How Hinduism Affects Indian Cuisine

How Hinduism Affects Indian Cuisine 1

The Hindu Diet of Greater India

The diet of the people of India is as diverse as the religion they practice. Their beliefs seem to play a major role in what can and cannot be consumed. Take meat, for example. About 30% of the population are regular meat eaters. The most common meats they eat are that of goat, sheep, water buffalo, chicken, fish and prawn.

The rest of the population are lacto-vegetarians, meaning they abstain from eating meat and eggs, but eat dairy products. However, there are 2 types of these: the bigger group of strictly lacto- vegetarians and those who are semi-lacto-vegetarians – eat fish regularly (if living on coastal region), eat eggs for health, or eat meats on social occasions.

With more than 80% of India practising Hinduism, beef is forbidden food and many states do not permit the slaughter of cows or monkeys. There is no specific written law against eating meat, yet majority of Hindus are lacto-vegetarians. Many sects promote the sattvic vegetarian diet, obligatory living that causes minimum harm to other lifeforms. Vegetarianism, they say, purifies the body and the mind.

Lacto-vegetarians Hindus favor milk-based foods and all other non-animal derived foods, but excludes meat and eggs. Hindus believe that their diet promotes compassion to animals, that animal foods are not healthy for spiritual growth, and that only vegetarian foods can be offered to the deities.

Many non-vegetarian Hindus eat meat and eggs. They, however, will demand that the animal from whose meat they will partake should have been killed quickly and painlessly. Hindus will eat dairy products, fish and shellfish or even poultry. While they’ll eat meat, they distinguish those from cows and will not eat beef. Cows are sacred animals in India, regarded as family members and, as mothers, are life-giving.

Balancing the Elements with Hindu Diet

Southern Indian cuisine is mostly vegetarian, and so you have the familiar aromatics, coconut milk, lentils and seafood. That is what we offer at MokSHA, your Indian restaurant in Bellevue.

Turmeric: The Healthy Golden Spice of India

Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric: The Healthy Golden Spice of India 2Turmeric is a bright orange spice not only great for adding color to your dish, but the health benefits are immense. A member of the ginger family, this spice is harvested from the root of a curcuma longa plant. Its ancient medicinal use began when it was discovered to be an anti-inflammatory agent.

Curcumin is the primary anti-inflammatory component in turmeric that is comparable to OTC drugs without the side effects. Much later on, it was use to treat a wide variety of conditions, such as jaundice, menstrual problems, blood in the urine, hemorrhaging, toothaches, bruises, chest pain, flatulence, and colic.

Turmeric has a revered place in the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia, the comprehensive holistic health care list that dates back to 500 B.C.

This spice has almost no calories (1 tablespoon = 24 calories) and zero cholesterol. But even one tablespoon provides excellent phytonutrients. In fact, turmeric is effective even in very small quantities, such as one serving of a turmeric-spiced dish.

Basic nutritional aspects of turmeric include a 26% daily value in manganese and 16% in iron. It’s also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium.

Curcumin’s immunity boosting properties are substantiated by studies, and which suggest also that curcumin is beneficial in conditions like arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer. This was arrived at because the agent has the ability to modulate immune system.

Turmeric has anti-oxidant properties so it fights chronic degenerative diseases. It protects against certain chronic liver conditions and fights against acute liver damage. It helps control the development of type 2 diabetes by lessening insulin resistance. It aids in weight loss and reduces the incidence of obesity-related diseases.

The golden spice can also improve rheumatoid arthritis, treat sprains and swellings, and is even a home remedy for chronic cough. The spice is not just a great food ingredient. Its amazing health benefits make it very much sought after.

Delicious and Healthy Spice in Bellevue

You know now how beneficial to health is India’s golden spice. A dish at MokSha laced with turmeric, your Indian restaurant in Bellevue, can give you your health boost for the day. That easy and so delicious, too.

Eating Halal: Conforming to Edict in Bellevue

Understanding Halal Meat

The word ‘halal’ literally means permissible or lawful. So when you encounter halal meats, they are simply meats allowed to be consumed by Muslims. Halal is an Arabic term and in accordance with Islamic law only meats certified as halal are permissible food. Arabic is the language of the Qur`an, the scripture revealed to the Holy Prophet of Islam by Allah to be followed in its entirety by all Muslims. What makes the meat halal?

