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Indian Cuisine

made Easy

Vegetarian dishes any ABCD* can make

By Laxmi Jain & Manoj Jain MD

*American Born Confused (becoming Confident) Desis (countrymen)

ABCD is a term used for young Indian-Americans
Copyright 2004 By Laxmi Jain and Manoj Jain

This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced in any manner
whatsoever except for brief excerpts in a review of the book or as a provided by
law, without the written permission of the authors.

Please send comments and suggestions to:

Author contact:
Manoj Jain MD,, web site:-
6027 Walnut Grove Suite 312
Memphis, TN 38120
Tel: 901-681-0778

Laxmi Jain, web site:-

Cover and Typesetting by Ashi Jain -

Sketches by Kashmira Vora

Previous book by authors

We want to thank our extended families, who were instrumental in making this book
possible. Special thanks to Young Jains of America (YJA) for inspiring us to
write this book.

Dedicated to Young Jains of America, an organization that is transforming the lives of
thousands of youths and promotes the voice of nonviolence in a violent world.

This is what Jainism is: Jainism is a religion and a way of life.

For thousands of years, Jains have been practicing vegetarianism, yoga, meditation, and
environmentalism. Jains believe in the existence of Soul - in each living being - which is
eternal and divine. Jain philosophy has three core practices: Non-Violence,
Non-Absolutism, and Non-Possessiveness.

Non-Violence is compassion and forgiveness in thoughts, words, and deeds towards all
living beings. For this reason, Jains are vegetarians.

Non- Absolutism is respect for and seeking others’ views. Jains encourage dialogue and
harmony with other faiths.

Non-Possessiveness is balancing of needs and desires, while staying detached from these

We are all interdependent on each other and we can bring peace to our lives and to
those around us. Jains seek spiritual upliftment by practicing Non-Violence,
Non-Absolutism, and Non-Possessiveness.
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Introduction 11

Chapter 1 Why Indian cooking? 13

Columbus sailed across the oceans not to discover America but to search out a new route
for the exotic spices of India. Even after 500 years and the globalization of the world,
India has not lost its monopoly and proficiency on the savory spices of the East.
Once you have grown up in a household with Indian food or dined at an Indian
restaurant and had matar-paneer (peas with cheese squares) or kachori (stuffed deep fried
pastry), then it is difficult to revert your palate to the raw and boiled vegetables of an
American cafeteria meal. Ask any Indian-American college student.

Chapter 2 Why Vegetarian food? 15

There is one principle that is undeniably present in every culture, every religion,
every country, every individual and every living being. Some of us have a deep
understanding of this principle, though each one of us practices this universal principle
to a different degree. The principle is nonviolence, ahimsa, or universal love. Gandhi and
King practiced nonviolence to obtain freedom and civil rights. We practice nonviolence
to control our anger and words of hatred. And nonviolence can also be practiced at our
palates. Eating a vegetarian diet is saying to the world, “I have reverence for every
living being.” Vegetarian food is good for physical as well as spiritual health.

Chapter 3 Why Soy or Tofu in Indian Cooking? 19

My mom, the lead author of this book, is well known for her culinary skills in our
extended family and in the community. Among her experiments in cooking she stumbled
upon tofu. With each soy recipe she realized the large potential of soybeans.
Meanwhile, I was skeptical of soy. I said, “it’s probably some weird-tasting food which
scientists feed their laboratory rats.”

Mom was right. Soy and tofu have transformed many dishes of modern India.
Paneer, cheese square made from dairy milk, are high in cholesterol and fat, but can be
ubiquitously substituted by tofu, which is applauded for its nutritional content by the
general public. Almost every gourmet restaurant in New Delhi or New York has tofu in
its repertoire of dishes.
Chapter 4 Oh- Indian cuisine is so easy 23

Indian-Americans dubbed as ABCDs (American Born Confused -becoming Confident-

Desis) are growing in numbers. They crave Indian food from their mom’s kitchen, yet do
not have the time or the simple instructions to prepare an Indian meal. Our book is the
“User’s Manual of Indian Cooking,” sort of the “Idiot’s Guide to Indian Cooking” or
“Indian Cooking for Dummies.” The fact is that most of the people who will pick up this
book will be
students or college educated professionals, yet they will be novices in Indian cooking.
This book will change that. After trying just a few recipes presented in easy to follow flow
diagrams and artful illustrations, things will change. The same comfort you have in
turning on your PC and replying to your emails, you will have in making sabji
(vegetable), dal (lentil soup), rice and chappati (baked bread) for dinner tonight.

Chapter 5 Vegetables (Sabji) 29

Peas and Tofu Curry (Matar Paneer)

Peas and Tofu Curry using Microwave and Mix Masala (Matar Paneer)
Mixed–Vegetable Curry with Tofu (Navratan Curry)
Tofu Vegetable-Style (Tofu Sabji)
Tofu Vegetable using Microwave and Mix Masala (Tofu Sabji)
Spinach with Tofu (Palak Paneer)
Spinach with Tofu using Microwave and Mix Masala (Palak Paneer)
Cabbage with Tofu (Patta Gobhi Sabji)
Cabbage with Tofu using Microwave and Mix Masala (Patta Gobhi Sabji)
Broccoli with Tofu using Microwave and Mix Masala
Spinach with Tofu Stir Fried (Palak Sabji)
Fenugreek Leaves with Chick-pea Flour (Methi Sabji)
Radish Leaves with Chick-pea Flour ( Mooli Patte Sabji)
Green Tomatoes with Tofu (Kaccha Tamatar)
Green Tomatoes with Tofu using Microwave and Mix Masala (Kaccha Tamatar)
Stuffed Banana with Tofu (Bharwa Kela)
Spiced Banana using Microwave and Mix Masala (Kela Sabji)
Stuffed Cucumbers with Tofu (Bharwa Kakri)
Cucumber Stir Fried using Microwave and Mix Masala
Hot Chilies with Chick-pea Flour using Microwave and Mix Masala
Stuffed Okra with Chick-pea Flour (Bharwa Bhindi)
Stir Fried Okra using Microwave and Mix Masala (Bhindi Sabji)
Stuffed Squash with Tofu using Microwave and Mix Masala (Stuffed Turai)
Frozen Corn using Microwave and Mix Masala
Green Beans using Microwave and Mix Masala
Chapter 6 Rice and Lentils (Dal) 59

