Indian Food 101

Hello Carrots N’ Cake readers!  My name is Ameena and I blog about food, books, and my rather sad attempts at being a good mother over at Fancy That…Fancy This. Thank you Tina for allowing me to guest post and share a little bit of my Indian culture with your readers.

The fact that I am only half-Indian didn’t stop my mom from trying to push her numerous (and fabulous) recipes on me.  Despite being Canadian, my mom knew that any good Indian daughter should know how to make a variety of Indian dishes by the time she gets married.  Why?  Well it’s simple – the more you can cook, the higher your “bride” stock shoots through the roof and the more likely you are to land a cute, rich doctor.  Unfortunately, despite her numerous attempts, I didn’t learn to cook nor did I land a rich doctor.  But even she’ll admit that my husband isn’t too bad on the eyes.  Plus he took me off her hands, and how can she complain about that?

Now that I am older and have been married for what seems like an interminable amount of time, I am beginning to regret the fact that I didn’t take more of an interest in Indian cooking.  I was recently diagnosed with a gluten-intolerance and since I don’t eat meat, dairy, and have an allergy to soy, I realized that I either needed to learn to make some decent dishes at home or I needed to come to terms with the fact that I would be hungry on a permanent basis.  Since the latter option didn’t exactly appeal to me I figured it was never too late to hit my mom up for some free lessons.

Aloo Mattar (Potatoes and Peas) is one of the first dishes I learned.  It is super easy and great for vegetarians, vegans, those with celiac disease, and those who just want to eat something that is fairly quick, healthy, and tastes good.

Aloo Mattar (Potatoes and Peas)

4-5 medium red potatoes boiled until just tender

1/2 cup of defrosted peas

1 small red onion peeled and sliced very thin

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons mango powder or half a fresh lemon

1/4 teaspoon red chili powder or to taste

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

salt to taste

fresh coriander

1 tomato quartered (optional)

A few months ago I would have laughed if anyone asked me to pick the aforementioned spices out of a line up.  If you are anything like me you probably have no idea what they look like either, so I took a picture of them for your reference.  They are (from the top going clockwise) turmeric, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, chili powder:

1. Cut the boiled potatoes into medium-sized cubes.

2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to a non-stick frying pan. Heat until very hot, then add  the mustard seeds and cover the pan.

3. When the mustard seeds start to sizzle, remove the lid and add the cumin seeds and red onions.  Fry on medium heat until the onions begin to soften. (5-6 minutes)

4. Add the chilli powder and the turmeric and fry for a minute, then add the potatoes.

5. Mix well and add salt to taste.

6. Add peas and sprinkle with mango power or fresh lemon juice.

7. Lower heat and cover the pan for approximately 5-6 minutes.

8. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve over rice or with naan.

If you are feeling especially adventurous and want to make things look fancy, serve this with Greek yogurt and mango chutney. You can find both at most grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

I am living proof that Indian food can be made by even the most inexperienced cook.  I hope you enjoy!

8 Comments

  1. Thanks again Tina for letting me do this guest post, and thank you all for your nice comments!

    Andrea – I haven’t seen mango powder at Whole Foods but you can check out Cost Plus or use the lemon like I did.

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