Indian Recipes

Spices and spice mixes characterize much of Indian cooking, a country considered as the spice continent. So whether you’re cooking Indian recipes from the north (with its meats and flatbreads), from the west (with its rice and lentils), from the east (abundant with seafood), or from the south (with its tangy pickles and chutneys), the spices will ever be present on the pot and palate.

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The flavors of India are as diverse as its regions and as complex as the infusion of influences of its various invaders into the cuisine. But a well-balanced Indian recipe is characterized by the presence of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent. How else to achieve this but through the skillful use of spices, fresh and dry, on both main dish and its accompaniment?

Indian recipes proffer staple spices in all its forms—whole, ground, toasted, individually or as masterful mixes, such as the warm spice mix (garam masala powder) or the tandoori masala. A well-stocked Indian grocer or Asian section of the supermarket also has packaged mixes for all your cooking needs. We suggest you make your own as much as possible so you get to control how exactly you want the dish to taste.

Other must-have Indian pantry staples include paneer (Indian fresh cheese), ghee (clarified butter), adrak lasan ka paste (ginger-garlic paste), and barista (fried onions), which can all be made from scratch or bought ready to use.

You can try the egg pakora (deep-fried eggs in spicy batter), palak paneer (pan-fried freshly made Indian cottage cheese with a sauce of spinach and other spices). To complement the savory Indian recipes, there are also various Indian sweets, such as the sohan halwa (a dense, sweet fudgy confection strewn with chopped almonds and pistachios), and ledikeni (deep fried cottage cheese balls stuffed with khoya/koya, a whole milk fudge).

 

Indian Cooking

The foundation of Indian cooking involves the use of spices, which make each savory or sweet dish complex and profound in flavor. Individual spices are combined with others in an Indian recipe or to form specific mixes known as masalas (for example, garam masala, vindaloo masala) which is either dry or in paste form.

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Common spices and flavoring ingredients found in the Indian kitchen include turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin, mustard, bay leaves, cloves, asafoetida, carmon seeds, mango powder, tamarind pulp, and dried fenugreek leaves. Cinnamon and cardamom are also used in Indian sweets like the balushahi (deep fried pastries shaped like glazed doughnuts). The spices can be prepared from scratch or bought ready to use.

With the spices and flavorings mastered, the cook then learns the basic cooking techniques in Indian cooking. To cook food in its own juices under a covered pan, steaming (dum) is applied. To sauté in preparation for the addition of other ingredients, the Indian cook accomplishes the bhunao (sautéing). To deep-fry the pakora, the cook does talina (deep-frying). To cook marinated meats in a brick oven, the cook operates the tandoor (grilling).  

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Recipes for Indian cooking in this collection include a sampling of appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and flatbreads. The biryani is a colorful rice dish mixed with vegetables, nuts and spices. The bhindi masala is a spicy okra dish usually served with roti bread. Into the garam masala, turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin are added. Aloo matar is a classic Punjabi dish made with potatoes and green peas, made colorful and flavorful by cumin, garam masala, red chilli powder and turmeric.

We have recipes for chapatti and baati, unleavened Indian flatbreads to serve as perfect accompaniments to the rich sauces of Indian cooking. Break them into pieces and dip into the sauce or fill each flatbread with the dish so you get to taste India in one bite.