Indian Cupcakes: Rose Cake with Orange Cardamom Frosting


I’m not sure all of you know this or not but I am not a fan of Indian desserts. They’re either too sweet – as the case with kaju burfi or the texture is too different for me – such as ras malai.

Since I usually pass on desserts when at an Indian restaurant or at <3M’s family’s home, I wanted to create a dessert that still had Indian flavors but catered more to my taste and texture preference while still make it something <3M would enjoy and associate with home.

In all, this cupcake was truly inspired by <3M. Indian desserts are something I would never make myself but I wanted to treat him to a Indian sweet of my own and thus I was inspired to merge an American favorite (cupcakes!) with Indian flavors.

The idea for rose cupcakes had been floating around in my mind for months. Now, in all honesty, I don’t even care for rose!
I’m not a fan of it in perfume, I don’t like it in a lassi or kulfi but the thought of it as a cupcake appealed to me – maybe because I knew I could control the depth of the rose flavor if I myself were making it.


Now, the rose cupcake idea was easy, it was the frosting that had me stuck for a while. I have always loved Orange Cardamom cupcakes. The flavors are unique – it has a citrusy sweet touch from the orange and a slight spiciness from the cardamom. Since cardamom is a prominent flavor in Indian foods, I wanted to incorporate it into the cupcake in some way.

How they’d pair with rose, I wasn’t quite sure. I was hopefully though that the delicate rose would off se the spice that cardamom brought and decided to wing it.

I initially searched online for a cupcake recipe within the rose & orange cardamom spectrum but was unable to find one. There were lots of rose vanilla cupcake recipes out there but after reviewing the recipes, they didn’t fit with my baking preferences. Most used a rose extract which I thought would be too strong or too fake tasting.

In my mind, I was set on using rose water. Rose water itself is slightly diluted but fragrant. And after tasting these cupcakes, I knew my intuition was correct – using rose water was perfect. The cake itself doesn’t have a strong flavor of rose but the scent is there and because eating is a multi-sensual experience, you believe you truly are eating a rose flavored cupcake – but it’s enjoyable without the flowery potent taste one tends to associate with rose.

As for the frosting, again – that citrusy sweet, spice combination pairs perfectly with the delicate rose. And there’s the added crumble of pistachios on top for a bit of texture to balance the light fluffy cake and the creamy frosting.

If you decide to make them, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 egg whites
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk (any kind – almond, coconut, cow..)
1/4 cup rose water
2-3 drops red food coloring (if you wish cupcakes to be pink)


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons half and half
1 tablespoon orange juice (fresh or bottled)
zest from 1/2 orange
2 teaspoons cardamom
1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped
**If you care to color your frosting orange, follow your food coloring’s directions for doing so. My coloring was 7 drops yellow to 1 drop red.


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line muffin tin with 12-15 cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar. Once combined, whisk in the egg whites, yogurt, milk, and rose water until combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter, egg, milk mixture ingredients until well combined.  If using food coloring, add it at this time.

Divide batter among 12-15 cupcake liners (or 24-30 mini) and bake for 14-17 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the frosting.

To make the frosting, beat softened butter on medium speed with a stand mixer until smooth and creamy (at least a minute)

Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, half and half, orange juice, orange zest, cardamom. Increase to speed and beat for 1-2 additional minutes. At this time add the food coloring (if using) and additional powdered sugar if the frosting is too thick – or more cream if the frosting is too thick.

Chill frosting for 15 minutes prior to using.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with pistachios.

One Year of Fostering..


A year ago at Thanksgiving, <3M and I began volunteering with Austin Boxer Rescue as fosters. We began with the intention of fostering a dog until we found one that truly fit our family and could be a true buddy with our puppy girl Stella. One year and 5 foster dogs later, we don’t have a new, permanent furry resident but we do have a few lessons learned and many fond memories as foster parents

Saying Goodbye
A lot of our friends ask how we could love a dog for a few weeks or months then one day, most of the time unexpectedly, say goodbye.  Since saying goodbye to our first foster Jack (ABR – Sean) we’ve learned that each dog has a family it’s destined for.  Although we’ve loved each of our fosters, we’ve been able to objectively look at each temporary family member and pinpoint why that dog isn’t the perfect fit for our family and kept these reasons in mind when kissing the pups goodbye, reassuring ourselves we made the right decision by letting him go.

