Tag Archives: indian food

Over the weekend

What a busy weekend I had! Here I thought March would end up being a busy-weekend month for me, but April is proving to be exactly the same.

I welcome it though! A lot happened over the weekend including being able to cross yet another thing on my list.

I ran my first 5K! Finally! A year in the training (and making!) and it’s finally done. I did the Rear Saver 5K on Belle Isle in Detroit – a race to prevent colon cancer. I’m not really big on the cause and whatever, so I mostly just ran it “just because.”. It was a really flat course and on the track of the old race track on Belle Isle. So it was a good first race for me!

My friend Kat and I got there bright and early to pick up our bibs and race packets.

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Then it was time to stretch, warm up and line up for the race! My friend Kat is amazing. Throughout my “training” or weekly runs up until Saturday, I had been doing a 5 minute warm up brisk walk, then running and sometimes stopping to walk, until I reached the 3 mile mark. Yeah, Kat wasn’t letting me off the hook that easily. She said we’re running the whole thing, I couldn’t look at my Garmin at all, and she kept encouraging me, telling me I was kicking ass and doing awesome which kept me going strong!

She was my rock and I couldn’t have had the confidence to run the entire thing without her! She’s training for the half marathon in Pittsburgh in May, so I think she liked having this 5K as a simple run for her to get in over the weekend before her long distance running during the week in training. Either way, Thanks KAT!!

I ended up finishing the race in 38 minutes. Not the best, but I’ll take it. I had told myself that I wanted to finish it in 45 minutes, so seeing that number as I crossed the finish line only boosted my confidence! I had been averaging 40-42 minutes during my weekly runs, and that included the 5 minute warm up walk and cool down walk.

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Maybe it was adrenaline, excitement, or the fact I never gave myself credit, but I was determined to run that entire damn thing and I’m so glad I did! I can’t wait to do another race. I officially have the running bug and want to just continue to improve! I have a goal to increase my distance to 3.25 miles this week and gradually work on increasing speed as well. I’ve set a new goal for myself to try to hit the 5 mile mark by mid-summer. I hope to do this before that, but I know me. I want to give myself time!

So after the race, we made the trek back to Ann Arbor and had a much deserved brunch at Cafe Zola. The rest of the day was spent chillaxing and taking a long nap (I hate getting up early on the weekend!) which got me all revved up for the evening of fun! My brother-in-law’s (REB’s brother) birthday was March 31 and we didn’t get to see him for it then. So we had planned to do a group dinner Saturday night so we could celebrate it.

Saturday night outfit

Saturday night outfit

We met up at an Indian place called Mirchi, which some of my coworkers had been to when they were under different management. It wasn’t bad food! The service is another story, but overall, the food wasn’t horrible. We all ordered Thali plates. Thali is basically a large platter that has small dishes on it with all different kinds of things: curries, yogurt, a dessert, rice, a lentil dish, a soup-ish dish, etc.. It’s really the best way to try a bunch of Indian food and curries (both south and north Indian) when there isn’t a buffet!

mirchi

I barely made a dent int it. So much so that we still have leftovers. It was seriously more food than I ever needed, plus I had eaten the righteous Turkish Brunch at Zola’s earlier in the day. But in my book, having leftover Indian food is a total pile of win.

The night ended with Scary Movie Night at my friend Amber’s house (becoming a tradition) where I got introduced to the amazing Bruce Campbell and Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. Truly a work a masterful art, lemme tell ya. Groovy, baby.

On Sunday before Sunday Funday and Game of Thrones night, Amber stopped over with one of her dogs and she and I took a long walk through our neighborhood with her dog and Gryff. Then we let them play in our backyard for a little bit.

dogs

I also uploaded a few sneak peek wedding photos on my photo FB page! Here are a few, but the rest you can find here!

All in all, it was a perfect weekend with beautiful sunny weather and fun! I have ended up with a cold, but it was well worth it. I already look forward to the fun this weekend will bring!

What did you do over the weekend?

Lemon Pulihora [Indian Lemon Rice]

Yours truly is home sick. I hate being sick. I hate when I know that I’m getting sick and finally have to tell myself that I should stay home. That’s exactly what happened this morning.

A lot has happened since my last post! We bought a new bed and as I sit in it right now all comfy and cozy, I thought maybe I should play catch up and share a recipe I made weeks go! It’s an Indian lemon rice recipe. It so very much reminds me of my mom and quick dinners she would make for my sister and me when my dad was out of town, or if we were just home for lunch on the weekend.