Tofu Rice
Tofu Rice using Microwave
Rice with Peas and Tofu (Matar Paneer Pulav)
Rice with Peas and Tofu using Microwave (Matar Paneer Pulav)
Yogurt Rice (Dahi Chawal)
Colorful Rice (Navratan Pulav)
Rice with Lentils (Plain Khichadi)
Rice and Lentils with Tofu (Tofu khichadi)
Fried Rice and Lentils (Bhooni Khichadi)
Fried Mung Lentils with Tofu (Mung Dal)
Fried Soy Lentils (Soy Dal)
Chick-pea Lentils using Microwave and Mix Masala (Chhole)
Dried Pigeon Peas (Toovar Dal)
Dried Pigeon Peas using Microwave (Toovar Dal)
Spicy Lentils with Tofu (Masala Masoor)
Spicy Lentils with Tofu using Microwave (Masala Masoor)
Five Lentil Soup (Panch Mel Dal)
Black Gram Lentils with Tofu (Urad Dal)
Lentils with Vegetables (Sambhar)
Curry using Microwave (Kadi)

Chapter 7 Breads 85

Deep Fried Bread (Poori)
Skillet Fried Bread (Paratha)
Spicy Bread (Micci Roti)
Crisp Puffed Bread (Naan)
Fried All-Purpose Flour Bread (Bhatura)
Stuffed Bread with Peas and Tofu (Matar Paratha)
Spinach Bread (Palak Paratha)
Chapter 8 Salads, Raita and Chutney 101

Cucumber, Tomato and Tofu Salad

Tomato and Tofu Salad
Coconut and Tofu Salad
Sweet and Sour Fruit Salad
Cucumber and Tofu Salad
Spinach and Tofu Salad
Cabbage and Tofu Salad

Spinach and Tofu Raita

Zucchini and Raisin Raita with Tofu
Cucumber Raita
Tomato Raita
Sweet Banana Raita

Tomato Chutney
Unripe Mango Chutney
Coriander and Tofu Chutney
Coconut Chutney

Chapter 9 Drinks and Desserts 119

Banana Shake
Milk with Saffron and Nuts
Mango Shake
Spicy Soy Drink (Thandai)
Pineapple Shake
Sweet Yogurt Drink (Sweet Lassi)
Salty Yogurt Drink (Salty Lassi)
Mint Lemonade

Tofu Cheese Diamonds (Tofu Burfi)

Tofu Coconut Diamonds (Tofu Khopra Burfi)
Tofu Chocolate Diamonds (Tofu Chocolate Burfi)
Rice Pudding using Microwave with Soy Milk (Kheer)
Vermicelli Pudding with Soy Milk (Sevaiyan Kheer)
Pineapple Pudding (Pineapple Sandesh)
Fruit Cream
Yogurt with Fruits
Yogurt Pudding (Shrikhand)
Sour Cream Pudding (Shrikand)
Cracked Wheat Pudding with Soy Milk (Daliya)
Soybean Pudding (Soybean Halva)
Zucchini Pudding (Louki Halva)
Zucchini Pudding using Microwave (Louki Halva)
Mango Pudding (Mango Kalakand)
Sweet Diamonds (Meetha Shakarpara)
Sweet Chick-pea Flour Balls (Laddu)
Sweet Chick-pea Flour Balls using Microwave (Laddu)

Chapter 10 Cookies and Cake 147

Biscuits (Naan Khatai)

Chocolate Pinwheels
Soybean Cookies
Oakmeal Cookies

Sponge Cake
Pineapple upside-down Cake
Chocolate Cake
Banana Cake

Chapter 1 1 Appetizers 159

Crunchies (Mathari)
Flour Spicy Crunchies (Namkeen Shakarpara)
Roasted Soybeans
Savory Vegetable Fritters (Vegetable Pakoras)
Mung Fritters (Mung Dal Pakoras)
Banana Balls with Peanuts and Tofu (Kela Bada)
Banana Patties with Tofu (Kela Tofu Tikki)
Pastry Stuffed with Tofu and Peas (Matar Kachori)
Patties in Yogurt (Dahi Bada)
Steamed Soybean Muffins (Soy Idli)
Spicy Cake (Khaman Dhokla)
Lentil- Rice Pancakes (Uttapam)
Cream of Wheat with Tofu and Vegetables using Microwave (Upma)
Flattened Rice using Microwave (Poha)
Mixed Vegetables with Buns using Microwave (Pav Bhaji)
Chapter 12 International Dishes- Indian Style 177

Pizza with Ricotta

Pizza with Mint Sauce
Burritos Stuffed with Stir Fried Vegetables
Taco Appetizer with Corn using Microwave
Corn Tofu Snack
Macaroni with Vegetables and Mint
Cereal Mix Bhel
Rice Cakes Patties using Microwave

Suggestions and Menus

Weights, Measurement ,Temperatures, and Time
Glossary of Hindi Terms
An Email to my daughter:

Hi Sapna:

Hope your test went OK. You’ll do fine. Don’t worry.

I know you are young, and you have lots of important things to think about. You have
more tests, college, calculus, term papers and future job opportunities. But, I just want
you to remember a few things from your Mom and Dad.

The academic, career, and financial successes in life will make everyone proud, but they
are of little value if you do not have pleasure and peace at home. As an adult you will
juggle many priorities and will still have to weave a family. One ingredient in weaving a
family is food. We eat everyday - three times a day. Our ancestors have done the same.
What we eat, speaks of who we are and where we have come from and where we are
going. Be mindful of what you eat. Be sure it is ecological, wholesome and nutritious,
most of all, be sure it is respectful to all living beings.

You can eat out only so often. Eating out is like going to a hotel. It is fun once in a while,
but then you yearn for home. So build the basic skills of cooking at home. It’s easy.
Honest. And, it’s a lot a fun. Cooking may not get you a job promotion or a raise,
but you will get many praises and self-satisfaction.