Boxer Collage

We also learned that saying goodbye is not only hard on us but also on our puppy girl Stella. Each time a new friend comes and goes, Stella goes through a short mourning period – often watching for her friend from the window, worriedly whining about their whereabouts, feeling she needs some extra love and cuddles, and being too heartbroken to eat. This is by far the hardest part for us, not saying goodbye to our recent foster, but watching Stella work through the goodbye without fully understanding.

Every dog has a story
Each dog has a background that’s shaped him into the dog they are when we receive them.

Jack arrived to us with mange.

Jefferson came to us with cuts and bite marks.

Apollo (ABR La Bamba) was surrendered by his owners.

No matter how they ended up with us, we always tried to remember that these dogs needed to feel safe, cared for, and loved. They were all scared, confused, and had been sleeping in a different place each night. What they needed was a calm environment and a steady routine to bring their life back to normal.

Apollo So when they have a small accident on the carpet or become a bit territorial over a toy, blanket, or human – we often had to remind ourselves that our fosters are still in training. That somedays, we just have to bend down, clean up the mess and remember that they’re still learning how good life truly can be.

Every Dogs Has a Perfect Family
After having a dog in your home for a while, you come to know what exact needs they require in order to get adopted and begin looking for that perfect family – the family that fits the dog to be their forever home.

Sean : Jack 2 You learn that your foster won’t fit the needs of every family that finds their fuzzy little face adorable. You learn how to nicely direct the family to a better fit while petting your foster pup and letting them know, as another potential adopter walks away, that it wasn’t meant to be and that his future family is still out there.

Jefferson was one in particular that <3M and I had a hard time letting go but we knew he wasn’t a great fit for our family and that he needed some special attention to break his overprotective nature. Jefferson found his forever Daddy one adoption day. His behavior has improved greatly and he’s now a daily presence at the gym his Dad owns! Knowing Jefferson found the right fit in his adoptive home gives us peace of mind, in knowing we made the right decision in letting go and taking the time to find him the right family.

Jefferson & Dad When it came to Kringle, we knew exactly what type of family to match him with. We lived in an apartment and he simply needed more room, he had a ton of energy and needed space to let it all out. Kringle needed a place to run and stretch his legs – he needed a backyard. One adoption day, he met a Dad looking for a fur-brother to keep his current boxer entertained when his 2 little girls weren’t around. Kringle met his potential fur (and skin) sisters and it was a perfect match. The girls play with him to keep his energy level in check and when they’re away, Kringle has is fur sister to play and tumble with in his very own backyard!

Apollo, our most recent foster, was a rambunctious 2 year old who becomes a little too playful when having another dog around. He also needed a lot of attention in order to become properly trained on a leash. Getting to know Apollo over few months he was with us, we came to learn that he’d be best as a solo dog. When it was just him and I, this guy was super cuddly, super responsive and just simply wonderful. As we meet potential adopters, <3M and I knew to keep our single dog family recommendation is mind in order to ensure Apollo’s match truly would be his forever home.

Sean : Jack

It’s hard. And Fulfilling.
Fostering’s hard. It requires patience and understanding. It requires sacrifice. And sometimes it’s heartbreak for all those involved. But overall there’s joy in know that even for a short period of time, you were able to share your home and love with an animal who truly needed and appreciated it. Who with your love and attention, was able to regain that sparkle of love and trust in their eyes.

An Apple (Pie) a Day..


Apple Pie is an iconic American dessert.  And in my family, it was a regular.  I have quite a few childhood memories that include making and eating apple pie with my family. It was always around for holidays, made every year for my Dad’s birthday [because it was his favorite], and was enjoyed after most Sunday night dinners.  

Making the pies, at least when I was younger, was a family affair.  I remember my Dad sitting at our kitchen table running apples through a hand-cranked apple peeler and watching the thin strips of skin drop to the floor.  These were my apple strings were favorite part, I always loved eating the long ropes of apple skin while watching him crank away.

While Dad was peeling the apples, my Mom would begin making the homemade pie crust using her Mom’s recipe [obviously, because in our family, we just don’t do store-bought pie crust].  I remember her carefully rolling out the dough so it wouldn’t tear and crimping it perfectly around the edge of the pie pan, creating perfect edges with ease.  Once the apples were peeled and cut, she’d mix the apples in with the sugar and cinnamon and pile them high into the crust, neatly topping everything with a buttery-rich crumb topping.  In our family, crumb topping was the only way to enjoy apple pie.  Not only did you NOT have to roll out two pie crusts but you got that extra crunch & warmth from the topping that made eating apple pie that much more comforting.


