As with most ethnic cuisines, there are many sides to Indian cooking, from curries and chutneys to delicious desserts, breads, and soups. Once you try an Indian recipe or two, you'll see that creating these exotic concoctions isn't that difficult. Indian recipes use many spices that can be adjusted to your specific taste.
Simple Indian Cooking
Indian recipes are filled with flavor and spice. Some popular spices used in Indian cuisine include:
The type of oil used in dishes can vary depending on the region of India. For example:
- Peanut oil is popular in northern and western India.
- Mustard oil is commonly used in eastern India.
- Coconut oil is used along the western coast of India.
A staple blend of spices called curry uses a variety of ingredients. This blend varies from cook to cook, depending on what spices they use in their recipe. The following is a basic curry recipe that can be used for almost any dish.
Curry Spice Mix
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- Heat a small pan over medium heat.
- Add oil and then coriander, fennel, cumin, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and peppercorns.
- Heat spices for 30 seconds or until they begin to brown and release their aromas.
- Remove from heat and transfer to a spice grinder.
- Grind spices to a fine powder.
- Add the turmeric and cayenne pepper and mix well.
- Store in a sealed container.
Flavorful Indian Recipes
Many dishes use many of the flavors of India. Most dishes are served with rice, like Chicken Tikka Masala. For those who want to go meatless, there are plenty of flavorful vegetarian Indian dishes, like Chickpea Curry.
Chicken Tikka Masala
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Wooden skewers
- In a bowl, add the yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Mix until all are combined.
- Add chicken to bowl and stir until chicken is covered.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat a grill on high and coat with oil to prevent chicken from sticking.
- Put chicken on skewers and place on grill.
- Grill for 5 minutes on each side.
- In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat.
- Add garlic and jalapeño, and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the other 2 teaspoons of cumin and the paprika.
- Gently stir in the cream and tomato sauce.
- Simmer sauce mixture on low for 20 minutes or until it becomes thick.
- Add the chicken to the sauce and heat for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a large plate and garnish with cilantro.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon curry powder (see recipe above)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped green chilies
- In large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add onions, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for 3 minutes or until lightly brown.
- Add the curry and cook for another minute. Be sure to stir mixture constantly.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened.
This curry can be served alone or over rice or couscous.
Tips for Indian Cooking
If you want to control the spice in your recipes, consider making your own spice mixes. You will be able to prepare the mix with the amount of salt and heat you prefer. To cut back on fat and calories, use non-fat or low-fat yogurt instead of the full fat versions.