Use cooking as an activity to bond the family not a chore to divide the family.
Experiment with your cooking i.e. add ketchup to your tarka or curried vegetable.
(Remember, when we did this with our chick-peas sabji, and Mom could not figure out
why it tasted so good). Converse while you cook, and converse over dinner.

Oh yes, and when you have found some new and unique recipes - share them - write a
cookbook. Good luck my “American Born Confident Desi”- ABCD.
Love you.

April 2004


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Chapter 1
Why Indian Cooking?
You can ask any Indian-American college student. Once you have grown up in a
household with Indian food or dined at an Indian restaurant and had matar paneer
(peas with cheese squares) or cucumber raita (yogurt), then it is difficult to revert your
palate to the raw and boiled vegetables of an American cafeteria meal.

Even Columbus sailed across the oceans not to discover America, but to search out a
new route for the exotic spices of India. After 500 years and the globalization of the
world, India has not lost its monopoly and proficiency on the uses of the savory spices
of the East.

The hundreds of spices of India can be simplified to less than ten. Open up your mom’s
steel spice container or spice cabinet and to your surprise you will find these hidden
treasures there. Learn them because they are the tools of the trade. A new device like a
mouse, printer, scanner, or a web cam enhances the repertoire of the activities of our
computer; similarly each new spice enhances the savory flavor of our dishes.
Imagine using your computer without a mouse or a printer.

If you were to take the European Union and form one nation - it would be much like
India. Each region with its own culture, customs, language and of course its unique
cuisine. In India, the Gujaratis make khaman dhokla (spicy cake) while Punjabis are
experts at chhole and batura (chick-peas and fried bread). South Indians have rice
instead of bread as the main accompaniment to each vegetable. Yet, even with many
differences, Indian cooking has the following spices in common plus a lot more.



CUMIN SEEDS (J eer a) are related to the parsley family. The cumin seeds,
which are either brown or black in color, can be used either whole or ground.

MUSTAR D SEEDS (R ai ) Brown mustard seeds used in Indian cooking come from
a large shrub, Brassica jucea, and add a pungent spicy taste to the meal.

COR IAN DE R POW DER (Dhaniya) come from round seeds that are dried to a
dark yellow brown color and ground to produce the spice. Coriander powder is
an essential ingredient for the gravy in most Indian dishes. Coriander leaves are
an herb plant that has leaves (cilantro) which is popular for making chutneys
and also garnishing vegetable dishes.

TURM ERIC (Haldi) is a member of the ginger family and is known for its
medicinal qualities. The fresh underground root is bright orange inside but
when dried and crushed for cooking, it imparts a distinctive yellow color and a
mild warm flavor to a variety of dishes. It is an essential ingredient in the
preparation of vegetables (sabji) and curry powder.

R ED CHILI POW DE R (lal m ir chi) can vary from being mild to fire hot, so you
need to be careful how much you use. The red chili powder gives color and taste
to any dish.

BAY LEAVES (tej patta) are used worldwide in classic and contemporary
cuisines to flavor rice and vegetable dishes. They are added to soups, casseroles,
marinades and sautéed foods. Remember to remove bay leaves before serving
as they are tough to eat and quite strongly flavored.

GAR AM M AS AL A means “hot spices” and contains a unique blend of black

pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamom, dried chilies, fennel,
mace, nutmeg and other spices.

CURR Y POW DER is not one spice but a mix of cumin seeds, ground coriander
seeds, fenugreek, ginger, turmeric, dill seeds, black pepper, red pepper, mace,
cardamom, and cloves. The powder has an aromatic smell, rich golden color and
an exotic flavor. Curry powder is what is most often associated with Indian

ASAFETIDA (he eng ) is a powdered gum resin that imparts a strong onion-garlic
flavor to Indian dishes. Be careful and use it sparing.

Chapter 2
Why Vegetarian Food?
There is one principle that is undeniably present in every culture, every religion,
and every individual. Each of us understands this principle differently. Each one of us
practices this universal principle to a different degree, but when it is practiced to its full
potential, its impact on our lives and on the world is limitless. The principle is
nonviolence, ahimsa, or universal love.

Gandhi and King practiced nonviolence to obtain freedom and civil rights. Many of us
practice nonviolence to control our anger and words of hatred towards others. Billions of
people in the world practice nonviolence by choosing not to harm or kill animals for
food. Eating a vegetarian diet is saying to the world, “I have reverence and compassion
for every living being.” There are many reasons to be vegetarian but being respectful to
all life is probably the most important.

Albert Schweitzer, a German physician and scholar wrote in 1915 how respect for life
struck him as a universal principle.

At sunset of the third day, near the village of Igendja, we moved along an island in the middle of the
wide river. On a sandbank to our left, four hippopotamuses and their young plodded along in our same
direction. Just then, in my great tiredness and discouragement, the phrase “Reverence of Life” struck me
like a flash. As far as I knew, it was a phrase I had never heard nor ever read. I realized at once that it
carried within itself the solution to the problem that had been torturing me. Now I knew a system of
values which concerns itself only with our relationship to other people is incomplete and therefore lacking
in power for good. Only by means of reverence for life can we establish a spiritual and humane
relationship with both people and all living creatures within our reach. Only in this fashion can we avoid
harming others, and, within the limits of our capacity, go to their aid whenever they need us.

Ethical reasons for being vegetarian

Peter Singer, an Australian philosopher, in his book Animal Liberation (1975), makes an
argument that the mistreatment of animals today is similar to the racial and gender
inequality of the past. Centuries ago no one could have imagined giving women and
blacks equal rights. Similarly, in the near future we will realize the injustice we are doing
as a society by inflicting pain and suffering to animals for our pleasure.


Nutritional reasons for being vegetarian
No one makes a stronger case for the nutritional benefits of a vegetarian diet than John
Robbins in his book The Food Revolution – How your diet can help save your life and the world.
The facts are:

Vegetarians have half the risk of death from heart disease compared with

Vegetarians have a blood cholesterol level 14 percent lower than non-vegetarians.