My mom would bake the apple pie an hour or so before dinner so by the time our meal was complete, we’d be able to enjoy warm apple pie – which is the only way an apple pie should be enjoyed, warm & fresh out of the oven.  In fact, my Aunt Val didn’t even realize apple pie was served cold until she was in her 20’s.  Some may say she was considered spoiled but I’d save she was privileges for never having to eat cold apple pie [yuck!]

Most people love enjoying a slice of apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream, and in my family, we enjoyed that once in a while but our standard was to accompany apple pie was with a few slices of sharp cheddar cheese on the side.  It might sound strange, maybe even a bit “Polak” but apples & cheese are a common pair and the creaminess of the cheese and its slight bite paired perfectly with the sweet-tartness of the apple pie.  My Grandma Hellert would be the to initially make the cheese request and at times, she’d simply show up with blocks of cheese whenever she knew apple pie was on the menu.

Although I have fond memories of apple pie from my childhood, my current apple pie indulgence is limited to visits home or in this past Christmas’ instance, my Mom’s visit to Austin. And honestly, I’m fine indulging in it every few years but in between these homemade treats, I still enjoy the flavors of apple pie by mixing up an Apple Pie Protein Smoothie – the healthified apple pie!

This smoothie recipe is something I came up with years later, after first enjoying an Apple Pie Milkshake during my 3rd grade class’ Apple Day celebration.  The original recipe had applesauce, cinnamon, milk, and of course, ice cream.  Mine on the other hand has fresh apples & applesauce, spices, almond milk & vanilla protein powder. It’s a slimmed down version of the milkshake but still delivers all the flavors of Mom’s apple pie without the fat, calories, and post-indulgence guilt.  It’s great for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack or even a late night dessert!


Apple Pie Protein Smoothie
Makes 1 smoothie


  • 1 cup almond milk, vanilla or original [I use unsweetened]
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 apple finely diced* [I prefer Fuji or Empire but I’ve also used Granny Smith for some extra tartness]
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder [I use about 40 grams]
  • 6-8 ice cubes


Place everything in the blender beginning with the top of the ingredient list and working you way down.

Add additional ice cubes as needed to acquire your desired thickness.
Pour into a glass, sprinkle with cinnamon & enjoy!

*Note: Sometimes, I only add half of the apple to the smoothie and choose to stir in the rest to the smoothie after blending. Obviously, you can’t drink the smoothie but I enjoy eating it with a spoon, kind of like a soup smoothie!


This smoothie requires a spoon!

Mom’s Choclate Chip Cookies


Some recipes aren’t meant to be healthified.
In fact, healthifying them might actually be WRONG.

Case in fact – my mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I’ve learned this from experience.  When you want your mother’s chocolate chip cookies, you aren’t truly craving cookies – you’re craving comfort.  And healthifying the recipe will only leave you unsatisfied and still in need of comfort.


My mom’s chocolate chip cookies are my comfort food.  I specifically remember a time in college when I came home one weekend, devastated and upset by an event that happened [something that I look back on now as trivial but at the time viewed as detrimental].  When I arrived home that morning, my mom was in the kitche20140221_135843n baking chocolate chip cookies.  I sat at the kitchen table with a glass of milk, ate those cookies, and cried while I talked to my mom about what was bothering me. And afterwards, I felt better.  Yes, sharing my thoughts with my mom while eating her warm, fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies, made me feel better.

It’s often stated that you shouldn’t comfort yourself or hide your feelings with food – but there’s always an exception.  And in this case, my mom’s chocolate chips cookies are love in a physical form. They are comfort and they make people feel better.  So when I need some comforting and am miles away from my mom but yearning for her comfort and a hug – her cookies are the closest I get to feeling that embrace.

I’ve also learned that in order for them to truly be comforting, I need to be made using the exact same brands of ingredients she uses.  Using an alternative will not deliver the same taste, love, or comfort.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 9.22.53 AM

So, here’s my mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe – with the exact brands you need to make them to feel my mom’s comforting, loving hug via chocolate chip cookies.

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 10.03.45 AM

Mom Hellert’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup Butter Flavored Crisco
  • 1/2 cup Land O’Lakes Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Domino Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Domino Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 eggs [white eggs please…] 
  • 1 tsp McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 cups Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp salt [table salt, none of that fancy sea stuff]
  • 2 cups Nestle Semi Sweet Morsels*


Preheat oven to 375*

In a stand mixer, cream together crisco, butter, sugars, and vanilla until light & fluffy.
Beat in eggs. In a separate bowl, sift together flower, baking soda, and salt.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture [in 2 – 3 batches].
Fold in chocolate chips.

