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Regional Indian Foods and Influences

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The Indian sub-continent was first united under British rule. Although earlier empires came close to uniting the sub-continent, such as the Mughal Empire (which didn’t conquer the southern areas of Goa and Hyderabad) no one nation consolidated the peninsula until the British successfully did it after driving out the Portuguese, Dutch, and French. As such, modern India has a rich regional culture of both foods and art that vary significantly from one another.
Regional Indian Foods and Influences (Photo credit - turmericindia.com)
Indian cuisine is known, first and foremost for its spices but also for rich and creamy sauces with ghee. The high spice content is thought to have originated from the tropical climate which is also similar to other areas that have spicy food, such as Chengdu in the Sichuan province of China. Indian cuisine is more varied then just that with religious influences, colonial influences, and regional delicacies all having an impact on the cuisine.

Delhi, as the former capital of the Mughal Empire, has strong flavors that are influenced by the history of the area. Delhi has large Hindu and Muslim populations and tends to avoid certain meats banned by these religions such as beef and pork. Rich sauces laden and infused with spices are popular here and ghee is used as a flavoring for many of the fried breads such as naan. Stuffed flatbreads are common with the high density of Punjabs in this area.

Goa in the south was originally a Portuguese port and has strong influences from its colonial days. An emphasis is on fresh seafood and many dishes are based on rich and spicy sauces. A popular dish originating in Goa is vindaloo which emphasized the intense flavor of the region.

Hyderabad and many other southern cities in India have a vegetarian diet due to the religious influences there. Religions such as Jainism prevent the consumption of all meat products and by-products. While other religious groups are not as strict as Jains, vegetarian cuisines are common here. Dosas, which are fried hard pancakes that are commonly stuffed with potato and peppers are a common dish in this area. Another regional delight is bhel puri which is a puffed rice dish flavored with tamarind sauce.

Google Fiber to Challenge Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse in Austin

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Google announced that it will soon launch a pay TV service in addition to Google Fiber by mid-2014 in Austin, Texas. It is set out to compete with current triple-play providers AT & T U-verse and Time Warner Cable.

Google Fiber to Challenge Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse in Austin (Photo credit - wikipedia.com)

This goal indicates that Google has bigger plans for Google Fiber, after its small pilot launch in Kansas City last fall. Google said that their services in Austin will be offered at more or less the same price to that of Kansas City. Subscribers pay $120 for a monthly package including internet speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second, a Nexus tablet used as a remote control and 200 high-definition cable channels.

According to data verified by Nielsen, Austin ranks 45th in demographic market area (DMA), while Kansas City comes in even higher at 31st.

According to Google, those residents of Austin who won’t opt for the full Google Fiber package will still be able to avail of a free internet service with minimum download speeds of 5 Mbps for seven years once they an installation fee. This is similar to a free internet service offered in Kansas City, where $300 will be charged to subscribers as installation fee should they choose an independent internet service.

On the other hand, Time Warner Cable provides its fastest 50 Mbps internet speed to most markets. The multi-system operator also expressed its interest in building a 1-gig network in North Carolina. Meanwhile, when it comes to the battle of internet speeds, AT & T U-verse won’t get left behind. Earlier, AT&T announced its efforts to increase AT & T U-verse internet speeds to 75 Mbps, a maximum download speed offer that would still be barely one-tenth as fast as Google’s projected 1-gig service.

These ventures all seem a response to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Julius Genachowski’s “Gigabit City Challenge”, which aims to have at least one city out of the entire 50 states have an available 1-gig service that can be afforded by consumers in a span of two years.

Google Fiber’s vice president Milo Medin mentioned in a blog post that the new Google Fiber city would hopefully inspire more communities across America to consider the benefits and advantages of an ultrafast connectivity.

Thinking about AT&T u-verse? AT&T frequently gives exclusive promotions for new clients and in addition allows others to advertise U-verse deals and also offers. Clients are able to use internet sites like couponcodecity to find a fantastic AT&T U-verse coupon code and help save on a brand new AT&T U-verse service.

What Straight Talk Can Offer Cellular Customers

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Straight Talk is a mobile phone firm with plans which provide not only options, but also flexibility, for consumers. TracFone Wireless is the parent organization of Straight Talk. Straight Talk has numerous, mobile plans to select, such as zero long term contract plans. As an additional benefit, Straight Talk is available through most Wal-Mart retailers and also online.

