Indian food is delicious, but the recipes look really hard.
You need help:
So we decided to round as many Indian cooking experts as we could and ask them one question:
"What are 3 beginner tips for cooking Indian food?"
We received amazing tips from 57 Indian Food & Recipe Bloggers!
Tip #1: Make sure you have all the right spices! This is a good list for starters (it looks like a long list, but you will use these spices often so it's a good investment!)
- Cayenne Pepper
- Coriander Powder
- Turmeric Powder
- Cumin Powder
- Garam Masala
- Ground Cardamom
- Whole Cumin Seeds
- Black Mustard Seeds
- Curry Leaves
- Whole Cinnamon Sticks
- Bay Leaves
Tip #2: Make sure you have either a pressure cooker or slow cooker to make cooking dried lentils, rice, beans, etc. easier.
Tip #3: Pick a few recipes and start experimenting! As you cook with Indian recipes more and more, you'll get familiar with the process of toasting spices until they pop, knowing which spices go together most frequently, and how to combine ingredients for a final delicious meal :)
Beginner Indian Cooks: Make sure you have all the right spices!. - Anjali, @pickyeaterblog.Tweet This
1. One of the biggest mistakes that people tend to do is that they try one of the most popular dishes. Not all of the popular dishes are easy to make, especially for someone trying their hand at cooking for the first time. So start slow and start with a dish that they are comfortable with. It’s a step by step process. Once someone gets the hang of it, then it becomes easier.
2. Don’t worry about chopping the vegetables just like it is done by famous chefs and on shows like MasterChef. It takes years of practice. Just go with what you can. No need to go for perfection from that start. Do it the way you can.
3. Cook in small quantities. That way if it does not come out right, the wastage is less.
4. Plan what you are going to do, note them down. Buy things well before.
5. Most importantly enjoy your time in the kitchen. If it does not come out well, it’s ok. No need to be hard on yourself, you can also redo the dish.
Curry powder is not garam masala and is never used in India. :) Curry powder is less flavorful and has turmeric and other additions that are usually not present in garam masala. Curry powder is a British or Western spice blend approximating the masala spice blends from north and south India. It works well as a spice blend to add to dishes, but is definitely not a traditional or authentic flavor profile. Use garam masala spice blend or the mentioned spices in Indian recipes.
Tomatoes: I usually use fresh, just-ripe Roma or other tomatoes. They are firm, not too sweet, and just tart enough and work best in Indian recipes. I rarely use canned or crushed tomatoes as they are sweeter and add so much tomato flavor to the sauce that they tend to mask the complex magic of the spices and herbs. If you are in a rush, use half fresh and half canned, plus add more spices to taste later if needed.
Indian Dals are generally a bit over cooked. The preferred consistency is more porridge like or really soft whole beans that can easily get mushed into the sauce.
Familiarize with spices. Taste and see what works with your palate. From there, start out with basic recipes like simple dal, stir fry’s or snacks such as sandwiches.
Indian food has a bad reputation for being complex, spicy and laborious. Which is not the case at all. Spices doesn’t translate to heat indexes. Spices are flavors. Taste along the way and experiment with simple recipes. There are many make ahead recipes that freezes well. So, don’t be intimidated.
There are two recipes I would personally recommend to anyone beginning their journey into indian foods. One is masala chai and the other, indian omelet. The basics. It always works!
Spices doesn’t translate to heat indexes. Spices are flavors. - @Kiran_, Kiran Turan.Tweet This
1) Indian food has to be cooked with confidence. If you get to understand the basic then cooking indian food can be a breeze. There is no special pots and pans need for cooking it. Just a basic kadai or a nonstick pan is enough.
2) Most indian curries start with a base of a masala which is mainly a onion and tomato base. Take your time to saute the onions in medium heat till it caramelizes and get soft. Now add a good amount of fresh ginger and garlic paste and cook till raw smell leaves away. Then add in your tomatoes and cook that down till it is almost mushy and oil separates from them. This is your masala. Cooking down the onions and tomatoes makes the base of a good curry. It enhances the taste of the end product. For busy working people, you can make this masala in bulk on your leisurely hours and freeze them in individual containers. If you dont have time to make your fresh ginger garlic paste daily, then make it in bulk, add some salt to it and freeze in containers as well.
3) Stock up on basic whole spices and spice powders in small batches. Always buy spice powders in small batches so they have their freshness till the last. Never add spice powders directly to hot oil, they will burn pretty quickly. You can add these spice powders into the masala and add a splash of water and cook again till oil separates. The oil separation process indicates that the spices are cooked completely. Now you can add meat, fish or veggies in this and cook to create the best curry.
1.Use spices in moderation, less is more. Adding too much spice can make a dish bitter.
2.Always try and use fresh spices and never bulk buy them as once you open the packets the aroma will reduce.Store spices in an air tight container in a cool dry place.
3.When grinding your own spice mixture, dry roasting the spices prior to grinding releases their flavour.
For a novice in the kitchen, I would say the first thing to do would be to invest in two kitchen staples - a pressure cooker, and a mixer-grinder preferably with a food processor.
A pressure cooker is great to cook dried beans and lentils, rice and a host of other foods, while the mixer-grinder is essential for north and south Indian cooking. A food processor makes short work of kneading dough for chaperone and can also help with activities like slicing, grating etc.
The second thing to do would be to stock up on basic spices but in smaller quantities as otherwise they lose their freshness. The fresher the spices, the better the dish will turn out. Store them in airtight containers, preferably glass jars.
North Indian cooking often calls for ginger and garlic. This can be made ahead in larger quantities and stored in the fridge. Else or freeze them into single use portions. South Indian cooking calls for a lot of coconut. You can store fresh grated coconut in single use portions in the freezer for about a week. Thaw frozen food ingredients completely before using them.
Fresher the spices, the better the dish. Store them in airtight containers. - @aprna, My Diverse Kitchen.Tweet This
Here goes the winning simple tips for beginners who step up on cooking game:
- Be a cool cook. Prepare & organize ahead of time when you' re trying a new recipe.
- Food releases moisture as it cooks. So never overcrowd your pan or baking dish which may turn over the taste of it.
- Cooking pasta is very easy just if you keep in mind pasta doubles in size as it cooks.
- While preparing scrambled eggs, remove the eggs from the pan as soon as they appear to be done...else the dish gets dry.
- Be flexible with the punches. ie...if you fail at a meal..don't loose your heart...it shows you're one step closer to becoming better cook.
I hope these cooking tips will help you get more fun out of cooking!
Be a cool cook. Prepare and organize ahead of time when you' re trying a new recipe. - Jayanthy, @TastyAppetite.Tweet This
Indian cooking isn't too difficult, however it utilizes small quantities of a lot of spices and condiments, so make sure your kitchen is well stocked with a range of ingredients to use.
Secondly, the pots and pans needed for cooking Indian dishes are very different from the western cooking, so make sure you research well and buy some nice Pressure Cookers, Kadhai, etc. Ex. for making roti's which go well with Indian curries, you would need a tava and a rolling pin, so these are an absolute must.
