In the Kitchen with Moksha – Downtown Bellevue Network

From the article posted on DownTownBellevue.com

Moksha, located at Bellevue Square within the Lodge, opened in September 2012. The family-owned establishment features South Indian cuisine. The menu offers a variety of both meat and vegetarian dishes from Southern India. Having been voted a top restaurant by Seattle Times, Moksha serves fresh, sustainable and healthy foods that create an authentic dining experience. Lunch, dinner and happy hour are offered daily.

We interviewed Lakshmi Thanu, Owner, to learn more about Moksha. This is Thanu’s second restaurant in the region. He opened Spice Route in Bellevue (Crossroads area) in 2006. He is a native to the south of India, which is a big contributor to the food’s authenticity.

Read more…

Which Cuisine is the Hottest in South India?

Hot, Hotter and Hottest of Them All

The states that comprise South India are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Kerala. South India has hot, humid climate and all states are coastal states. With abundant rainfall, fresh fruit, vegetables, and rice are in high supply. All states share similarities including the presence of rice, use of lentils and spices, dried red chilies and fresh green chilies, coconut, and native fruits and vegetables including tamarind, plantain, snake gourd, etc.

Andhra Pradesh cuisine is fiery hot. Andhra is the leading producer of red chillies and this is reflected in their cuisine with the food being extremely hot. Its coastal areas produce a wide supply and varieties of seafoods, however, the diet is largely vegetarian. The people eat rice and lentils, which are based in tamarind (sambhar). The pancakes, pickles and stews are all really spicy. They also use sesame oil , which is quite uncommon in India’s daily cooking.

Tamilnadu cuisine is traditionally Chettinad cuisine, perhaps the hottest of all Indian food, which is also largely vegetarian. The Chettinad diet consists of different rice preparations and tiffin varieties like idli, dosa, uthappam, rasam, pongal, upma, and appams, too. However synonymous with very spicy food, the cuisine is a complex blend of well-balanced flavours. The traditional Chettinad dishes mostly used locally sourced spices like the star anise, pepper, stone flower and maratti mokku (dried flower pods).

Kerala is noted for Malabari cooking, with its repertoire of tasty seafood dishes. Its long coastline, numerous rivers and strong fishing industry have contributed to its rich seafood based dishes. Coconuts grow in abundance so it’s often used for thickening and flavoring. Kerala is known as the “Land of Spices” because it traded spices with Europe as well as with many ancient civilizations. Today, chillies, curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric, tamarind, and asafoetida are all frequently used.

Karnataka cuisine is mildest in terms of spices, it is also the home of “udupi cuisine.” Udupi cuisine comprises dishes made primarily from grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Food is primarily vegetarian, except for the coastal areas in the north. Ragi and rice are the staple food items for Karnataka especially in the south region. The Mangalorean cuisine of coastal Karnataka is unique and diverse, owing to the different communities. Curry leaves and coconut, along with local spices are the basic ingredients.

From Spicy to Spiciest in Bellevue

Your Bellevue Indian restaurant says that now you know which states in the South of India serve the spiciest and not so spicy foods, you’d know where to take your travels. However, you’ll find them all here in MokSHA, Bellevue.

Understanding Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Nutrition

Ayurveda: Personalized Nutrition

Ayurveda is the 5000-year-old medical system of India. It claims that poor nutrition is the main cause of disease, and to heal the body and prevent illness the answer is proper food. While modern nutritional systems address nutritional deficiencies and illnesses arising from them in a general way, Ayurveda has always had an individualized approach. The system may be ancient, hence, it needs to be adapted to the modern lifestyle of the cultures using it. What’s important is the structuring of the diets to personalized them to the individual’s unique metabolic functions.

Food speaks to you directly through taste. According to Ayurveda, the sense of taste is a natural guidemap towards proper nutrition. It identifies 6 tastes by which all foods can be categorized: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Each taste category has a primary physiologic action and corresponding food sources to address the pathology.

Sweet foods build tissues and calm nerves; common sources are fruit, grains, natural sugars, milk. Sour foods cleanse tissues, increase absorption of minerals; common sources are sour fruits, yogurt, fermented foods. Salty improves taste to food, lubricates tissues, stimulates digestion; sources are natural salts, sea vegetables. Bitter detoxifies and lightens tissues; sources are dark leafy greens, herbs and spices. Pungent stimulates digestion and metabolism; sources are chili peppers, garlic, herbs and spices. Astringent absorbs water, tightens tissues, dries fats; sources are legumes, raw fruits and vegetables, herbs.

Applying the basic principles of Ayurvedic nutrition you should include all 6 tastes in each meals which will naturally guide you towards your body’s nutritional needs. Sweet foods, for example, are rich in fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and water, whereas bitter and astringent foods are high in vitamins and minerals. It is as simple as a squeeze of lemon to cooked dishes (for sour taste), while adding a side salad will fulfill the bitter and astringent tastes. It all depends on your particular dosha.

