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.
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).