(161 vs. 210)

Average blood pressure for vegetarians is 112/69 compared with non-vegetarians


Dean Ornish’s diet includes very low-fat whole foods, and a vegetarian
(near-vegan) diet

Breast cancer rates are three times higher in women who ate lots of animal
products compared with those women who did not. (Italian study)

British vegetarian men had a rate of lung cancer 27 percent less than the
general British population.

Ecological reasons for being vegetarian

We only have one planet. Francis Moore Lappe in her book, Diet for a Small Planet, unveils
the facts of how we continuously abuse it. Her book has made millions of people aware
that raising animals for food is extremely wasteful of land, grain, water, energy, and other
resources, especially when millions still die of hunger in both the United States and over-

Some facts:

Two-thirds of harvested grain in the U.S. and 37% worldwide is fed to animals
destined for slaughter

It take 2.5 acres of land to produce food energy needs for 1 person eating beef
yet the same land could feed 17 people if used for corn or 23 people if used for

About 77 percent of US corn is eaten by livestock and only 2 percent by people.

Spiritual and religious reasons for being vegetarian
Roots of vegetarianism can be found in almost all the major religions. Among Western
religions there is meatless Friday for Christians. In Islam, a verse from the Koran shows
the respect we must have for animals. All creatures on earth are sentient beings.
"There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings - but they are
communities like you." (The Quran, 6:38)

The Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism place great emphasis on
vegetarianism. Over half of the 900 million Hindus in the world are vegetarians and all
of the Jains are vegetarians. This is because of a deep belief in the principle
of nonviolence.

Jains take vegetarianism one step further. They wish not to harm plants, so they will
avoid any food that is a root vegetable. If you will notice closely, the root vegetable
recipes are absent in this cookbook. This is due to respect for plant life. My grandfather,
a devout Jain, does not eat carrots, radishes, potatoes and other root vegetable in order to
minimize the violence toward the world.

The tradition of eating selected vegetable foods can be found in Hinduism. In ancient
times food was divided into two kinds, satwik and rajsik. Satwik was the food that was more
inclined toward spirituality and health. It included vegetables and fruits but not onions,
garlic, root vegetables, and mushrooms. The rajsik food was everything else
even including meats (other than beef).


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Chapter 3
Why Soy or Tofu
in Indian Cooking?
My mom, and the lead author of this book, is well known for her culinary skills in our
extended family and in the community. Among her experiments in cooking she
uncovered the secret of soy. With each soy recipe she realized the tremendous potential
of soy, tofu and soymilk. Meanwhile, I was skeptical of soy. I said, “it’s probably some
weird-tasting food which scientists feed their laboratory rats.”

I began my own experiments with soybeans. As a medical student I received a $3,800

grant to test pilot my mother’s newly found secret. Near our hometown in India, soy was
being grown as a cash crop, but not being used as a direct food product. With an
affiliation from a local organization, we conducted training programs in 10 villages on
the high nutritional value, low cost and easy preparability of soybean. The villagers were
amazed. In the following years we received a $ 250,000 grant from the US Agency for
International Development to expand the program to 110 villages.

Mom was right. Soy and tofu have transformed many dishes of modern India.
Paneer, or cheese squares, made from dairy milk and high in cholesterol and fat, is now
ubiquitously substituted by tofu, which is applauded for its nutritional content by the
general public. Almost every gourmet restaurant in New Delhi or New York has tofu in
its repertoire of dishes.

The many preparations of soybean and tofu

Soybean is one of the most versatile foods. Read any food label and soy, in one of its
many forms, will be present. The reason for this is its high protein, low saturated fat,
and cholesterol free content. Soybeans can be made into flour, oil, milk, tofu, yogurt,
miso, and tempeh just to name a few products.

Soy foods have customarily been considered “bland and tasteless”. And it’s true, raw tofu
tastes like dough. But, just as dough can be baked into a delicious loaf of bread, tofu and
other soy foods can come alive in a variety of dishes. You can achieve this exotic taste,
texture and color in soy foods by combining them with the spices of India.


Spices transform soy’s simple taste into a tantalizing cuisine. Tofu when soaked in curry
or mixed with spiced vegetables absorbs the rich taste in its every pore, becoming a
delectable meal. A simple lettuce and cucumber salad turns into a raging high protein
low calorie tofu salad. Chappati bread made with whole wheat is doubled in its protein
content when made partially from soy flour. The possibilities are endless.

Soybeans are rightly praised for their nutritive qualities. Of all the plant products on this
earth, they have the highest protein content. Soybeans are 40 percent protein, 35 percent
carbohydrate, 20 percent fat, and the remaining 5 percent minerals.

The 40 percent protein content of soybeans is extremely beneficial to the vegetarian diet.
Protein is important for the repair and growth of the body, especially muscles, blood,
brain and heart, and is essential for growing children. If there is protein deficiency in the
diet, the child will be stunted in his mental and physical development. Just 100 to 120
grams of soy is ample to provide a growing child with the adequate amount of protein.
The child would need to eat twice as many lentils to get the same amount of protein.
In addition, soybean protein has all eight essential amino acids that our bodies need.
No other plant protein can meet these criteria.

Carbohydrates provide some of the energy needed for our body to function. This energy
can be in the form of sugar, which is instantly utilized, or starch which is slowly digested.
In diseases such as diabetes a high sugar content is unhealthy, and patients must limit
their carbohydrate intake. Soybeans are low in carbohydrates and high in protein and
fiber content, hence ideal for diabetic patients. Tofu, for example, has one of the lowest
calorie-to-protein ratios.

Comparison of nutrition in 100 grams of milk (in percent)

Nutritive Values of Milk

Soy Milk Cow's Milk Breast Milk

Water 88.6 88.6 88.6
Protein 4.4 2.9 1.4
Calories 52 59 62
Fat 2.5 3.3 3.1
Carbohydrate 3.8 4.5 7.2
Calcium mg. 18.5 100 35
Phosphorus 2.5 36 15
Iron mg. 1.5 0.1 0.20

Source: Standard Tables of Food Composition (Japan)

Fat is the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. The fat from soybeans can be
extracted in the form of soy oil. The quality of soy oil surpasses that of other oils in that
it has the two essential fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic) required by the body.

