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Sweet-and-Sour Winter Squash (Kaddu)

Posted on 10/30/2013 at 5:12 PM

Sweet-and-Sour Winter Squash (Kaddu)

In my house this dish was made during festivals and served with puri (fried breads). Pumpkin is kaddu in hindi language. Sweet-and-sour kaddu is my personal favorite way of cooking winter squash. In India we always used the pumpkin to make this recipe, but a good cooking pumpkin is not always available. So I usually use butternut squash, it is an excellent substitution. The fenugreek seeds give this recipe a unique flavor.

Butternut squash or pumpkins are a challenge to peel and cube. I found an easier way to tackle these squashes. I put the squash in the microwave for 5 minutes and let is rest for 10 minutes. Then cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and strings. I then cut the squash into 1 inch strips, peel and dice into 1 inch pieces.

Another option: If your grocery store has peeled and diced squash, use it. Just make sure you use it soon after you purchase it.


1 small butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar

Garnish (optional)

2 tsp ghee

¼ tsp cayenne pepper



Peel and cut butternut squash in half. Scoop out and discard the inside seeds and threads. Cut into about 1-inch pieces. Rinse, drain and set aside.

In a fry pan, heat oil on medium high heat. Add cumin and fenugreek seeds and cook for a few seconds until seeds are golden brown.

Add the chopped squash, turmeric, salt, coriander powder, cayenne pepper and water. Stir to mix. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15–18 minutes until the squash is soft to the touch. Stir occasionally.

Add lemon juice and sugar. Mash the squash with a potato masher or large spoon. Simmer for 5–7 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish. (Garnish with cayenne flavored ghee; see below.)

Garnish: Heat ghee in a small fry pan. Once the ghee starts bubble, remove from heat, add cayenne. The ghee will become red. (Do not overheat ghee; otherwise the cayenne will burn.)

Makes 4 servings (2 cups)
Serving size: 1/2 cup
Amount per serving:
Calories: 80, Carbohydrate: 17g, Fat: 2g, Dietary fiber: 2 g, Saturated fat: 0g, Protein: 1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 403mg

From: New Indian Home Cooking, Madhu Gadia, M.S., R.D.,



Posted in Recipes | Permalink

Rice Pudding (Kheer)

Posted on 10/30/2013 at 4:38 PM

Rice Pudding (Kheer)

Kheer is often referred to as rice pudding and is probably the most- popular pudding in India. It does not taste anything like the Western rice pudding. It has a delicate, mild flavor. Traditionally it is made with whole milk and cream, but here is a lower fat version. You will not miss the fat in this recipe. Although it can be made with skim milk, for best results, use low fat milk.

When my grandson was visiting (18 months old) I made kheer, and I am happy to report he approved; he lapped it up. Of course, he made my day. But I have to admit, I made it for my daughter, she loves kheer (her favorite is Samai Kheer – next time sweetie).

Over the years, I have learned couple of tricks to avoid burning the kheer. The most important thing, start with a heavy bottom pan. Lightly coat the inside of the pan with oil or ghee (I use an oil spray). Add milk, cover with lid, and boil on medium high heat. Stir frequently to make sure it does not stick to the bottom.  Once it starts to froth, remove lid, and monitor milk to avoid boiling over. Once the milk comes to full boil, reduce heat, and simmer. DO NOT PUT A LID; your goal is to evaporate the milk.  Make sure the milk is slowly boiling.

Slow cooked kheer has the best consistency and taste. It will take about 45 – 75 minutes to come to the right consistency; so don’t rush it. As the milk evaporates, you may need to adjust the heat of couple of times. The kheer is done when the rice is falling apart, the milk and rice do not separate, and it is about half the initial volume. Enjoy it cold or warm. Most people like it cold, although I like my kheer warm. Cardamom, almonds, and raisins are optional – it’s your kheer; add what you want.

Enjoy it cold or warm. Most people like it cold, although I like my kheer warm. Cardamom, almonds, and raisins are optional – it’s your kheer; add what you want.


1/2 gallon 2% milk

1/3 cup basmati rice, washed

1/3 cup sugar

4 cardamom pods

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

2 tablespoons golden raisins



In a large, heavy saucepan, heat milk over medium heat. Stir frequently to avoid sticking at the bottom of the pan. Add washed rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1–1 1/2 hours on low heat. Stir occasionally to make sure the pudding does not stick to the bottom.