Also remember that most of Indian dishes include onions, garlic and other spices, while these taste absolutely delicious, it is a norm in the Indian society to serve mouth fresheners after the meal. They are a variety of them available in the market and they can be served in fancy serving bowls. Enjoy eating and serving the delicious Indian food!
Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, especially the wide array of spices used.
There is a myth about Indian food being greasy, spicy, fattening and difficult to cook. It's just a myth as Indian food is really simple, tasty, healthy and above all easy to learn and even master!
Indian food can be as simple as a stir fry with just 6 ingredients and as complex as a Biryani with 40+ ingredients with 20+ spices!
Slowly build your own spice cupboard starting from a very basic and every day spices like cumin seeds, mustard seeds, dry red chillies, pepper corns, turmeric etc to little complex ones like whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, bay leaves, mace etc), hing/asafoetida, fennel seeds, etc.
Then there is a whole range of ground spices that really elavates the Indian dish, like cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, garam masala (not curry powder), chaat masala etc.
Don't be afraid to be generous with your spices as they not only enhance the flavour, but also have many health benefits.
If you live outside India, then it's best to buy spices from Indian stores as they sell fresh spices in large quantity but at the same price that the supermarkets charge for small jar of spices.
The famous quote by Laiko Bahrs's "When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste." applies to cooking, especially when it comes to Indian food as our mothers, grandmothers, aunts always say to go with our intuition and 'andaaz'.
I always tell my readers who are keen to learn Indian cooking to consider cooking as an art, not rocket science as it requires instinct and taste than exact measurements or following the cooking instructions religiously.
Indian food being difficult to cook is a myth. It's really simple and healthy. - @meetsia, Monsoon Spice.Tweet This
1. Toasting nuts, rice, rava and dal (lentils) before cooking with it increases its flavors considerably.
2. When boiling potatoes or eggs, add a pinch of salt to the water. This will help peel the skin easily later.
3. Soak chik peas in boiling water if you forget to soak it ahead of time. In this way only 1 hour of soaking in needed.
4. Make ginger garlic paste in bulk and put it in the fridge. Similarly, make green chilly paste and keep in the fridge. This saves a lot of cooking time.
1. Indian Food has lots of ingredients unlike the Western Counterparts, and each and every course involves elaborate methods and extensive cooking in order to achieve the perfect 6 tastes that symbolises the Indian food. So timing is important. Plan well in advance. Run the steps in your mind and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before you enter the kitchen and begin cooking.
2. Make sure to use seasonal vegetables and freshest of the spices and try to make your own spice powders. Make little in quantity and try to use it within a short period of time so that you do not miss out on its flavor and aroma.
3. Cooking is not just following steps from a cookbook or website. Use your presence of mind, adapt accordingly, keeping in mind about your family’s needs and preferences.
Birista is the fancy name given to thinly sliced fried onions. Adding little sugar while frying onions will give nice caramel color and adding little salt will speed up the process of frying.
Adding 2-3 tbsp. cooked and cooled rice to dosa batter while grinding will give nice color to the dosa and helps in easily flipping the dosa.
Adding 10 ml of refined cooking oil to 250gms. of Ginger-Garlic paste will increase the shelf life of it. You can even add salt to keep the paste fresh for days.
1. There are few spices that form the crux of Indian food and I would highly recommend to have them handy, always. Delicious meals can be whipped up in minutes with just a pinch of tumeric, cumin powder and garam masala. For those who can take heat, chilli powder is a bonus!
2. A simple onion-tomato-base with a few spices is the starting point for many Indian curries. Make a big batch (especially when tomatoes are in season) and freeze. I recently started doing this and was quite surprised how much time it cuts down on crazy weekday nights.
3. Befriend the humble pressure cooker and make it your life long friend. Remove all inhibitions and slowly start with a simple dal. Move on to bigger things once you master basic recipes like legumes and rice recipes. Cooking with pressure cooker saves a lot of time, energy and effort.
Befriend the humble pressure cooker and make it your life long friend. - @cwsiri, Cooking With Siri.Tweet This
TIPS FOR A NOVICE COOK
Indian Cooking comprises of varied ingredients and numerous cooking methods. Do not get perplexed. Select a recipe which requires minimum number of ingredients. Read the recipe carefully. Keep all ingredients ready at hand before you start. Enjoy the process.
2. FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY
A mother once instructed her naive daughter to cook butter till all noise ceased. Later a charred residue of ghee was all that she found in the vessel! ‘I cooked till all noise ceased. But just then a baby howled next door. Soon the street dogs got into a noisy fight. Then a cat was meowing for some time. Finally I switched off the stove after all the noise ceased!’ The poor mother was horrified at her daughter’s justification!
Joking aside, be in the now and follow instructions up to the tee. Do not lose heart if the first attempt is a failure. Patience, practice and intuition will help you in the long run.
3. CLEAN UP AND PRESENT YOUR CREATION WITH CONFIDENCE
Clean up the counter and freshen up yourself. Present your creation in an appropriate dish at the right temperature. Set a happy mood with your loving smile. Your dish is going to taste gorgeous!
Spices are the heart and soul of Indian cooking. To get maximum aroma and flavour from spices, don't buy them in large quantities. Buy in smaller quantities & use them up within the best before period. Don't keep them very close to the stove / heat source in the kitchen as they lose their potency. This rule applies to both whole spices and spice powders.
Pressure cooker is another implement you cannot do without. Make sure you have pressure cooker or pan in a small size, so all kinds of lentils and beans can be cooked to perfection in a short time.
To get maximum aroma and flavour from spices, don't buy them in large quantities. - Nandita, @saffrontrail.Tweet This
Indian food is all about spices. Spices not only add taste but also have a lot of medicinal and healing properties. If used judiciously they add flavour and depth to a dish.
Whole spices have a long shelf life and can be easily stored.
Storing whole spices like cumin, mustard, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and spice powders like turmeric, red powder and coriander seed powder can provide a base to cooking Indian dals and curries.
Learning about the various spices used in cooking is a must. Indian food is famous for its various levels of spice. So a thorough knowledge on spices is a must before beginning. Try to put together a spice box based on the regional cooking you are interested. While in south we have mustard, urad dhal, fenugreek, sambar powder in our box, in North it is completely different. So do a little research on spice.
Learning about the various types of cooking is a must. While some prefer pressure cooking, some go for cooking on an open pan. And there are other modes of cooking like tandoor and open flame. I feel that most Indians love their pressure cooker as it makes every day cooking so easy. So learning to use a pressure cooker is a must in terms of Indian cooking. While dals take 5- 10 minutes to cook, vegetables take one or two minutes. So learning about the cooking time is so important so that we don't over cook any ingredient. If you are not sure about the timing, then go for an open pan. Though it takes more time when compared to pressure cooking, it is easier to get the final result as we can control the heat.
