Join 3,424 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Can someone help me identify the indian food we recently tried?
May 7, 2006 10:25 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I recently tried indian food for the first time at Bombay Sweets in Milwaukee (http://www.milwaukeefood.com/bombaysweets/). We liked the food so much we'd like to learn how to cook it ourselves, but we can't figure out what the food was called.

I had the combo platter #30 which featured aloo parathas (which I have already found a recipe for), but it also came with a soy-ish tasting, slightly spicy sweet sauce, a thin yogurt sauce, and a cup of some kind of garbanzo bean stew on the side.

I don't know indian food well enough to even speculate what it was that we ate. I'd like to build an indian meal similar to what we had in Milwaukee but I need recipes for the sweet sauce, the yogurt sauce, and the bean stew. Even just names would be helpful, then as least I can start searching for recipes.

Alternately, if you have suggestions for other indian food items that you think an Americanized palate would like (no curry, please) that would be helpful as well. Thanks!
posted by jennaba to Food & Drink (28 answers total)
 
When you say "no curry" you'll have to explain. Do you mean no stews, or nothing spicy or nothing with curry powder?
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:28 AM on May 7, 2006


The garbanzo bean/chick pea dish is called 'Kabuli Channas' in Hindi. Here is a simple recipe to get you started.

The sweet and mint sauce seems to be a kind of chutney and the youghurt sauce would be a kind of
'Raita'

I would recommend books by Madhur Jaffery , who writes mainly for a western audience, as an 'easy and simple to follow introduction' to Indian cuisine.
posted by sk381 at 10:37 AM on May 7, 2006


Here's some quick comments from my Indian roommate:

soyish sauce - tamarind chutney
thin yogurt sauce - perhaps a little bit of sugar? His family uses plain yogurt
chick pea stew - 'chole' this is just the Indian word for chick peas but googling for that should turn up some recipes
posted by onalark at 10:38 AM on May 7, 2006


Slightly spicy sweet sauce is probably a tamarind sauce.

Yogurt sauce is raita, which is usually just some yogurt beaten to be thin, with a very small amount of salt, and a variable amount of spice (cumin, corriander, black pepper, ajwain (thyme) seed, clove powder).

Garbanzo beans stew is chhole masala, and you can google a few hundred different ways to make that. A simple one just has ginger, garlic, tomato, and canned garbanzo beans.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:40 AM on May 7, 2006


Whoops, got beaten to it.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:40 AM on May 7, 2006


The terms 'Chole' and 'Kabuli Channa' are used almost interchangeably. I just thought I'd let you know, after reading onalark's comments, so that you don't get confused. They both refer to Garbanzo beans/Chick peas.
posted by sk381 at 10:42 AM on May 7, 2006


The yogurt was raitha. There are lots of different kinds, but the most common is cucumber mint. And sometimes it also has tomato.

The sweet sauce might have been tamarind sauce. It varies too, from very sweet to very savory.

At Indian restaurants, anything that has chickpeas will probably have "channa" in the name of the dish.
posted by lampoil at 10:43 AM on May 7, 2006


CunningLinguist, I mean nothing with curry powder. Neither my partner nor I can stand the smell of it, for some reason. That's why we haven't explored indian cuisine before now.
posted by jennaba at 10:49 AM on May 7, 2006


jennaba: curry powder may not smell so good but neither do many other spices in bulk, so please don't dismiss it so hastily.

When there's an 1/8 tsp for four people, it does add new dimensions that, when sniffed in bulk, lie between overwhelming and repellent.
posted by whatzit at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2006


jennaba: I mean nothing with curry powder. Neither my partner nor I can stand the smell of it

Maybe you don't mean curry powder/sauce but just some common component. I've known people who can't stand fenugeek. Not all curries are made with fenugeek.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 11:06 AM on May 7, 2006


Pre-packaged curry powder isn't even Indian; it's British (although there may be some ingredient(s) in it which you'll find used in Indian cooking).
posted by TimeFactor at 11:23 AM on May 7, 2006


FWIW curry powder doesn't exist in Indian cuisine, it was a western creation for western palates. The spice mixture that is actually used a lot is garam masala and doesn't taste/smell anything like curry power.
posted by squeak at 11:42 AM on May 7, 2006


I mean nothing with curry powder

There is no such thing, at least not in regular Indian cooking. Each spice mix is different.

