximate directions. Our house helper is an excellent cook who works from memory and doesn’t measure. Yeah. So if you’re the kind of person who has to follow a recipe obsessively and exactly, well, I’m really sorry this is about to happen to you.

 

Paratha Recipe

 

Ingredients:

  • flour (typically, finely ground whole wheat)

  • water

  • cooked vegetable

 

Bear with me.

 

 

There are many kinds of fillings to choose from. Potato paratha are quite common. For that you would peal, cook, and mash your potatoes first and set aside to cool. In this particular instruction we’re going to make cauliflower paratha, one of my favorites.

 

First, grate the raw cauliflower. We had a partial head of cauliflower lying around already.

 

how to make parantha

 

Cook the grated cauliflower in a bit of oil and salt over medium heat. It really only takes a few minutes to give it a quick cooking. Turn off heat and let cool.

 

how to make parantha

 

Now we’re going to make our dough. Start with roughly 3 cups of flour and hand mix in small amounts of water until you have a nice wet dough. When it’s sticky but not a complete messy glob that makes you want to kill yourself, give it a good pounding/kneading for a minute or two. Add more flour or water if necessary.

Are you hyperventilating yet? Okay okay, here’s a video.

 

 

Tada! Now you have a nice dough ball that’s still slightly sticky to touch. Set aside a bit of extra flour to help with our rolling.

 

paratha recipe

 

Pinch off a golf ball sized bit of dough. Give it a little balling up in your hands and then roll it out a couple of times until it fits nicely all the way across your hand. Place the rolled out dough in your hand and add a nice handful of filling to the center.

 

Paratha recipe

 

Pinch the sides up to seal.

 

Paratha recipe

 

And then flatten the pinched up side in your palm to help flatten it again. Dip in your loose flour and, working in a circular motion, hand shape it a little to make it a nice round, flattish shape again.

 

Paratha

 

Now dip it in the loose flour again on both sides and roll until it’s maybe 8 inches in diameter. It’s okay if you can see bits of your filling peaking through at thin spots.

Paratha

 

Now throw that puppy on your skillet/griddle that’s on medium high heat.

 

Paratha recipe

You can clearly see bits of cauliflower peaking through the paratha here. No bigs.

 

Cook for a couple of minutes on one side. Flip. Butter generously. Cook. Flip. Butter. If you’re a pro like our Ayah, the whole procession develops in a nice orderly rhythm and is over fairly quickly. Good luck with that. :)

 

And in case all those words up there are useless to you and you’re a visual creature like myself, below is a short video to make all my recipe rhetoric make sense.

 

 

On this day we also had some cheese paranthas. Same premise, but stuffed with shredded cheese instead of cauliflower. I think we ended up with about 16 parathas total.

how to make parantha

 

Serve hot with yogurt, pickled mango, chutney, or whatever you please.

 

Paratha recipe

Not winning any food blogger photography prizes.

 

It’s really not that complicated, especially if you already know your way around a ball of dough. If you’ve mastered tortillas, parathas should be a cinch.

 

Have you ever tried parathas before?

 

Jessica