Place tablespoon-sized mounds on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes or until lightly golden in color. [It’s best to rotate the sheet half way through baking to ensure cookies are evenly browned.]

Let cookies cool slightly on tray.  They’re best eaten warm, minutes out of the oven!

*Note: My mom actually used 1 cup Nestle Semi Sweet Morsels and 1 cup Nestle Semi Sweet & Premier White Chocolate Morsels but these are often difficult to find.  An adequate replacement would be to sub a 1/2 cup of Nestle Premier White Chocolate Morsels for a portion of the semi sweet.

*Note: My mom would also, sometimes, add in chopped walnuts.  If you like nuts in your chocolate chip cookies, add in a 1/2 cup chopped walnuts when folding in the chocolate chips.

Cooking for the Family


So I’ve been gone for a few weeks but as I mentioned earlier, it’s because I was in India getting married – no big deal.

We had a great wedding, my parents thoroughly enjoyed all the Indian wedding traditions, we were able to visit with some of my new Arora family members, and were even swept away for a mini honeymoon to Udaipur – where we got to ride a camel and relax a bit, just the two of us, before heading back to the States!

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Ramu the Camel

In India, after the marriage, it’s tradition for the new wife to cook for her husband’s family for the first time.  Which isn’t a problem, because obviously, I love to cook! But prior to our travels, <3M had mentioned to his family that I had made a healthified version of Dal Makhni and THIS was the meal they requested me to make. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal but I had only made it once before…in the States…using a crockpot…with proper measuring tools.

My first time making healthified Dal Makhni, <3M doubted my ability to make the traditional, creamy dish – as Dal Makhni translates to Butter Lentils.  He even refused to call it Dal Makhni when I told him I was making it, saying lets just call it “dal” [aka lentils] so I didn’t set false expectations.

M<3 was skeptical because to him, Dal Makhni is a signature dish. It’s the dish that he judges all Indian restaurants on. He believes that the quality of a restaurant’s Dal resonates to the quality of the restaurant overall.  So for him – Dal Makhni is a BIG DEAL.

So when he tasted my healthier version of Dal Makhni, he [and our friend Punit who also came to judge] were pleasently surprised to find that I did in fact make a traditional Dal Makhni – maintaining its authentic buttery and creamy flavor without all the actual butter and cream.  To them, that night, I was a food hero – making them homemade Dal Makhni – the same Dal which they recalled eating at home in India.

So really, making my healthier Dal Makhni is truly no big deal but having to make it in India WAS a big deal.  Not only was I cooking in a kitchen I wasn’t quite used to,  I’d be making this meal without measuring tools, hoping the ingredients in America translate to the same thing in India, cooking it on a stovetop rather than a crockpot, and on top of everything else – when we arrived, I found out that the family had a professional chef cooking for them that week to lessen the household chores.

This was just the icing on the cake – not only was I cooking for the family for the first time but I had to do it in front of a professional chef who would undoubtedly be watching me and judging my Indian cooking skills with skepticism.


The Professional Chef

In my family, my Mother, Grandmothers, and Aunts are all wonderful cooks.  Cooking is our thing. It’s how we show our love to the people close to us.  It’s how we show we’re the caretakers.  To me, cooking a wonderful dish for <3M’s family for the first time was significant.  It was proof to them that I’d take care of him forever and always, and that he’d be well fed and forever loved.  Because as I mentioned, to me, in my family, Food = Love.


Since failure was not an option, I prepared for my cooking adventure prior to packing for India – by ensuring I packed two basic measuring tools that I knew could get me through cooking for the family the first time. My tools of choice were a measuring cup – a bright orange, Tupperware quarter cup and a stainless steel measuring spoon – the 1 teaspoon to be exact [both belonged to my Grandma Greene – so I was stacking the the deck by bringing good cooking ju-ju with me]!  With these two tools, my knowledge of cooking, and by writing a detailed grocery list, I set out to cook Healthified Dal Makhni for the family!

And it was a success [or at least they told me it was!].

Everyone said they loved it, the professional chef even signed off on my Dal Makhni, complimenting me saying even home cooks and Indian chefs have trouble making an authentic Dal Makhni the way I did.

So here it is, here’s healthified Dal Makhni [the crockpot version].  It has the same creamy, buttery, rich, savory flavors as traditional Dal Makhni but with less than a quarter of the fat and calories of the original [I ran the nutritionals!]. It’s the perfect comfort food served atop some rice [I prefer brown]!