To be called halal, the animal or poultry will undergo ritual slaughter (called Zibah or Zabihah). The animal must be alive and healthy, and with a one-time swipe of a razor sharp knife to its windpipe ensures less pain and suffering for the animal. But first, a designated Muslim rabbi will have to recite the required tasmiya or shahada dedicating the animal to Allah. His name must be pronounced during the slaughter also. All blood flowing from the animal should be drained until dry, as blood is not permissible to be eaten.

There are other things forbidden in undertaking this ritual. Doing so will negate everything else that halal signifies. For example, only a Muslim can perform the slaughter, the animal must not be dead nor unconscious before killing it, it must have no illness nor lacerations before the slaughter, must have drank water and been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal by-products.

Also, the animal must not see other animals being slaughtered. Accomplishing the ritual, both the one with the knife and the animal must turn their faces towards Mecca. Since pork is forbidden, the slaughter of any animal for halal purposes must not take place where pigs are normally slaughtered. It is also forbidden that animals killed by strangling or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall should be considered for halal.

Hence, with all these edicts and rules concerning halal ritual and halal meat, and there are a few more, you can be sure that the animal’s or fowl’s welfare have been deeply considered.

Truly Halal Meats You Can Love

If you are not a pork-eater but are carnivorous just the same, you will love our halal meats at MokSHA in Bellevue. Our Indian restaurant serves some of the best halal foods and the best of Southern India cuisine in Bellevue. Reserve a table today.

The Many Uses of Indian Turmeric Powder

Turmeric: From Food to Pesticide to Cosmetics

The Many Uses of Indian Turmeric Powder 3“Indian saffron” or turmeric is easily recognized for its deep yellow color. Throughout Indian history, this powder has been used as a condiment, textile dye, health remedy, and a symbolism of purity, prosperity, and fertility.

Belonging to the ginger family, turmeric has been used in East India and the Middle East for thousands of years, and is now one of the most highly-prized spices in the world. A domesticated plant rather than wild, India remains one of the most prominent producers of turmeric, along with Indonesia, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Jamaica, and Haiti.

In India, it is used in almost all curries and gravy dishes. It gives a rich color and a unique flavor to dishes. It is well-known for its plethora of health benefits. But we are not going to touch on those yet. Let us whet your curiosity instead of the many, yet slightly known uses of turmeric in India.

Did you know that turmeric is an effective pesticide? Just sprinkle the powder diluted in water near all entry points of your house to keep off insects, like ants and termites. It’s also a well-known preservative. Just add the powder to your cottage cheese (paneer) and your cheese will last up to 12 days. Use it as a dye and it can color your fabrics with that bright neon yellow. The color yellow is considered sacred and auspicious in India. Any fabric dyed in turmeric is considered pure.

Turmeric water is offered to the gods in the temples as a part of Hindu ritual called Abhishekam. Just before any Indian wedding ceremony, the spice is applied to the bride and groom as it is believed to ward off the evil eye. Additionally, it also gives the newlyweds a fresh glow. Hence, it is also used as a cosmetic by Indian women, applied as creams, face masks, and body scrubs to boost the glow factor.

New born babies are also rubbed with turmeric on their forehead for good luck. Washing in turmeric improves skin complexion and also reduces hair growth on body. Today there are lots of herbal products in the market in which main herb used is turmeric as natural ingredient.

Thanks to Turmeric: Like it Spicy

Now you know of turmeric’s other wonderful uses, it still doesn’t take away the fact that it’s a great gift to Indian cuisine. Here at MokSha, your Indian restaurant in Bellevue, we remind you all the time with each dish you enjoy.

Biryani: A Crowd-Pleaser Dish

Biryani: A Crowd-Pleaser Dish 4

The Indian Main Dish with Muslim Origins

“Biryani” is an Urdu word derived from the Persian language, which was used in medieval India under various Islamic dynasties. It is said to originate from “birinj”, the Persian word for rice. People in Central Asia, more than four thousand years ago, have been adding the meat of cows, buffaloes (beef) and goats (mutton) to rice, later called Pulao, the precursor of the Biryani. If people were well- off, they use goat meat, poorer folks use beef.

The one-dish, rice-based meal consists of rice and meat that are layered in a casserole before it is oven-baked. The meat can be chicken, seafood and other meats, or can be meatless, as in a veggie casserole. Normally, biryani is made of basmati rice, the long slender-grained aromatic rice of India, and then flavored with cloves, cinnamon, cardamon, bay leaf, coriander, mint, ginger, garlic and onions.

Orange saffron milk is traditionally sprinkled on the top of the dish before baking, which accounts for the rice’s yellow-orange color and saffron flavor. Biryani is often served with a yogurt-based condiment such as raita or a tomato, onion and cilantro relish.