Straight Talk Cellular

Straight Talk has lots of unique choices for you to pick from for a person’s cellular phone, including the hottest models and brands. There’s a mobile phone for everybody, regardless if you are searching for a simple phone for the rare call you make or perhaps cell phone with all the current great features for instance a camera and full keyboard for individuals who text and are on their cell phone practically continually. Straight Talk has phones that are touchscreen as well as filled with the hottest technology for people who enjoy gadgets. No matter what the customer wants, Straight Talk has the best item.

If you want your existing cellphone or just don’t want to purchase one from Straight Talk that is an option that you may select, too.

As with any cellphone firm, potential customers moving over to Straight Talk can opt to retain their existing phone numbers or simply get brand new ones.

Straight Talk provides incredibly broad coverage which is equivalent, if not better, than the many other nationwide mobile companies. Straight Talk prides itself in being a price-leader within the cellular phone marketplace. Customers hoping to save on the expense of a mobile phone or even voice and/or data plan can do so by utilizing online straight promo codes or by making the most of various promotions.

You can pick from a variety of plans which can work for you. For instance, the unlimited plans let customers unlimited talk and also text messaging within the U.S. There are also worldwide unlimited plans for customers with loved ones in another country. There’s even a smaller plan for individuals who don’t use a cell phone frequently.

Clients enjoy the flexibility to arrange calling plans to replenish automatically every month or can easily opt to top off as needed. The way consumers elect to replenish balances is totally up to them. Some homeowners might prefer the longer term Straight Talk calling plans that may be paid upfront for periods of time like three months, half a year, or even twelve months.

Straight Talk is really a top mobile phone company which can fulfill a consumer’s personal mobile plan need.

5 Of The Most Popular Indian Festivals

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Unlike it’s western counterpart nations like the United States and many countries in Europe, India has an exceedingly high number of spiritual nationals. As in many religions, the people of India have specific times of year set aside as holidays or festivals which observe important dates and happenings. The following is a list of some of the most popular and interesting festivals that take place throughout the year.

5 Of The Most Popular Indian Festivals

Diwali
Diwali is a 5 day festival which culminates in the celebration of the Hindu New Year. Christened the “Festival of Lights” due to the use of lamps and candles that are lit throughout the celebrations, Diwali is based in a celebration of good over evil. The festival enjoys a lighthearted atmosphere.

Holi
The festival christened Holi is celebrated during the spring harvest season. Echoing similar tones from Diwali, Holi is also considered celebratory of the victory of good over evil. Many nationals consider it to be the “Festival of Colors”. The mainstay of this particular festival is celebration of an abundant harvest.

Krishna Janmashtami
Krishna Janmashtami, also know as Govinda, is a festival derived from the celebration of Lord Krishna’s date of birth. Lord Krishna is an integral being in the Hindu religion and culture. Many Indians consider the birth of Lord Krishna to be an awe inspiring tale, and the story is held in high regard. A particularly interesting aspect of the festival comes with the formation of human pyramids. People climb on to one another in an effort to grasp pots of curd which are strung high above the street.

GaneshChaturthi
Lasting eleven days, the event of GaneshChaturthi is a festival which promotes the celebration of another birth with roots that are considered highly important to the Hindu way of life. Lord Ganesha, the god born with an elephant head, is quite possibly one of the most beloved icons of the lifestyle. Private houses and public buildings adorn structures of the god. All of the statues are made with intensive care and are created exclusively for the festival. The celebration ends with a massive parade of the recreations being sent off to sea.

Pushkar Camel Fair
Much like a dog fair or competition in the western half of the world, Indians flock to the minuscule town of Pushkar where they may bear their most prized camels for judgement. This is a traditional style celebration. The camels are subject to all manner of standard competition situations including beauty contests, races, and trades.

These festivals simply touch on a few of the different festivals and celebrations which populate the year in Indian and Hindu culture. They truly offer a unique perspective on a different way of life.

Tips for Traveling to India

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When planning a vacation, there are many things you must keep in mind. If you are traveling out of your local country, then there are a lot more things to keep in mind. Let us say you are traveling to India, we will discuss a few tips for traveling here!

One thing you should do is make sure you have your passport. When traveling to a foreign country, a passport is required to board the plane. You can get these through your local post office for a reasonable price. Another thing you should do is make sure that you are packed appropriately. This means to make sure your clothes will coordinate with the vast temperature changes. Whenever you are to travel from country to country, you will have a significant temperature change to get adjusted to.