Puhilora translates to “sour rice” but it’s not really sour. It can be made in a lemon or tamarind variety. The lemon just happens to be my sister and my favorite kind. It’s very easy to make, too!

Lemon Pulihora [Indian Lemon Rice]
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Main dish, side dish, rice
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian, vegetarian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 cups of Basmati rice – cooked and set aside
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon channa dal
  • 1 teaspoon asofetida (hing) powder
  • 2 green chilies finely minced
  • ¼ diced red onion
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 8-10 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 whole lemons, juiced
  • S&P to taste
  • 2 tablespoon peanuts
  • Optional ingredient: dried red chilies
Instructions
  1. Start by cooking the rice (3 cups rice, 2 cups water) and set aside. Don’t use too much water because you want the rice kernels to separate easily and not be mushy. I use a rice cooker, but you can cook on the stove according to instructions on the package. I also use Basmati rice, which is traditionally used for Indian cooking. Once the rice is cooked, fluff and set aside.
  2. In a large deep skillet or pan, heat the olive oil and add the mustard seed, channa dal, hing powder and green chilies. Cook over medium flame or heat until you start to hear the mustard seeds sputter and pop.
  3. Next add the onion and turmeric and stir to combine all the flavors.
  4. Add the rice and coat well with the oil mixture.
  5. Add the sesame oil and stir well.
  6. Give the rice a taste and add salt and pepper according to your tastes.
  7. Add in the curry leaves, and lemon juice, then cover and let cook/steam for 5 minutes.
  8. In a separate, small dry pan, add the peanuts and toast.
  9. Transfer the rice to a bowl and top with peanuts.
  10. Serve it up with some yogurt, chutney or mango pickle and enjoy!

It’s so incredibly good and you can change it up how ever you want and adjust the spices!

We enjoyed ours with mango pickle and it was the perfect dinner, but could easily be a lunch or side dish to your Indian meal. Enjoy!

What are your favorite Indian dishes to prepare at home?

Tindora Curry (Kundru)

I made Tindora Curry or Kundru (as it’s pronounced in Telugu) tonight. It is definitely not my favorite, but REB absolutely loves it after he had it at my parents house. My mom, of course, makes it the best, but I tried tonight and it actually turned out pretty good. So good that I even had some [gasp].

Tindora, or Ivy Gourd, is actually only found in the eastern side of the world (Philippines, Asia, India, Thailand, etc.). It’s a fruit of the ivy gourd weed (I know, I know) and is most commonly sliced up and cooked as a curry.

It’s super easy to make, too. I’m not sure at all how my mom makes it but I threw something together and the key was: spice!

What you need:
•Tindora (2 cups, sliced)
•1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
•1 small onion, finely chopped
•1/2 tablespoon ginger, grated
•Salt to taste

Heat some oil in a frying pan and cook the onion until soft. Add the tindora, and cook for 15-20 minutes. You can even buy tindora frozen at the Indian grocery store and it will take less time to cook. The garam masala gets added next and I grate the ginger right over the pan so it kind of melts into everything (amazing). Add salt to taste.

And that’s it! It’s super easy to make and really good for you, too! It’s full of beta-carotene despite not being orange and full of other vitamins.

Enjoy!

Mattar tofu

I make a lot of Indian curries. There is one that REB absolutely loves, called mattar paneer. However, I don’t make it that often since it’s pretty much the most unhealthy thing one could eat. Paneer is a type of cheese, similar to feta, but it’s really bad for your health. Not only that, but this dish also has sour cream in it, which in large consumptions, also not that great for the figure.

I made a variation of the dish last night and substituted tofu for the paneer. It worked like a charm. I couldn’t cut out the sour cream, but using light, or fat-free works just as well. I’m sure you could even use milk instead of cream. However, the sour cream adds a tang that sort of brings the whole dish together.

If you do want to use paneer, you can buy a frozen block from any Indian grocery stores. Some even come already cut up into cubes for your convenience. If you want to make your own paneer, that’s not too hard either, but it takes a lot of time since…well, you’re making cheese from scratch. Ha.

Maybe I’ll post something on how to do that another time. Let’s make some curry though!