When the pudding is the right consistency (about 1/2 of the original amount or 4 cups), remove from the heat. Kheer will thicken as it cools.

Remove the cardamom seeds from the pods and crush finely with a mortar and pestle. Add sugar, almonds, raisins and cardamom powder to the pudding. Stir to mix.

Transfer to a serving container and cover with a lid. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve chilled.
Makes 8 servings (4 cups)
Serving size: 1/2 cup    
Nutrition Information per serving:     Calories: 200; Carbohydrate: 28 g; Protein: 9 g; Fat: 6 g; Saturated fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 18 mg;     Dietary fiber: 0.4 g; Sodium: 123 mg

From New Indian Home Cooking by Madhu Gadia


Life is short, eat dessert first!

Posted on 10/27/2013 at 12:39 PM

Indians & Desserts

With Diwali (Festival of Lights, November 3rd) fast approaching, I am focused on desserts. I think most Indians subscribe to the saying, “Life is short, eat dessert first”. Serving and eating sweets galore is a tradition, from ancient temples to modern celebrations. In fact, at wedding parties it was (and in some places still is) considered a sign of status and hospitality to serve guests a few pieces of mithai (dessert) on an individual plate—before dinner!

Indian sweets are quite different from Western desserts. The variety of sweets available is remarkably wide, and in many cases there are no Western equivalents. Some of the basic categories are barfi, halwa, laddu and kheer. Traditionally, chocolate is not an ingredient in Indian desserts, although today you’ll find chocolate barfies as sweets makers (halwaies) try to cater to the younger generation.

Because Indians do not use eggs in desserts and ovens were not typically found in Indian kitchens, baked goods are not part of the Indian dessert repertoire. With the migration of Zoroastrians (called Parsis) in the 1500s, and the British in 1700s, baked goods have been around for a while, but only recently (in the last forty years) have bakeries proliferated in India.

Much more typically, the Indian equivalent to the bakers and bakeries of the Western world are halwais and halwai shops. A visit to the halwai shop is as fun as going to a sensational French bakery. The halwai shop is lined with trays of beautifully displayed sweets—the white, gold, and green barfies are layered like a wall of bricks, the round laddus are neatly stacked in pyramid shapes, and the halwa sprinkled with nuts are kept hot in a large, round skillet. And right outside the shop, the halwai himself skillfully makes hot jalebi—my personal favorite—in a large shallow fryer, then dunks them in syrup. Eat a plate of hot jalebi at the halwai shop and bring a sackful home for the family.

In India, as in the United States, desserts are typically high in fat and calories. I’ve cut down on the fat and sugar wherever possible, without compromising taste. Enjoy a small piece or a bite occasionally, for everything fits into a healthy diet.

Mithai: I’ve attempted to simplify the wide array of Indian desserts, which are called mithai. Most are cooked on the stovetop; the four main categories are barfi, laddu, halwa, and kheer. Then there are other mithais that do not fall into these categories, such as jalebi, gulab jamun, and rasagulla, which I’ll call others.

Barfi is either square- or diamond-shaped and is made with variety of ingredients. The closest thing that I can use to describe its appearance is fudge. The majority of barfies are made with super evaporated milk, called khoa. Then there are  barfies made from nuts, beans, grains, and even vegetables. The majority of barfies use milk or ghee as one of the main ingredients. Barfies are often lined with a thin layer of edible silver foil called vark, which is more of a decoration and make the barfies glitter. Very occasionally, edible gold foil is also used, but only on special requests from wealthy customers.

is a round ball that looks quite a bit like a chocolate truffle. The most common laddu is boondi laddu. It is made with besan (chickpea flour) that is fried into tiny balls, soaked in syrup, and formed into balls. Halwaies makes the best boondi laddu. Then there are laddus made with whole wheat flour (atta) or besan (chickpea flour). These laddus are often made at home using family recipes.

Halwa varieties are limitless. The most popular halwa is made with cream of wheat and is served in temples as communion. The best way to describe halwa is a very thick pudding. The majority of halwas use ghee and milk as the main ingredient. Halwa made with carrots, mung beans, and almond, are some of the other popular halwas.

literally translates to pudding but should not be confused with Western pudding, as it has a very different in taste and texture. Indian kheers are primarily made with milk, and then anything can go into a kheer, rice being the most common. See Rice Kheer recipe below.