Crockpot Dal Makhni
Serves: 4-6


■ 2 cup urad saboot [black lentils]
■ 15 oz red kidney beans [I used canned]
■ 2 tbsp butter
■ 1½ tsp salt
■ 3 cups vegetable broth [or water]
■ 1 cup tomato puree [2 large tomatoes, roasted & pureed or used canned]
■ 3/4 tsp nutmeg powder
■ 1/2tsp garam masala
■ 3 tsp roasted cumin powder
■ 4 tbsp kasoori methi [dried fenugreek leaves]
■ 1 tsp ground fenugreek powder
■ ½ tsp red chile powder
■ 1 ½ tsp aamchoor powder
■ 1 tsp kati salt [black salt]
■ 2 ½ tsp ground coriander
■ ½ tsp cinnamon

Grind to a Paste

■ 2 dry, whole red chile
■ 1 tbsp ginger
■ 4 medium to large cloves garlic

To Add Later

■ 1/3 cup fat free half and half
■ 2-3 tbsp more unsalted butter

Make the tomato puree:
If roasting your own tomatoes, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place tomatoes upside down on a baking sheet and score and “x” on the bottom of both.  Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes.  Let cool, peel away skin, and puree until smooth.

Par-cook the lentils:
Bring water to boil. Add lentils and boil 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for roughly 30 minutes. Drain lentils & set aside.

Prep the chile-garlic-ginger paste:
Make the chile-garlic-ginger paste by grinding together with a mortar & pestle.  Set aside.

Once everything is prepped, the crockpot comes in to play to do the remaining work:
Add the par-cooked lentils & 3 cups vegetable broth [or water] to crockpot with first 2 tbsp butter, and the chile-garlic-ginger paste. Add in spices [salt, nutmeg, garam masala, cumin,fenugreek leaves & powder, chile powder, aamchoor powder, kati salt, coriander & cinnamon] and tomato puree.

Let everything cook on high for 4 hours [or on low for 6-8 hours]. Before serving, add red kidney beans, half & half and additional butter. If you like your dal a little less thick, stir in an additional ½ to 1 cup vegetable broth [or water]. Let cook another 20-30 minutes before serving.

Serve over rice & garnish with cilantro and a cool size of yogurt.

Adapted from:

I’m getting married in a week



Did you know I’ll be married in a week?

Well, not legally – not filing for taxes together legally – but married in at least one half the world.

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We’ve been referring to these upcoming nuptials as “being married in the Eastern hemisphere.” And we’re constantly being asked how we’ll respond afterwards, when asked if we’re married, if we’ll refer to one another as husband and wife, if he’ll wear a ring back in the States, which anniversary we’ll  celebrate, etc?

The real answer isn’t I don’t know.

I’m pretty sure we’ll do whatever feels right or maybe the Eastern hemisphere joke will be carried out until the wedding in Austin – which is exactly 210 days after the wedding in India.

It’s strange – we never really had to talk about whether or not we should have two weddings or one. We both just knew we were going to have two weddings.  Because honestly, both <3M and I have different ideas of  “tying the knot.”


To him, getting married meant a week of traditions and rituals, festive activities, grand attire, joyous music, dancing, and hundreds of people.

My idea included a white dress, a walk down the isle with my dad, cake cutting, sharing the experience with a handful of  people, and a day of romance.


Both drastically different yet each completely traditional.

And I love it.


I love that we’re honoring both our cultures.  I love that we get to share this event with friends & family across the globe – not forcing them to choose whether or not they should make the 2000 mile journey one way or another to attend a single event   I love that they get to see our love and I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with them in India or Austin as <3M & I begin a new chapter of our life.

For us, two weddings means twice the opportunity to celebrate our love.  For us, it’s our normal.

Channa Masala – India’s Gateway Cuisine


I believe Channa Masala [also known as Chole] is the gateway dish to Indian cuisine.  It’s the starter curry for those skeptical of venturing into this “exotic” Indian cuisine.

Channa Masala is the gateway curry because it uses a familiar bean, garbanzo beans [found on most salad bars across the States], it tends to be mild in spice, and has a warm cozy feel to it when eaten, similar to the way chicken noodle soup makes most people feel loved and comforted as a child.

[Please excuse the unappetizing channa masala photos but Indian food is rather difficult to photograph and my photography skills are still a work-in-progress. If you want to see beautiful channa masala photos, take a look here.]

