Getting Intimate with Indian Cooking

biryanicomboIf the crowds at Indian restaurants across the world are anything to go by, Indians sure know a thing or two about pleasing the palate and the soul!

Did you think it’s all about curry, chillies and oil? You couldn’t be further from the truth! True, its sheer diversity does lend wing to many misconceptions. That’s because there is probably no other cuisine that includes as many diverse spices- whole and ground. But don’t be scared! If you’ve been meaning to try your hand at it, now is a good time as any to get started!

Diverse, yes; complicated no.

You’ve come to the right place to get started. Indian food is our first love and we’re always here to help. Here’s our ready reckoner that pretty much lists the must-haves for you to get going.

It’s no secret that the cornerstone of an Indian kitchen are the spices; these are the most that you will find yourself reaching out for. So before getting started do stock up!

Essential Indian Spices… …and their Hindi Names

1 Turmeric Powder – Haldi

2 Cayenne Pepper  – Lal Mirch

3 Cumin Powder – Jeera

4 Coriander Powder- Dhania

5 Asafoetida- Hing

6 Garam Masala- Garam Masala

7 Whole Cumin Seeds- Jeera

8 Mustard Seeds- Rai

9 Fennel Seeds/Aniseeds- Saunf

10 Cloves- Laung

11  Cinnamon Sticks- Dalchini

12 Green Cardamom- Elaichi

13 Bay Leaves- Tej Patta

14 Black Peppercorns- Kali Mirch

Quick tip:

Since spices lose their aroma and flavor if stored for too long, buy in moderate quantities. And your favorite Indian restaurant, Saffron Valley, is not just a pit-stop to satiate your cravings, but also retails whole spices, spice blends and even flour blends under the brand name of East India Pantry. Now your sourcing worries are over!

To continue, here are a couple of other things that are must-stores in every Indian fridge:

1. Ginger paste

2. Garlic paste

3. Plain Yoghurt

4. Fresh-cut coriander leaves (you’ve know it better as cilantro)

5. Diced green chilies

The common cooking media for Indian cooking include mustard oil, sesame oil and ghee (clarified butter).

Laden with the reputation for being elaborate and difficult to make, Indian food really does not need any special equipment to cook. You probably already have most of the utensils!

Your food processor and pestle and mortar are prized possessions when it comes to cooking Indian. The food processor is perfect for grinding both wet and dry spices. Use it to make wet masala pastes and pureé ingredients like onions and tomatoes for gravies. The pestle and mortar is ideal for coarse grinding of fresh herbs and whole spices. Other utensils required are

1. Non-stick frying pan

2. The Kadhai or simply non-stick Wok

3. Deep sauté pan

4. Deep soup pot

5. Pressure Cooker (If you can lay your hands on it! It’s perfect for the dum style where food is cooked in their own juices)

Hopefully we’ve made things clearer so you’ll stop getting intimidated to cook Indian food. Armed with these basics, you’re all set to go on a gastronomic adventure with the exotic foods of the Indian sub-continent. With a bit of practice, you’ll see it all comes easy! And, if all else fails, there’s always us J

Namaste, and Happy cooking!

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