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!

All About Coconut Milk

It is a common misconception that coconut milk is the fluid that comes out of the coconut fruit when it is cut open. In truth, this fluid is the coconut water. Coconut milk is an entirely different substance that is made from the creamy-white flesh that is found in a thick layer along the coconut’s inner walls.

To make coconut milk, the coconut flesh is first finely grated and steeped in hot water. After the steeping is done, it is pressed through a cheesecloth. The liquid that comes out is the coconut milk.

In many ways, coconut milk is more akin to cream than to conventional dairy-based milk. A single one-cup serving of this milk has 445 calories and 43 grams of saturated fat. While this may sound bad, these saturated fats come in the form of fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides, both of which are very easy for your body to burn and use as fuel. The medium-chain triglycerides are particularly beneficial, as they can be digested without bile acids. If you’re looking to lose weight, the fats found in coconut milk can actually increase your metabolism and facilitate weight loss in a low-calorie diet. If you’re looking to improve your heart health, the fatty acids can serve to kill the bacteria that cause plaque in your arteries.

At MokSHA’s Bellevue Indian restaurant, you can enjoy the benefits of coconut milk in our tomato-coconut shorba and other delicious South Indian-style dishes. Come and experience the great taste and superior nutrition today!

The Benefits of Hummus

Hummus is one of the world’s oldest dishes, dating back at least as far back as seven thousand years ago. The key ingredient of this dish is chickpeas. As such, it possesses all of the impressive health benefits of these beans, including the following:

  • Chickpeas are rich in fiber, which serves to facilitate a healthy blood sugar level and help remove unhealthy cholesterol from your system.
  • Vegetarians, vegans, and other people looking to reduce their intake of meat appreciate hummus for its strong protein and iron content.
  • The folic acid found in hummus is an important nutrient for proper bodily function. It is particularly important during pregnancy, as it prevents certain birth defects.
  • Tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine, all of which are present in hummus, are good at improving your mood and fostering restful sleep.
  • The olive oil used in hummus is rich in monounsaturated fat, which is beneficial to your heart.
  • There is a trace amount of molybdenum in chickpeas, which detoxifies the body.
  • The phytic acid and saponins in hummus defend your cells from genetic damage, preventing the development of cancerous growths.
  • Hummus is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent pain and inflammation, and help to sharpen the mind and ward off mental diseases associated with advanced age.

You can try our Mediterranean or Roasted Garlic Hummus at our Bellevue Indian restaurant. Join us for happy hour 3-6pm daily and all day Sunday!

Heart-Healthy Shrimp

There was a time when shrimp was considered to be taboo for people struggling with heart problems. This was because a single, 3.5 ounce serving of shrimp contains about 200 mg of cholesterol. A serving of this size accounts for a full day’s allotment of cholesterol for people at risk of heart disease. However, don’t let this lead you to believe that shrimp are bad for your heart health. Used properly, shrimp can actually reduce your chances of heart disease.

It is important to understand that there is both good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, is the type that forms a plaque around your blood vessels and puts you at an increased risk of developing heart disease. Good cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol, actually serves to break down LDL cholesterol and remove it from your body. The cholesterol in shrimp is largely of the healthy variety. In one study, subjects were fed ten ounces of shrimp every day for three weeks; it was discovered that, compared to the control group, the group that ate shrimp experienced an increase in bad cholesterol in their blood by about seven percent, but an increase in healthy, HDL cholesterol of twelve percent, as well as an overall decrease of thirteen percent in triglycerides.

The final word is that moderate servings of shrimp can play a role in a heart-healthy diet. Join MokSHA in Bellevue for some 7 Spice Shrimp, Spicy Tamarind Shrimp, Shrimp Biryani, and other Indian-style shrimp dishes today.

MokSHA’s Hell’s Bells Cocktail featured on 425 Magazine

27 Crafty Cocktails You Must Try

By Owen Macleod | December 2, 2015

“Classes rimmed with smoked salt. Ice cream swirled with peanut butter and splashed with local spirits. We have rounded up some of the sweetest, saltiest, baconiest, and most creative craft cocktails on the Eastside. Here are 27 to put on your “must sip” list. Not all at once, of course. Enjoy responsibly.”

MokSHA’s Hell’s Bells Cocktail
“Pepper-infused vodka, orange juice, lime juice, and simple syrup. Don’t let the name scare you away; the citrus balances perfectly with the pepper-infused vodka, making it not too sweet, not too spicy.”

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE.

What is a Thali?

The word thali translates to “plate”, specifically referring to a round, stainless steel plate commonly used throughout much of India and South Asia.

The word is also commonly used to describe the meal that is served on such a plate. A thali meal comes in many forms, the general idea being that it should include all six of the different taste sensations identified by Indian traditions. These tastes include the familiar bitter, sour, salt, and sweet, adding to these spicy and astringent. A proper meal, according to Indian traditions, should feature each of these in perfect balance. They generally include some form of bread, a rice dish, vegetables, milk products, various sides, and a sweet.

