Two Tricks for Cheating Your Way to Better Homemade Indian Food

I appreciate your patience as I try to figure out a truly reliable, awesome tasting lentil dish. To recap, I’ve been working with udad dal split matpe beans and throwing in an assortment of dried spices in varying proportions. I’ve learned I’m not a methi fan, that lentils can be whipped into a party-approved dip and that if the lentils still don’t make the cut – just add some toppings.

I recently caved, ignoring the pending bathing suit season, and purchased ghee, clarified butter. This immensely aids in creating that depth found in real Indian cooking, but also ensured a lingering just-cooked Indian food smell in my apart for days. But I was okay with that. Because ghee is delicious.

But back to the toppings. Here are two ways to disguise mediocre Indian food:

1. Coriander Chutney

With a vivid green color this topping automatically brightens any dish.

It’s fiery with serrano and garlic, but balanced with coconut and white vinegar and brings an overall spark to dull lentils. I haven’t used it with other foods yet, but I imagine it’d be great slathered on fried eggs, mixed into hummus and blended with yogurt and yolks for a deviled egg filling.

2. Tamarind-Date Chutney

Where the coriander brings pizazz, this chutney fulfills a desire for sweetness. I don’t normally add sugar, honey or maple syrup to my cooking, but for some reason I crave this gentle, fruit-based sweet over my lentils. It has a saucy thickness that adds body to the lentils dish, but is not overwhelming. Plus it carries a tiny tang so it’s not sweetness overload. I bet this would be fun drizzled on top of goat cheese on a toasted baguette or swirled on top of a garlicky white bean soup.

You may also like


  • Borracho April 4, 2011  

    Salivated just reading this and tamarind may be one of my favorite ingredients ever. From candied tamarind as a snack to dried tamarind adding a lil sweetness to masalas, you cannot go wrong!

  • mariah carey April 4, 2011  

    i bet your neighbors love your new hobby

  • erica April 4, 2011  

    i’m stoked to see what you come up with for lentils. oh, btw, i discovered last week that roasted beets and cottage cheese are amazing together. please be advised.

  • gansie April 4, 2011  

    @erica – thanks for the cottage cheese update. i may have given up on trying to like that strange, clumpy white thing. but i’ve been all over greek yogurt these days.

    on the lentil front, i’ve been chatting with a true Indian woman and she’s given me some serious tips. will report back, obvs.

  • Missy April 4, 2011  

    Yum! I just made my first Indian grocery store trip Sunday, in a quest to find mango powder for a curry recipe. Can’t wait to do more experimenting.

  • erica April 4, 2011  

    @gansie – too bad! i recently gave up trying to like pepperoncinis. never thought i’d meet a spicy pickled vegi i wouldn’t like 🙁

  • dan April 4, 2011  

    Hmm you dont like methi? I love the maple syrupy flavor the fenugreek seeds bring to the party. (they actually use methi in crappy corn syrup “maple syrup” to make it taste more mapley)

    Also did you know you can make ghee pretty easily?

Leave a comment