As our cuisine is vast, it is better to start from one region and master it. Once you learn the basics of a particular cuisine, it will be easier to understand other regional cuisines and you can easily differentiate between them. The main differences will be the use of spices. Once you understand them, you can master the art of Indian cooking.
Our cuisine is vast, it is better to start from one region and master it. - @gayathriraani, Gayarthis Cookspot.Tweet This
5 basic Indian spices:
Turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Without these I don’t think Indian cooking is possible. These 5 ingredients are used in almost all Indian recipes and understanding these spices will in end give you authentic Indian taste. Red chili powder must always added as per taste. Turmeric powder must be used little, like ¼ to ½ teaspoon; more can give too pungent taste and very yellow looking food. Coriander powder is usually added in more quantity. It gives pleasant aroma and also helps to thicken curries. Cumin and mustard seeds must be added when oil is nicely hot-they provide subtle and yet very important flavor in Indian cuisine.
Everyone loves Indian food. But many shy away from Indian cooking as it is an elaborate process, but if you own a pressure cooker you will end up saving lot of time. Pressure cooker is a blessing when it comes to Indian cooking. You can boil lentils, chickpeas, beans, potatoes quickly in cooker which otherwise can take hours. I have infact made baigan ka bharta in cooker.
Try easy recipes:
Look for easy recipes. When I was learning how to cook I took easy steps. My mom taught me the some basic recipes like dal-rice, kichadi, riata. I gradually started adding veggies to my kichadi to make it fancier- serve it with yogurt, pickle and papad and wholesome meal is ready. Same goes with daal-rice. Temper the rice with jeera(cumin seeds) and your upmarket jeera rice is prepared. Don’t be afraid to experiment, practice will make you perfect.
Look for easy recipes. When I was learning how to cook I took easy steps. - @Shweta_MT, Merry Tummy.Tweet This
Indian food is fun - there is lots of colors and flavors in your plate. Be brave and start with your first dish today.
1. Buy whole spices or spice powders from ethnic stores - I recommend buying spice powders like paruppu podi, sambhar podi or rasam podi from Indian grocery store. These will make your life easy as you can toss them over grilled or steamed vegetable. Make a quick stiry fry with french beans, top it with South Indian paruppu podi and serve with rice. It is a great side for your thanksgiving or family dinner too.
2. Start with recipes that uses 5-6 ingredients.
3. Learn to use pressure cooker or slow cooker, either one will make your life easy. Rajma/ Channa masala or pulao or dahl are great one pot dishes to start with.
4. Make a trip to your farmers market, explore with local ingredients and spice it up with Indian spices. For instance, brussel's sprout stir fry with mustard seeds, dry red chillies and curry leaves or make a dahl with summer squash and store bought sambhar powder.
Start with recipes that uses 5-6 ingredients. - Vijitha, @spicesnaroma.Tweet This
For me Indian cooking is all about using right spices for right recipe, It is one of easiest cuisine to explore. India is a country with diverse cuisine, each cuisine has its own uniqueness. For the beginners in Indian cuisine these are the tips I would suggest:
1. Start from learning the basic ingredients such as spices used in Indian cuisine.. Every India home will carry a spice box ( in hindi we call masala dabba and in tamil we call it anjarai petti) which is very important in our day to day cooking. The masala dabba will include - red chilli pd, coriander pd, turmeric pd, cumin pd, mustard seeds, cumin seeds.. These spice powders plays a very important role in Indian cuisine as these are used in our day to day cooking.
2. Learn or know the difference between the Northern and southern cuisines . for instance there is lot of coconut milk gravy made in southern parts of Indian where as In norther parts it is famous for its gravy curries using tomato onion as base.
3. Last one will be try learn cook the basics. To master in Indian cuisine it is very important to know your basics. Learn to cook with simple Indian recipes like a simple paneer gravy or a halwa. If you know the basic recipes very well , it is so easy to innovate.
4. Collect recipes from your mother and grand mothers, learn from home. Our mom and grand moms are the best ever cooking tutors or home chef, you will never find any cooking school like them. They have the perfect traditional, methods, techniques you can learn.
5. For beginner it is nice practice to note down the ingredients and methods, so that when you make the same recipe next time it tastes the same.
It's important to master the basics. Learn to cook with simple Indian recipes. - Manjula, Desi Fiesta.Tweet This
I feel cooking can be a pleasant experience and not feel like a chore if you follow a few simple steps.I am sure many of the tips are generic but if followed, it can make a big difference towards your attitude to cooking.
First and foremost, have a plan in your head or better still write it down.A weekly time table is just fine. If you make a menu plan for the week and shop accordingly, half your job is done!
Also, store your vegetables accordingly. Segregate greens-mint, coriander, spinach etc and pack it in Ziploc bags. Make masala pastes and store in airtight containers and refrigerate. Grate coconut and freeze it. So on and so forth.
Making dough for rotis can be a tough task for beginners. Use a food processor to knead the dough, rolling and cooking the rotis is then much more easier.
Having a batch of Idli-dosa batter in the fridge can take care of your breakfast menu for busy mornings. Make different kinds of chutneys or sambhar and you're good to go.
Using a rice cooker can give you consistency in cooking the rice. Be it for regular dal-rice or pulaos and biryanis.
Keep a big batch of curd/yogurt in the fridge. You may use it for Raita, lassi or some simple curd rice or a cool buttermilk after lunch!
Indian cuisine is one of the most complex in the world and the best way to approach it if you are a newcomer is to learn the building blocks of this cuisine.
Spices form an integral part and for a beginner, the best place to start would be the everyday masala dabba which incorporates the most commonly used spices like mustard seeds, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander and cumin seeds.
Lentils and pulses are another important category and learning to cook a simple dal with a tempering of spices can give the novice cook a lot of confidence to try out other dishes.
And always remember the golden rule of cooking – a recipe is just a guideline, allow yourself to be guided by intuition, touch and feel of the ingredients.
The best approach as a newcomer is to learn the building blocks of this cuisine. - @vanyadhanya, Spice Adventures.Tweet This
I find Indian cooking the easiest probably because we grow up seeing our mothers cook it. We are familiar with the taste as well as the cooking techniques or even equipment used. I have rarely seen my mother or others, even a chef, measure ingredients for Indian cooking. The taste and even doneness is subjective basis on personal preferences like spicy or a mix of sweet and sour.
On the other hand, baking for example is a precise technique following exact measurements for best result. I also measure and then bake for precise temperatures. So in terms of difficulty I think mastering baking is more challenging than Indian cooking.
Having said that, there are few pointers which will definitely help any one starting Indian Cooking.
1. Use stable and heavy bottom utensils when cooking as food tends to stick to the bottom.
2. Covering the dish while cooking, not only conserves fuel but also hastens the cooking process using built-up steam.
3. Taste the dish and adjust spices based on your preference, Indian cooking is quite forgiving in this regard.
Be confident of what you are cooking and you will be amazed at the result. Happy cooking!