The women in India are very conservative. This means that women should bring clothes that are respectful of the Indian culture. You do not want to rub any of the locals the wrong way. When traveling to India you also want to make sure to learn some of the language, in particular common phrases like, “Please,” “Thank you” and “Bathroom”. You can pick up a translation book as an aide on the go. One other handy tip is to make sure you bring all necessary personal items you will need with you. The reason for this is that every country carries different products. India might not carry some of the simple things you use on a daily basis, like your common toothpaste or even over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol.

Trying to decide where to go in India? Look for travel deals with an Expedia coupon code. Many of the travel sites, like Expedia and Travelocity, often highlight popular travel destinations, like New Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Jaipur, just to name a few. Many deals and packages are often available for flight and hotel packages.

These are just a few handy tips when traveling to India. There are many more things you will want to look into before traveling to a new country. Keep in mind that every country has its own set of customs that can be hard to adjust to. But with a little preparation, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy yourself.

Kaali Daal – black lentils

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Have you ever thought of preparing a meal that is not only delicious but trendy? Well, one of the best meals that you can effectively explore is the Kaali Daal, also known as Ma Ki Daal. This is a traditional meal that has its roots traced back to the ancient Pakistan. Pakistanis have been preparing the dish for ages now. Kaali Daal has been a major meal in a number of Asian traditional/ religious ceremonies. One of such ceremonies is Diwali.

This particular meal is easy to prepare and it does not require you to have so many sophisticated ingredients. In fact, it is classified by some potential nutritionists as a low carb dietary. From a traditional point of view daal is known to be a meal composed of proteins accompanied by vegetables, rice, and yogurt and so on. The included Kaali Daal recipe is known to produce a fresh and dry meal that is full of nutrients.

The recipe is accompanied by a classic finish that offers an earthly taste with a warming flourishing scent that will drive you nuts wherever you are. The daal recipe presented here is known to be easy to prepare. The secret behind preparing a good daal meal is by utilizing adequate time when preparing the black lentils. With the above summary in mind you are now set to carry out the following Kaali Daal recipe.

Ingredients

A couple of green chilies slit; two large sliced onions; a cupful of Urad daal/ black lentils; a touch of asafetida; one teaspoonful of cumin seeds; two teaspoonful of ghee; a couple of cholesterol free vegetable cooking oil; a half cup of whisked cream; a half teaspoon of powered red chill; two teaspoons of powdered coriander; one teaspoon of minced garlic; a piece of ginger; and a couple of chopped tomatoes.

Preparations

The methodologies used in preparing Kaali daal meal are very simple and straight forward. Here are the major steps to be followed when preparing black lentils: have the black lentils soaked for at least eight hours; have the soaked black lentils boiled in a mixture of asafetida, green chilies, the sliced onion and at least three cups of water; have the resulting mixture fried by combining it with-powered red chill, cumin, the two tomatoes, and the coriander; have the mixture gently boiled for a little longer; add the whisked cream into the mixture and have it removed from fire.

You can now serve the black lentils with vegetables and white meat, such as grilled chicken or fried fish.

Easy Palak Paneer

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Palak Paneer is an Indian dish that is in the curry family. It is creamy and rich from the cheese that is added to it. It contains a variety of spices that add to the unique flavor of the dish. It is commonly served with Naan bread or over rice. Some of the spices in the recipe may be a bit too strong for some people’s liking. The amount of some of the spices can be reduced to make it more palatable. 

A simple recipe for Palak Paneer is as follows:

8 ounces Ricotta or Cottage cheese
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon grated, fresh ginger root
2 dried red chile peppers (optional)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 cup sour cream
3 pounds fresh spinach, torn
1 large tomato, quartered
4 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves

This recipe comes from allrecipes.com. The recipes available at All Recipes are simple and easy to follow.

Preparation

  1. Heat half of the olive oil and add the garlic to the pan for a light sauté.
  2. Add in half of the grated ginger, the red chiles if you choose to use them and the onion.
  3. Sauté all of this together until the onions are lightly browned.
  4. Mix the cumin, coriander and turmeric with the sour cream and add that to the sauté pan.
  5. After that is incorporated, start adding the fresh spinach by handfuls to the pan.
  6. Cook this about 15 minutes and allow it to stand for 15 minutes off of the heat to cool.
  7. Add all of this to a blender adding in the cilantro, tomato and the remaining amount of ground ginger.
  8. Blend this together for roughly 30 seconds so that it is a smooth consistency.
  9. When it is nicely blended, add it back to the saucepan on low heat just to keep it warm.