What you’ll need:
•1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil (1/2 for the tofu, 1/2 for the curry)
•1 1/2 cups firm tofu, cut into cubes
•2 cups pureed Roma tomatoes (maybe not pureed, but chopped up pretty finely)
•1/2 cup chopped onion (not pictured)
•1 tablespoon grated ginger
•1/4 teaspoon minced garlic (don’t need a lot in this dish!)
•1/3 cup fat-free or light sour cream
•1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (not pictured)
•1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
•salt to taste
•2 curry leaves
•1 cup frozen peas
•1/2 cup water (not pictured)
•1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate (not pictured)

Let’s talk about the garam masala. I’ve mentioned it once before I’m sure, but it’s the most common spice used in almost every Indian dish. It’s essential, it’s fragrant, it’s delicious. You make it by simply dry roasting several spices and then grinding them to a fine powder. I’ll have to make another post one day about how to make garam masala from scratch.
But for now, I have a mom who loves me dearly and made me this entire jarful of garam masala.
It’s OK to be jealous. Buying store-bought masala will never compare to the depth of spice and flavor of doing it yourself.

OK, enough spice-talk, let’s get cooking…

Start by preparing your ingredients, and puree or roughly chop two Roma tomatoes. I love Roma tomatoes. They’re tangy, juicy and de-li-cious! I have a mini food processor for this kind of task. You could just as easily use a blender to help you out, too. Or, if you don’t have either, warm up the tomatoes in the microwave for a few seconds, then use your hands to smush them. Yes, smush is a word. Use it. It works.

Put 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a shallow skillet or frying pan and wait for it to get screaming hot. Then, carefully place the tofu pieces (or paneer if you do want to use that) into the pan. It should start sizzling! Cook the tofu for about 4 minutes or until golden brown.

Like so. I had two batches I had to pan-fry, but they each took about 4 minutes for each side to get brown. Once of the tofu (or paneer) is cooked, transfer them to a plate with a little sprinkling of water on the bottom. This will help keep the tofu (or paneer) moist while you continue cooking.

In a saucepan, heat the other 1/2 tablespoon of oil and let it heat up a bit on medium-high.

Add the onions and the turmeric. Let them cook about 2-3 minutes (shouldn’t take long if your pan is hot!)

Next, add the garlic (very little!) and the tomatoes. You can also grate the ginger at this time. Give it a good stir and let it cook another 5-7 minutes. The juice from the tomatoes will help create a gravy, or masala as we call it.

Once that’s cooked a bit, stir in the sour cream. The color will turn a lot lighter and at this point you can add some salt (1/4-to-1/2 teaspoon). Also, add in your garam masala.

Add in the frozen peas and raise the heat a bit, since the peas (being frozen) will cool the down the dish. Add in the water (not more than 1/2 a cup). Cover and let the curry come to a boil.

Once it’s come to a boil, remove the lid and add in your tofu (or paneer).

If you are using paneer and not tofu, you must be careful not to break apart the paneer when stirring it into the dish. Since I used firm tofu, it was pretty good at holding its shape.

Add in the curry leaves and the tamarind concentrate. Tamarind concentrate is used in the tamarind chutney when eating samosas. It also adds a tang and burst of flavor when added to any curry dish. You don’t need a lot, since the flavor is so strong. Another bonus is that it helps to thicken the curry.

Cover the pan and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Give your curry a taste. You may need to add more garam masala, ginger or salt depending on how spicy you want your dish to be.

Serve it hot over cooked basmati rice.

Nomlicious. Enjoy!

Indian Chex Mix

Otherwise known as bhel puri mix (bail purry mix). My brother-in-law started calling it Indian Chex Mix because well…it kind of is. It’s basically a hot mixture of Indian deliciousness combined with Rice Krispies, some onion, peanuts and spices. It’s perfect for snacking or putting out for guests to munch on if you’re having a party. It’s a very spicy mixture though, so for you spice loves out there…try this!
Starring:
To be quite honest, I don’t have measurements of anything, because it’s really just how much you want of each ingredient. But to be all official, I’ll try to include the amount you’ll need for each. What I made was enough for 1 person.

•1 cup Rice Krispies. I didn’t have any, but I had some Rice Chex so I used that
• 1 cup Indian mixture – this can be found at any Indian grocery store. This brand is Haldiram – spicy! What’s in the Indian mixture is usually noodles (similar to La Choy noodles), dried peas, corn flakes, cashews, etc.
•2 tablespoons Peanuts (optional) – most of the Indian mixtures have peanuts already in them. If you like more, add more!
•1 tablespoon Onion (approx. 1/4 of a small onion)
•Pinch of Chili Powder
•Pinch of other Indian spices, which are in that silver tin

Let’s talk about that silver tin, shall we?
It’s OK to be jealous. This is my Indian spice tin. It’s where I store all the spices I use in Indian cooking, such as: chili powder, garam masala, cumin, cumin powder, Hing, mustard seeds, turmeric powder, salt, etc. This tin is probably one of my favorite things in my kitchen.