Taste and adjust spices based on your preference. Indian cooking is quite forgiving. - @dipsy, Lemon in Ginger.Tweet This
Although I started cooking at a very young age in Thailand, learning by observing how my parents cooked, but my serious cooking journey began when I got married and moved to India. From then, I started cooking Indian Food, which has complex flavor profile, and it has always been challenging. My husband who is from Kerala taught me several dishes of Malabar Cuisine, and I enjoyed cooking Coastal Indian seafood dishes which are both spicy and creamy. But to be honest, when it comes to Indian cooking, I’m still a student. So here are my tips on starting cooking Indian food.
1. Try a lot of Indian Food. You will gradually get the flavor profile and understand the melody in the dishes when you explore the cuisine. I often eat out when I travel to rustic locations in India, and when I get home, I am inspired and confident enough to try to replicate the dishes at home.
2. Take it Easy. A lot of people might disagree with me on this, but I usually keep the authenticity of the dishes aside, and try to cook something that I can enjoy rather than follow the recipe disciplinarily. For example; I don’t like rose water, and in some delicious recipes that use it, I skip the rose water completely. When you are happy with the result, you will be so motivated to cook more.
3. Don’t be ashamed of shortcuts. I love premixed/instant curry pastes or powders. They save time and allow me to cook something complicated that I can’t possibility create myself. These instant curry pastes can encourage you to cook often, and later, you can try to make everything from scratch.
1. Almost any vegetable can be made as chutney, just saute it in little oil with chilies and coconut, grind it with salt. This not only serves as a dip but double up as a spread for your roti/sandwich.
2. A common mistake we all do is excess salt in curries. there are quite a few tricks to remove the excess salt. a. squeeze half a lemon in the gravy b. add mashed potato to the gravy, it also gives a rich texture to the gravy. c. add a small ball of chapati dough to the gravy, let it sit for 10 minutes, then remove it, the dough ball absorbs salt.
3. To Add richness to curries, many use cream, if you are calorie conscious, you can use milk. Another option is to add 1-2 tsp of almond powder or soak 4-5 almonds, peel make a paste of it and add. Another option is use powdered oats. To 1 tsp of oats powder, add milk, make a thin paste and add it to the gravy.
To add richness to curries, many use cream. If you are calorie conscious use milk. - Priya, @Icampinmykitchn.Tweet This
1. To build up confidence start by making some straight forward dals, such as red split lentil which is also known as masoor dal. It does not need soaking and literally takes 10 mins to cook in boiling water. You then add turmeric, either Bengali panch phoron or cumin seeds to some hot oil along with one of two fresh chillies. Once the seeds start to fizzle (15 seconds) add the contents of the pan to the red split lentils. Add some fresh tomatoes to the dal, salt and more water if you prefer it more soupy and cook gently for another couple of minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and some fresh coriander. Easy, speedy, cost efficient and tasty. A great confidence booster for a beginner.
2. The first 'curry' I was taught was my mother-in-law's chicken curry. It uses a whole chicken cut into 10 pieces and a handful of whole and ground spices. Carrots and a couple of potatoes were added as well as a small amount of tinned tomatoes. It cooks itself over 40 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are soft. It involves the occasional stirring, but otherwise is very straightforward and a great dish to feed the family.
3. An Indian dish that always surprises in a positive way uses the humble cabbage as the centre piece. It involves few ingredients: white or green cabbage, fennel seeds, turmeric, potato, sultanas, chilli powder, bay leaf, salt and sugar and yet is delicious and perfect to accompany both dishes above. Cooking time is minimal and yet the humble cabbage transforms into a truest satisfying ingredient. It's a great ingredient for the novice Indian cook.
Recipes for all these recommendations are on my blog.
1. Indian cooking is the art of knowing your spices. It takes time to know how much of each would affect your dish in what way. Learn it slowly and steadily.
2. While starting, go for easy dishes, that include limited ingredients and basic spices. Once you get a hang of it, then you can move on to the tougher ones.
3. Be interested! If you are not liking what you cook, you will likely get something inedible! :)
Be interested! If you are not liking what you cook, you may get something inedible! :) - Rafeeda, @SweetTooth_Raf.Tweet This
The key components of Indian cooking is spices, keeping in mind spices should be fresh and stored in a cool dry place.
Rather than buying loads of spices all at once, the key is to start simple with a few essentials such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
Learn to work with these essential ingredients finding your wavelength in the kitchen, there can be countless ways to extract a diversity of flavors from these essential basic spices. As they say, when you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything.
My tips for someone just starting to cook Indian food are:
- Spices are your friend - Don't be afraid to use them. At the same time, do not over use them, they should help the star of the dish. Be it vegetable or meat or paneer to get to its full taste potential but in no way should the spice over power it.
- Start simple - a lot of Indian cooking is fairly complicated but and equally fair amount it simple and easy too. Start small with the food you have eaten at home like dals, vegetable stir fry or masala etc. Making simpler recipes that you have eaten before, preferably not at restaurants, will help you understand how the various ingredients including spices work together and will help you get on to more complex and creative recipes.
- This is not specific to Indian cooking but always season. When you think somethings not right, add a little more salt and for. Good majority of the time you do that, that will make your dish flavorful! Sometimes you don't know you are missing that extra salt till you add it.
Good luck with Indian cooking. It is the most delicious, flavorful cuisine that you will never be done learning how to cook! It's fun exploring. Have fun cooking, that's the most important part.
Spices are your friend. They should help the star of the dish. - Manju, @CookingCurries.Tweet This
1. Stick to basics and make simple dishes with basic ingredients. Once you master that then tweak your recipes to showcase your creativity.
2. I always tell myself and my kids "It's ok to make mistakes but learn from them". This applies to cooking as well. When the dish you make does not turn out as expected don't be disheartened.
3. Try switching vegetables and try new combination. Most of all have fun and enjoy the process. Hint of love and dash of smile makes the final result even more devouring.
I tell myself and my kids it's ok to make mistakes. Learn from them. Works for cooking as well. - @sizzlingveggies.Tweet This
Indian cuisine is one of the healthiest cuisines of all. Fresh ingredients and freshly made food are the key ingredients for healthy living. Indian cooking is also very easy-to- learn. My tips for beginners are:
1. Know the vegetables and fruits available in your nearby market.
Always use seasonal vegetables and fruits. Unseasonal food is not good for health. Educate yourself with the health benefits of the ingredients you are using. Knowing your vegetables and fruits is very important. Similarly, knowing the facts about your cooking oil is equally important.
2. Acquire knowledge about Indian spices we use in the cooking.
Go slow and start with recipes which have few steps. Understand the process and then slowly start experimenting with complicated or long recipes.
3. Knowing about the terms of Indian cooking is also very useful to learn
If you are following a recipe, follow as it is at first to learn.