The last step is to fry the cheese.

  1. In a new sauté pan, add the remaining amount of olive oil and heat it on medium heat for a few minutes before adding the Ricotta or Cottage Cheese to the pan.
  2. Add the Ricotta or Cottage Cheese and lightly brown it.
  3. Drain it as best as possible and add it to the spinach mixture.

If you desire, chicken thighs could be added to make it a non-vegetarian dish. If Naan bread is the choice for an accompaniment to this dish, warm it for 5 minutes in an oven first. Fresh cilantro can be used as a garnish as well.

Palak Paneer is a very rich, yet flavorful Indian dish that is really very simple to prepare at home. It does take 45 minutes to prepare. Omitting the chile peppers will reduce the heat level of the dish significantly. The same flavor can be achieved by adding a few dashes of hot sauce. Cottage Cheese is also a cheaper option for the cheese element, making the recipe more budget friendly. It is a hearty, satisfying meal that is great for a cold, damp day.

A recipe and review of Malai Kofta

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The Malai Kofta dumplings cooked in a spicy curry sauce is a very popular dish among the South Asian countries. Koftas are made from a mixture of minced or ground beef or lamb, onions, rice, eggs or vegetables that are rolled into orange-size balls. They can be cooked in different ways like fried, grilled, poached, steamed, marinated or baked.

Koftas can have many versions. Some are made with minced goat meat, fish and green bananas while others are made with paneer, onions and other ingredients. Koftas’ vegetarian variation can be all veggies with minced prawns.

Vegetarian Kofta Ingredients

  • 1 cup minced prawns
  • 2 cups boiled mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup mixed finely chopped vegetables (carrots, beans, cauliflower, mushroom)
  • 1 cup paneer (cottage cheese) cubes
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • 2 pcs fresh eggs
  • 2 tbsps fresh cream
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • ¼ cup finely chopped nuts (walnuts, cashew or almonds)
  • 1 liter Canola/vegetable cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 10 cloves ginger
  • Other ingredients are black pepper, spring onions, garlic, parsley, green chillies and salt to taste.

Vegetarian Kofta Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ kilo red tomatoes
  • 3 cloves onions
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 small sticks cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 5 green chillies
  • ginger, salt and black pepper to taste

Prepare all the necessary ingredients before cooking. Place the veggies in a pressure cooker and steam them for a few minutes. Mix the mash potatoes with the vegetables and add the nuts, garam masala, lemon juice, ginger, spring onions and green chillies. Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture. Add the prawns, paneer, parsley, coriander, cumin, black pepper and salt. Make sure to mix, and wait until the ingredients blend well. Make dough, and take a portion to shape into balls. Glaze the kofta dumplings with beaten eggs, and roll them into the bread crumbs. Pour vegetable oil in the pan and deep fry until they are golden brown. Set the koftas aside.

For the sauce, boil the tomatoes for at least 10 minutes or until tender. Place them in a separate bowl, and make tomato puree. Heat the pan, add the butter and fry the onions until brown. Then add the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and green chillies. Add the tomato puree and ½ cup of water, and leave to boil for 3 to 4 minutes. In a half cup of water, stir the corn flour and sugar until the powder or granules are dissolved. Pour the mixture into the pan, and add black pepper, garam masala, chilli powder and salt to taste. Cook for 5 minutes.

At this point, the koftas can be mixed with the spicy sauce and can be served while hot. However, they can also be baked to add more taste and appeal. The koftas can be placed in a Pyrex or microwavable dish. Add the sauce, fresh cream and grated cheese over the koftas. Then bake or grill for 10 to 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

Malai Kofta is a delicious South Asian cuisine that can be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The ingredients are available, obtainable and very much affordable.

Butter Chicken – Murg Makhani Recipe and Review

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If you have never tried Indian butter chicken, also known as chicken makhani, you need to branch out and try this recipe, which is both easy and delicious. 

Be prepared to spend about 30 minutes prepping your food items for cooking, one hour of marinating, followed by another 30 minutes of cook time. Overall, you can be done from start to finish in about two hours. Do not worry about the time, though, because Indian Murgh Makhani is an dish well worth waiting for!