Oh, and to answer your question:

1) Imli ki chutney
2) Raita
3) Chana Masala / Chhole

(as lots of people have already told you)
posted by madman at 11:49 AM on May 7, 2006


I remember back when I first realized I loved Indian food and wanted to make some, particularly chole. :)

I eventually bought the Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking, but before I found that I found The Graduate Student's Guide to Indian Cooking online.

Instead of having to use "curry powder"" for anything, see if you can go to an Indian grocery store and buy prepared spices there, or make your own. For chole, you can buy a box of chole masala to put in it, or just use the spices mentioned in the recipes.

Also, if you didn't get tea masala at the restaurant, try it the next time you go. My roommate used to make it, and I love it. You can even buy tea masala spice at the grocery store. but it is not to hard to make your own mix.

I've tried making my own desserts before, but have done a really horrible job! But, In that Madhur Jaffrey book, there is a recipe for carrot cake inspired by the ingredients in carrot halwa. I've made that a few times, with some success. It has come out too dry for me, though. needs tweaking.

If you are in the mood for dessert, a bit of hot carrot halwa with a scoop of icecream on top is tasty. Be warned that most Indian desserts are really sweet. I have a sweet tooth, so this is no problem for me.
posted by bleary at 11:54 AM on May 7, 2006


Re: sweets, ras gullai is not too sweet, and is tasty. try that.
posted by bleary at 12:01 PM on May 7, 2006


Also, why not just call the restaurant and ask? If it was a particular cook's take on a classic recipe, it will be different than whatever you make. If they fax you a take-out menu, it will probably list the distinctive ingredients for each dish.
posted by hermitosis at 12:03 PM on May 7, 2006


sounds like a chat dish to me. There are several variations, papri chat being the easiest to find. I had samosa chat the other day for lunch and have been thinking about it ever since. Check this photo and see if it looks familiar (I've seen it look a lot soupier but it usually has those little crunchy crackers and fried mung beans.) Kalustyans is a great resource. Yum.
posted by eve harrington at 12:06 PM on May 7, 2006


It looks like everyone else has nailed the sauces so far (although I wanted to add that, in all the Indian places I've been to, Raita often has cucumber in it as well, either shreaded or chopped very small.)

I wanted to add that I've made some things from Recipe Delights and been very happy with the results. (particularly their Chicken Makhani). If you don't quite want to buy a full cookbook yet they may be a good place to start.
posted by Kellydamnit at 2:36 PM on May 7, 2006


The terms 'Chole' and 'Kabuli Channa'

Weird. I've never heard either term and I eat Indian food all the time. I've always known the chick pea dish as Chana Masala.

If you didn't try Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower), I'd recommend it. Matter Paneer (cottage cheese and peas) is also very good.
posted by dobbs at 4:05 PM on May 7, 2006


A great cookbook to "ease" yourself into (South) Indian cooking is Curried Favors. Great recipes, everything well explained (especially where to find the various ingredients). We cook from it at least once a week (and always when we have guests over for dinner). South Indian cooking tends to be very flavorful but not "hot", so everybody can enjoy it.
posted by bluefrog at 4:07 PM on May 7, 2006


I respect your dislikes, Jennaba, but keep in mind that many people who hate the idea of "curry," hate it because they associate it with the smell of stale food, or with certain spices like asafoetida or fenugreek that are rare in the West. I love most any kind of food, but I hate asafoetida, except in small doses (it actually improves when cooked thoroughly), and then only if it was cooked in someone else's kitchen. It's an acquired taste.

If you see a recipe that asks for curry, try garham masala. You might consider trying one or two mild curries from North India next time you are in an Indian restaurant. There's incredible variation in Indian food, so try different restaurants.

Damn, I just had dinner and now I am really hungry again.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:39 PM on May 7, 2006


Weird. I've never heard either term and I eat Indian food all the time.

