Monday, December 5, 2011

Bringing the world to Chambana

Edition I- A Passage to India.

Ever dug your teeth into a mouth watering samosa (a pastry stuffed with potatoes and peas)? I certainly have and I can tell you it’s delicious! For all of you spice deprived people on campus, fear no more, I have a solution for you. Champaign-Urbana has an awesome selection of Indian food that can satisfy your quench. Not only do we have restaurants right on campus (Bombay Grill, Green and 4th), we also have 2 Indian grocery stores so you c

an even try your hand at cooking. I’m here to give you an idea of what to look out for and try at each place. I’m telling you what each place’s best asset is. Since I happen to be a vegetarian, sorry to all you meat lovers my suggestions are all veggie.

Best Restaurant food

A lot of you are probably thinking, “duh it’s the only restaurant” and though that is true, Bombay Grill is actually

a great Indian restaurant in general. It has some dishes that taste a lot like they would in India. Try the Saag Paneer or the Dal Makhani. Both of these dishes are famous Indian dishes and taste delicious at Bombay Grill. You can enjoy a nice lunch during a break from class or a nice and spicy dinner to satisfy your cravings. This is a restaurant so prices are higher, it is more a sit down place but you can order to go. Since it is more expensive, you may have to plan to go there.

Best Variety

I know how irritating it can be to go to one store and not find what you need and have to go to a few others to find it. The best part about Annapoorna, located on Springfield and Neil in the Royal plaza, is that it almost always has everything you need. I go there on a weekly basis to buy my Indian groceries. They have everything from Indian snacks to raw mangoes and spicy chilies. It also has a great assortment of frozen foods that are pretty delicious. Try uttapams and aloo parathas. Both of those come frozen. If you are looking to try something homemade, then you can pick up some s

pices and give cooking a shot. If you like spicy food, then buy some of their fresh chillies and your mouth will soon be on fire. Raw mangoes are a specialty in India. We buy them and cut them up and add them to salads for a little bit of a sour kick. Since we also love spice and nothing goes without it, we usually sprinkle some salt and some red chili powder on them and then add them to salads or just eat them plain. Annapoorna also has a wide array of dry foods and also

the best flavored chips on the planet, at least in my opinion. The chips are Lays chips, but the Indian version. It has a great flavor called Magic Masala which is like a crash course in Indian spices. Annaporna also sells Maggi which is an Indian brand that makes some great relishes like ketchup and sweet and sour sauce. Everything in India has an Indian touch, so if you are looking for a little kick try the Maggi brand. Maggi also makes an Indian version of Ramen. If you like eating Ramen, try some 2-minute noodles from the Maggi brand (the noodles cook in 2 minutes just like Ramen). There is also a delicious snack called Khatha Meetha (Sour and Sweet) which is also low in calories. If you like a tangy kick, then this would be great to try.

Best all in one deal

Like me, you may have occasions when you are starving and want food immediately but also need groceries. No worries, Mirsung on Green and Locust has a perfect combination for you. Not only do you have the option of buying groceries but you can also have a meal in the connected restaurant. Mirsung provides some awesome South Indian food, I believe the only place to do

so in the area and also has a grocery store so you can buy your spices and vegetables too. Try the Madhu Vada or the Chaat Puri both of which are delectable. Food items are decently priced but can be expensive.


For those of you that would like to try cooking here is an easy recipe. This dish is called Dahi ki Kadhi which translates to (yogurt curry).


Basmati Rice

Chick Pea Flour

Red Chilli Powder

Fresh Chillis

Curry Leaves

Fenugreek seeds

Cumin seeds
Asafoetida powder

Curry leaves

Cooking Oil

Turmeric powder

Yogurt- 1 can plain yogurt



Set up the rice to cook before you start making the curry, so that you can eat immediately after the curry is made.

First put the yogurt and two tablespoons of chick pea flour in a pan with a ¾ of a cup of water. Then blend it with a hand blender or manually.

Then set it to warm on medium to high gas.

Then wash 6-8 curry leaves and cut up or slit open 3-4 chillis (put in less if you are not a fan of spice) and put it in the pan.

Make sure that the yogurt does not separate from the flour so keep mixing it with a spoon or blend it if necessary.

Once you have set this up, then heat up 5-6 tablespoons of oil in a pan and once it is warm add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds. Once these have browned, add ½ teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. Once these have browned a little add ½ teaspoon of turmeric, ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder, and ½ teaspoon of asfoetida powder in.

While you are cooking the spices the curry should rise and once this occurs you should immediately lower the gas.

Then add the cooked spices in to the curry and mix them in.

Finally add 1 tablespoon of salt or more if you would like.

Then your curry is ready to be eaten. It should look a little something like this. The ladel in the image is used to cook the spices. You can do it in a pan but if you have something like this, it works better.

Now you have all you need to eat some amazing food. Whether it be to stop in and grab a snack, or eat at a sit down place, or make your own meal, please take any of the suggestions above and eat to your heart’s content. I wish you the best in your exploration of Chambana’s international specialties.