It is very high in polyunsaturates and contains no cholesterol. In contrast, meat and
animal shortenings, such as lard, contain saturated fats which elevate blood serum
cholesterol, linked to heart disease and hypertension.

Soybeans contain important minerals such as lecithin, which interacts with bile to reduce
free-floating cholesterol in the blood-stream, hence again reducing the risk of heart
disease. Although an enzyme called trypsin inhibitor is found in raw soybeans, inhibiting
the absorption of protein in the body, it is easily and quickly destroyed by the
heat of cooking.

This high quality of nutrition in soybeans is found in most of its products, such as soy
milk, tofu, and soy yogurt. The table above soy milk with cow's milk and breast milk.
Soy milk is high in protein and iron. Soy milk is an excellent alternative for children who
have lactase deficiency and cannot digest cow's milk. Furthermore, in many individuals
the ability to digest lactose (milk sugar) decreases as they get older, resulting in gas
cramps and indigestion after drinking cow milk. Soy milk provides better nutrition and
causes no indigestion.

The nutritional value of soy foods can best be appreciated when the basic soy foods are
incorporated in our regular diet. A study done by scientists showed that when soybeans
were added to Indian foods such as chappati or dal the protein content increased
tremendously. The comparative values of soybean and non-soybean food are shown in
the table below.

Nutritive Value of Various Recipes

Recipes Amount Protein Fat Carbohydrate Calories

per servings gm. gm. gm.
Chappati 4 Chappaties 18.40 5.26 59.70 358
(20% soy flour)100 gm.
Chappati 4 Chappaties 11.80 1.50 71.2 346
(No soy flour) 100 gm.
Salad (soy) 100 gm. 11.0 4.8 9.85 211.5
Salad (no soy) 100 gm. 1.8 - 7.45 206.0
Cutlets (soy 2 cutlets 11.60 5.11 11.4 137
potato patties) (68 gm.)
Cutlets (no soy) 2 cutlets 1.21 2.15 12.8 54
(68 gm.)
Chakki(soy sweet) 100 gm. 21.80 9.80 57.95 407
Chakki 100 gm. 13.40 20.4 60.8 475
(ground nut sweet)

The nutritive value of traditional recipes with and without soybean supplements.
Source: Walker et al., JNKW Research Journal, Vol. 11, No. I and 2, 1977


Without a doubt, soybeans is an ideal food for vegetarians. The high protein content
allays the fears of a protein-deficient diet among new vegetarians.

So in conclusion, soybeans are high in both quality and quantity of proteins, contain no
cholesterol, no saturated fat, have a low calorie-to-protein ratio and are the ideal food for
vegetarians, heart disease patients and those on a special diet. The nutritional contents of
soy are almost too good to be true, and it makes one wonder, "Why have soybeans not
been used much until now?" The answer is simple. Basic soy foods such as soy milk, soy
flour, tofu, or indigenous soy recipes were never introduced to many parts of the world,
including India - that is, until now. Your new knowledge will be bound to impress
family and friends.

Chapter 4
Oh - Indian cuisine is so easy!
Today, every city in America and Europe has an Indian restaurant. Also, the number of
second generation, Indian-Americans, dubbed as the ABCD (American Born Confused,
becoming Confident, Desis- countrymen) are growing. They wish for the Indian food of
their mom’s kitchen, yet do not have the time or the simple instructions to prepare an
Indian meal. Even the recent immigrants dubbed as FOBs (Fresh Off the Boat) often shy
away from cooking.

Our book is the “User’s Manual of Indian Cooking,” sort of the “Idiot’s Guide to Indian
Cooking” or “Indian Cooking for Dummies.” The fact is - that most of the people who
will pick up this book will be highly accomplished college educated doctors, engineers or
business professionals, yet they will be novices in Indian cooking.
This book will change that.

After trying just a few recipes presented in easy to follow flow diagrams and artful
illustrations, the misconception that Indian cooking is hard to do will be history.
The same comfort you have in turning on your PC and replying to your emails, you will
have in making roti (baked bread), sabji (vegetable), dal (lentil soup) and rice for
dinner tonight. First, there are a few techniques, tricks, and concepts one must learn
about Indian cooking.

What is a Tarka/Bagar/Chonk?
Tarka, Bagar and Chonk are three different Hindi words that describe the same thing,
the instant seasoning and tempering of any dish. Once I learned this technique, while I
was a college student, I felt I had found the secret key to Indian cooking.

Tarka (this term will be used, though the other two terms, Bagar and Chonk, can be sub-
stituted) is when spices and herbs, namely cumin seeds and sometimes mustard seeds, are
added to hot oil or ghee (Indian butter). The hot oil extracts the essential flavors of the
spices and blends it with the vegetable or lentils.

The tarka is usually added to the beginning of preparing the vegetable dish and at the
end of preparing the lentil (daals) dish. The fun part is the list of spices you want to add
to the tarka. Most often one uses cumin seeds and asafetida for vegetable dishes.
For lentils (daals) mustard seeds are also added. Mustard seeds “pop” in the hot oil, so
have a lid nearby to avoid the popping seeds from escaping the pan. According to taste
you can add tomatoes to the tarka.
What is masala and when do I add it?
Masala just means a mixture of spices. The tarka only adds a few spices to the dish,
but many others cannot be added to the tarka because they are gentle and powdered and
will burn quickly in the hot oil. The masala is mixed with the vegetables after the tarka is
added. The masala consists of the basics: Salt, red pepper powder (lal mirchi), turmeric
(haldi) - which gives it the yellow curry color, and coriander powder (daniya) -which gives
substance and taste to the dish.

Mix Masala - one spice fits all

During our cooking classes and demonstrations we give samples of spices to our
attendees to try our tasteful recipes at home. Not only did it become cumbersome for us
to distribute four different spices, but we discovered that our attendees often forgot the
right proportions of spices to add. So we decide to make a Mix Masala of four main
spices mixed together in one package. It was a great success. Over 1000 Mix Masala
samplers were gone in just a few hours at the Boston Vegetarian Society
cooking demonstration.
Here is how you can make your own mix masala once and use it again and again for up
to 10 vegetable recipes.

