Many of my non-Indian friends love spicy Indian food. I had been to a restaurant with my labmates once. There is an Indian restaurant near my lab. We were five of us, each one of us from each part of the world. To my surprise, everyone loved the food (samosa with channa masala, paneer wrap, dhal, naan) and I went bit curious to know whether they would go to an Indian restaurant again. The reply was they started eating Indian food long time back and that they love its flavour and taste. Our conversation landed on the complexity of Indian cooking and everyone finds it difficult to whip it in their kitchen.
There is a strong belief that Indian cooking is time-consuming and complex. I am here to disprove it. Here is my easy ways to make exotic Indian food at home. Easy Indian cooking is a celebration of the food Indians cook in non-Indian kitchen, using ingredients available in most local grocery stores.
Before we start with the actual cooking, lets have a quick peep in to the pantry.
A few must haves for Indian cooking:
1. Turmeric powder
2. Chilli powder
3. Coriander powder
4. Garam masala
5. Mustard seeds
6. Dry red chillies
7. Fenugreek seeds
9. Urad dhal
10. Cummin seeds
11. Amchur powder (Dry Mango)
12. Curry leaves
13. Pepper corns
16. Cinnamon sticks
17. Bay leaves
18. Fennel seeds
20. Channa dhal
21. Toor dhal
22. Dessicated coconut
23. Kasoori methi (Dried fenugreek leaves)
24. Coriander leaves
29. Green chillies
Few essential utensils in the kitchen:
1. Non-stick cooking vessel / kadai in Hindi
2. Non stick frying pan / tava in Hindi
3. Non stick pressure cooker/ pan
4. Non-stick heavy bottomed pot
I would like to start with a simple recipe: Warm Beetroot Salad. Most of the incredible vegetable stir-fried dishes follow a similar protocol. Spices like mustard, urad dhal, dry red chillies or cummin are added to the heated oil in a kadai and are made to splutter. This tempers the oil and then its followed by the addition of green chilles or curry leaves. These ingredients coat the vegetables with a wonderful flavour. Almost every Indian dish is made tasty by the addition of turmeric powder ( an antiseptic) and chilli powder. The beetroot curry is a very simple dish made by using little oil, mustard seeds, urad dhal, curry leaves, green chillies, turmeric powder and onions. The sweetness from beets and onions blended wonderfully with green chillies and unfolds a delicious taste out of it. This curry is made in every household atleast once a month. They are nutritious and healthy. They taste absolutely delightful with roti, naan, chapati, rice/ yogurt.
2 small beetroots – chopped
3 serano peppers or 1 thai green chilly – deeeded and chopped
1 small red onios – chopped
2 tsp mustard seeds
4 tsp urad dhal
2 tsp turmeric powder
10-12 curry leaves – chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 tbs vegetable oil/ olive oil
Heat the oil in a kadai. One they get heated up, throw in the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the urad dhal and let it cook for a min.
Now add the curry leaves and serano pepper/green chillies. Mix in the onions and little salt and let it sweat. Add a dash of turmeric powder and cook till the raw smell disappears. Add the chopped beetroot and give it a complete mix. Pour in the water and cook covered on medium flame for 20-30min. Cook until they turn soft. If needed add another 200ml water and cook for further 15min.
Serving tip: Serve hot with rice/chappati/roti. You can also serve them as wraps with lettuce, ketchup and mayo.