My family is Anglo-Indian but just to keep things exciting, besides our European heritage, the Indian part of our ancestry is not limited to one state or region in India! I have ancestors from the Northern, Southern and Eastern states! Talk about being 'mixed up'! :-) I love it because it makes for such amazing variety!
Having said that, we are largely North Indian and while I grew up eating all kinds of food from all over the world, North Indian was what we ate most often. Bharta was one such food.
The word 'Bharta' (pronounced BHURR-taah) refers to dishes in which the ingredients are roughly mashed either before or after the dish is prepared. Bhartas are largely North Indian in origin and made from all sorts of vegetables ranging from eggplant (brinjal) to potato, onion, tomato and many others. Serve these Bhartas with hot Chapatis (Indian flatbread) and a lentil dish like Kaali Daal (black lentils) or Lehsuni Daal (garlic flavored lentils):
- Baingan Ka Bharta (seasoned roast eggplant bharta)
- Punjabi Baingan Ka Bharta (pictured)
- Aaloo Ka Bharta (potato bharta) and
- Pyaaz Ka Bharta (onion bharta)
Image © Gaurav Masand | Dreamstime.com
Every Indian meal usually includes some kind of rice and bread dish amongst other foods. It is probably why there is such a vast variety! I have countless happy memories of childhood breakfasts with my brother and I chomping down on delicious parathas!
Parathas are perfect for mopping up the gravy of Indian curries! If you're giving Indian food a shot, you've got to try them too. Here are some of my favourite recipes...
Image © Manubahuguna | Dreamstime.com
My daughter and my favourite thing to do is lie on a picnic blanket in our backyard and chat. Life is busy so this doesn't happen as often as I like. It makes me cherish the time we do get, even more.
She is never happy to 'just lie there' though! It has to be a picnic and there has to be food. I did always say we are a family of foodies right?
Right now, the weather is perfect for this. Here are some recipes for food I throw together when my baby girl and I 'picnic' together in our backyard...
Image © Photographer: Gaurav Masand; Agency: Dreamstime.com
Pakoras or Savory Fritters are a popular snack in India. They are often served at tea time with a steaming cup of Masala Chai.
Pakoras are usually made by dipping veggies in a thick Bengal Gram Flour batter (everybody's recipe is different) and then deep frying them. Nothing stops you from experimenting with cheeses, chicken, meats and fish though! It helps that Pakoras are easy and uncomplicated to make which means you can rustle up a batch really quickly. Here are a few of my recipes...
Image © Photographer: Gaurav Masand; Agency: Dreamstime.com
We've all had days when we've over-indulged with food and ended up feeling really guilty. We tell ourselves how we just HAVE to start eating healthy. Even before we've begun, we feel sorry for ourselves as we imagine our 'lean meals' as being typically dull, tasteless, steamed or boiled stuff. Anyone feeling this with me or am I alone? Come on, you know you are amongst friends and can be honest here!
Every now and then, I will get carried away by the sheer delicious-ness (is that even a word?) of the food I am eating! Every day is a new day though and fortunately with Indian food there are so many delicious and healthy choices available!
One such example is Momos (steamed wontons, pictured above). They're actually appetizers but serve them with some fiery Sikkim Tomato Achaar and a piping hot bowl of Thukpa (clear noodle soup) and they become a wholesome, very fulfilling meal. Whip some up and you'll be feeling very diet-righteous indeed!
Image of yummy Momos © Photographer: Yang Xiaofeng; Agency: Dreamstime.com
Indian food grows in popularity everyday but it is also highly misunderstood. I am constantly reminded of this as I speak to my non-Indian friends and acquaintances. Common misconceptions about Indian food have it typecast as hot, spicy, oily, diet-busting and generally unhealthy! This couldn't be further from the truth!
There is such an amazing and diverse range of healthy, wholesome and tasty foods to choose from, as my husband often says, "... if you cooked a different Indian dish every day of the year, you would still take a number of years to get to the stage where you would need to repeat one!" Now that's choice for you! Don't let other people's opinions hold you back from trying out one of the world's greatest cuisines. Explore and discover the truth about Indian food for yourself. You will never regret it!
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For me, and forgive me if I am biased, nothing beats Indian snacks when it comes to feeding a craving in the middle of the day! Actually most of them are so filling, they could pass as a meal at almost any time. They might seem involved to make, but they can often be made ahead of time. That way they are ready when you are hungry.
Here are a few of my favourites...
- Khasta Kachori - Crispy, Savory, Lentil-filled Pastry
- Shakkarpara - morsels of crispy, crunchy sweetness
- Mathri - savory crackers Indian style
- Bharvaan Papad Ke Pakode - poppadums stuffed with a yummy filling
Image of freshly made Khasta Kachori © Photographer: Gaurav Masand; Agency: Dreamstime.com
I was on Facebook the other day and a dear friend had posted a picture of his breakfast and captioned it 'Breakfast of Kings'. One look at the picture and I couldn't have agreed more!
Even though my family is North Indian, as children, weekend breakfasts were often South Indian style and consisted of Dosa, Idli, Sambar and South Indian Coconut Chutney.... We loved this and eagerly waited for these breakfasts! So popular are these foods in India that I even remember a man going door-to-door selling the Idli and Dosa batter, all made and ready to cook with right away! Idli and Dosa batter takes time and pre-planning to prepare so this is not uncommon.
Breakfast like a champion this weekend... cook these yummy South Indian foods...
Image © 2014 Petrina Verma Sarkar, Licensed to About.com
You know how you get those strong cravings for something to nibble just around tea time? I definitely do! Come 4:30 p.m. everyday and I'm ready for something snacky!
This is when it helps to have something you can rustle up quickly. One such Sarkar family favourite is Banana Fritters Indian Style also known as Gulgulas (pictured) in Hindi! These sweet treats are hugely popular with my kids and I often make a batch for them on weekends.
Since we're talking snacks, nothing goes better with them than a cup of steaming, fresh-off-the-stove, two-sugars-please, Masala Chai! Aah... the good life!
Gulgulas Image © Anjelagr | Dreamstime.com
Indian cuisine has been exposed to numerous culinary influences over the centuries. The result is delicious mix and match fusion foods that combine the best of both worlds. From combinations of Indian food with Portuguese to Chinese and Burmese to American, let's take a look at a few recipes...
- Masala Chicken Quesadillas (pictured)
- Spicy Goan Pork Pies
- Chinese Bhel
- Burmese Khow Suey
- Indian-style Burger
Image © Paul Brighton | Dreamstime.com