Mad Tea Party: Express Indian

It was hard to come up with a title that had already not been used!  Quick Indian Cooking, Express Cooking, Simple Indian Food, Quick and Easy Indian Cooking, and my own section, Under-30-minutes! And yet, people want to continue to shroud Indian cuisine under difficult and complex.  Complex – I sure hope it is!  How can you expect simple from a culture that can say ‘cook’ in 1652 different languages! Even when we use just 5 ingredients to create a dish, it still turns out with shades of complexity!  But that, I think, is the sign of a cuisine that has evolved… over millenia, in our case.

The notion that Indian Cuisine is too complicated, too time consuming, and too rich is widespread.  That should make us a nation of smart (though idle), fat people. Which, urban India might actually be – fat, not idle – but I digress.  We have another Party coming up.  For the First one we all fried poori and served it with potato bhaji.  For the Second Party we chose to share our deep fried love with batata vada in its many avatars.  For this Third Edition, I am thinking we should address some of  Manisha’s concerns and see how we can help dispel the notion that Indian cooking is all about toiling in the kitchen, deciphering complicated techniques and recipes, and dousing it all in some heavy cream before serving.

India is the flavour of the season.  Which means that more people than ever before now know where to look for it on the globe.  There is also a growing awareness about the  myriad mini-Indias that exist within her, complete with their own language, culture and, of course, cuisine.  In India there is nothing known as Indian Food, or curry powder, for that matter!  We do have Kashmiri, Punjabi, Maharashtrain, Bengali, Andhra, Tamil cuisines…. which itself is a nomenclature quite inadequate to express the distinctive regional variations found within the states!  In cultural complexity it will not be an exaggeration to equate India to the European Union where the States of India are akin to the European member Nations!  European – a complex cuisine?  You bet!  Break the whole into its parts, and the mist starts to lift.

So, how about we find some of the less complicated gems from within the regional Indian cuisines and bring them to the Party – A Mad Tea Party – III? The dish should have six ingredients (or less), and it should be possible to cook it in 30 minutes (or less).  Time needed for soaking ingredients, rising time etc, need not be included into this calculation.  Essentially time when you can be fully occupied doing something else entirely is exempt from inclusion.  If you like, you may also subtract unsupervised time such as “pressure cook for 10 min,” “cover and cook for 15 min,” if no stirring at all is needed, as in the cooking of soaked beans and lentils in a pressure cooker.  This will ensure that those of us not having access to canned products or not wanting to use such processed ingredients are not disadvantaged on account of time.

If you can make a meal of it in the stipulated 30 minutes, all the better for it.  Since frozen vegetables are part of our lives now, these are permissible.  For those who would like to use fresh, veggie preparation time may be indicated separate from the other preparation and/or cooking time.  The essential part being, that it should be possible to cook the dish in 30 minutes of active time, using whatever shortcuts available to us today.

The rules are simple:

  • Cook an Indian party dish* using  not more than 6 ingredients (not counting salt and chillies), in 30 minutes max. (from the kitchen to the table). The chosen dish need not be fat free but, must not be swimming in grease of any kind, including fresh cream.  Write a post about it (with or without a recipe D ; list the ingredients used and the time taken to prepare the dish) – the region it belongs to, how you enjoyed it, maybe a picture of the dish and/or the family enjoying the dish. (Old posts don’t count!)
  • Deadline: You have till September 13 to do this.
  • Too hot to cook? Go out and eat one of these light dishes at a restaurant! The portion will be right, and you don’t have to stew even for 30 min! Write a post about it, and how you really enjoyed it!
  • Link to this post. You may, if you like, use a Pingback and it will automatically show up in the comments here. Or leave a comment on this post which will lead us to your post!
  • Don’t have a blog? You can still join the party; just leave a comment here about how you enjoyed your easy Indian dish! You may, if you like, provide a link to any pictures you may have posted on a photo-sharing site such as Flickr or Photobucket.  I will include your name in the list of those who participated!

* Any dish that you think you will include in a Party menu for your friends counts as a Party Dish.

Have a Party!

Published by Anita

A self professed urban ecologist!

112 thoughts on “Mad Tea Party: Express Indian

  1. Hmmmm, a region… given that I’m from the C’bean I guess that counts me out 🙂 what if something is cooked from a particularly regional food blog? In other words, what if I cook something from someone else’s blog?