If you are following a recipe, follow as it is at first to learn. - Indrani, Recipe Junction.Tweet This
"Happiness is Homemade." Someone has rightly framed these three words. I would say, we all have to engage ourselves into cooking at least once in a day. I know many of you would never enter the kitchen for various reasons. Most of you would be savoring what your mother cooks for you. Some others would have time constraints never to find the right time to cook and eat self made food. Many others would lack the will to really get out of the comfort zone and move into the kitchen.
Cooking is a stress buster "if" you really enjoy the process. Many of you would be first timers in the kitchen. I would say, never mind if the food you cooked tastes far away from expected. Pat your back if you have really put in all your efforts to cook a little meal for yourself.
Cooking Indian food is a lovely affair. The seasoning, the masala, the sounds of stirring, the whistles from a pressure cooker, the aroma that spreads throughout the kitchen cannot be beaten by cooking other cuisines. If you are a first timer at Indian cooking, you have to just pitch into the kitchen and turn on the flame.
My recommendation for beginners: start with your core family / regional recipes. Go to your mothers, aunts and get those recipes from them. Try them one by one. You will know how your skills work once you start with the basic recipes. For example, if you are a South Indian hailing from Karnataka, learn the basics of making dosas, idlis or upma. Start with simple, effortless recipes like cooking plain rice, rasam, stir fried veggies etc. Try to find out if you are going on the right track by occasionally calling your friends home and serving them what you cook. More importantly, you have to learn to cook for at least four to five people.
It doesn't take more than a few trials until you get any recipe right. If you really have the passion and driving force towards cooking and the kitchen, you have won half the battle. The rest is all about your skills and instincts. Never be taken aback by failures. You can never cook good quality meals if you haven't failed in your endeavors. Once you reach a stage where you can cook simple meals for yourself and your family / friends, you can say you aren't a novice cook.
Cooking isn't a complicated process. It is just an art which is built-in most of us. One has to just nurture this skill to excel in this beautiful art. You may never know, you might end up making the best aloo paratha you have ever tasted. You have to just give it a try. :)
Indian cooking can seem daunting at first, simply because when you look at the list of ingredients, they look never-ending! But the first thing I would suggest is to read through a bunch of recipes and stock up on some spices. You'll soon realize that the list of ingredients largely consists of spices, so if you have a stocked pantry, it won't seem so daunting at all!
Most recipes will call for chopped onion, ginger and garlic; it helps to store some this way in your refrigerator (depending on how long these stay fresh in your refrigerator) so that you're not starting from scratch every time.
My last tip is that when you are starting out, there are bound to be learnings - don't let any missteps hold you back! It's fun to look back and laugh at stories of desserts without sugar or rotis in the shape of the map of India - we've all done them!
Indian cooking, while might seem dominating at first, actually has a method behind its madness! Which is why there is a strong emphasis on a combination of flavours than a single dominating flavour. I believe learning a few tips is a great way to start strong in Indian cuisine.
1. Learn the holy trinity! Most Indian dishes (especially curries) start of with frying, sautéing or in general cooking in any form, a combination of onion, garlic and ginger. This could be in the form of a paste or fresh, but these generally form the basis of most cooking. Depending on the recipe or expected flavours, you could add water or milk or coconut milk that then gets reduced. Experimenting and getting comfortable with these will make Indian cooking easy in the long run.
2. Carbs: Besides rice, Indian carbs can be in the form of rice based or flour based. For all rice based stuff like idly and dosa, get the basics of the rice/lentil mix. That will go a long way in making great idly or dosa. For breads like rotis, adding a bit of curd to the dough and some green herbs go a long way in making awesome rotis.
3. For the semi gravy/dry dishes, the flavours come from the marinade and the cooking medium rather than over night marinades. Ghee and coconut oil used during sautéing or frying adds significant depths in flavours.
This should be enough to get you started on Indian cooking!!!
Learn the holy trinity! Onion, Garlic and Ginger. - Wasim, @chennaifoody.Tweet This
1. Get your basics right ! Use minimum number of ingredients and try various combinations to make out how each ingredient affects the flavour.
2. Too much of anything is bad! This applies to everything but especially to ingredients like chili powder, mustard paste, ginger garlic paste, asafoetida and even something as subtle as Kewra (pandan extract) or Kesar (saffron).
3. Always follow a detailed recipe so that you don't end up with blunders. For example, curdling of yogurt while making a kadhi can be avoided if the pan in cooled down by sprinkling some water. Similarly, for cooking that gorgeously fluffy Basmati rice, the open pan method is the most foolproof method for beginners. Use lots of water and ensure that it is on a full boil when you add the washed and soaked rice grains.
Most importantly, do not go for shortcuts if you want to taste the authentic stuff.
Most importantly, do not go for shortcuts if you want to taste the authentic stuff. - @sweta_biswal, Oriyarasoi.Tweet This
If you love eating curries in Indian restaurants, try making your own next time! It is fun, satisfying and healthy. Here are my tips for making Indian Curries:
Making a curry need not complicated or terrifying. Invest in a few basic spices such as cumin seeds, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, garam masala and dried fenugreek leaves and you can create lots of different curries just by following my tips below.
1. You don’t need to cook everything Indian in ghee (clarified butter)! Use any oil you have on hand such as canola, olive, grapeseed etc.
2. Use onions, ginger and garlic as the building blocks of your curry. They will add flavor, texture and also thicken the sauce. Sauté them lightly to get rid of their raw flavor.
3. Next, add chopped fresh tomatoes or premium canned ones. When fresh ripe tomatoes are not in season, I like to use San Marzano canned plum tomatoes packed in puree. They thicken faster and add a delicious hit of tomato flavour to the sauce.
4. Use spices that are fresh (no more than a year old). After adding spices to the sauce, cook them for a couple of minutes to draw out their flavor and aroma into the curry sauce.
5. Add Balkan style plain yogurt for creaminess or use coconut milk or whipping cream for a change of flavor. This will mellow out the spices and add balance to the curry. Add it after the tomatoes and spices have cooked down a bit and cook for a few minutes.
6. You now have the perfect home made curry paste! You can add any main ingredient, such as meats or vegetables, to this paste and create a delicious curry. You can also refrigerate this paste for up to 5 days or freeze it for longer.
Cooking is an art and I am still learning new things each and every day. Today I am going to share couple of things, that’s helping in my day to day Indian cooking.
Salt is the major and tricky ingredient to work with. Whenever you are trying out a new recipe and if the salt measure is unknown, always add less salt than the required amount and later when the curry or gravy is simmering, add more salt as per the taste. If the gravy or dal becomes salty, adding peeled potato cubes helps in balancing out some salt.
Pressure cooker, especially with separators helps a lot in Indian cooking. You can pressure cook rice, dal and any veggie at the same time using these separators there by saving a lot of time.
I can keep adding to this list. :-) Last but not the least, cooking is fun. Have fun cooking, explore new recipes and every time you try out new recipes, write down the proportion and that helps lot when you want to improvise it later according to your taste preference.
Add less salt than required and when the curry or gravy is simmering add more salt to taste. - @SrividhyaMTweet This
For beginners the quick tips for cooking are:
Keep all your ingredients chopped and ready before you start cooking.
