Josh and I love Indian food. Neither of us grew up eating it and did not know much about it. We had both tried it a little, but it was not until we tried Maharaja restaurant in Lubbock when Josh was in law school that we became hooked. The lovely blend of spices kept drawing us back, and it soon became our favorite restaurant.
When we moved to Albuquerque about a year and a half ago, we were on the lookout for another great spot for a good Indian food fix. After checking out Urbanspoon and local food blogs, it was clear that one of the local favorites was Namaste, which is actually in Rio Rancho, a suburb of Albuquerque. We fell in love with this place for the delicious food and friendly service. Although it's almost thirty minutes from our house, it's worth the drive. We took my mother-in-law there one of the first times she came to visit and now she asks to go back every time she is in town (and we happily oblige)! She is a vegetarian, and her favorite dish is the saag aloo. Josh and I love the chicken tikka masala and we all love the vegetable samosas as an appetizer.
This fall we have had the wonderful opportunity to get to know some Indian students. They are all working on their Ph. D.'s here at the University of New Mexico. When we asked them about their favorite local spot for Indian cuisine, they enthusiastically recommended Taaj Palace. We went soon after and were not disappointed. We ate there on a Saturday for lunch, so we had the buffet. It had a wonderful variety of delicious food. Josh fell in love with the butter chicken, which I enjoyed as well. I also liked the channa masala and of course, the naan! The service was excellent and we hope to return again soon!
When not eating out at one of these great spots, I like to make Indian food at home. It can seem a little overwhelming at first, but if you can gain an understanding of the spices commonly used in Indian cuisine and find easy to follow recipes, you will have the hang of it in no time. My two favorite cooks for delicious and simple Indian recipes are Aarti Sequeira and Anupy Singla.
Aarti Sequeira has her own food blog, Aarti Party and a show on Food Network by the same name. She has great traditional Indian recipes as well as American food with an Indian twist. I have tried many of her recipes in the past and hope to try more and feature them here for you.
Anupy Singla has written two Indian cookbooks, The Indian Slow Cooker and Vegan Indian Cooking. She also has a website which includes a blog and other great resources. It is Indian as Apple Pie. I have The Indian Slow Cooker and love it (as I have mentioned in previous posts). The traditional Indian recipes are simplified with the use of the slow cooker, although the wonderful flavors have not been compromised. One of our favorites so far from this book is the Aloo Gobi (spiced cauliflower and potatoes). It is super easy to make, healthy, filling, and flavorful. We had it last night as pictured above. If you are interested in Indian cuisine, you should give this book a try. I have yet to try her other book, but noticed it is at our local library, so I may have to check it out!
Just a quick note about Indian spices. As you begin to look at these recipes and cookbooks, you may notice some of the spices are not available at your grocery store. You will most likely need to find an Indian Market if you have one in your town (Bombay Spice is a good one here in Albuquerque) or an International Food Market (such as Talin Market in Albuquerque). If you cannot find anywhere local to purchase the spices, you should be able to order them online.