Mix Masala
1 cup coriander powder
2 tablespoons salt (according to taste)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (according to taste)
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
pinch of asafetida (optional)

1 cup coriander powder
2 tablespoons salt (according to your taste)
1 tablespoon chili powder (according to your taste)
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
pinch of asafetida (optional)

1 cup coriander powder
2 1/2 teaspoons salt (according to taste)
2 tablespoons chili powder (according to your taste)
1 1/4 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
pinch of asafetida (optional)

The main spices in the mix masala are included in almost every vegetable recipe.
Other spices are used selectively for certain dishes. For example, garam masala is added
to create a strong spicy taste, while amchure (mango powder) is added for a tart taste.

Once you have prepared the mix masala, cooking becomes simple, there is no vagaries
and indecision about which spice to add and what proportion to add it in. Just mix
everything together, much like a cake mix or taco sauce powder, and cook in the
microwave. Presto within a few minutes the meal is ready to eat.

How much of each spice do I use?

This is important. Just as too much rain can cause a flood and not enough can cause a
drought, adding any spice disproportionately to a dish will result in an instant disaster.
So if you are not using mix masala, here is the big picture of proportions of spices for an
average dish. Notice how there is a logarithmic difference in proportions between
turmeric to cumin seeds to salt to coriander powder from 1/4 to 1/2 to 1 to 2 teaspoons.
Even the chefs of ancient India were mathematicians.

Proportions of Spices in a Usual Vegetable Preparation

Add in teaspoons
Coriander powder (dhaniya) – usually 2 teaspoons
Salt - usually 1 or 1 1/2 teaspoons

Add in smaller amounts

Cumin seeds (jeera)– 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard seeds (rai) – 1/2 teaspoon

Add in even smaller amounts

Turmeric (haldi)- 1/4 teaspoon
Red pepper powder (lall mirchi) – 1/4 teaspoon (less for gentle palates)

Add a pinch
Asafetido (heeng)

Microwave or traditional
In India as a child I remember when all the meals were cooked on a sigadi (coal stove).
Then came the bright red tanks with cooking gas and then the electric stoves. To add to
our comforts, now we have microwaves, and it would be a shame not to take advantage
of the ease of the microwave with the delights of Indian cooking.

Microwave cooking is simple. A vegetable dish, sabji, can be prepared by mixing oil,
vegetable and mix masala and cooking in the microwave for 5-10 minutes. An added
advantage is that you can cook and serve in the same glass dish and cut your
dishwashing time in half.
This icon is for all recipes that use the microwave.

This icon is for recipes that are easy to make.

Tortilla maker overtakes rolling

Making Indian breads can be a challenge, especially rolling perfect round circles from a
dough ball. Often when I roll, the balls turn into the shape of India, America or
Australia. But all that has changed with the tortilla maker. This appliance is a great asset
in making chappatis, rotis, naan and parathas.All you need to do is to take small dough
balls and press them with the tortilla maker and presto - perfect circles every time, and
then you bake, fry or skillet heat your bread.

Over time we will no longer have American Born Confused Desis, rather we will have
American Born Confident Desis: Individuals who have conviction in their faith, depth in
their knowledge and strength in their character.

Step 1 Cook lentils
Add cumin seeds
Stove Crock Micro + mustard seeds
Pressure Step 1
wave + tomatoes
cooker heat pot Make Tarka to hot oil

Step 2 Add vegetables

Step Add cumin seeds
Make + mustard seeds
Tarka + bay leaves

Add Masala
Step 3

Dry Curried
Step 3 Add tarka to lentils Vegetabl Vegetable
Step 4


Add flour
Step 1 + salt
Make dough + water
Step 1 Wash rice
+ oil

Step 2. Make balls

Soak rice
and roll
Step 2 in 1:2 ratio
Rice : Water

Step 3
Skillet fried Oven baked
Skillet baked Deep fried
Boil on high heat
Step 3
then simmer
Chappat Paratha Poori Naan
Graphic from

Melody page 62
Chapter 5
Vegetables (Sabji)
The heart of an Indian meal is the vegetable dish, and its success and failure of a savory
taste is dependent on the perfect mix of spices. Each vegetable acquires a different taste
with the same set of spices. For example, matar paneer (peas and tofu curry) has an
elegant and rich taste, while kela sabji (spiced banana using a microwave and mix
masala) has a sweet-sour taste.

Vegetable dishes come in three major forms: dry, curried and stuffed. Dry vegetables
have little or no water, curried vegetables have 1-2 cups gravy, and stuffed vegetables can
be filled with tofu to boost their protein content.

Mix masala (see chapter 4 on how to make it) can simplify the preparation of any
vegetable dish. Four spices are turned into one and the vegetable dish is an instant
success! Mix masala not only saves storage space for multiple spices but also eases the
uncertainty of proportions for the novice chef.

The benefits of the microwave are bountiful. Vegetables can be prepared and elegantly
served in one glass bowl. The length of time in microwave cooking may vary due to the
power of your microwave, so be cautious.

The flow diagram outlines the four easy steps to preparing a vegetable dish.
First, you make the tarka, then add the vegetables, then add the masala, and then cook.
Microwave vegetables are even easier to make. Just mix all the ingredients and cook in
the microwave.

All these vegetable dishes will make you ask for a second helping. The vegetables are an
excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, while tofu provides a high protein,
low calorie supplement.



Add cumin seeds

Step 1.
Make Tarka + mustard seeds
2 Min.
+ tomatoes

to hot oil

Step 2. Add desired vegetables

Add vegetables
2 Min. to tarka

Add coriander
Step 3.
+ turmeric
Add Masala
2 Min. + chili powder
+ salt

Step 4.
Cook Cook Add water
5-10 Min.

Dry vegetables Curried vegetables

Suggestions and menus
Here are some suggestions to help sort through the many questions you may have as you
adventure in Indian cooking.

