Tag Archives: vikas khanna

30 Days Of Healthy Indulgences: Ginger and Curry Leaf Rasam By Vikas Khanna

From November 15 through December 14, Intentblog is launching its first-ever 30 Days of Healthy Indulgences, where every day for 30 days we are inviting bloggers from all over the health and wellness space to contribute their favorite healthy indulgent recipe in time for the holiday season. Today’s featured recipe and blog is from renowned chef Vikas Khanna.

By Vikas Khanna

It’s the moment of truth in one’s life: you see something so profound that it leaves a permanent impression on your mind. For me it was everyday food rituals.

I learned to cook at my Biji – my grandmother’s side. It takes many years to understand the intricacies of the spices used in Indian cooking. The interlacing of the whole and ground spices requires a good deal of practice to get just right.

Spices are virtually indispensable in culinary art. Spices tease our senses with their enticing aromas, colors and their distinctive flavors, and have been the catalysts of some of the greatest adventures in human history, over which fortunes were made, nations discovered, and fates met.

The history and culture of Indian spices is probably as old as civilization itself and is an integral part of Indian Cuisine, which relies on varied use of spices, herbs, and seasonings to create unique tastes and aromas. 

Biji and I ground fresh spices for our every meal at home. That is a practice that I carry with me till today. At my restaurant Junoon, we have a “spice room” where spices are ground fresh every morning. This is one my favorite places at the restaurant. Generally my day begins here (weighting, grinding, creating mixtures).

There are a few things that I always follow while buying spices. I usually rely on the smell of the spices -Pungent smell indicates freshness, if they smell musty, then most likely the spices have been in storage for a while.

Also, buying smaller quantities each time ensures that I have fresh stock at all times. Spices lose flavor fast once ground, so I prefer buying spices whole and then I grind them only when and as much as I need.

The health benefits of spices are universally known. The extensive use of spices in Indian food, not only adds flavoring, but also makes for healthy eating. Spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, green chilies have always been associated with medicinal and healing properties

Ginger and Curry Leaf Rasam

(Recipe from “Flavors First: An Indian Chef’s Culinary Journey” by Vikas Khanna)

Rasam is an immensely popular soup of South India and a must in every household. The word “Rasam”, in Tamil language, means essence, or juice and by extension has come to mean a particular type of soup that includes the tartness of tamarind or tomatoes. The ingredients used in a Rasam vary but it is basically a light, spicy soup.

Red Lentils have a tendency to cook quickly and are rich in protein, fiber and anti-oxidants.  Turmeric has been used for hundreds of years in India as a major ingredient for cooking and in Ayurveda. My grandmother used to boil it with milk and give it to us when we were kids before sleeping. A small paste was applied when we would cut ourselves and also considered auspicious in ceremonies.

The spiciness can be adjusted to your taste. At times I add vegetables to make this soup a complete meal.

Serves 4

1/2 cup dry red lentils

4 cups water

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

10 fresh curry leaves

2 teaspoons black mustard seeds

Pinch of asafetida

One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, skinned and finely chopped

1 medium tomato, finely chopped

2 1/4 cups water

1 (12-ounce) can coconut milk

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Wash the lentils until the water runs clear. Add them to the water along with the turmeric and salt and cook over medium-high heat until the lentils are tender, about half an hour, skimming frequently with a spoon.

In a heavy-bottom pot, heat the oil and add the curry leaves, stirring until very fragrant, about a minute. Remove 4 leaves and reserve for the garnish. To the oil, add the mustard seeds, asafetida, ginger and tomato and cook until the tomato begins to dry, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved lentils, water, coconut milk, tamarind, and black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another 3 minutes.

Season it with salt and serve hot, garnished with the fried curry leaves.

Vikas Khanna is an award winning, Michelin Starred Indian chef, restaurateur, food writer, filmmaker, humanitarian and the host of the TV Show MasterChef India. He is based in New York City. To learn more about Vikas Khanna, visit his website www.vkhanna.com

A Very Happy Diwali: Diwali Recipes

Recipe for GUJIA



Flour 250 grams

Plum Tomato Mustard Dip – Recipes from Modern Indian Cooking

This vegetarian recipe makes one cup and should take about 30 minutes to prepare. Visit Modern Indian Cooking for more meal ideas.