Biryani is the primary dish in a meal, not just an accompaniment. The meat and rice are cooked separately before being layered and cooked together. Also, it has a strong taste of curried rice due to a high amount of spices. But not all biryanis are the same. With the massiveness of the country, there are different versions of this meal depending on the region. Pakistan, Delhi, Calcutta, Kerala, Ambur, Tamil Nadu, Karachi, and Hyderabad, among others have each their own version of biryani.

This is truly a dish to serve whenever families, communities and regions come together for celebrations.

Celebrating India in Bellevue

When in Bellevue and exploring exotic Asian dishes, try Indian cuisine. Visit our Indian restaurant and browse our menu – you might just find one you’d absolutely like. Give biryani a try and experience traditional Indian food at its best.

Tandoori: A Recipe or A Way of Cooking?

Smoky and Spicy Tandoori

You must have sometime dined on tandoori chicken or tandoori lamb. It has that smoky, burnt flavor attached to the meat that has been soaked previously in a strong mixture. Again, it is actually marinated meat cooked over an intense fire using, what else, but a tandoor. A tandoor is a clay oven in which a hot fire is built. Marinated meats are lowered into the oven on long metal skewers and cooked in this smoky and extremely fiery inferno until done. The heat comes from the charcoal or wood fire and the food is cooked by radiant heat, hot air, convection cooking and smoking. It is common for tandoor ovens to remain lit for long hours in order to maintain the high temperature.

Ancient Armenians cook their meats this way, in underground tonirs made out of clay. The Afghan tandoor sits above the ground and is made of bricks. Punjabi tandoors of the Indian subcontinent are also made of clay and is a bell-shaped oven, which can either be set under the earth and fired with wood or charcoal reaching temperatures of 480 degrees Celsius, or rest above the ground.

Some tandoor-cooked dishes are flatbread, roasted cashews, corn and cottage cheese paste stuffed potatoes, chicken and chicken tikka, kalmi kabab, and somosa. Tandoori marinade is made out of yogurt with its natural acidity and thick consistency. The meat is marinated and rubbed with a great combination of spices and produces the striking red color if ground annatto seeds are used; yellow if saffron or ordinary turmeric powder is used. Other traditional flavors come from ginger, garlic, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, and garam masala, a mix of spices.

Like many great dishes, tandoori is actually a cooking method that has become synonymous with the food that is prepared. If you’re having tandoori chicken, then you know how it has been cooked.

Perfect Tandoori in Bellevue

Want to eat tandoori dishes but don’t have the tandoori oven? Your backyard grill might do the same job as well. Or better, why not drop by MokSha, your Bellevue Indian restaurant and dine on perfect tandoori sizzlers and kebabs. We roast our dishes at 500 degrees F in the direct heat of a traditional tandoori oven, served on a pepper and onion salad. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Vegetarianism at MokSHA Bellevue

India: Top Vegetarian

Some experts say that the reason India is a vegetarian country is because of its warm climate that is conducive to growing vegetables. And India has lots of ground to grow vegetables that the need for meat is nil. That is why a non-vegetarian diet is essential in many countries with cold clime.

However, to assume that India is predominantly vegetarian country is not quite correct. A national survey in 2014 indicates that 71% of Indians over the age of 15 are non-vegetarians. The data shows that the Telangana state in southern India (pop. 35million) is 98% non-vegetarian. Other states that are extremely meat, fowl and fish eaters are West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Kerala.

Reports have it that about 28 to 30% only of India’s population are actually vegetarians. The nearest figure to that is 13%, which belongs to Israel, followed by Australia at 11% of its population.

You will find out, though, that the reason for vegetarianism in India is primarily religious beliefs, and to some extent, their caste system. Very few Indians eat beef and pork as cow is sacred to Hindus and Islam prohibits pork. A significant percentage of Indians who eat meat, do so infrequently (like once a month) owing to the high cost of meat and properly cooked meat products. Indians who are vegetarians also consume dairy, eggs, and meat from chicken, lamb, and goat.

Serving Vegetarian at our Bellevue Restaurant

Well known for its penchant towards vegetarianism, and the unique creativity for diverse, tasty and nutritious vegetarian meals, India is the cradle of fantastic veggie cuisine. Here at MokSha, we offer many award-winning dishes to the delight of vegetarians. Meat-lovers as well will enjoy the quality of our cage-free and free range meat offerings. Come over and visit us sometime in Bellevue and you’ll surely find easy favorites.

