Posted on 06/11/2010 at 03:44 PM by Madhu Gadia
I’ve had a fun and exciting last month launching The Indian Vegan Kitchen. I introduced my book to fellow dietitians at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Denver, Colorado. I also had a couple of book signings and just yesterday I did a cooking demo at the Iowa Dietetic Association Annual Meeting. Over 100 dietitians sampled the Black-Eyed Peas Dip and Peas-Mushroom Pilaf (recipes from The Indian Vegan Kitchen) and they gave them “two thumbs up.” I have been happily touting the fact that the October issue of The Oprah Magazine featured a recipe from my book. Affirmations are valuable to all of us.
What is a Curry? Indian food is often equated with the word curry. But then what is curry, a dish with a yellow sauce, or is it anything prepared with curry powder? Over the years I have been asked numerous times from cooks questions such as, “did you forget to add curry powder in Chicken Curry?” or “Where’s curry in Curried Onions which is a dish that doesn’t have any sauce. I can understand the confusion – let me attempt to clarify it here.
Curry powder is a spice blend that includes turmeric, which is the ingredient that makes dishes yellow. Curry powder has one flavor and it will make dishes have a similar color and taste. Most Indians do not use curry powder, and if they do it is for seasoning a particular dish. I do not use curry powder at all. For each dish, I use individual spices to create a different flavor and taste. For authentic flavors you too should use individual spices. Also, all Indian dishes are not in a sauce, for example Curried Onions in The Indian Vegan Kitchen (page 101) is spiced onions without any sauce. I called it Curried Onions basically because it has spices such as turmeric, ground coriander, and cumin—typical spices in a curry powder.
The Benefits of Spices: At the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo I attended a workshop on spices held at The International Culinary School in Denver sponsored by McCormick spices. Spices are being promoted for their health benefits because they contains antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals that cause damage to the cells. Spices have been shown to aid in digestion, fight infection, as well as prevent Alzheimer’s disease or treat type-2 diabetes. Today’s average American eats twice the amount of spices than twenty years ago. Spices are primarily being used because consumers are demanding more flavor and taste. Health is important but taste is still number one per consumer surveys. Thus chefs and culinary experts are working to incorporate spices into traditional American dishes such as cumin in potatoes and cayenne in chocolate. Scientists maybe just discovering the benefits of spices, but I can proudly say Indians have known the health-promoting benefits of spices for centuries. For uses and health benefits of individual spices see the Glossary of Spices, page 14, in The Indian Vegan Kitchen.
November Recipes: When it’s cold outside it’s comforting to eat warm nourishing foods. This month I’ve picked two recipes, one non-vegetarian and one vegan, that are best served hot over rice or with whole-wheat roti (flatbread). Chicken With Almonds And Raisins or Creamy Vegetable Stew will make any meal special. Both of these dishes taste and sound gourmet but are quick and easy to prepare. And the third recipe I picked is Spiced Chai Latte.
There is nothing like hot chai on a cold, blustery day to warm the body inside and out. Chai is the most popular and uniquely Indian beverage, which has swept the world in the last decade. Chai is brewed tea that is mixed with hot milk and sugar. Chai can be plain (still mixed with milk and sugar) or brewed with spices, masala chai. You can make your own chai spice blend as given in the recipe here or purchase it from an Indian grocery store. Chai Latte is basically chai with lots of milk. Enjoy the Spiced Chai Latte with milk or soymilk. Personally, I feel once you taste this chai, you will want to make it again and again; it’s healthier than pre-packaged chai lattes because you can control the amount of sugar and use the milk of choice for fraction of the cost of chai at the coffee shop.
Chicken With Almonds and Raisins (Mughlai Murgh)
Creamy Vegetable Stew (Subji Korma)
Spiced Chai Latte (Masala Chai)
Please don’t forget to email me if you see any reviews from The Indian Vegan Kitchen in a magazine or newspaper in your area.
I wish you all A Very Happy Thanksgiving. May you enjoy all your favorite seasonal foods and be surrounded with family and friends!
Happy and Healthy Cooking!