JULY 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida



India Cookbook, by Pushpesh PantEntice with Spice: Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People” by Shubhra Ramineni; 160 pages; $27.95; published by Tuttle Publishing

Calling the nearly 100 recipes in Shubhra Ramineni’s “easy to follow” is an understatement. Indeed, even a rookie in the kitchen will be able to comprehend and appreciate the authentic meals put together such as cheese and bell pepper skewers, roasted eggplant, creamed spinach with cheese cubes, easy shrimp curry, spiced cauliflower and potatoes, chickpea curry and oven baked lamb vindaloo curry. To wash the food down, the Houston-based cookbook author lists drinks and desserts like mango lassi, creamy sweet carrot dessert, and of course, sweet rice pudding. Accompanying each recipe are colorful photographs by Masano Kawana.

There are also chapters on cookware and tools, tips and techniques and essential Indian ingredients. So, if you are caught up in the day-to-day rut or if your son/daughter are just setting up their own kitchen and are looking to prepare simple authentic Indian dishes, Ramineni’s book belongs on your kitchen shelf.

Here are a couple of recipes from the book:

Simple Spiced Fish (Masala Machlee)

In this fish dish, I first marinate the fish in a lime juice marinade with carom seeds (aka “bishops weed” or ajwain in Hindi), and then I sauté the marinated fish in a masala (cooked tomatoes and onions) spiced with more carom seeds for a peppery punch. When making this dish, I use Tilapia since I prefer mild flavor fish, but you can use any boneless, skinless fish fillets of your choice. This dish goes best with Indian breads such as Chapati, Naan or Tandoori Roti, but you may also serve it along with Plain Boiled Rice or Cumin and Peas Rice.

Serves 3 to 4
Prep time – 10 minutes + 30 minutes marinating (you may marinate up to 1 hour in advance)
Cook time – 25 minutes
Refrigerator Life – 2 days
Reheating Method – Place the refrigerated fish in a skillet over medium-low heat and turn periodically. Or, place the fish in a microwave and turn periodically.


1. Wash the fish with cold water and cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces. Spread out the cut pieces in a wide dish.

2. Place the ingredients for the Marinade in a small bowl. Mix well. Pour half of the Marinade evenly over the fish pieces. Turn over the fish pieces and pour the rest of the Marinade over them. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.

3. Pour the oil into a large nonstick skillet and place over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the garlic, ginger and onion. Sauté until the onion is golden brown, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the tomato and cover the saucepan. Cook until the tomato becomes completely soft and mashed and is combined with the onion to form a coarse paste, stirring every minute or so and lightly mashing the tomato, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the carom seeds, turmeric, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Cook uncovered for 6 minutes, stirring frequently. This is the masala (spice base).

6. Add the fish and any excess Marinade to the skillet. Try not to overlap the fish pieces. Gently stir. Cook for 4 minutes. Gently turn all the pieces of fish. Cook until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 3 minutes. Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for later!

Sautéed Okra with Onions (Bhindi Pyaz)

Okra, known as “lady’s fingers” in India, has a beautiful fresh, bright green color and looks wonderful on the table. When buying fresh okra, avoid the flimsy, flexible ones. Look for crisp ones in which the tail end can be snapped off. Avoid the very hard okra that are over-ripe with brown seeds instead of the ideal white seeds. I also never cover okra when cooking because doing so will darken its color. Okra can be eaten with Indian breads, such as Chapathi, Naan or Tandoori Roti, or with Plain Boiled Rice or Cumin and Peas Rice, but it might be tricky to mix with rice since it does not have a curry consistency. Okra also goes very well with lentil dishes.

Serves 4

Prep time – 5 minutes (15 minutes if using fresh whole okra)
Cook time – 35 minutes
Refrigerator Life – 3 days
Freezer Life – 1 month
Reheating Method – Place the refrigerated or defrosted okra in a microwave and stir periodically. Or, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir periodically.

1. If you’re using frozen okra, do not defrost. If you’re using fresh okra, wash the okra and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Trim the tip and head and discard. Slice each okra into ¼-inch (6-mm) pieces.

2. Pour the oil into a large nonstick skillet and place over medium heat. (Place over high heat if using frozen okra.) When the oil is heated, add the okra and lime juice. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion, turmeric, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Sauté until the okra is tender and the onion becomes translucent, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes.

4. Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!

Okra Tip

Okra has a peculiar slimly substance to it that is released when the okra is cut and washed. The first time I cooked okra, I washed it after I chopped it and had slime everywhere! That is why it is important to wash it and pat dry before chopping to reduce the release of the sticky material. If you’re using frozen okra, it is best not to defrost it first, since it will become flimsy and release a lot of slimy substance. When okra is cooked with lime juice, the slime disappears as the okra cooks.

Recipes courtesy of Shubhra Ramineni from Indian cookbook, “Entice with Spice: Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People”www.enticewithspice.com Copyright © 2010 Shubhra Ramineni. All rights reserved.

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