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Matkonation goes to India

November 17, 2011 matkonation No Comments

By: Deanna Linder

When I moved to Israel, within a few months I had altogether stopped wearing colors. My mom, being on the other side of the world, and worrying as a mother does, believed that I was depressed. That was far from the case.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it had something to do with the ever-so-colorful Israeli wardrobe that turned me off to colors all together. I even had a month-long fight with my boyfriend, when he insisted on bringing an every-color-of-the -rainbow rug to put in our living room.


Two years later, after moving to Israel, for love…my love decided he needed his “after-army” trip.  And there he went, to the Far-East, to find himself amongst the thousands of other young Israelis, finding themselves.  I joined him in India, where I didn’t necessarily find myself, but I did find my missing love of colors. Every possible shade of reds, pinks, blues, oranges and greens were everywhere; clothes, sunsets, jewelry, food, buildings. I came back to Israel, literally shining, after spending a month in a place where all of my senses were being constantly exercised.


I had always been a fan of Indian food, visiting the ever-so-popular all-you can eat buffets in L.A.as a kid, but being in India gave me a new found appreciation of the cuisine. I realized there that their ingredients were almost camouflage to their surroundings- the bright yellow turmeric, brown garam masala, red tikka meats.


Making Indian food may seem like a lot of work so let me give a few pointers:


-there are usually a lot of steps and ingredients in an Indian recipe, but the actually cooking times are relatively short, so it’s a good idea to have all of your mise en place  ready before actually starting to cook.


-unlike other Asian cuisines, Indian cuisine doesn’t necessarily require you have a ton of special ingredients at home. You will need your basic spices, such as turmeric, ground cilantro, ground cumin, and garam masala (which you can find today at every supermarket), and once you have those you shouldn’t have too long of a shopping list.


-Indian food is very heavy on the seasoning, so I tend to make a raita, a yogurt dip, every time I serve an Indian meal, which really balances out the flavors. The raita I made here was simply plain yogurt with finely grated zucchini but you can make it with other flavors such as grated ginger, scallions, cucumber tomatoes, mint or just serve plain yogurt seasoned with salt and pepper.


Carrot and Cashew Pulao (Pilaf)


This rice dish is tasty enough to serve on its own but neutral enough to serve alongside heavier seasoned meat/vegetable dishes. Ghee is clarified butter and can be found in Asian markets. If you can’t find ghee, you can replace with canola oil.


Ingredients for 6-8 servings:


2 cups basmati rice


1-2 spicy green chili peppers, coarsely chopped


3 garlic cloves


½-inch piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped


3 tablespoons water


3 tablespoons ghee/canola oil


1 bay leaf


2 carrots, peeled, cut lengthwise and then thinly sliced


1 red onion, halved and finely sliced


3 cardamom pods


3 whole cloves


2 one-inch cinnamon sticks


1 teaspoon whole peppercorns


Salt, according to taste


600 ml. chicken stock/water


3 tablespoons coconut milk


¼ cashews


¼ cup golden raisins






  1. Thoroughly wash rice until water is not cloudy and then let soak in a bowl full of water for 30 minutes and then drain.
  2. Place chili pepper, garlic, ginger and 3 tablespoons of water in a food processor or blender and blend to a paste.
  3. Heat the ghee/oil in a non-stick wide pan on medium-high heat and add the bay leaf, carrots and onions. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until softened and add the chili paste. Cook for another minute and add then add the rice, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns and salt and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the chicken stock/water, coconut milk and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and keep covered for 5 minutes. Mix in the cashews and raisins and serve.



Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower)


Ingredients for 6-8 servings:


6 tablespoons canola oil

1 large cauliflower, broken up into small florets


3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes


3 medium onions, finely chopped


1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips


2 medium tomatoes, grated


½ teaspoon cayenne pepper


½ teaspoon ground turmeric


1½ teaspoons ground coriander (cilantro)


1½ teaspoons salt


1 teaspoon garam masala


¼ cup water




  1. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick wok over high heat, add the cauliflower florets and cook for about 10 minutes, until golden and softened (but not fully cooked). Remove from wok and set aside for later use.
  2. Heat another two tablespoon of oil in the wok and add the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, until golden and softened (but not fully cooked). Remove from wok and set aside for later use.
  3. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil and add the onions and ginger and cook for about 7 minutes, until just golden. Add the tomatoes, cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander, and salt and cook for one minute.
  4. Add the cauliflower, potatoes, garam masala, and water and mix to combine. Cover, lower heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.



Chicken Tikka Masala


I tried this recipe twice, once making my own spice marinade, and the second time using a ready-made tikka paste. The difference was so minor that I suggest using the tikka masala paste to save time for this already lengthy recipe.  You can find tikka masala paste in specialty or Asian markets. To make this recipe kosher, replace the yogurt (for the marinade) and the heavy cream (in the sauce) with the same amount of coconut milk. Remove chicken from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking (I take it out of the fridge, and cook the sauce meanwhile).


 Ingredients for 6-8 servings:


For the marinade:


1 pound (500 grams), chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes


¼ cup ready-made tikka paste


1 cup plain yogurt


 For the sauce:


1 tablespoon ghee/butter

2 garlic cloves, minced


1 green chili pepper, finely chopped


2 teaspoons ground coriander


1 teaspoon ground cumin


1 teaspoon paprika


1 teaspoon garam masala


½ teaspoon salt


1 (8 ounce/ 225 grams) can crushed tomatoes


1 cup heavy cream


1 cup cilantro leaves (with stems)




  1. Place all ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
  2. Prepare the sauce: melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and chili pepper and cook for one minute.
  3. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala and salt and cook for one minute. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add the heavy cream and continue to cook on low heat until the chicken is ready.
  4. Prepare the chicken: heat a cast-iron grill pan or a barbeque, and cook chicken for about 8 minutes, turning over once, until cooked through.
  5. Add chicken to the sauce and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and serve.











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