Secondly, there's no secret formula for a yummy dish. Be judgemental about the measurements with the recipe and you will get it right with time
Thirdly, there is no one way to cook any food. Just play around and taste to find what works best with what. Happy cooking and exploring!
Tip 1: Always lightly toast on a dry pan and powder your own spices - it lends great freshness and makes a world of difference to simple home cooked meals. Also, avoid store bought ginger/garlic pastes and make from scratch at home. They are worth the little extra effort.
Tip 2:A spoonful of sugar always helps balance the flavors - especially in dishes of meats and vegetables, especially in tomato based curries.
Tip 3: While cooking seafood, always cook on low to medium flame and watch it while it cooks. It takes minutes and is the easiest way to avoid over-cooking.
A spoonful of sugar always helps balance the flavors. - Rupal, @foodienfabulous.Tweet This
The prospect of cooking Indian food can be daunting, especially if the list of ingredients runs into reams, as it often does. Here are some tips to mitigate the effects of that challenge:
1) Think spice, up or down - Indian cooking is all about spices. It's important to remember that there's a fine line between spice and heat. Indian cooking is spicy, and it's also hot. Spice is all about flavor, and heat is all about chilies. Some spices commonly used are: cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cloves, turmeric, asafetida. Once you get a hang of these flavors, you can scale them up or down based on the requirement in any recipe, and especially based on your taste.
2) Pairs and bonds - a lot of Indian dishes use ingredients that go well together, or those that blend in and bond as one. Use your best judgment, and find inspiration for pairings and bondings in the market where you'd shop for produce or meat, and in the recipes you refer to. If it's a North Indian gravy side dish, for instance, an onion-tomato base fueled by ginger and garlic will work really well. If it's a South Indian curry, coconut, curry leaves and asafetida complement each other rather well.
3) Condiments, papads and preserves - sometimes, a simple Indian meal comprising dal and rice with a vegetable or meat dish on the side can be elevated up a notch by adding a condiment or preserve to the mix. Stock up on pickles (lime, mango, mixed vegetable), papads (rice, sabudana or tapioca pearls, jackfruit) and sweet preserves (aam chunda, gooseberry morabba).
It's important to remember that there's a fine line between spice and heat. - Ranjini and Ruchira, @tadkapasta.Tweet This
1. Master the basics - A simple tadka/tempering can change the region on the food that you are cooking. Find what fits your taste and stick to a recipe that is closest to your tastebud memory.
2. Don't get scared of the whole grains - Contrary to popular belief, whole grains are more easy to master and cook. They drink up flavors the best and are more healthy than the skinned and shelled versions.
3. Rice - I used to struggle with rice initially. It will take a few trials and errors but making fluffy rice is the mark of a true food lover. After straining the rice from the water, cover the sieve/pot with a kitchen towel for 3-4 minutes. This helps the steam escape and makes the rice like clouds.
According to me there is no definite measurement for indian cooking. It all depends upon individual taste.
1st thing is to start with simple recipe. Mom's everyday cooking is the first thing to start and with her tips.
2nd Always make notes of the recipe. Follow the steps without fail.
3rd Chopping of veggies too contribute to the taste.
Tip 1. When it comes to cooking biryani there are many recipes where coconut milk is used one may not have access to coconut milk and few people are allergic to coconut in that case it can be substituted with regular cows milk.
Tip 2. Add few drops of castor oil and turmeric while cooking dhal. The flavor and taste will enhance while reducing gastric issues.
Tip 3. Before preparing any chicken dish make sure to wash the chicken with salt and vinegar. Rub chicken with 2 to 3 tbsp of salt and vinegar and wash thoroughly this technique eliminates bacteria and also tenderizes the chicken.
Before preparing any chicken dish make sure to wash the chicken with salt and vinegar. - Vidya, @vidyascooking.Tweet This
1. Get the myth out of your head that Indian food is hard to cook! I myself am not very good or accomplished cook but never ever have I been scared of cooking :D It is all about knowing your ingredients which brings me to the 2nd tip...
2. Spend just a little time knowing the spices of India and basic techniques of cooking! In my opinion, the way we use spices and how we cook our food is what makes Indian food so amazing. Turmeric, Ginger, Garlic, Basil, Cinnamon and so many more, each of these spices have some specialty, including excellent health benefits that we get everyday when we use them in our food apart from the fact that they elevate the taste of every dish. Similarly,the way we cook our Dal for or give Dum to Biryani for hours or stuff our karelas and capsicums creates a symphony of taste that is unparalleled in the rest of the world. Spending a couple of hours learning these is what I think makes all the difference :)
After that, just start slow, start basic and move on depending on your level of comfort. Nobody makes that perfect pot of Biryani overnight. Even making a simple Aloo Bhaaji on your own is a big achievement. I know, I am still trying to make just that :)
1. Know the region from which your dish originates.
India is very diverse and Indian cooking does not come under one heading. Rather, different regions have different cuisines. So having a little knowledge about the dish and its background will help anyone who is starting.
2. Know your spices. Indian food is all about flavours and spices and their balance.
This again connects with my earlier point that different regions use different spices in their cuisine. Hence there are numerous ways to temper your food with a variety of spices. And that eventually goes a long way in cooking an Indian dish a success.
3. Learn the basics first.
Simple light meals or dishes that do not have an overdose of masalas are a great way to learn Indian cooking. Cooking vegetables with the lightest of masalas that do not overpower the flavour of that vegetable is one example. You must know when to use how much masala and when to make a dish rich or simple enough.
Selection of the right cook top paired with the right utensils. Like, choosing round bottomed 'kadais' for gas stove cook tops and flat based conductive metal ones for induction tops.
Choice of an uncomplicated recipe with lesser number of ingredients.This is important for the absolute beginners to avoid mishaps during experimenting! Make sure, you have all ready on the counter top before you switch on the stove. Indian ingredients are varied!
Having an experienced cook as a guide with whom you can gel well, helps much, in the beginner level.
Start with basic recipes. Master them before moving onto complex ones. The first thing to learn is to cook rice and plain dal. Dal tadka and jeera rice is a wonderful meal and is absolutely easy to make. For South Indian, pongal and chutney is a whole meal in itself, without being complicated.
Stock the pantry with basic items. For a South Indian meal, a combination of cumin seeds, green chilies and fresh grated coconut along with tamarind paste can produce a variety of dishes. For North Indian recipes, onion, tomatoes, chilli powder and ground coriander is the base for endless recipes. Master handling the basic onion-tomato base and half the battle is won! Turmeric powder is a must in both North Indian and South Indian recipes and has immense medicinal values. Its a must have spice along with chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala.
Spices balance each other in different ways. One basic combination is chilli powder and salt. If a dish is spicy, add a bit salt and that will bring down the spice level. If its too salty, add a bit of chilli powder and that takes care of the extra salt. Another combination is coriander powder and tamarind/tomatoes. Coriander powder brings down sourness in a dish and vise-versa.
