Masala is the most common word that will be hear in an Indian kitchen. They are found either as ground or whole spices. As the name suggests, the whole spices includes cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cardamon, fennel seeds, star anise and cloves. These are generally fried in hot oil before adding the onions or green chillies or ginger-garlic paste. A classic Indian curry is a medley of masalas followed by turmeric, chili, coriander powder and garam masala.
Dos & Don’ts of Indian Cooking
- Do use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil as they are healthy. Typically, Indians love to use sunflower/canola oil. I use vegetable oil for deep drying. Always use neutral smelling oils.
- Never add raw spices to the sauces that has been served in the dinner table. It will leave the dish with uncooked flavors The best thing to do will be to heat little oil in a small cooking pan and quickly saute the chilli or coriander powder in it. Then mix them into your final sauce and then serve.Always taste before you serve.
- Always buy the ingredients from ethnic Indian stores. Store them in air tight containers for longer shelf life. Some could be stored in the freezer too. I store nuts and spice powders in the freezer.
- Never replace frozen ingredients in place of the fresh ones. The fresh ones always add a lovely texture and flavor to the dish. For instance, buy fresh okras, tapioca, drumsticks,beans instead of the frozen ones.
- Currys taste best the next day as the masalas would have been infused well with the sauces. So plan your party well ahead of time. Also, you could prepare the dishes in excess amount and can store them in the fridge for the next day. This saves a lot of time and effort.
- Don’t leave the pans unattended as the masalas can get burnt too quickly. If by any chance, the gravy is too dry or burnt, add little water to cool them.
- Never replace an ingredient for another one unless you are sure about its use. The cooking time varies for lentils/legumes/veggies. So be aware of your method and cooking process.
- There are lot of vegetarian dishes in Indian cooking. When a recipe calls for the use of more vegetables, make sure you chop them all in the same size.
- Indian cooking leaves the cook/kitchen/living room with intense and powerful aroma. Some like it (I love its flavors and smell!!!)while other don’t. So always keep your house well ventilated and spray air freshener before guests arrive.