    1. Nope, no exclusions based on where you are from! Just a dish that is from somewhere in these regions! Your recipe source can be another blog, a recipe book, a friend…

  2. This one is going to be easy! NJ Style Yah par tho sab khana express banana padhtha hai! Party dish ok when is the deadline again ? …..

  3. I love this idea, but I can’t commit to another item until after the wedding of my oldest daughter. That is less than one month from now. Do keep me in the loop. I love your blog!

  4. I’m not going to participate at the moment, but it’s a great idea and I love Indian food. How about Mango ice cream with some gulab jamman for dessert?

  5. Hey this is a perfect event!With a fulltime job and a 4 yr old I am always on the lookout for under 15 minutes actually!But 30 will do too!:)Count me in..for 30 minutes that is!

  6. Yayyyyyyyyyyyy.

    I have an even better idea for you and me… I am going to make something and bring it over to your place… hopefully before the 13th 🙂 and then take pics of you and me (and yours and mine maybe) and then blog about it.

    Let’s try and make it happen Anita… its been pending way too long now 🙂

  7. Why is my mind feeling like a twisted bendy rabbit? Let me try straightening it out a bit, you want something that is:
    by nomenclature, an Indian dish;
    basically, with 6 ingredients;
    expressly, in 30 minutes or less;
    essentially, by September 13.
    *flicks sweat off brow*
    Did I get that right??

  8. What a lovely idea! One question – does that have to be a party dish? Can it be a nice potluck dish?
    I feel there is a difference in these two. I will try to get something quick and easy 🙂

  9. I found a recipe in my blog…has Indian ingredients..but I have used a microwave…will that be ok Anita?

      1. salt to taste included in the 6 ingredients?…holy! this is a real challenge!

    1. Anita, thank you! I think that the ingredient list does meet the requirements unless you feel that lemon juice (that is really used primarely for avocado not to turn brown) needs to be counted as a separate ingredient.

      Hi, Liza! Lime juice is fine – we are allowed some creative license! 🙂 Could you also tell us which cuisine of India is the inspiration behind the dish?

  10. Hi, I think “Sundal” is the easiest snack, the only time taken is soaking the chickpeas or any other lentil and pressure cooking them.Add tempering,salt,some grated coconut and voila! you have a nice crunchy snack….easy and quick….really looking forward to all the yummy stuff here soon…

  11. One more quick question, If i have some optional ingredients would you count them too…
    like fried cashews that enhances the flavor but is entirley optional.

  12. urs is one of the first blogs i used to frequent before i too decided to take the plunge..its original and has some great ur blog…

  13. I don’t have a blog so posting the recipe for Jhatpat Alu/Arbi here:

    2-3 medium potatoes, peeled, halved, and cut into 1 cm thick wedges or 8-10 Arbi boiled, peeled, and cut into thick slices, 2 tbsp mustard oil, 2 tsp red chilly powder, 2 tbsp coriander powder, 1-2 tsp dry mango powder, 1 tsp salt or to taste. Garnish optional kasoori methi or fresh dhania.

    Heat mustard oil in a pan over medium flame. In a plate mix red chilly powder, coriander powder, dry mango powder, and salt with 1 tsp of heated oil (taking care not to burn the fingers) and rub this mixture on to the potato/arbi pieces and then add the potato/arbi mixture in the pan and stir. Cover the pan and check and stir in 1-2 minute intervals until potatoes/arbis are cooked and a little crispy. Check the seasoning and garnish with kasoori methi or fresh dhania.

  14. Hi !
    I dont have a blog but decided on a whim to take up this challenge and have an (unworthy) entry! 🙂
    Can I email it to you – since I havent posted the pics to any site. would much rather compose a message and send to you. Is there an email ID I can send it to?