The terms Kabuli Channa and Chole are used in Northern India, where the dish in question originated. While referring to the uncooked chick peas, they can also mean the cooked dish. Actually, calling the dish 'Channa Masala' is redundant, with 'Masala' being the redundant term, as the dish would have to have masalas. It's a little like saying: Baked Apple Pie, since the pie would HAVE to be baked (unless I'm mistaken and there is another way to make apple pies that doesn't involve baking). Another pet peeve is the term 'Chai Tea'. Chai means Tea in Hindi, the kind that is drunk with milk and sugar, unlike varieties like green tea. So just Chai should actually suffice.

To recap: Kabuli Channa/Chole is what I would probably ask the grocer for, Channas are what mom would cook at home, and to make things easier for non-North Indians and to add a kick to their menus, restaurants might add 'Masala' after Channa. It's all the same.

P.S. To confuse things further, there is also a blend of masalas, specially to be added to Channas, called 'Channa Masala"!
posted by sk381 at 4:44 PM on May 7, 2006


FWIW curry powder doesn't exist in Indian cuisine, it was a western creation for western palates. The spice mixture that is actually used a lot is garam masala and doesn't taste/smell anything like curry power.
posted by squeak at 2:42 PM EST on May 7 [!]


True dat, but there are delicious curry leaves used in South India, which taste nothing like bottled curry powder (which is nothing; the way "nacho" flavored anything doesn't taste like anything.) Also as long as you're at Bombay Sweets, don't fail to try the gulab jamun or the rasmalai for desert! Rich and sweet.

It can be a lot of preparation, the Indian food, to make. I gave up and leave all but the simplest dal, raita, prep to the pros.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:46 PM on May 7, 2006


oooh! oooh! The woman who wrote Curried Favors mentioned above, Maya Kaimal, has a line of south Indian "stir sauces" out in her name. You can find them in nice stores in the refrigerator section and honestly, they can turn any vegetables (and meat or fish, I suppose) into a really extraordinary meal. I've been putting cauliflower and potatoes to roast while I'm putting the kids down and then finishing up with the stir sauces (vindaloo! tamarind!) and feel like I'm eating well. SO good.
posted by eve harrington at 5:01 PM on May 7, 2006


OHMIGAWD!! Total derail/small world filter (and reason #1104 to love MeFi):
I used to work with Maya Kaimal at Hearst in NYC. She is the most gorgeous, wonderful, lovely person you could ever imagine!! Buy her stuff, everybody, and I'm gonna email her to see if she'll market it in NZ.
posted by rob511 at 5:12 PM on May 7, 2006


I mean nothing with curry powder. Neither my partner nor I can stand the smell of it, for some reason. That's why we haven't explored indian cuisine before now.

Try and work out which component you don't like the smell of, and make your own curry powder by finding a base recipe and omitting the obnoxious culprit. Making the powder is very simple - just a chase of toasting the spices in a dry frying pan, and grinding them together in a rotary coffee grinder, or pestle and mortar.

Bet you anything the culprit is one of the following: asafoetida, fenugreek, fennel seed. If it's cumin that you don't like the smell of, then indian food probably isn't for you. :)
posted by bifter at 1:54 AM on May 8, 2006


Thanks everyone for all the suggestions! I knew you smarty-pants would come through for me. I have lots of ideas now for further forays into indian food and a better understanding of my "curry" aversion:-)
posted by jennaba at 12:22 PM on May 8, 2006


bifter: Bet you anything the culprit is one of the following: asafoetida, fenugreek, fennel seed. If it's cumin that you don't like the smell of, then indian food probably isn't for you.

I am not all that fond of cumin. In the past I have railed against the standard US "mexican chili powder" which contains a lot of cumin. If you add a small bit to a dish it tastes ok. If you add more to get more chili pepper taste then the cumin becomes overpowering.

Recently my local grocery store expanded and went upscale/multicultural. I bought some ITC (made in India) fully prepared Chick Peas Curry (Pindi Chana). My family experienced cumin overload.

I've eaten at a fair number of Indian restaurants in the US and I don't shy away from the spicy dishes such as goat vindaloo. Nowhere have I experienced such a cumin loaded dish.

Is too much cumin local to some region in India? Or is it associated with Indian vegetarian food?

Do Indians really like huge amounts of cumin but their restaurants in the US know to cut down that spice because it is unpopular with the locals?
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 12:50 AM on May 11, 2006


« Older Where should I rent in Norther...   |  How do I direct link to an AVI... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.