An authentic Indian curry is an intricate combination of a stir-fried Masala - a mixture of onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes; various spices and seasonings with which meat; poultry, vegetables or fish is prepared to produce a stew-type dish, the work Masala also means spice.
A Punjabi meal usuually consists of meat dishes and curries wich include cottage cheese called paneer. Another Punjabi speciality is khoya, a cream so thick that it can be grated. In Punjab and much of northern India, home cooking consists of daal (lentils) and vegetables along with roti (bread) and less rice. There are many varieties of Kebabs, fried, grilled and stuffed with nuts and others with cream so are the quoormas, which is heavily spiced and dry. A popular Northern dish is tandoori chicken which takes its name from the primitive clay oven with wood fire burning fiercely beneath, in which it is cooked.
Boneless Chicken thighs 3-4 Ginger Paste 4 tsp
Cardamoms 4 Onions sliced 1/2 cup
Chicken Stock 2 cups Refined Oil 5 tbs
Cinnamon 1" stick Saffron 1 Pinch
Cloves ten Salt to taste
Garlic Paste 4 tsp Yellow chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Garlic, chopped 2 tbs
- Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Soak Saffron in a little water in a spoon for 10 minutes. Crush and keep aside
- Heat oil in a saucepan and add chopped garlic. Saute till brown. Add the onions and saute till light brown. Add cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms and saute till the onions turn golden brown.
- Add the ginger, garlic pastes, chicken sale and yellow chilli powder. Stir for 3-4 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Cover and simmer till chicken is tender.
- Remove from fire. Take out the chicken pieces from the gravy. Strain the gravy into another pot through a soup strainer.
- Cook the gravy till reduced to a sauce like consistency. Add the chicken pieces and cook for one minute.
Preparation time is about 20 minutes. Cooking time is about 30 minutes. To Serve, stir in the prepared saffron and serve hot with an Indian bread of your choice.
Eating from a thali, a round tray has not changed over the centuries. Sometimes the thali is placed on a low table and one sits cross-legged on the ground in front of it. In the south, both the thali and flat shining green banna leaf take the place of the western plate. Around the inside rim of the thali are arranged small bowls, each filled with a different sort of spiced, vegetarian food. One bowl holds a thin curry sauce, another thick curd, yeat another a sweet concoction. In the centre of the thali is placed a heap of rice, a number of Indian pickles and chutneys, often a banana and some dried chillies.
Chicken 2 Birds Green Chillies, slit 4
Coriander leaves 2 tbs Kasoori methi 1 tsp
Coriander Seeds, pounded 1 tsp Oil 1/3 cup
Garam masala 2 tsp Red Chillies, whole, pounded 8
Garlic paste 4 tsp Salt to taste
Ginger, chopped 3 tbs Tomatoes, chopped 1-2
- Cut chicken into 8 pieces for each bird
- Heat oil in a kadhai. Saute garlic paste till brown. Add the pounded red chillies and the freshly pounded coriander seeds and stir for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add half the coriander leaves and all the giniger, slit green chillies and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken and simmer, stirring occasionally till the gravy thickens and the chicken is tender.
- Once the fat surfaces, stir in the garam masala and the kasoori methi. Cook for 2 minutes.
Preparation time is about 40 minutes and cooking time is 30 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve with naan or roti.
Bengali food is basically comprised of fish dishes. Hilsa is a very popular dish, fish delicately spiced and wrapped in pumpkin leaves for cooking.
In South Indian Food, almost every dish contains something from the coconut palm. The food is cooked in coconut oil A South Indian mostly uses coconut grated chunks, drinks vast quanities of neera or coconut water and considers no religious ceremony complete without a piece of fresh coconut as an offering. Cooking in the south is almost entirely vegetarian, with a meal starting and ending with rice. In Mumbai (Bombay) prawn curry is something to remember, so is their pomfret.
Basmati rice 1 1/4 cup Fenugreek (methi) seeds 1 tsp
Lentils (toor daal) 2/3 cup Green Peas 1/4 cup
Asfoetida (beeng) 1/2 cup Groundnut oil to deep fry
Cardamoms 5 Groundnut oil for tempering 2 tbs
Cashew nuts, split 4 tsp Lentils husked & split 2 tbs
Cauliflower, small florets 1/4 cup Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Bengal Gram, husked & split 1/4 cup Red Chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon 2 sticks Red Chillies whole 2
Cloves 5 Salt to taste
Cumin Seeds 1 tsp Tamarind extract 3 tbs
Curry leaves 10 Tomatoes, chopped 1 2/3 cup
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
- Wash rice and toor daal and soak seperately for 30 minutes
- To make the masala, boil the gram and urad daal separately on a griddle till light brown
- Broil the cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, cumin seeds and fenugreek, seeds separately on the griddle for 30 seconds each. Grind together with the broiled ural daal and gram in a blender.
- Deep fry the cashew nuts till gtolden brown, Keep aside.
- Put toor daal in a handi, add 10 cups water and bring to a boil. Let simmer until almost cooked.
- Drain rice and add to the daal with peas and cauliflower and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Stir in the tomatoes, tamarind and the asafoetida.
- add red chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Stir in the blended masala.
- Cover and simmer till lentils and rice are mashed and achieve a porridge like consistency.
- Sprinkle curry leaves and let simmer.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoonfuls oil in a kadhai and crackle mustard seeds in it. Add whole red chillies and stir for 15 seconds.
- Pour the tempering over the lentil-rice mixture. Stir for 2 minutes.
Most of the spices used in Indian cooking were chosen originally for their medicinal qualities rather than any thought for flavor. Many spices such as cloves and cardamons are very antiseptic, others like ginger, are carminative and good for the digestion. Tumeric is splendid against skin diseases, bruises and leach bites; neem leaves, are used to guart against smallpox, while singers chew tamarind leaves to sweeten their voices.
In Indian cuisine, food is categorized into six tastes - sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent. A well-balanced Indian meal contains all six tastes, not always can this be accomplished. This principle explains the use of numberous spice combinations and depth of flavour in Indian recipes. Side dishes and condiments like chutneys, curries, daals and Indian pickles contribute to and add to the overall flavour and texture of a meal and provide balance needed.
Bon Appetiti, Hank
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