1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon curry leaves, minced
3 whole dried red chilies peppers
2 large cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ cup red onion, minced
1 teaspoon paprika Salt to taste
1 large plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoon vinegar
¼ cup water


In a spice or a coffee grinder, grind together coriander, cumin seeds and peppercorns to make fine powder. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and chilies. Lower the heat and cover the pan until the spluttering subsides. Add the garlic and onion, stir a few seconds, then add the ground spices, paprika, and salt and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomato, tomato paste, vinegar and water cover the pan; reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chutney is thick and fragrant. Reduce to about 1 cup, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Mint Pilaf with Potatoes and Cumin – Recipes from Modern Indian Cooking

This recipe serves six and takes about 30 minutes to make. It is also vegetarian and very flavorful. 


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small potato, peeled and cut into ½ – inch dices
1 ½ tablespoons ginger, minced
2 tablespoons mint leaves, minced
1 fresh green chili, minced
1¼ cups basmati rice, soaked, rinsed and drained
2 ¼ cups water Salt to taste
3 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and crushed coarsely


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and sauté the onion until brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the potato, ginger, half the mint, and the green chili and cook, stir­ring, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the water and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pan, and cook until the rice is done, 10 to 15 minutes. Do not stir the rice while it cooks. Remove from the heat and let the rice rest for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle the roasted cumin and the remaining mint leaves on top, and serve.

The Love of Bread with Vikas Khanna; by Daisy Carrington – Los Angeles Times

When I told Vikas Khanna, the executive chef at Indian eatery Purnima in Midtown, that I wanted to discuss bread, he became very animated.

“If you think about it, it’s such an emotional experience,” he said. “When you think about the grain that makes bread, how can we disrespect that little grain, which fought with the earth to rise up? The weight of the earth was 3,000 times more than his own weight.”

When asked about his charity work, particularly through SAKIV, a foundation he founded that’s dedicated to preventing blindness in South Asian children, his eyes grow large.

“I don’t have the image of Bobby Flay or Emeril [Lagasse], but whatever image I have, I stretch it as much as I can to raise money for these causes.”

When asked about moving to New York, he gleefully starts humming Simon & Garfunkel’ Scarborough Fair, a tune — which he memorized from a worn out tape given to him as a child — that epitomizes the city to him.

“I don’t find it accepting anywhere, except in New York,” he tells me. “Especially for people like me, who have this fire, and they want to do something. It’s like being a kid who wants to play music but doesn’t have an instrument. The city gives you the opportunity to play that music and to make it immortal.”

It is at this point that I realize there is precious little that doesn’t inspire Khanna, who started his own catering company in his hometown of Amritsar, India at 16, and moved to New York to further his culinary career at 29. To Khanna, food takes on a higher meaning.

“I think of food as alive, and as giving us life,” he explains, recalling an answer he gave while on a panel discussion at the Asia Society.

“I said, ‘We can all talk about figures and money, but we can’t disregard the fact that the first feed comes from comes from the breast of your mom, which was given to you unconditionally. If that didn’t exist, the kingdom of humans, or any living thing on this planet, would not exist.’ After I said that, I saw all the women were looking at me like, ‘You weirdo.'”


245 W. 54th St., between Eighth Avenue and Broadway 212-307-9797

Q&A with Vikas Khanna

Why did you decide to come to New York to cook?

When you’re cooking, in any part of the world, Frank Sinatra is always haunting you. I thought, oh my God, if I can do it in New York, I can do it anywhere. It’s such a high platform.

How did your parents react when you told them you wanted to become a chef?

When I told my mom, she said, “OK, go ahead, but nobody’s going to get married to you.” And I said, “Mom, let me choose something which gives me happiness, even if I don’t make money. It’s better than being a clone and becoming an architect.”

You also write about food. What’s your next project?

I’m talking very openly in my next book about my war experiences. My family was in the middle of a major war in 1984 in my city. The only thing we had at home was potatoes. My grandmother made potato curry in the morning and the evening.

Once I pushed the plate away and said, “I’m not going to eat this! I had this in the morning, too.” She said, “This morning you had potato curry. Now I’m giving you curry potato.”

It was funny for me at that point. I think, she knew that this moment, this is going to define this guy’s life, and she didn’t want to give me ill feelings, or say, “God damn it that’s all I have.” She just wanted to have sheer love and forgiveness and tolerance. (DC)

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