Allow your unique constitution to determine the proportion of tastes you eat, favoring those tastes that bring greater balance to your particular constitution. If you are of a particular bio-element or dosha, for example, you are a Pita individual (you are medium or average build, skin oily and reddish, a perfectionist and competitive) you favor cooling foods and spices such as dark leafy greens and fennel, which are high in bitter and astringent tastes, while you will desire a smaller quantity of the pungent taste.

Knowing Your Best Food Sources in Bellevue

The Ayurvedic nutrition guide is pretty much easy to follow. Just know yourself, follow your tongue and it will lead you to your ideal food sources. Know more about Ayurveda at MokSha, here in Bellevue.

Interesting Facts About India’s Food You Thought You Knew

Little Did You Know

Food is much a part of India’s art and culture and many recipes today go back thousands of years in the nation’s history. With a tale that long, surely outside influences have come to shape and color India’s cuisine as we know now. The vast country’s myriad of dishes may not all be homegrown. Let’s look along those lines and what else.

Indian food is said to be based on six kinds of tastes or rasas – sweet(madhura), salty (lavana), sour(amala), pungent(katu), bitter(tikta) and astringent(kasya). This is the wisdom of Ayurvedic nutrition, much revered by the people of India, as they believe the tongue says it all – the natural guide map to proper nutrition.

Deep fried balls of dough or gulab jamun, which are dipped in sugar syrup, are not really from India. They originated in the Mediterranean region of Luqmat al Qadi, long before they came to India.

The popular samosa, the fried or baked dish with savory fillings, is from the Middle East and only came to India prior to the 13th to 14th century. Jalebi or Zalebi, the deep-fried, pretzel-shaped maida flour batter is also from the Middle East.

From Nepal, came India’s Daal Chawal/Daal Bhaat, which is steamed rice and a cooked lentil soup. Rajma, vegetarian dish of red kidney beans, originally belongs to Mexico. Naan, India’s oven-baked flatbread, has Persian roots. The famous saffron spice is not originally Indian; it was brought by Greek, Arab and Roman traders in the Middle Ages. And did you know that the world-famous Chicken Tikka Masala is Scottish in origin?

There’s more! Black rice is found only in India and China and is also known as forbidden or magic rice. Coffee was unknown to India before the 16th century. And thanks to the British! It was only around the 16th century when tomato, potato, and sugar were introduced in India. The lowest meat consumption in the world per person – you guessed right – India!

Having Fun with Amazing Food Facts in Bellevue

Know more when you dine at Moksha, your Indian restaurant in Bellevue. You never thought you knew until now. Have a little fun while enjoying our authentic Indian selections. Dine sumptuous, healthy and sustainable.

Serving Udupi Cuisine

Udupi Cuisine: The Love of Vegetarians

Karnataka, with Bangalore as capital, is a state in southwest India with coastlines along the Arabian Sea. The state is a manufacturing hub, the pan-Indian leader in the field of IT, and the nation’s front-runner in biotechnology. It has diverse linguistic and religious ethnicities, and so is its cuisine.

Karnataka cuisine is the mildest in terms of spice content of all four southern states with its generous use of jaggery, palm sugar and little use of chilli powder. Its cuisine is also described as the most vegetarian, enjoying widespread popularity. One of Karnataka’s 30 subdivisions is the smallish Udupi district whose cuisine forms an integral part of Karnataka cuisine – very vegetarian.

Udupi is mostly pure vegetarian food – there is no meat, fish or shellfish, not even garlic and onion. Due to its Saatvik tradition, dishes consist of grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, and considered incomplete without coconut and coconut oil. The Saatvik diet adheres to a philosophy of eating only pure, clean, safe, ethnic, ethical and vital foods; hence, it includes only organic and seasonal produce that does not use GMOs, synthetics, antibiotics or growth hormones. It considers all processed foods, stale foods,, overcooked and over spiced foods as destructive or tamasic.

So, hence, is Udupi cuisine bland and tasteless? On the contrary, it is neither. It is meant to include all the six flavors – sweet, salt, bitter, sour, pungent and astringent. Each meal caters to all these vital flavors.

The famous Masala Dosa is originally an Udupi dish. There are many other types of Udupi dishes. There’s the pepper water dish Saaru or Rasam; there’s Koddelu or Sambar made with green vegetables and tasty locally available ingredients; Huli, like Sambar, but is ground coconut based; Tambuli is watery vegetable paste. There’s Spiced Rice, a heavy dish with many aromatic spices; there’s dry curry and the sweet dessert Kheer or rice pudding.

Falling In Love with Vegetarianism in Bellevue

Dining at MokSha, experience vegetarianism yet have tasty and nutritious meals. We serve popular Udupi recipes faithful to the Saatvik philosophy. Trust our chefs to prepare for you favorite selections that have all the vital flavors of a vegetarian diet.

