Americans have taken to the foods of India with tremendous enthusiasm. While urbanites have always had the luxury of finding great Indian food, the cuisine has been expanding into even small towns and cities once people have had a chance to try it elsewhere and love it.

India has a tremendous variety of cuisines that come from its many regions — Suneeta Vaswani, author of “Easy Indian Cooking,” grew up in Mumbai, moved to Houston for many years, and recently returned to Mumbai.

The healthfulness of vegetables is complemented by dal (yellow lentils), which are high in protein and fiber.

Yellow Lentil Soup with Vegetables (Toor Dal)

Serves 8

1 cup yellow lentils (toor dal)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup chopped tomato

1 cup cubed potato

1 cup sliced carrot, 1/4-inch thick slices

8 green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 cups steamed rice

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Lemon wedges

— Clean and pick through lentils for any small stones and grit. Rinse several times in cold water until water is fairly clear.

Drain and transfer lentils to a large saucepan. Add 3 cups water and soak for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat, skimming froth off surface. Cook, partially covered, until dal is soft and mushy, about 30 minutes. Puree in blender or using immersion blender, or whisk vigorously to batter-like consistency.

This curry, with chicken, onion and a tomato-based gravy, is a traditional north India food.

Sindhi Chicken Curry

Serves 8

12 skinless bone-in chicken thighs, about 4 pounds

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, at room temperature

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons oil

2 cups finely chopped onions

1 tablespoon minced peeled gingerroot

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced green chiles

1 tablespoon coriander powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can (28 ounces) tomatoes, chopped, including juice

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

2 teaspoons salt or to taste

1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, divided

— Rinse chicken and pat dry.

Stir together yogurt and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.

In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until beginning to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and saute until dark golden, 10 to 12 minutes longer.

Stir in ginger, garlic and chile. Saute for 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken and brown well, 6 to 8 minutes.

Tip: This dish freezes very well in an airtight container for up to 4 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat on low heat. Sprinkle with garam masala and cumin powder. Cover and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the aroma of the spices to infuse the curry. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped cilantro before serving.

Vaswani says that people in Mumbai love these spiced scrambled eggs with onions and tomatoes, piled high on buttered toast.

Indian Scrambled Eggs (Akoori)

Serves 4 to 6

8 eggs

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons finely chopped green chile

1 cup chopped tomato

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Tomato wedges and cilantro sprigs, for garnish

— In a bowl, gently whisk eggs, salt and pepper. Do not beat.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and add cumin seeds. Stir in onion and green chile and saute until golden, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add tomato and saute, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Stir in cayenne, turmeric and cilantro. Cook for 1 minute longer. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly add egg mixture. Cook, stirring gently, until eggs are soft and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook.

Serve garnished with tomato wedges and cilantro sprigs.

TIP: Akoori is wonderful as a filling for a wrap or stuffed into pita bread.

(Excerpted from “Easy Indian Cooking, 2nd Ed.” by Suneeta Vaswani © 2013 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca May not be reprinted without publisher permission.)

Reach Karen Herzog at 701-250-8267 or karen.herzog@bismarcktribune.com.

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