Combine the peanuts, Rice Krispies (or Rice Chex) and Indian mixture into a small tupperware container. This will make it easy to mix it all around.

OK so maybe the amounts of each ingredients I listed up there don’t quite match up. I told you! I just eyeball everything and put int a bowl to mix around, then take what I want to eat at that time.

Mix that container to combine the ingredients and spoon out however much you intend to eat at that time (or pour it all out if you’re serving more than just yourself). Finely chop 1/4 of the onion and add it to your own bowl. I can not stress that enough. Don’t add all the onion to the entire mixture because then you’ll end up with soggy mix! Yuck!

Also add the spices you want. I added salt, chili powder, a tiny bit of turmeric and garam masala to mine.

Then you end up with this:
It’s delicious, slightly salty, SPICY (yum!) and the perfect snack during the afternoon!

This is MY kind of Thanksgiving

My family and I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving unless my sister and brother-in-law are in town because well, they know how to cook a turkey, and really only those two and my dad will eat it. REB and I were busy on Thanksgiving Day with his families, so we planned on making a huge dinner at my parents house on Black Friday. Nothing fancy; basically what I’d eat every day if I were living at home, but more of it!

My mom and I spent a good portion of the day cooking. I love my mom more than anything. I love cooking with her, too.

Isn’t she adorable? (^_^)

Uh, apparently REB got a hold of my camera. Yep, that’s me. Cutting up some tomatoes…moving on…

The world’s cutest dog knew he wasn’t allowed in the kitchen. That didn’t stop him from giving me extra large puppy eyes and pouts. I don’t blame him. The house smelled soooo good.

Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes might considered the norm, but nothing beats a home-cooked Indian meal!

For me, this defines comfort and a sense of home. All that and so much more is what I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

A Guide to Indian Food in A2

I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to Indian food (for obvious reasons). Like most people, I don’t always like to cook it, and sometimes enjoy going out and eating it at a restaurant. I’ve lived in Ann Arbor for over a year and am sad to say that the Indian restaurants here aren’t horrible, but also don’t “wow” me like other Indian restaurants I’ve been to in the state. It’s disappointing, really. I mean, the Indian community here in Ann Arbor is huge, and yes, they have quite a few Indian restaurants in the area. However, they just don’t really live up to what I expect out of an Indian restaurant.