Seattle Restaurant Week April 2018

Dine out and celebrate at MokSHA during Seattle Restaurant Week for lunch and dinner!

April 2nd – 19th!

(Sundays – Thursdays)

Vegetarian, Gluten Free and Nut Free options available.

2 course lunch $18

starters

tomato-coconut soup
garlic, bay leaves, coconut milk in fresh tomato broth (gf, v, nf)

indian chicken soup
carrots, celery, pepper,
garam masala (nf)

mains – thalis

our delicious indian lunch platter comes with a selection of various dishes and will be served with the following individual accompaniments: raita, dhal, basmati rice, indian cucumber vegetable curry, salad and bread

coconut vegetable curry
seasonal vegetables in a coconut-cashew sauce, with curry leaf & cumin (gf, v)

chicken tikka masala
sliced chicken breast, simmered in a creamy butter-onion sauce, seasoned with ginger and garlic (gf)

spinach ginger lamb
sliced lamb in a creamy spinach sauce, seasoned with cumin & garlic (gf)

3 course dinner $33

starters

gluten free spinach fritters
besan flour fritters w/ ginger-tamarind, cilantro-mint & spicy vindaloo chutney’s (gf, nf, v)

cauliflower manchurian
crunchy cauliflower tossed in sweet & sour spicy sauce (nf, v)

7 spice shrimp
grilled prawns marinated in red chile, curry leaf, garlic and coriander (nf)

mains – thalis

our delicious indian thalis are served on a traditional platter accompanied by daal, sambar, soup, raitha, salad, bread,
roti, papad and basmati rice

peanut eggplant
indian baby eggplant, coriander, cumin, curry leaves, tomatoes – deep flavors and delicious (v, gf)

butter chicken
creamy chicken dish from the north west frontier of india (gf)

fisherman’s halibut curry
wild halibut cooked with cumin, tomato, tamarind and spices (gf, nf)

lamb karaikudi
free range hormone free lamb, peppercorns, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, spices (gf)

desserts

gluten free vegan mysore pak
south indian besan cookies (gf, v)

chai crème brûlée
crackly sugar crust, tea, spices (nf)

beets halwa with coconut almond ice cream
shredded beets, spices, cream (gf)

Interesting Origins of Kebabs

Kebabs: From The Battlefield to The Kitchen

Did you know that kebabs originated in the Middle East? Kebabs are various cooked meat dishes, first invented by Turkish soldiers who grilled chunks of freshly hunted animal meat skewed on swords on open fires. Also, kebabs were a natural solution for nomadic tribes who eat the meat of their animal game. Tough meats were marinated not only to tenderize, but also to get rid of some of the gamey flavor. It was said that the name was firstly discovered in a Turkish script of Kyssa-i Yusuf in 1377, which is the oldest known source where kebab is mentioned as a food item.

Kebab is a broad term that encompasss a variety of meat dishes that are grilled. You find them in English language and other native language write-ups in the Middle East, in India and other parts of Asia, and in the Muslim world. Not all kebabs, though, are cooked on skewers; many are also grounded, pan-fried, baked or stewed. Kebabs do not always pertain to an all-meat dish. According to recipe, kebabs may include meat, seafood, vegetables and fruits on a skewer, or served on a bed of lettuce, with rice and salad.

Traditionally, meat for kebabs are often of lamb or mutton. But regional recipes may have beef, goat, chicken or fish; in other cultures, pork is used. Two of the most popular and familiar kebabs are the shish kebab and the doner kebab. True shish kebabs are made with pieces of marinated lamb that is attached to a bladed metal skewer which is four sided and laid flat to grill. The word doner kebab means ‘rotating kebab’ where the meat is roasted or grilled on a vertical rotating spit; it was invented some 40 years ago.

How is Indian kebab different? Not so different, but it is as popular within and outside of India. A boti kebab is one made out of mutton; there’s tandoori kebab, made of cubed chicken marinated with yogurt and spices; and the Punjabi style chicken tikka or kebab is made with combination of mint and coriander. And due to widespread vegetarianism in India, there are many local, vegetarian varieties of kebab, made from paneer (cheese) or potato; some use lentils and spinach. Kebabs from India are distinguished from other kebabs mostly from the use of Indian spices.

It has been interesting to know the amazing journey of the kebab. From whence it was first enjoyed, in the Turkish battlefields to the present day different variants around the world – in homes, restaurants, and even on roadsides, the kebab is international and well-loved.

Must-Try True Kebabs in Bellevue

When in Bellevue, drop by MokSha, your Indian restaurant serving authentic Indian cuisine. Our kebabs are sumptuous Tandoor-prepared selections, served sizzling on a pepper and onion salad. Takes a little time to cook because we always serve fresh.