    Here’s Archana’s recipe for Paneer Jalfrezi

    Cut into long pieces
    ¨ Paneer
    ¨ Red Onions
    ¨ Capsicum (green here, but you can use a host of colors)
    ¨ Tomatoes (seeded and sliced)
    ¨ Ginger
    ¨ Red whole chillies
    Tempering – as with all Indian cooking, the tempering is what gives flavor to all these ingredients.
    ¨ Oil (2-3 tbsp)
    ¨ Cumin Seeds (1 tbsp)
    ¨ Garam Masala (1/2 tbsp)

    Cut all ingredients into long slices.
    In a wok, heat oil and let the wok and oil reach a fairly high temperature.
    This dish is cooked on high heat similar to a stir fry in order to get good browning on the paneer.
    To the hot oil, add cumin seeds, red chilies and onion slices in quick succession. (Since the work and oil are quite hot, you don’t want to burn any of it).
    Cook for about 30 seconds and then add Tomato slices.
    Don’t cook the tomato for too long since you want them to remain fairly firm at the end.
    Add capsicum and toss everything in the wok like you would in a stir fry.
    Allow the capsicum to cook for a min or two in order for it to soften and loose its rawness.
    Add paneer at this point and keep tossing.
    Allow to cook while tossing at intervals for 5-6 mins. Ensure the paneer and other veggies get crisp brown edges. The brownness of the paneer is quite appealing since it looks like grilled or tandoori paneer.
    At the end, sprinkle Garam Masala on top and add salt to taste.

  15. hi anita, Do I need to link this page on my post? I sent you two entries but wasnt sure if i was to do the linking part

  16. Well…despite my not posting anything I still wish you and the Mad Tea Party the best on this, the 3rd anniversary! And yes, there are lots and lots of easy, healthy dishes within India’s cuisines- lots would be an understatement! If only the Desi restaurants here in the West would move away from the toned-down, creamed-up Punjabi-esque menus, more people might know that! It would even be nice if they served some everyday Punjabi delights! But I think your efforts here will definitely help to dispel some misconceptions- I look forward to the round-up!

  17. Happy 3rd Anniversary to this lovely space and I wish a fun filled party to everyone here! I echo Pel’s first comment, sort of. Not been cooking much lately. Took a picture of something days ago, and posting that for this event wouldn’t be very respectful to the idea of this event.

    Still struggling on whether or not i have the drive to get back to blogging…..

  18. Happy 3rd Anita. Whaaat only 6 !!!! And only 30 !!!!
    Are all the entries going to be in the wazwan you present for the 3rd b’day 😀

    BTW didn’t know Rohit Bal was a Kashmiri. Missed the show on Travel(D saw it), I think Andrew Zimmer attended a wazwan at his place

    1. Thanks, Sandeepa. Wazwan being laid out…
      Didn’t know he was a Kashmiri myself till I heard about his wazwan. Haven’t seen the episode since it Bizzare Food doesn’t air here, but have read the transcript online.

  19. Anita, Happy 3rd – the penny just dropped! I came here to check the deadline (well past). Will aim for the Fourth, and look forward to your posts meanwhile!

    1. Oye! She hasn’t posted her recipe yet how will she do the round-up? The hostess slacketh more than the invitees. So you still have time! Hammer away on that keyboard, I say!

      1. Will you believe me if I tell you that I actually considered that?! But since I have already started the post (10 days ago!), I might as well share my palak-panir with all of you…hoping to do it tonight, if all goes as planned.

  20. Me like Sra too! 🙂
    Was sure the deadline was the 20th (where I got that from, no idea!) and just realised you all partied without me. 😦
    Ah well, I’ll have to wait another year now. 🙂

  21. Happy 3rd anniversary Anita. I know, I haven’t been able to post anything (I don’t see any of the drafts which can be sent to this party) and I haven’t been cooking much lately. I wish you all the best for coming year 🙂

  22. Pingback: Anonymous
  23. Hi Anita,
    Congrats!!! I really like the way you write, its cooolll. I came across this event today, my apologies for that. Im a new blogger, can I post my entry today. Please…

    Thanks and Best Wishes

  24. Ooops.. Just came across this blog and might be too late. But here is my contribution.

    Take 1 Cauliflower. Just grate it.
    Now in a pan take just 1TSF of oil. Stir fry the grated cauliflower
    adding only salt to taste
    and powdered blackpepper depending upon how large your cauliflower was and how hot you want it to be….. Finish.

    You can’t have a better tasting dish with so less ingredients.

    [Blackpepper taste is complimentory to the taste of cauliflower.]

    Now hit the kitchen and try it.

    Ummm that does sound good! Will try this in winter time when cauliflower is in season; the kind we get during the summer stink – yuk!

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