I may not ever get to travel to India in my lifetime, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the exotic spices by making homemade Indian food. Consequently, today I will be making Spiced Mashed Eggplant, Salmon Curry, Coconut Rice, Coconut Sambal, and Chili Naan.
Coconut Sambal, an Accompaniment for Homemade Indian Food
Coconuts are a staple food in Southern India where the weather is warm. Luckily, they are a staple food here in south Florida as well. Consequently, my husband harvests coconuts from our tree every month which comes in handy making homemade Indian food and in Thai cooking. Coconut Sambal is often served as a snack with poppadoms, which are thin bread crisps similar to tortilla chips, or as an accompaniment to seafood as we are doing here.
- 1 3/4 cups dried coconut
- 2 fresh green chilis chopped. (leave seeds in if you like spicy)
- 1 inch piece of ginger grated
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 3 green onions chopped
- Begin by placing all ingredients in food processor.
- Then pulse for 1 minute, intermittently scraping down the sides. In case it is too dry add a bit of water.
This can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. It should last at least 1 week.
In addition here are some affiliate links for helpful kitchen appliances and exotic spices to make your cooking experience easier:
Cilantro Chili Naan, to Scoop Your Homemade Indian Food
Traditionally, Indian cuisine is not eaten with utensils. Consequently, breads are used to scoop up the food. You can buy Naan in many grocery stores nowadays, or you can follow this recipe and make your own to accompany your homemade Indian food. This can be made ahead of time and frozen until ready to use. With that in mind, I tend to undercook the Naan slightly if I am not using it right away. This way it won’t get too browned when I reheat it later on.
- 3 2/3 cups flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. palm sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 tbsp. cooking oil
- 2 red or green chilis, chopped
- 1/3 cup cilantro
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- chili oil for brushing
- Mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.
- Then whisk together milk and egg. Gradually stir into flour mixture until dough is formed.
- After that, transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Make an indentation in center and add the oil. Knead for a few minutes until dough is smooth.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest for one hour.
- Subsequently divide dough into 8 equal parts and flatten into discs. Again cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, roll each disc into a teardrop shape approximately 9 inches long.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook 4 minutes on each side.
- Mix chili oil, cilantro and chilis and spread on surface of naan. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes before serving.
If you are making the naan ahead of time do up through step 7 and then cool prior to freezing. Thaw completely before doing step 8.
Garam Masala is a spice blend often used in Indian cooking. You can mix it up yourself by combining cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, and black pepper, but I find it easier to buy it already mixed. Here are some affiliate links for Indian spices, spice storage, and serving bowls:
Spiced Mashed Eggplant
Typically homemade Indian Food consists of 2-3 vegetable dishes. Lentils are often used as well.
- 2 large eggplants
- 2 tbsp. peanut oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 chopped green chilis
- 3 chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 2 tsp. garam masala
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- Peel and chop eggplants cook in boiling water in a pot for about 15 minutes until done. Drain and cool.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onions. Saute for 6 minutes. Add ginger and chilis. Saute an additional 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, salt, and garlic. Cook for 12 minutes. After that add the chili powder, paprika, coriander, cumin, and turmeric.
- Further, stir in eggplant, garam masala, and cilantro. Cook for 3 minutes. Serve.
I like to get this cooking before starting the rice. This way the rice can cook when I am making the salmon, and the eggplant usually will stay hot in the interim.
Coconut Rice to Serve with your Homemade Indian Food
- 1 1/4 cup basmati rice
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 tsp. salt
During the rainy season the coconut meat is very gelatinous due to the coconuts growing quickly from the excessive rain. This makes great coconut milk. I just take the meat and blend it in my blender. Voila! instant coconut milk. This recipe for coconut rice can be used with Thai food or any Caribbean or Polynesian foods.
- Rinse the rice in cold water until water runs clear. Then soak rice in water for 30 minutes. Drain.
- When rice is ready, heat oil and add rice. Stir until coated with oil. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low. Then add salt. Simmer 10 minutes until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
- After that fluff with fork and let stand while finishing salmon and chili naan.
Southern India has three bodies of water around it. Therefore fish is used in many meals. The rich taste of the curry goes well with the hearty flavor of the salmon in this homemade Indian food.
- 1 tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 lbs. salmon fillets
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. mexican chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 cups coconut milk
- Heat oil in a nonstick skillet and add the salmon. Cook 1 minute on each side.
- Meanwhile, mix together cornstarch, spices and coconut milk. Pour this over fish and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10-12 minutes until fish is done. Serve.
Tip: Most important, make sure you have plenty of time if you are planning on making homemade Indian food. My friend from India said that it is common for the average household to have servants because the domestic work is very time consuming. The Indian people also see cooking as an art form, hence the numerous spices included in each dish.
Please let me know how your meal turns out or if you make any changes to the recipes. I love hearing about different variations.
Read more about India from a fellow Blogger at Leisurely Drives.
Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.