Other Mithais: There is an array of mithais that do not fall into the above four categories, such as Jalebi, a pretzel-shaped dessert soaked in syrup, gulab jamun (milk balls swimming in syrup), and rasagulla (fresh cheese boiled in syrup).

This is an excerpt from The Indian Vegan Kitchen, page 194. For more information, check out the chapter on Desserts in the book.

October 2013 Indian eRecipes Newsletter

Posted on 10/01/2013 at 1:30 PM


October 2013
Starting Blog

Dear Madhu,

I hope you had a great summer. The highlight of my summer was celebrating our mother’s 80th birthday. It was a great celebration and a family reunion. Mom was overwhelmed with joy and pride as the whole family, as well as her nieces and nephews, came to wish her a very Happy Birthday. She was one happy woman – well deserved.  

My biggest goal this summer was to revisit my newsletter and website. I have to confess, I procrastinated more than I want to admit. Every time I sat down to review, I found myself organizing, cleaning, and even paying bills. After much deliberation, I finally made one big decision; I will start a blog.

Introducing the Cuisine Of India Demystified blog

I wrote my first blog – You Do Need Spices. In the blog, I hope to take you on an Indian culinary journey. Check out the blog,

The best part of the blog will be readers’ interactions. Please feel free to leave your comments for each blog. You may subscribe to the blog and get regular updates.

September Recipes:

Recipes will now be part of the blog. The first recipe I’m highlighting is the most versatile Curried Potatoes, using the basic six spices. This is one of the most often cooked recipes in my family. It is great hot and cold. I always make a little extra so I can have some with my toast for breakfast the next day. Serve it as a side dish with your favorite meal.

Potatoes are used extensively in Indian cooking. They are inexpensive, keep at room temperature, and you can make variety of dishes in a hurry. My mother always kept potatoes on hand, and so do I. In India, people often dropped by unannounced, and often you would serve them a quick meal or snack. I can quickly make Curried Potatoes and serve it with paratha (pan fried flatbread) and plain yogurt – it is one of those comfort foods, leaving guests happy and satisfied.   

Curried Potatoes (Sukhe Aloo)

Happy and Healthy Cooking!  

Madhu Gadia

Copyright © 2013 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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You Do Need Spices

Posted on 09/06/2013 at 12:26 PM

Hello, everyone, this is my first blog. And naturally, it needs to start with spices.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people equate Indian curry with curry powder. Curry equals Indian food throughout the world. It’s not worth clarifying or discussing the nomenclature, “Curry” it is! But I do have a problem with curry powder.

If you want to make real, authentic Indian curry, you have to buy individual spices. 

What is Curry? Non-Indians often equate any dish in a yellow sauce as curry and use curry powder as the primary spice. Over the years, I have been asked numerous times, “Did you forget to add curry powder in Chicken Curry?” REALLY!

Curry powder you purchased is a spice blend that includes turmeric, which is the ingredient that makes dishes yellow, and four to six other spices. When used in dishes it will naturally make every dish have a similar color, taste, and flavor.

Most Indians do not own curry powder. For each dish, they use individual spices to create a different taste and flavor. If you want authentic flavors, you have to use individual spices.

By the way, if you love your curry powder, great; enjoy it in the recipes you like. But don't use it in all Indian recipes. Think it of it like chili powder; it's great for making chili, but not for all Mexican dishes.

Get Started:
The number of spices in Indian cooking can seem overwhelming to a newcomer. To begin, you don’t need to purchase every spice in the cookbook. Start with the basic spices and as you expand your repertoire of Indian dishes you can add to your spice pantry.

Basic Spices:
Cayenne Pepper
Cumin Seeds
Garam Masala
Ground Coriander
Brown Mustard Seeds

Asafetida (optional, yet it's an important spice as it helps with digesting beans)

And please don’t freak out about the number of ingredients; it really doesn’t take that much more time to add 5 spices vs. one curry powder. 

Let’s start with the most basic recipe, anytime favorite, the versatile potato curry, see below.

Copyright © 2019 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved