Curry is not a spice. Curry is the gravy or sauce in an entrée’s. Curry powder is a blend of spices like turmeric, black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, coriander powder, cardamom, cinnamon etc. Used to cook indian food or to make curries. People are often confused about curries – i hope this introduction has described what curries are.
Indian food – excellent, love it, flavorful, healthy, tasty, spicy, seasonal, vegetarian, aromatic, nourishing, well balanced, sensual – these are some terms used to describe indian food.
Indian cuisine is regional, indian cuisine is seasonal – menu’s change by regions and change by the season. Frozen and canned products are now becoming readily available in large cities, though are not economically feasible more a large population. With a population of over 1 billion people, 15 national languages and over 150 dialects, the cuisine is just as diverse as the terrain, history and traditions. Cooking styles vary from region to region, ingredients used are different, spices vary and spice tolerances are challenged. Over the centuries the cuisine has also been influenced by the british, portuguese, arabs and persians.
Cooking indian cuisine requires the uses of a combination of aromatic spices like cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala which is a combination of cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, black cardamom and nutmeg. Each family has their own recipe of making garam masala. In addition of these spices, fresh ginger, garlic, onion and green chili peppers with cilantro and mint are used in most preparations. Indian food is not necessarily spicy – by toning down the amount of cayenne pepper and garam masala, the food can be cooked with flavors with being overly spicy.
Northern indian cuisine is rich in dairy products like paneer (cottage cheese), ghee (clarified butter) and dahi (plain yogurt). Southern indian food is spicier, most using dried red chili peppers. Grated or dried coconut and mustard seeds are a must for cooking southern indian food. Northern indian cuisine is most popular around the globe and the staples are rice, whole wheat bread, lentils and meats.
Because of religious beliefs and for economic reasons, a large population is vegetarian. Goat meat is meat of choice often referred as mutton on menu and in recipes; chicken is available in plenty and referred as murgh. Pork and beef is available and consumed to a lesser degree. Indian breads such as roti, naan,paratha,puri are mostly made from wheat flour. Roti’s are made on a flat pan without any oil while paratha’s are like roti’s but are pan fried and often available with stuffing’s such and cauliflower, green peas, potatoes etc. Puri’s are made with the same dough as roti’s, but they are deep fried.
The indian equivalent of a grill is a tandoor which is a wood or coal burning clay oven. Kebabs, tikka’s and naan’s are cooked in the tandoor. Items cooked in a tandoor might use the tandoori prefix on the menu indicating cooked in a tandoor.Hopefully this brief introduction to indian cuisine has got your interest perked up to learn to cook indian food. I have posted a couple of recipes on the website for you to try. I look forward to meeting you at one of my classes, where we discuss a lot more about indian cooking.