Grass-fed, Cage-free Meat at our Bellevue Indian Restaurant

Why Eat Grass-fed, Cage-free Meat?

Eating meat is not all bad. In fact, you can make a difference if your meat of choice is sourced from animals bred for meat that feed on fresh grass and roam free in farms. These animals are more humanely treated, though may be more expensive meat, and their benefits are manifold.

Being raised organically, these animals are fed with organic feed, a more nutritious alternative. Since they are not caged or confined in closed spaces there are less chances of contamination or bacterial and viral attacks within their enclosures. Waste and pollution within confinements are also greatly reduced. Also, free range animals tend to eat their natural foods, like fresh grass, insects, grubs that are more nutritious and are out in the open. Being so, these humanely raised animals contain higher amount of vitamins and minerals and less saturated fat.

Bellevue Indian Restaurant supports Sustainability

Raising these organically fed animals is also good for biodiversity as sustainable farms raise a variety of livestock in a given environment building natural resistance to diseases. Local farms like these use less energy in terms of fuel for transport and need not travel far to deliver their goods. If you support these farms you are actually sustaining your local community and not the big corporations.

So why not grass-fed, cage-free meat for good health and sustainable community.

MokSHA, serving Indian cuisine in Bellevue, supports local farms that raise grass-fed and cage-free animals for food consumption. Experience delicious and healthy options at MokSha and know the difference.

Every Festival a Different Cuisine

Home Country Festivals

Every Festival a Different Cuisine 5

Celebrating festivals have a unifying effect on peoples and cultures the world over. In a nation as large as India, it is a coming together of the diverse and colorful backgrounds of the regions and their xxx. Every Indian festival has a special dish associated with it.

Take for example, celebrating the start of spring with Holi, also called the festival of colors. The streets come alive with people, including children, throwing and rubbing gulal powdered color on each other.

In the explosion of colors, amid dancing, people drink bhang,which is rosewater and flavorings of dried fruits. Also, these delicacies are found everywhere during Holi: kanji-ke-bare (thin lentil patties), papri (small pooris) and gujjias (sweet dumplings stuffed with khoya and dried fruits).

There’s Diwali, or the festival of lights. It is a 5-day feast where almost every Indian home is aglow with lights, celebrating triumph of good over evil, hope over despair, and signified by lighting diyas, or lamps. Swees are served everywhere – candies, cakes, desserts. Rice, whole green lentils and a sweet sauce called mandhi are cooked in every home.

Durga Puja is a large Bengali festival celebrating Shakti, the mother goddess. Bohg is the main cuisine of this long event and it offers moong dal khichdi, a mixture of dal and rice; there are also vegetables, tomato cutney, and rice pudding.

So you see, certain specialty dishes identify with major Indian festivals.

Bellevue: Remembering the Cuisine

Though thousands of miles away, our Indian restaurant also celebrates these festivals at our Bellevue Indian restaurant whenever the seasons come around. We see that those festival delicacies are available to all our diners. It brings back a certain sense of home.

The Etiquette of Indian Dining

Dining at its Best

Indian food

With the popularity of Indian cuisine outside of the country, rules that traditionally govern the proper way of Indian dining has adapted somewhat to the present times. We look at some of these traditions to understand Indian dining etiquette.

Eating with the hands is still a predominant Indian custom, and eating from a banana leaf, especially in southern India, is still observed. However, the use of cutlery, like spoon and fork, is becoming acceptable. You must wash your hands before and after eating; the use of towels and napkins is now permissible when it used to be insufficient. Try not eat too slowly or too fast for you might be thought of as not liking your food, or else, be considered rude for eating too quickly.

Where sharing food is concerned, it may be viewed as rude and unhygienic to offer food coming from your own plate; it is considered impure with somebody else’s saliva. Unless it is between spouses and close family members, it’s alright to share dishes. You are also expected to eat everything on your plate as food is sacred. And, until your host or the eldest is done eating, it is considered polite not to leave the table.

Same Enjoyment for All

Here at MokSHA, we welcome all diners, of varying nationalities, particularly Americans, who love to indulge in authentic Indian cuisine in our trendy Bellevue location. We let them enjoy our ambiance, our service, and of course, our food which they came for in a pretty much free and friendly manner. Hindi families come to similarly enjoy home country cuisine with some adapted etiquette versions that do not take so much away from customary traditions. What is important is that our Bellevue Indian restaurant offers the same culinary experience to all.