Like any other skill, cooking gets better with practice. So be patient and keep trying.
- Start with a very simple recipe with few ingredients and few steps. It can get very overwhelming if you pick up something having 10 ingredients and takes 45mins to make. Once you master the simple recipes, gradually pick up more complex ones.
- Have all the ingredients needed handy while cooking. Trying to find ingredients while cooking can become very discouraging and time consuming for a new cook.
- Ask around or google the ingredients to make sure you have the right ones. I have seen many new cooks getting totally confused between a toor dal and chana dal or jasmine rice and basmati rice. The final result can be totally different than expected if wrong ingredients are used.
- Buy the spices in small quantities as they loose their aroma. Store them in airtight container or better yet, store them in refrigerator/freezer to increase their lifetime.
- Invest in a good pressure cooker. It speeds up cooking lentils and many other dishes.
- Cooking is not rocket science. It's a fine hobby which you do everyday for rest of your life. So enjoy each part of it or it will become a chore.
- Indian cooking involves many spices, explore them and incorporate them in your cooking in moderation.
- Start with basic dishes and slowly you can leap on to other dishes.
- Mistakes will happen so practice more to make yourself a pro.
Cooking is not rocket science. It's a hobby you do everyday. - @sreevallie, Ammaji Kitchen.Tweet This
Indian cooking is all about using right blend of spices, creating vibrant colours and tempering the final dish to bring out the flavors. Once you have stocked upon the essentials, creating a delicious Indian meal is just a breeze.
- Stock your pantry with a few basic ingredients such as turmeric powder, red chilly powder, cumin and coriander seeds, cardamom and beans.
- Keep a stock of fresh Curds, cashew paste, ginger-garlic paste and tomato puree in refrigerator for making quick gravies.
- Some spices such as garam masala, kasuri methi, panch phoren, curry leaves can take your Indian dish to another level.
Spices like garam masala, kasuri methi, and curry leaves can take your dish to new level. - @sanjeetakk, Lite Bite.Tweet This
- Indian Spices : Indian food requires lots of Indian spices in small quantity so anyone who start with the Indian food need to understand and basic knowledge of Indian spices (Garam Masala’s). Always use fresh spices.
- Indian food requires more time to get ready so patience is the most important thing for Indian food and recipes. If you are in new for Indian cooking, cook in small quantity so if it will not taste good, the wastage is very less. Start with simple dal-rice, khichadi or Indian omlet. Those recipes are easy to make. start with simple recipe and gradually go ahead with more complex recipes.
- To make basic food, we don’t require special utensil. Any utensil like kadhai or frying pan can work with Indian food. Just like utensil, flame of the gas is also need to learn and understand. Always cook on low or medium flame so food will cook properly and it will not burn. One more important thing is Mixer Grinder to make gravies and curries. This will save your time.
- Cook in season. Seasonal fresh vegetables have the best flavours and need minimum spices.
- Cook from the heart. Go from lightly spiced to then experimenting with eyeballing spices or 'andaaz' as you get confident. My basic spice box/masala dabba has 4 spices that are enough for a beginner - cumin seeds/zeera, coriander powder/dhania powder, red chili powder/lal mirch, turmeric/haldi. Salt of course!
- Tadka or tempering is magical. Adds a burst of flavour to Indian food. Make sure the ghee/oil is hot before adding the spices in.
Cook in season. Seasonal fresh vegetables have the best flavours and need minimum spices. - Deeba, @vindee.Tweet This
- Indian food is always misjudged by being hot, fiery and spicy. But believe me spicy dosen't mean it would be hot or unbearable. Yes, we do use lots of spices but each and every spice has a particular role and needless to mention health benefits too. So before start cooking Indian food, know your ingredients.
- If you are cooking a dish from a recipe cookbook or food blog, just do not dump in all the ingredients as per the recipe. Follow your instincts and always prefer your taste and eating habits. Suppose a recipe calls for a teaspoon of chilli powder it may be more or less to your taste buds. Use your imagination and always add the ingredients accordingly.
- Try to use most of the fresh produce and ingredients. You can always get store bought spices, pastes and even chopped vegetables but if you are using the fresh spices, freshly prepared home made pastes and fresh vegetables the Indian food would taste far more delicious and you will be proud of yourself too for making it. Enjoy and keep cooking.
Use mostly fresh produce and ingredients. Indian food will taste more delicious. - @Behlsapana, Cooking with Sapana.Tweet This
- Always cook food on low flame, specially fish.
- Wash all vegetables, dry them and then store them in the fridge. Wash all greens, dry them and store in air-tight container in fridge. This keeps the greens fresh for longer time.
- Wash the green chilies, remove the stems and then store it in air-tight container in fridge. This way you can store green chilies for longer time.
- Soak vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli in warm water to which salt has been added. This removes the worms from them.
- Soak garlic in water before peeling. Soaking garlic in water prior to peeling makes the task of peeling garlic easier.
- To avoid wastage, plan the menu in advance. Purchase the weekly grocery in limited amount.
- Before storing fish in fridge, marinate fish by applying turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt. Always store fish in freezer. Thaw before cooking.
- To ward off the egg smell, add 2 tablespoon milk to eggs while whisking. Adding milk to eggs while whisking also makes fluffier omelettes.
Wash greens and put in air-tight container in fridge. They will keep fresh longer. - @rujal29, Raksha's Kitchen.Tweet This
If possible buy your spices from good Indian stores or spice millers as they will be fresh. Once you get them home, store them in a cool place in sealed containers with labels and dates of when you bought them. I would advice you to get to keep the spices you use regularly in your spice box (masala dabba). Having the spices ready in one place keep things tidy and organised. Most spice boxes are made of stainless steel these days although I believe there are some plastic ones available too. They really don’t cost much and a stainless steel one will last you a life time. If you are not able to get a spice box, then make one by emptying your spices in small plastic cups that fit inside an empty ice-cream container.
Preparation is key to stress free cooking. Make sure you have all the spices and ingredients ready on the worktop before following a recipe. Most Indian curries require ginger, garlic, chillies and coriander. You can prepare these in bulk and freeze them in separate ice trays. Once frozen remove them in a plastic bag, label and date them and keep them in the freezer to use a cube or two when required.
Never try out a new recipe or ingredients when you are cooking for guests. Do all your experimentation in small amounts for your family so that when you prepare for your guests, there is no stress.
Indian Cooking is very different from the western style of cooking as it makes use of a lot of gravies in it’s curries and Indian food is all about understanding the flavor, spices and the right balance. An Indian meal basically consists of Rice/ Chapati, Daal, Subzi or curry, Bhaji or fritters and a sweet dish or dessert. Each dish belonging to a region reflects its culture and it’s produce which gets incorporated in the dish to make each and every disg taste very different from each other.
For making a simple rice, wash the rice thoroughly so that the excess starch gets drained away and the rice is not very sticky after cooking. it is always advisable to add a few drops of lemon or a tsp of oil to rice before boiling to separate each grain.
