The Rise of the Indian Foodie

Richness and variety of Indian dishes

When you think of Indian cuisine, what do you think of? Chances are good that you’re picturing curries, samosas, naan bread, and some of the other familiar choices you can find at our Bellevue restaurant. However, this is by no means the end of the story.

As big and populous as India is, there is no end to the richness and variety of Indian dishes. Even many natives to the country are not aware of the full scope of Indian cuisine.

Many Indians will often joke about how they become so accustomed to “ghar ka khana”, or “home food” that they never go out to try anything new.

Fortunately, this is starting to change.

In many of the country’s bigger cities, cooks are finding a new willingness to experiment and explore the world of Indian cooking.

With the help of social media and an increased demand for food diversity, they are delving outside of the typical and into the esoteric. Strange new ingredients are making it onto the menu, like ant eggs, silkworm pupae, and pigeon meat.

The problem that these adventurous new chefs are facing is one of profitability. Despite the best efforts of online services specifically designed to connect foodies with exciting new cuisines, such chefs are having trouble turning a profit. Still, many maintain that this is an idea worth pursuing, and that they have only to find the right way to make it work.

If you’ve never taken a step outside of your own comfort zone, consider a trip to MokSHA for some quality, South Indian-style dining. Whether you’re new to Indian food, or a seasoned veteran, you’ll find something to make you happy.

Paneer: India’s Favorite Cheese

Paneer is a variety of cow’s milk cheese that traces its origins back to India. It is the most common of cheeses used in India, as well as throughout much of the Middle East. It is called an acid-set cheese, meaning that it is curdled and set with the help of lemon juice or a similar acid instead of the rennet and bacteria that is commonly used for most conventional cheeses. Its lack of rennet and its high protein content makes the cheese a popular choice for vegetarians.

The word “paneer” is a Persian word that translates to “cheese”. It was apparently first created back in the seventeenth century, when the Portuguese introduced the process of creating acid-set cheeses to the country. After that, it spread throughout India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, where it remains highly popular to this day.

The taste of paneer is simple and highly versatile. Indian chefs like to crumble it into many curry-based dishes, since the cheese readily absorbs the strong flavors of the spices. You can also find it used as a filling for traditional stuffed breads and desserts. In modern India, it has been adopted for use in a number of familiar fast-food dishes, with paneer-topped pizzas, paneer cheeseburgers, and even a paneer-stuffed burrito appearing in Indian versions of American franchises..

At MokSHA’s Bellevue Indian cuisine restaurant, you can experience the taste of paneer in many of our dishes. Try a lahsooni saag paneer, a paneer butter masala, or a malai paneer kofta.

What is Shorba?

shorbaShorba, alternatively known as “chorba”, “sorpa”, “shurpa”, and many other names, is a type of soup widely enjoyed throughout the Middle East, as well as parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is similar in many ways to minestrone, consisting of an assortment of meats, vegetables, and seasonings. Diners will often eat it as a dish by itself, or with a side of bread for dipping.

It is believed that this soup traces its origins back to ancient Persia, who named it in reference to the salted water in which they boiled the soup’s meat. A highly versatile dish, as well as a very easy dish for travelers to prepare on the road, it’s little wonder why it managed to spread as far as it did. It has taken many forms with many ingredients to suit a wide range of regional crops and tastes, including popular favorites like lamb, beef, pork, chicken, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and turnips. The spices used in the shorba commonly include garlic, onions, salt, pepper, ginger, turmeric, mint, or saffron.

Shorba first arrived in India along with the cuisine of the Muhgals, and the vegetarian people of India put their own unique stamp on the soup with a variety of new, meat-free versions.

At MokSHA’s Bellevue Indian cuisine restaurant, you can try shorba in the form of our tomato-coconut shorba. This soup is made with tomato broth and coconut milk, seasoned with bay leaves and garlic. It’s a great, vegan-friendly start to any of our meals!

Black Pepper: India’s Black Gold

India has had a strong relationship with hot, spicy seasonings for a long time. Even the common black pepper used to be highly esteemed by the Indian people.

The familiar peppercorn, native to the country, is known to have been used in Indian culinary traditions for at least as far back as 2000 BC. It was also a significant export; pretty much all pepper consumed in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa was grown in India until after the Middle Ages.

People prized the taste of the pepper so much that it was used as a form of currency, and was often referred to as “black gold”. It was so expensive to the Ancient Greeks that only the very rich could afford it; by the time of the Roman Empire, it was said that both Alaric the Visigoth and Attila the Hun demanded a ransom of over a ton of pepper after they besieged Rome in the fifth century.

The value of black pepper declined when the spicier long pepper proved to be more accessible as a trade good. Later on, after explorers from Europe brought the chili pepper back from South America, both the long pepper and black pepper declined even further. This is a big part of why this luxurious spice can now be found in complementary packets on the tables of many restaurants.

To this day, pepper is used to help season many Indian curries and other dishes. Come and experience thousands of years of seasoning innovations at our Bellevue Indian restaurant today!

Eating Indian Food on a Low-Fat Diet

MokSha Bellevue Indian CuisineAre you on a diet? If you’re trying to cut down on your intake of unhealthy fats and cholesterol, Indian cuisine can be a very strong choice.

Traditional Indian dining is largely very friendly to a low-fat or low-cholesterol diet. First of all, there is a heavy dependence on grains and vegetables, rather than meats. When meat is used, the grilling techniques frequently employed drain away much of the harmful fats. Finally, the strong spices used in most dishes serve to boost your metabolism, and are highly conducive of weight loss.