  • The first place REB and I tried to eat at when we moved here was Shalimar on Main Street. The people who own Shalimar also own Bombay Grille in West Bloomfield Hills, which really should have been my first clue. Bombay Grille is TERRIBLE. I’ve never had such horrible service in my entire life. Waiting 15-20 minutes to be seated when the entire place is desolate, and then waiting another 15-20 minutes before even being served water is completely unacceptable to me. So I was a bit apprehensive when we decided to check out Shalimar. I can sadly say that the exact same thing happen to us yet again. Granted, it was a busy night so we had to wait a few minutes for a table – no big deal. We were sat by the window so we could look out onto Main Street and were also seated by the bar. So 15 minutes rolled by. Then 20 minutes, and we hadn’t been served water, any menus, nothing. I looked up and noticed all the servers (all students) hanging out by the bar talking to each other. Not one person noticed we weren’t being waited on. Finally, the BARTENDER (who was already busy caring for the people sitting at the bar) came up to us and said she’d take care of us and was incredibly nice and apologized over and over again. She even gave us free dessert since we were so unhappy with the service. The food overall was OK, but the place is entirely too over-priced for any one’s wallets – yuppy of Ann Arbor or not ($12-16). This can really add up if you get appetizers, mango lassis, a tandoori dish, etc. The service alone is the one reason I will not return to this restaurant and since then, have advised many people to do the same.
  • There was a place we checked out yesterday called Mahek Indian Cuisine on Washington. It’s located across from The Blue Nile, which is an Ethiopian restaurant. I was really looking forward to Mahek because it was a new place I’d never heard of. The smart thing was to check out their lunch buffet, because 1). it’s cheaper and 2). it gives you a good idea of what kinds of foods they serve on their menu. Yes, you can just look at a menu online, but seeing the food in person is what makes me think it’s appealing or not. The place is a good sized restaurant and not a lot of people were in there. We checked out the buffet before deciding to stay. The entire thing was made up of fried food passing off as curry. Ick. Last time I checked, deep fried cauliflower was not a curry my mom prepared in my house. It looked like General Tso’s Chicken if you were at a Chinese buffet. We ended up not staying.
  • REB and I were a bit nervous to try anything else, but kept our search going. We had found a place called SeaJoys, which was also on Main Street next to Sabor Latina Mexican Restaurant. This place was really good and owned by a family. The food came out in actual Corning-ware bowls and the servers and hosts were family members just dressed as if you were going to their home for dinner. It was the ultimate comfort food place and I found that extremely appealing. The food was priced very reasonably (between $7-10 per entree) and it was never over crowded. Unfortunately, the economy has forced the restaurateur to shut down and Seajoys is no more.
  • Our quest continued. I had once taken my coworkers (since some of them had never had Indian food before) to Raja Rani on Williams and Division. We went there for the lunch buffet (which by the way is the way to go when you’re trying Indian food for the first time) and I can’t really say I was impressed, but may be it was because we had gotten there in the middle-to-end of their buffet time. I wasn’t giving up on them though, because their service is really good and the atmosphere in the restaurant is really nice, clean and sophisticated. REB and I went back, but this time for dinner so we could order real entrees. We were pleased to see they had a Vegetarian Deal for Two, which included: two appetizers, two curries (of your choice), rice, naan, and dessert – all for $30. In case you didn’t already do the math – that’s a STEAL Everything was pretty good though we had asked for a high spice level and didn’t really receive it. But the service was really great. It can be a bit pricey ($10-15 entrees), but it’s worth a visit, though it’s not my first place of choice.
  • Another place to check out is Madras Masala on Maynard by the big Borders downtown. This place can be a bit iffy. Sometimes their buffet is spot-on and looks amazing, and other times (like yesterday) they’ll have a few Chinese dishes (?!?!?!) in their buffet. We’ve been there a few times for dinner though, and for the most part it’s pretty good. I think the main reason I like it, is because it caters to a lot of South Indians (which I am) so it’s really the place to go if you want dosa, vada, potato masala (for the dosa), etc. The atmosphere isn’t horrible either, but sometimes they rock out the Indian techno music, which in my opinion isn’t exactly dinner music. Some of the servers can be a bit flaky or frazzled if it gets too busy in there, but the food more than makes up for it. It has the right amount of spice and if you ask for something spicy, they’ll make it that way (with a warning to boot). It’s also located right next to the Maynard/Thompson parking garage, which makes walking to where you parked a cinch. The prices are on the high end ($10-15), but if you’re getting good food it’s worth it. I think the buffet is probably the best way to enjoy it though. One thing to keep in mind: when you leave, you end up smelling entirely of curry, which can be a bit overwhelming for some.
  • The final place I’ve been to is a small almost market-like place on 5th (off Liberty) called The Earthen Jar. It’s right next to Jerusalem Garden. This place is all vegetarian and also serves some curries that are vegan, so this is a plus for a lot of Ann Arbor residents. It’s basically a buffet-to-go type place. You pick up a carton, go through the buffet and fill it up and then pay by the pound ($4.99/pound). They have quite an assortment of food there, too. You can choose to eat there because they have tables set up, or you can leave and go back to your office or home. It’s a very small place, but the family that owns it is very nice and extremely helpful if you’re new to Indian cuisine. They offer other items, such as samosas and naan behind the counter, which they’ll warm up for you if you can wait a few minutes for them to do so. I filled up an entire to-go box, as did REB, and we couldn’t even come close to finishing everything. It didn’t look like we had a lot of stuff in there, but we did. You only grab 1-2 serving spoonfuls of different curries, and it ends up being enough to feed up to 3 people. Unreal. This is a place I definitely recommend, especially for people on the go.

So there you have it. I know there are some other places I’ll need to check out, but these are the ones I’ve been to so far. I don’t mean to come off sounding mean or like a you-know-what, but Indian food is something I know very well and make myself. If I want to go out and enjoy it without having to cook it, I want to go to a place that will prepare it the way I expect so I keep coming back. Overall, the places here in Ann Arbor aren’t quite as good as some of the places in Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield and East Lansing. But the places here I DO enjoy going to, I have frequented back to and will continue to do so. So check them out and see how your experience goes!