I love channa masala for all of the above reasons but I also enjoy it because it has a subtle hint of cinnamon and clove that enhances the overall flavor of the dish.  It elevates the coziness, creates depth, and if you are unfamiliar with Indian food, it leaves you wondering “What is that?”  The flavor is so familiar yet hard to pinpoint as cinnamon and clove, since their unexpected in such a savory dish.


In grad school, my friend Puja originally taught me how to make channa masala.  I loved her version but it was never quite the same as when I experienced channa in a restaurant – there was always something missing that I couldn’t quite pin down.  After investigating channa masala recipes online, I learned that the missing flavor was the cinnamon-clove combination!

Traveling to India this past Fall, I experienced “real” channa masala, made at home by my soon to be Mami [M<3’s Mother’s sister-in-law aka: my Aunt in-law].  Before we arrived, M<3 raved about Mami’s cooking, declaring her one of the best cooks in his family and when I tasted her channa masala, I knew he was right.  Her channa had the comforting yet not over-powering cinnamon-clove taste I love with a hearty spiciness and a beautiful rich, brown color that made it appetizing even to the eyes.

Of course, before leaving India I requested the recipe and Mami sent me back to the States with the exact spices she used to make her channa and instructions on how to recreate the recipe at home. Mami has more of a “cook by taste” approach and this was the recipe I was given:

Boil channa two katories by putting a little salt garam masala and oil
Heat oil on pan, put ginger garlic paste roast then put one fourth spoon kala salt,one fourth spoon amchoor powder,one fourth spoon anrdana half spoon channa powder two spoons tomato purée roast and add boiled channa with a little water simmer for five minutes and ready for serving

Reading the recipe 10 times over, I was left more and more confused each time – what’s a katori; when she says spoon does that mean table, tea, soup or a regular ol’ spoon? I knew her recipe used dried beans but how long was I to boil them?  I’ve never heard of boiling dry beans with oil.  How much oil do I use?  What was the measurement for garlic and ginger?


Obviously, this was not quite the recipe I was expecting in order to recreate the wonderful, rich channa masala I had experienced at Mami’s house.  After some more Google searching to understand what a “katori” measurement was [it’s a bowl used for sambar FYI] I was able to take my current channa masala knowledge and it’s basic taste profiles to recreate Mami’s recipe in more specific measurements and developed what I consider to be an authentic, spicy channa masala. [It’s been <3M and Punit approved as well!]

Below is my version on Channa Masala – it’s a recipe I know I will make over and over again – savoring the warm cozy feelings this dish brings and thinking back to the first tasted Mami’s channa during my first trip to India.

Channa Masala


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves of garlic [or 1 heaping tablespoon of garlic paste]
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ginger paste
  • 3/4 cup red onion, finely diced [about 1 medium onion]
  • 1 large tomato, pureed [about 1 cup, puree raw tomato in a food processor]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kala salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons amchoor powder [also known as mango powder]
  • 1 teaspoon anrdana powder*
  • 2 teaspoons channa powder*
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove
  • 3 cups cooked garbanzo beans**
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups water


In a large pot, heat oil over medium-low heat.  Add in the garlic, ginger, and red onion.  Cook until the onions begin to sweat and are slightly translucent [about 5 minutes].

Add in the tomato puree and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring as not to burn.  Add in all spices [kala salt, amchoor powder, anrdana powder*, channa powder*, cumin, cinnamon, & clove].  Allow these flavors for develop, cooking on medium-low for another 5 minutes, stirring as needed so the mixture doesn’t burn.

Add in the garbanzo beans and allow the beans to cook with the onion-tomato-spice mixture on medium-low for another 3-5 minutes, stirring as needed to keep the ingredients from burning.  At this time, add in the water [1 1/2 to 2 cups or until the beans are slightly covered].

After adding water, bring the curry to a boil, continuing the boil for up to 5 minutes.  Keep an eye on the pot so it doesn’t boil over.  Afterwards, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and allow the curry to thicken for at least 20 minutes.

Serve with rice, cilantro, and yogurt. [I prefer brown rice for an added fiber boost].

*Note:  If you can’t tolerate a lot of spice in your food, add in only 1/2 a teaspoon of anradana powder and 1 teaspoon of channa masala powder initially.  Before serving, taste the curry for spice level and adjust as needed – adding addition anradana and channa powder in 1/2 teaspoon increments.

**Note: I switch between using canned beans and cooking dried beans from scratch, depending on how much time I have or if I’ve planned ahead.  If using dry, be sure to prep the beans the morning of or night before.  Use 1 1/4 cups dry beans and follow these instructions – this should yield roughly 3 cups of cooked beans