To get the most out of your diet while dining at an Indian restaurant, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Consider papadum bread or naan as an alternative to fried samosas.
  • If you eat meat, look for chicken or seafood instead of beef or lamb.
  • Shrimp is found in a lot of dishes. This gives you a healthy dose of the omega-3 fatty acids that are valuable in reducing your cholesterol levels.
  • Look for a curry with a vegetable or dal base, rather than the ones prepared with a cream or coconut milk base.
  • Are you getting rice? Consider basmati over the familiar white rice. This popular Indian rice is big on valuable nutrition that can help you clean cholesterol out of your system, and has a great taste that works well without fatty sauces.
  • Try choosing dishes made with olive oil or garlic. Both of these common ingredients are effective in reducing your cholesterol levels.

At MokSHA in Bellevue, we offer many satisfying, South Indian-style dishes that mesh well with a variety of diets. Come and try one of our curries, kebabs, or more today!

Peanut Sauces in Indian Cuisine

Peanut-based sauces are a big part of the culinary traditions of numerous cultures, including those of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Vietnam, parts of Africa, and India. Variations can also be found in lesser degrees throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the Philippines. It is often used as an accompaniment for meat or vegetable dishes, and occasionally employed as a dipping sauce.

The nutritional benefits of peanut sauce are many. Peanuts are a great source of quality, vegan-friendly protein. They are also rich in niacin, copper, resveratrol, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, which serve to fight harmful cholesterol, lower your sodium levels, and prevent heart disease.

Though peanut sauces are generally high in fat and calories, much of this comes from monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Both of these are recognized as highly beneficial when enjoyed in moderation.

Typically, a peanut sauce will be made by combining ground, roasted peanuts with coconut milk, soy sauce, garlic, and spices. At MokSHA, you can experience the great taste of this sauce in our peanut Indian baby eggplant, made with onions and cashews. Come give it a try at our Bellevue Indian restaurant tonight!

Indian Food on a Low-Sodium Diet

A low-sodium diet is important for many people. Far too many of us get well over our recommended intake of sodium every day, which leads to an increased blood pressure and a heightened risk of heart attack, stroke, and similar problems. The problem is that sodium is very difficult to avoid, particularly when it comes to preserved foods and restaurant fare. So, is it possible to enjoy quality Indian cuisine while simultaneously limiting your sodium intake?

Indeed, there are ways to cut down on the sodium in your Indian food. Indian food is nothing if not heavy in strong flavoring agents, making it easy to achieve a great taste without the use of salt. Table salt is the biggest source of sodium for most people, and cutting it out of your diet is an important part of a low-sodium diet. However, some dishes are going to be more salt-heavy than others. If you are on a low-sodium diet, skip anything fried and look for baked dishes. Favor tandoor-based dishes over soups and creamy curries.

Further, look for potassium-rich foods; since potassium is instrumental in removing sodium from your body, it is the best friend of anyone on a low-sodium diet. Common options in Indian food include potatoes, green vegetables, yogurt, halibut, and other fatty fish. Red meat and poultry also represents a moderate serving of potassium.

If you are concerned about the sodium in your meal, or if you have any other dietary restrictions while dining at MokSHA in Bellevue, please talk to your server.

The Benefits of Eating Spinach

It’s no secret that spinach is one of the healthier foods you can eat. A diet rich in spinach gives you many benefits, including the following:

  • Fiber: A single cup of spinach gives you fully 20% of your recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. Your body needs fiber to maintain a healthy digestive system and stay regular. It also serves to help maintain a low blood sugar. If you need to watch your weight, it’s a good way to curb your appetite and prevent overeating.
  • Cancer Prevention: The flavonoids found in spinach have been found to slow down the division of cancerous cells in the human stomach or skin. It also protects against prostate cancer.
  • Antioxidants: Spinach is rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, manganese, selenium and zinc, all of which are valuable in protecting your cells from damage. Getting enough antioxidants in your life gives you a reduced chance of developing many diseases.
  • Anti-Inflammation: The neoxanthin and violaxanthin in spinach have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Heart Health: The peptides found in spinach inhibit the angiotensin I-converting enzyme, serving to lower your blood pressure and prevent heart disease.
  • Vitamin K: A single cup of spinach gives you over 1000% of your recommended intake of vitamin K. This vitamin is valuable in maintaining healthy bones, protecting your brain and nervous system, and fighting diseases like atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and strokes.

You can get the spinach you need at MokSHA in Bellevue in a number of delicious South Indian-style dishes. Try our lamb or chicken saag, served with spinach and garam masala. Come in for lunch and try our spinach sauce over vegetables, paneer, chicken, lamb, salmon, or shrimp.

What is a Samosa?

A samosa is a type of savory pastry from Indian culinary traditions. It is made with filo dough or a similar pastry crust, which is stuffed with fillings that may include curried potatoes, peas, lamb, chicken, onions, lentils, noodles, pine nuts, and more. The dough is folded over its filling in a distinctive, triangular shape, after which it is deep-fried in vegetable oil until it achieves a golden-brown appearance. It will then be served hot as an entree or appetizer with many Indian meals, often accompanied by yogurt or chutney. Fans of the dish appreciate it for its delightfully crispy texture, paired with the hearty and flavorful interior.

Samosas first came about somewhere in the Middle East. The earliest record of the dish comes to us from Abolfazl Beyhaqi, an Iranian historian from the eleventh century. It made its way into India as early as the 13th century, when traders entered the subcontinent from Central Asia. Similar dishes spread throughout the region, and today you can find popular variations in Greece, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

In restaurants throughout India, patrons can generally either order samosas alone or as part of a chaat dish. Such dishes are served as appetizers, and include a selection of different foods that may include steamed dumplings, onion cakes, momos, yogurt, and a chutney garnish.

At MokSHA, you can enjoy this old favorite in the form of our potato peas samosas. Stuffed with spiced potatoes, this hearty appetizer is served with tamarind and mint chutney. Come and join us for dinner tonight!