Mustard Oil is an important and inherent ingredient of Eastern cuisine and the best way to handle this oil is by heating the oil to a point where you have the smoke coming from the oil, then swich off the gas and let it cool. This way you will able to reduce the pungency of the oil.
For making an Indian Curry, you will definitely need a Ginger Garlic paste , the best way to make is take 3 parts garlic to 2 parts ginger , so that you can balance the strong flavor of the ginger in the paste.
Curd or Yogurt is an important ingredient to add creaminess to a gravy. So make sure to beat the curd well before adding it to the masala gradually.
Fritters or Bhaji is one more item which are preferred by all and for this reason it has always found it’s way to the Indian meal. To make a perfect crispy fritter, add some rice flour or corn flour to the gram flour along with some hot oil into the batter
- It is a nice idea to invest in a pressure cooker as it helps to cook rice and dal faster and economically, than cooking outside. It helps to save fuel or gas too. Soak lentils or pulses half an hour before pressure cooking them. This helps to cook the lentils faster.
- Always steam the vegetables in a pressure cooker than boiling them in a vessel separately. Steaming helps restore the nutrients of vegetables.
- You can stock curd at all times. You can make raita or kadhi instantly, as and when required, without worrying much as to what to prepare next day. Chop the vegetables beforehand when time permits and store them in airtight container in refrigerator. Use as and when required. Similarly no need to knead the dough daily. Prepare the dough for 2-3 days and store them in refrigerator.
Hope the above cooking tips will help the beginners or who are new to cooking Indian food.
Steaming helps restore the nutrients of vegetables. - Charulata, @CharusCuisine.Tweet This
Cooking is no rocket science if you have the will to try your stand at it. I personally believe that a person with a good taste palette can for sure make magic in cooking.
Indian cooking is one that most people think to be a complicated segment...but if you are quite ok with the basic ingredients it can turn out to be very interesting.
Whole spices mean a lot in Indian cooking. Indian cooking is actually very much regional and there can be a great difference in the taste as well as the spices when you cross borders.
Avoid the "curry powder ".... you can make a much better curry with the basic powders like turmeric, chilli, coriander and garam masala. Try to use the curry leaves as fresh as possible. Avoid frozen or dried curry leaves as they don't give out the actual goodness. If you can get fresh curry leaves detwig them and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for a few months. Make sure you put the container back in the refrigerator after cooking as moisture can make them mouldy.
- First tip is to always add a little more spice than what you think you will need. This has helped me time and again. A pinch of garam masala or a bit more of chilli powder will bring out the flavor and essence of your dish.
- Sometimes the ingredient list for making a curry might seem long, but it is worth it. Curry powder is not a good substitute. A little bit of work by adding cumin powder, turmeric powder and garam masala will go a long way in making your food stand out.
- A pressure cooker will save you time and will be your friend in Indian cooking. From dal to beans to a pulao, it will help you save time, energy and effort.
- When you step in Kitchen, whatever cuisine you are going to make, first do the preparation for it. Keep all the spices, chopped veggies at hand and then start cooking. This helps you in staying organized.
- Stay focused while you cook. This is most important thing when you are in kitchen. If you are preparing dal and any vegetable curry, a usual combination, always cook vegetable on low heat.
- If you are making a cuisine with a recipe you liked on internet or a magazine, I would highly recommend you to stick to the amount of ingredients mentioned. You can experiment later, once you get used to making the cuisine, especially cakes.
- If you are using green vegetables in your dishes, blanch them first and then continue with the recipe. Blanching retains the green colour of the vegetables, and so your dish will look fresh.
- Cook onion well - really brown. The gorgeous deep color of an Indian curry depends on how well the onion is cooked!
- Have hard lemons? I like to pop them into the microwave for a few seconds to get all the juice needed...
- Dry roast your favorite ground spices and sprinkle over daal lentils or vegetables for the most amazing Indian-inspired flavor.
The gorgeous deep color of an Indian curry depends on how well the onion is cooked! - Peri, @Perisspiceladle.Tweet This
If I have to choose one of the most important factors in successful cooking, it would be my desire to eat what I am cooking. I cannot do proper justice to what I don’t like to eat myself. Cooking, at the end is a journey to your favorite dish-tination.
Second important factor is adding variations to common dishes. When we get bored with day-to-day cooking these variations can become the game changers. For example, if we temper common dal with some hing (asafoetida) and cumin it brings in nice North Indian aroma, if we temper the same with curry leaves and mustard seeds it gives soothing South Indian aroma and if we add little sugar it becomes the great Gujarati dal. Our Indian cooking offers so many variants. I just love it!
Pickles and chutnies can also add an extra zing and kick to the simple recipes. My family just loves pickles and chutneys and you can find many varieties of them always in my fridge. If you store them properly they will stay fresh for long time. That’s an extra advantage.
And at the end cooking with love and smile is essential. These are the most important intangible ingredients of all the recipes.
1. A pressure cooker is a time-saver, energy-saver, electricity-saver, and one of the most useful things in an Indian kitchen. Understand how many whistles (or how much time, in case your pressure cooker doesn't work on whistles) and how much water it takes to cook something.
Example: If you want lentils such as chickpeas and kidney beans to retain individual shape yet be tender, they have to be pressure cooked on high first then on low. For some lentils it takes fewer whistles to cook. Lentils cook a little faster when soaked ahead. If you want your vegetables softened faster to cook Pav Bhaji in a jiffy, put them in a pressure cooker. Tadka for khichdi can be put in a pressure cooker first, then add lentils+rice and your salt and spices, pour water and let it cook for the number of whistles you want -- there is no need to babysit or stir, and once you open the lid your khichdi will be ready to eat.
2. As a beginner in Indian cooking, you may not realize that there can be various dishes you can make once you cook one thing, so take advantage of that instead of starting from scratch each time.
Example: The urad dal fritters you deep fry can be used for Dahi Bhalla one day or to add to Kadhi to make Kadhi Pakora the next day. The potato-peas filling you make for an Aloo Matar Stuffed Paratha one day can be filled inside a Samosa the next day. The Paneer Bhurji you make one day can be used as a stuffing for a Paneer Paratha the next day. The deep-fried paneer balls you make one day as a snack can be added to a spiced and flavored tomato-onion gravy as Paneer Kofta the next day.
3. There are so many dishes and so many spices and so many variations and so many ways to cook something in Indian food. Start from basics and build it up from there.
Example: Potato can be an appetizer (aloo tikki), or a heavy meal (aloo paratha), or a dessert (aloo ka halwa). Yogurt can be a simple savory side dish (raita), can be added to a sabzi for gravy (dahiwaale aloo), can become a dessert (shrikhand). Bottle gourd (lauki) can be made into a sabzi on its own, added to dal (lauki chana dal), made into a gravy dish (lauki kofta), or dessert (lauki ka halwa).
HUGE thanks to everyone who participated in the post. Please share if you think it was useful!!
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Or maybe you have a question about something.
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