Choice of Tofu: There are many kinds of tofu, each one works best with a
different dish.
Soft: Soft tofu is good for sweets, raita and whenever you have to blend tofu
in the recipe.
Firm:: Firm tofu is good in vegetable dishes. It absorbs the spices very nicely.
Extra Firm: This works well for frying or grilling, and when the tofu has to hold its shape
in big chunks.
In a vegetable dish, you can use any type of tofu. For beginners, it is a good idea to
chop or crumble the tofu so it mixes easily with the spices.

Microwave Dishes: The symbol signifies dishes which are prepared in the
microwave. Be sure to determine the best timings for your microwave.
The times given are for 900W microwave. Be sure to use appropriate
dishwares for the microwave.

Easy Dishes: This symbol signifies dishes which are easy to prepare.
For the novice cook this would be the place to start.

Nutritional Content: The nutritional analysis is calculated using Recipe Calc v4.0
software. The RDA is calculated based on 2200 calories and 50 grams protein
requirement per day. Servings are based on the dish being one part of a complete meal.
Time is based on both preparation and cooking time.


This is an incomplete version of the original
book(197pages). We have not included the
recepies in this electronic version.
Please log on to our website to order your copy
The following are some of the suggested menus for a traditional meal. A complete
Indian meal, thali, has bread, a curried vegetable, a stuffed vegetable, a dry vegetable,
rice, lentils (dal), salad, raita, chutney and a dessert.

Light Meals
Any of the following four sets of recipes will make a wonderful light meal.

Dried Pigeon peas (Toovar Dal)
Tofu rice
Stir Fried Okra (Bindi Sabji)
Cucumber, Tomato and Tofu Salad ( Kakri and Tamatar Salad with Tofu)
PineApple Pudding (Pineapple Sandesh)

Stuffed Bread with Peas and Tofu (Matar Paratha)

Cucumber Raita with Yogurt
Coriander and Tofu Chutney (Dhania Chutney)

Rice and Lentils with Tofu (Tofu Khichadi)

Curry (Kadi)
Cabbage and Tofu Salad
Unripe Mango Chutney

Steamed Soybean Muffins (Soy Idli) or Lentil-Rice Pancakes (Uttapam)

Lentils with Vegetables (Sambhar)
Coconut Chutney

Heavy Meals
Skillet Fried Bread (Paratha)
Spicy Lentils with Tofu (Masala Masoor)
Rice with Peas and Tofu (Matar Paneer Pulav)
Sweet Banana Raita
Cabbage with Tofu (Patta Gobhi Sabji)
Stuffed Okra with Chick-pea Flour
Spinach and Tofu Salad
Mango Pudding (Mango Kalakand)

Chappati or Naan
Five-Lentil soup (Panch Mel)
Spinach with Tofu (Palak Paneer)
Cucumber Stir-Fried
Tomato Raita
Sweet-and-Sour Fruit Salad
Coriander and Tofu chutney
Zucchini Pudding (Louki ka Halva)

Special Meals
Deep Fried Bread (Poori)
Banana Balls with Peanuts and Tofu (Banana Bada)
Colorful Rice (Navaratan Pulav)
Peas and Tofu Curry (Matar Paneer)
Stuffed Okra with Chick-pea Flour (Bharwa Bhindi)
Cucumber, Tomato and Tofu Salad
Rice Pudding with Soy Milk (Kheer)

Fried Bread (Bhatura)

Rice with Peas and Tofu (Matar Paneer Pulav)
Chick-peas Lentils (Chhole)
Cucumber Raita
Sweet and Sour Fruit Salad
Coriander and Tofu Chutney
Soybean Pudding (Soybean Halva)


Weights, Measures,
Temperatures and Times
As taste and eating habits vary, similarly cooking methods for the same recipe can be
very different. A recipe is usually a guiding stick and depending on one's taste there is
considerable room for creativity and intuition. As one knows from experience, these are
only recommended proportions and after some trial and error you can easily "tweek" the
ingredients and cooking style to suit your family. Often in this book we have mentioned
"according to taste"; these guidelines are meant to encourage you to experiment.
Weight measurements are given in the recipes. A novice should take the time to weigh
the ingredients to insure consistent taste and quality in a particular dish. However,
a seasoned cook can usually eyeball the weight. A few simple precautions should be
taken, however, when measuring with cups and spoons:
1. Fill the cup with dry ingredients and pass the edge of a knife over the top to
level off
2. When measuring the sifted flour, do not pack the cup tightly.
3. Melt the fat and then measure it.
4. When measuring tofu, cup should not be packed tightly. Fill with tofu and press lightly
by hand.
5. Vegetables and other ingredients should not be packed tightly, just press very
lightly by hand.

3 Teaspoons =1 Tablespoon 1/2 Pound sugar = 1 Cup

4 Tablespoons = 1/4 Cup 16 Ounces= 1 Pound or 1 pint
51/2 Tablespoons = 1/3 Cup 1 Ounce= 2 Tablespoons
16 Tablespoons = 1 Cup 1 Ounce = 28 Grams
1 Cup = 1/2 Pint 1 Pound = 454 Grams
1 Cup =8 Fluid ounces 2.2 Pounds = 1 Kilogram
2 Cups = 1 Pint 1 Teaspoon = 5 Milliliters (ml.)
4 Cups = 1 Quart 1 Tablespoon = 15 Milliliters
4 Quarts = 1 Gallon 1 Ounce (2 Tbsp.) = 30 Ml.
8 Quarts = 1 Peck 1 Cup = 240 Milliliters
4 Pecks = 1 Bushel I Quart = 950 Milliliters
1/2 Pound margarine = 1 Cup 1 Gallon = 3500 Milliliters
1/4 Pound flour = I Scant cup

US. Standard Measures Equivalents
Approximate Metric Equivalents

Teacup: Measure full to the brim. The average American teacup, which is the one used
in this book, is about 8 fluid ounces (240 ml.). An Indian teacup is about 7 fluid ounces
(210 ml.). Adjustments should be made if using small size teacups.

Teaspoon: For liquids, measure full to the brim. For solids, use a heaped spoon. In terms
of volume a teaspoon is approximately 1/6 fluid ounce (5 ml.).

