Indian food

Growing up, Ezra Kisus ate only Indian food at home. Then one day, she found herself competing in the Chef Games TV program.

Indian food (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Indian food
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Shira Ezra Kisus, a physical education teacher, loved the Indian food she grew up eating. She never thought much about cooking until her grandmother Rachama died. In an effort to keep the memory of her loving grandmother alive, Ezra Kisus and her mother spent an enormous amount of time together in the kitchen trying to replicate all her grandmother’s tasty recipes.
Ezra Kisus’s family is originally from Mumbai and her grandmother was intent on continuing to prepare traditional Indian food in the new country. She even planted the necessary herbs and trees in their garden (mango and papaya trees, and curry leaf plants) so she would have the ingredients she needed at her fingertips.
Growing up, Ezra Kisus ate only Indian food at home. Then one day, she found herself competing in the Chef Games TV program. Afterward, she began traveling to Ramle to buy authentic Indian spices and soon after opened her own business – Shira Mevashelet – in which she offers workshops around the country and caters events. Her mother, Mary, is also an integral part of her business.
When Ezra Kisus recently showed up at my kitchen with all of the unique equipment and ingredients used in preparing Indian cuisine, I was so excited. If I’ve piqued your interest, you can try out the incredible recipes below in your own kitchen.
Makes 16 pieces
2 cups flour, sifted
1 level tsp. salt
¼ tsp. whole cumin, roasted and crushed (optional)
4 Tbsp. (plus a little more) oil
½ cup water (more if needed – the dough should be a little firm)
4 Tbsp. oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 hot green pepper, chopped finely (use more if you want it extra hot)
1 Tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
3 Tbsp. coriander, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sweet or hot paprika
¼ tsp. turmeric
¼ cup water
4 potatoes, cooked and cut into cubes or mashed
1 heaping tsp. garam masala (any variety is fine)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice and ½ tsp. mango powder (can be purchased in specialty stores)
200 gr. small peas, frozen
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. salt
Oil for deep frying
Add all the dough ingredients to a bowl and knead for about 10 minutes. Dough should be hard. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
To prepare the filling, heat oil in a pan and fry the onions until they’re golden brown. Add the hot pepper, garlic-ginger paste and spices. Stir and then add the water, potatoes, garam masala and lemon juice. Stir gently and add the peas, coriander and salt. Stir, cover and store in the fridge.
To prepare the samosas, separate the dough into eight balls. Take one ball and roll it into an ellipse shape ½ cm. thick. Cut it into two pieces. Roll each half up into a cone and then add the filling. Press the ends to seal the samosa into a triangle shape. You can use a little water to seal if necessary. Prepare all the samosas in the same fashion.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan and fry each samosa over a medium flame until they turn golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels. Alternatively, you could brush samosas with oil and bake them in the oven at 200° until they turn golden brown.
Serve with yogurt and green chutney. 
Lentil dal
Makes 8 to 10 servings
500 gr. red lentils
1 onion, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 cube (2 cm.) ginger
3 Tbsp. oil
1 dried hot red pepper
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. whole cumin
1 Tbsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. salt
1 handful curry leaves
1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain until water runs clear. Add the lentils to a pot of cold water so that the water is 2 cm. above the level of the lentils. Cook over medium flame. If foam forms, remove with a spoon. Add the onion to the pot and bring to a boil uncovered. Add the ginger and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and cover. Cook until lentils are soft.
In a frying pan, heat oil and add the red pepper, whole and ground cumin, turmeric and salt. Mix and fry for 20 seconds. Add the curry leaves and garlic-ginger paste. Stir and then add to pot with lentils. You can add a little boiling water if it’s too thick.
Makes 20 pieces
2 cups whole-wheat flour, sifted
1 cup white flour, sifted
1 level tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. oil
2½ cups water
Add the flours and salt to a bowl and mix.
Add the oil and knead with your fingers until all the oil has been absorbed. Pour in the water and knead until mixed well. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. Split into 20 balls.
Roll out each circle on a lightly floured surface until it’s 4 mm. thick. Heat a Teflon pan and fry the chapati until it expands and is browned on both sides. 
Makes 8 to 10 servings
1 package (200 gr.) panipuri – round crispy bread
   that can be filled (can be purchased in Indian
   grocery stores)
1 package papadum – Indian gluten-free crackers
   (sometimes they have cumin in them. Can be
   purchased in Indian grocery stores)
Oil for deep frying
Chickpea salad
(Use this salad to fill the panipuri)
300 gr. chickpeas, cooked and drained
2 potatoes, cooked and cut into small cubes
¾ Tbsp. whole cumin seeds ground coarsely (can
   brown on frying pan to release the aroma)
½ package fresh coriander, chopped coarsely
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds, ground (can brown on
   frying pan)
1 hot green pepper, chopped finely
1 tsp. tamarind paste, diluted in ¼ cup water
¼ cup water
1 tsp. salt
1 large onion (or red onion), chopped finely
½ cup Indian bisli (can be purchased in specialty
Heat oil in a deep pan. Add the panipuri and fry until they expand into a ball shape and turn golden brown. Make the papadum in the same fashion.
To prepare the filling, add the chickpeas and potato cubes to a bowl. Add the cumin, dry and fresh coriander, hot pepper and diluted tamarind. Mix gently. Serve hot or cold with papadum.
You can use the salad to fill the panipuri. Make a hole in the dough and add a few chickpeas and yogurt. On top, you can garnish with Italian bisli and red onion.
Milk doughnuts – Gulab Jamun
Makes 10 to 11 doughnuts
1 cup milk powder (can be purchased in
   specialty stores)
2 Tbsp. self-rising flour, sifted
½ tsp. cardamom, ground
1 Tbsp. almond powder
50 gr. butter, melted
½ cup milk
Oil for deep frying
½ tsp. rose water
2 cups sugar
3 cups water
4-5 green cardamom pods
Dried rose petals
Ground pistachios
In a bowl, add milk powder, flour, ground cardamom and almond powder. Mix and then add the melted butter. Mix again and add the milk. Mix well (mixture will be very moist). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
Lightly oil your hands and then take a little of the mixture and form balls with a diameter of 2 to 3 cm. Place on a tray.
Heat oil for frying over a medium flame. Add a few balls to the oil and fry, moving the balls around constantly. Remove from oil and place on paper towels.
To prepare the syrup, add the sugar, water and cardamom to a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Add the rose water and the balls. After the balls have been soaking for 30 minutes, remove them and decorate with rose petals, cardamom and ground pistachios.
Important items in Indian cuisine:
Garam masala – An Indian spice mixture that varies from one area to another. In southern India, it includes 17 different spices, whereas in other areas it calls for only five.
Curry – Despite popular opinion, curry is not a spice, but a dish, such as chicken curry or fish curry.
Panipuri – Puri is unleavened deep-fried bread. Panipuri is round crispy bread that can be filled with a variety of fillings. They can be purchased ready made.
Papadum – Indian gluten-free crackers made from lentils and black beans. Tasty served with chutney. They can be purchased readymade.
Chutney – Spicy and sweet Indian dips. 

Curry leaves – they add a special woody taste to dishes.
Thali – Traditional tray used to serve dal, rice and chapati.
Ginger-garlic paste – A paste made from ginger and garlic.
Indian spices – These spices can be intensified by frying them whole.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.