3 Desi Cooking Recipes Made Simple for the South Asian Supermom

by Anita J. Kharbhanda

Are you a supermom looking to save time and energy in the cooking department? Then we’ve got a few recipes listed below that make desi cooking simpler!

Moms are able to multi-manage bath time, bedtime, laundry, cooking, shopping, cleaning, working, working out, kids’ activities, brushing teeth…and the countless other tasks that keep our day full (the toilet paper is out again?).  If you’re wishing you could save some time somewhere, keep reading!

Since you were busy doing one of the eight million responsibilities listed above last night, you might have heated up chicken nuggets or made mac and cheese out of a box, and maybe you can’t afford to cook a desi meal every night of the week. But once in a while, you wish you could make the butter chicken, sambar and dosa or lamb curry your mom (or dad) would always make. How in the world did our mothers and grandmothers manage to do it all make it look so darn easy? While I don’t think I will ever achieve their level of efficiency, I have found some common ‘hacks’.

Queue, the Internet.

Below are a few recipes your kids are sure to love and all come with shortcuts to reduce the time and energy desi cooking requires. Keep in mind I am Punjabi, so these are traditional Punjabi dishes.

1. Saag:

Do you remember the mouth-watering saag that would take half a day to make? This recipe from MyHeartBeets lets you make it out of fresh ingredients in about 30 minutes.

In my opinion, this saag recipe is better that the ‘original’ saag (eek, don’t tell mom), because there is less ghee and, of course, you save oodles of time. Also, your kids are still getting their nutrition from the mustard greens and spinach. There is no broccoli in this version, like some of the traditional versions, but it tastes the same.

[Read Related: 3 Easy Recipes for Naan-Stop Cooking ]

2. Butter Chicken:

Sanjeev Kapoor is a famous chef in India, and this dish will not disappoint the kids. I modify this recipe from SanjeevKapoor’s website by only using the ground garam masala because I don’t want the kids coming across a piece of cinnamon mid-bite.

3. Brown Dhal

Okay, to be honest, I do not know the desi term for this dhal, but we called it ‘brown dhal’ growing up because it was either yellow dhal or brown dhal.  On another note, this is not from a recipe book, but from my mother and mother-in-law. I estimate a lot of time for making this dhal because I am becoming aunty status on this dish and don’t need measuring cups (boo-yah)! That said, I am attempting to exactly quantify the amounts you need. his recipe works for the

FYI, this recipe works best with the pressure cooker I own. However, the timings I use might not work best for other cookers, especially the ones from India.


1. Three onions, green chili, and tomato in the form of ice cubes

(This is a recipe in itself because you can use these for all subjis too. Blend three large onions, 5-6 tomatoes, and 6 green peppers. Poor them into ice cube trays and freeze. Once they are frozen, transfer them to large Zip Lock bags and pull a few out from the freezer every time you cook. Now, that’s a simple life hack!)

2. Three teaspoons ginger/garlic paste

3. One teaspoon of ground garam masala

4. One teaspoon of ground turmeric

5. One teaspoon of ground coriander

6. Two teaspoons of salt

7. Two tablespoons of oil (vegetable or olive oil)

8. Half a cup whole moong dhal

9. Half a cup channa dhal

10. Half a cup split black and white urad dhal

11. Half a cup split brown masoor dhal

12. Water enough to fill up half of your cooker

[Read Related: 9 Sweet ‘Not your Mama’s’ Holi Recipes ]

How to Cook:

Pour the oil into the cooker, and turn on the stove. Add the ice cubes and ginger garlic paste. Stir until combined and melted (Punjabi tadka, balle balle!). Then add all other ingredients (including water), stir, and close the cooker lid. Keep the dhal cooking on high heat until the steam starts coming out of the cooker. Lower the heat on your cooker in between medium and low (depending on the heating power of your stove), and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the cooker from the stove, and run under sink water until you see the lid has loosened. Remove the cooker from the running water, open the lid, and voila! Enjoy with roti, paratha, rice, or naan.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how these dishes turned out and how they made desi cooking easy for you so please comment below, mommies and daddies.

Anita KAnita Kharbhanda is a mother, wife, reader, writer, singer, and runner. She loves the laughter of children, strong characters, and sweet foods. She wears her family and culture like badges of honor.



By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season

trinidad curry
Curried Chicken with Roti Parata or Roti, popular Middle Eastern/Indian cuisine

It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.

1. Matthew’s Guyanese Cooking

From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at @mattews.guyanese.cooking

2. Trini Cooking with Natasha

Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies.  Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Recipes for the Holiday Season you Have to Make]

3. Cooking with Ria

With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.


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4. Chef Devan

Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.


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5. Taste of Trinbago

Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity.  From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.


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These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.

Featured Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Subrina Singh

Subrina Singh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian & Asian American Studies from Stony Brook University and a Master’s Degree … Read more ›