Tablespoon: Measure same as for teaspoon. In terms of volume a tablespoon is about

1/2 fluid ounce (15 ml.) or approximately equal to 3 teaspoons.

The recipes state slow, medium, low medium or high medium heat. The approximate
range for the oven temperature is given below in Fahrenheit and Centigrade.

The actual instructions of the oven manufacturer should be referred to for further
guidance. Also, depending on the number of servings and relative proportions of
ingredients, some additional temperature adjustments may need to be made.

Approximate Oven Temperature

Recioes F C

Slow 250-300 121-149

Moderate 325-375 163-190
Hot 400-450 204-233
Very hot 475-500 246-260


Glossary of HindiTerms

Hindi Names English Meanings of Names

Aata Whole-wheat flour
Ajwain Carom seeds
Amchoor Mango powder
Badam Almond
Basmati rice Superior long grain rice
Bhatura Fried flour bread
Bhindi Okra
Burfi Sweet cheese diamonds
Channa Fresh cheese
Chappati Griddle-baked flat bread
Chaval Rice
Chhole Chick-peas
Chutney Relish made from spices
Dal chinne Cinnamon
Corn dhokla Boiled and baked corn balls
Dahi Yogurt
Dahi baras Patties in yogurt
Dal Lentil or split pulse
Dalia Cracked wheat
Dhania Coriander
Doodh Milk
Gram masala Powdered spices
Ghee Clarified unsalted butter
Gobhi Cauliflower

Hindi Names English Meanings of Names
Haldi Tumeric
Halva Sweet Pudding
Handvo Pulse cake
Hara dhania Fresh coriander
Hing Asafetida
Hot mirch Hot chilies
Idli Steamed rice muffin
Imli Tamarind
Jeera Cumin seeds
Katcha Raw
Kachori Stuffed spicy pastry
Kaju Cashew nut
Kalakand Sweet pudding
Kakri Cucumber
Kali mirch Black pepper
Kala namak Black salt
Kela Banana
Kalonji Nigella seeds
Ken Unripe mango
Karela Bitter melon, bitter gourd
Karhi patta Curry leaves
Katcha tamatar Unripe tomatoes
Khatta mitha Sweet 'n' sour
Kesar Saffron
Khaman dhokla Steam cake
Khas-khas White poppy seeds
Kheer Pudding
Khopra Dried coconut
Kishmish Raisin
Khichadi Rice with lentils
Kofta Deep-fried vegetable balls
Korma Preparation in thick sauce
Laddu Sweet flour balls
Lal mirch Red pepper
Lassi Yogurt drink
Maida All-purpose flour
Matar Peas
Mathari Crunchies
Methi Fenugreek
Micci bread Spicy bread
Mirch Capsicum or bell pepper
Moong dal Dried mung pulse


Hindi Names English Meanings of Names
Maisoor pak Chick-pea and soy flour fudge
Naan Crisp puffed bread
Naan khatai Soft cookies
Namkin baati Spicy baked flour balls
Namkin shakerpera Spicy crunchies
Neem Margosa tree leaves
Pakoras Fritters
Palak Spinach
Paneer Pressed cheese (or ricotta cheese)
Paratha Fried bread
Patta Leaves
Patta gobhi Cabbage
Pista Pistachio
Pitorh Gram flour rolls
Podina Mint
Poori Deep-fried bread
Poran poli Sweet stuffed bread
Pulav Rice pilaf
Pyaz Onion
Rai Black mustard seeds
Raita Seasoned yogurt salad
Roti Griddle-baked flat bread
Sabji Cooked spicy vegetables
Saive Savory noodles
Sambar Spicy vegetable and lentil stew
Sambar masala Spices blended for sambar
Samosas Stuffed potato pastry
Sandesh Fresh cheese pudding
Sevaiyan Vermicelli
Shakerpera Diamond shape crunchies
Shrikhand Yogurt pudding
Tamatar Tomatoes
Tej patta Cassia leaf
Thandai Spicy drink
Ticci Patties
Til Sesame seeds
Toovar dal Dried pigeon split pea lentils
Urad dal Black gram lentils without skin
Vegetable pakoras Vegetable fritters

Biographical Notes
Laxmi Jain has lived in the Boston area for 30 years and works to promote Indian
vegetarian cooking locally and internationally. Her first book “Indian Soy Cuisine” was
published by American Soybean Association and distributed throughout South-East Asia.
Her second book Melody of India Cuisine was published by Woodbridge Press in 1992. For
her third book she wrote Indian recipes for a children’s book, Here Comes Diwali.

Laxmi continues her work by creating innovative techniques to familiarize

Indian-American youths and her grandchildren to Indian cooking. She has developed the
concept of Mix Masala (a set of four standard Indian spices) that can transform any
novice cook into an expert. Recipes using the microwave have been another successful
innovation, and her original work of introducing soybean into Indian cooking still
receives accolade.

Laxmi lectures and gives demonstrations at various schools and has developed numerous
television shows for the Boston area cable channel on Indian cooking. She was also the
founding member of Jain Center of Greater Boston in 1974.

Dr. Manoj Jain is an infectious disease physician in Memphis, Tennessee, who has
previously co-authored two vegetarian cookbooks with his mother, Laxmi Jain. He has
been involved in public health research on the promotion of soybean in rural India
through a grant from the US Agency for International Development.

He also has been conducting research on spirituality and medicine and lectures on
“Eastern and Western thoughts.” Recently, he has been involved in a multi-center study
studying the "Therapeutic Effect of Prayer” in collaboration with
Harvard Medical School.

Manoj received his engineering, doctorate and public health degrees from
Boston University, and did residency and fellowship training at Boston City Hospital and
New England Medical Center. Subsequently, he has served as a consultant to the World
Bank and authored numerous medical articles and chapters.

Presently, Manoj is a clinical assistant professor at University of Tennessee-Memphis,

a consultant in infectious diseases, and the Medical Director at Tennessee's Quality
Improvement Organization. Manoj is a board member for the M.K.Gandhi Institute for
Nonviolence working closely with Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi,
and is on the Board of Trustees of Young Jains of America.


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