At MokSHA, you can enjoy one of five different kinds of thali. Come and experience the rich spectrum of Indian flavors today!

Indian Street Food

On any day, you can expect the streets of India’s larger urban areas to be awash with food vendors advertising their delicious wares. Even here, in its simpler forms, we can see that Indian food can be quite the fascinating experience. You can find all sorts of classic dishes out on the Indian streets, including such favorites as kebabs, lassi, tandoori chicken, omelettes, chaat, aloo paratha, rabri, and many more exciting options.

The Indian street vendors are a far cry from the familiar hot-dog-friers we most commonly associate with street food in the United States; they are culinary artisans, combining a rich selection of traditional spices and sauces into the hearty and flavorful dishes that the country is known for. Some even have their own portable, tandoori-style ovens, where you can watch them press the dough right up against the oven’s inner wall to cook it before your very eyes.

The Value of Lentils

Lentils are a very important part of the culinary traditions throughout much of the Middle East. It is thought to have originated in the area, likely representing one of the very earliest crops to have been cultivated by the native civilizations. For many, it is a staple second only to rice, and features strongly in soups, stews, dal, mejadra, and other dishes.

Many chefs favor lentils because they have very little taste by themselves, and are great at absorbing the flavors of other ingredients they are combined with. When added to a spicy Indian dish, they take on the taste of the most powerful spice present.

Nutritionally, the lentil is a strong choice. A single half-cup serving of the legume gives you roughly 60% of your daily recommended iron, 67% of your vitamin B1, 28% of your copper, 18% of your protein, 12% of your zinc, 10% of your potassium, thirty-one grams of dietary fiber, and a whole lot more.

At our Bellevue Indian restaurant, you can experience the superior nutrition of lentils in many of our South Indian-style dishes.

The 10th Seattle South Asian Film Festival

The 10th Seattle South Asian Film Festival (SSAFF) is an 12-day festival produced by Tasveer for people to discover, experience, and enjoy a range of thought-provoking meaningful South Asian films, workshops, and forums, to engage its viewers to dialogue openly on the issues of human right and social/political/economic injustice. SSAFF creates a lively, stimulating, and focused environment for conversation, education, and exploration of issues that face South Asia and its Diaspora.”

OCTOBER 15 – 25, 2015
WEBSITE

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Garlic in India

India has had a long relationship with garlic. Some of the earliest available written records from the country show us that the Indian people were aware of its curative properties since ancient times. A medical text called Charaka-Samhita describes how it was used to treat heart disease and arthritis, and the Bower manuscript tells us that they would use it for fatigue, digestive diseases, leprosy, and parasites.

Though some of the properties associated with this classic clove are questionable, modern science has shown us that garlic does indeed offer many impressive health benefits. Powerful antioxidants serve to protect your cells from free radicals. People struggling with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels can use garlic to help manage these problems. Some studies have also demonstrated that garlic serves as a natural broad-spectrum antibiotic; it kills off harmful bacteria in your body, which apparently is unable to evolve a resistance and develop into a “superbug” the way such microbes often do when treated with conventional antibiotics.

If you would like to make garlic a bigger part of your own diet, consider our Bellevue Indian cuisine. From our garlic naan to our masala sauce, we have many delicious ways to improve your health.

Indian Wedding Catering

Indian weddings can be viewed as a trilogy. Pre-wedding, main ceremony and the post-wedding. The lavish and extravagant presentation of the ceremonies award Indian weddings to be the prime example of grandiose unions. The pre-wedding consists of family gatherings, dancing and light hearted celebrations. The actual ceremony falls on a day in which a Pandit, has preselected in accordance to the bride and groom’s horoscopes.

With variations of Indian games, traditions and a crazy after party, a kind consideration goes to the food. Common misconceptions box Indian food to either spicy or vegetarian but the palatable strong aromas of Indian cuisine make Indian wedding catering an easier option to complete the affair. Traditionally, the parents of the bride coordinate the menu and food was prepared by skilled cooks.

Nowadays, more people opt for Indian wedding catering services due to the ease in arrangements finalized by the catering service. At Spice Route and MokSHA, the traditional flavors of Southern states of India are exhibited as our customers have assortments of cuisines to choose from. Our clients may choose Andra Pradesh which is pronounced the spiciest of the four and incorporates mainly vegetables or lentil. If spice is an issue, a selection of Karnataka cuisine may be prudent as it is described as the mildest. If the majority of party guests are vegetarian, the Kerala cuisine is recommended as they do carry a diverse vegetarian option and finally, the Tami Nadu which is a good mix of spicy and mild.

Like any good gathering, Indian weddings are a combination of culture, traditions, family and the foundation that roots us and bind us together- food. Find out how MokSHA and Spice Route can cater to your special event.

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