Recipe

Mix together 1/3 cup plain, non-fat yogurt with 1 tbsp. tandoori masala powder until the two are completely mixed together.

Cut 1 and ½ lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breast into one-inch sized cubes.

Mix the chicken into the yogurt tandoori until the sauce covers the chicken on all sides.

Set the chicken into the refrigerator for one hour to marinate.

Take the chicken out after one hour, and drain away any remaining yogurt sauce.

Blend together half an onion, 1 piece of fresh ginger and 1 garlic clove until a thick paste forms.

Cook 1 tbsp. cooking oil in a big skillet on medium heat. Then add the marinated chicken to the oil, and cook until lightly brown on each side.

Take the chicken off the heat, and pour into a dish.

Cook 2 tbsp. oil in the skillet, and add the onion/ginger paste until there is very little moisture left.

Add 2 tsp. garam masala and ¼ tsp. Indian chili powder to the cooked onion ginger paste, and stir for one minute.

Add 1 cup tomato sauce, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir for five minutes.

Pour the cooked chicken into the mixture with 1 cup half and half, and stir until the mixture starts to boil.

Add 2 tbsp. butter, 1 tsp. dried fenugreek leaves and 1 tsp. salt to the mix, and turn the heat down to low.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, and check one of the chicken pieces to make sure the middle is opaque and not pink before removing the chicken from the heat

Reviews

Testers of this recipe from www.AllRecipes.com gave the Murgh Makhani chicken five out of five stars, noting that the recipe was simple and tasty. A few people noted that changing the half-and-half to heavy cream adds a certain creaminess to the recipe and cuts back slightly on the spicy taste. 

Try this Indian butter chicken recipe and learn to enjoy how to make delicious Indian Murgh Makhani right in your own kitchen.

Dinner Ideas for Mother’s Day

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Dining out is not the only option available for showing appreciation to your mother on Mother’s Day. While a meal at a nice restaurant may be a popular way of showing appreciation, other options include cooking dinner for mom. This is the more difficult of the two options and as such may be seen as a more heartfelt gesture. Most people buy gifts, a few may even buy really nice gifts, but to actually take the time and trouble to cook a fantastic meal is a surefire way to earn your mother’s appreciation. An experienced cook will have no problem with this. They know their abilities and, hopefully, their mom’s taste in food. A less experienced cook, however, will need to do some research. 

Find something that is within your abilities. For cooks who are not sure of themselves, simple is always better. This means choosing basic dishes, but not so basic that it will look like you put no effort into it. Simple dishes are also good for youngsters who want to surprise mom with a meal. Here are some ideas.

A Picnic
Picnics usually involve simple foods, and eating outdoors is often a good idea. Foods that may be packed for a picnic include sandwiches, which are within the skill-level of most people and yet can be made as fancy as desired. The key when planning a special occasion such as a Mother’s day dinner is always to use quality ingredients.

Suggestions include premium cold cuts like
• Pastrami
• Mortadella
• Sopressata
• Capicola

Ideally, deli meat should be served on a good roll, so you can save the pre-sliced white bread for the lunchbox. Decent Kaiser rolls are within most people’s budget, especially when it is for mom. To accompany your meat and bread, there should be a decent cheese, and while a simple Swiss can do, a Gouda or even some brie might be more impressive. This may be served with any of a number of sides like a simple potato salad or a regular tossed salad. 

A Pasta Dinner
For those who prefer to cook indoors, a pasta dinner is simple enough to be managed by basic cooks, but can be made fancier depending on what you do with it. Spaghetti and meatballs or just a marinara sauce is fine. Ideally, the marinara sauce and meatballs should be made from scratch. An advanced cook can up the level of difficulty by making everything from scratch, including the pasta.

Other ideas for pasta include a simple Chicken Alfredo served over spaghetti or fettuccine. With each of these ideas, everything can be made from scratch. Both of these dinner ideas are simple enough for a small child to help, as long as they have adult supervision. 

Grilling
It is almost summer, so why not bring out the grill? This is definitely the easiest solution, if you know how to grill properly. A steak or a nice cedar-planked salmon should go over well with mom. Note that neither of these is suitable for first-time cooks. Both are relatively expensive, depending on where you live, and both require precise timing and heat-control and should only be prepared by adults.

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