March 7, 2017

How to Cook Indian Food So that It Tastes Right Each Time

Post by Admin

I hear so many people say that they love Indian but are not sure of How to cook Indian food? I am not claiming that cooking Indian is effortless, but it can be quite easy to make if you simply follow a process ! You do not need an armory of spices nor a spreadsheet to follow the process ! All you need is to use your sense of smell and sight with a hint of patience. Its like baking with a child, where you need to gather all the ingredients, mix them one by one at each appropriate stage, holding on to your patience when the kids shout ‘is it done yet!?’ and queue up your nose and eyes for any burns!

This is exactly ‘How to Cook Indian Food’!

To set the mood or (kill it, as you take it), I will NEVER say that cooking an authentic Indian meal is quick! Yes, I do call my cooking classes ‘Curry in a Hurry‘, one because I like the rhyming sound ???? and two because the dishes we prepare are simple and easy to follow. This does not mean that you need to attend a cooking class, although I would love to have you join mine ;-). So, how to cook Indian food without attending a class? Lets start with the basic and understand why is Indian food considered different when compared to other popular cuisines .

Why Does Indian Food Taste Different?

As mentioned at the start of this post, there is a process to follow when making an Indian dish. It is not like making a stew where you put onions, garlic, spices, vegetables and meat all together and bring it to boil. If you have been doing this and calling it an Indian curry then I am almost certain that it also tastes like a curried broth as opposed to an authentic Indian dish.

An European Beef Stew
An European Beef Stew

What makes Indian food different than the rest of the cuisines is the use of spices. Apart from spices there is an extensive use of aromatics such as onions, garlic, ginger,herbs and tomatoes. This is where the complexity of Indian cooking comes to play, which if you follow the process makes it easier to get the taste right.

Indian Chicken Rezala
Indian Chicken Rezala

I read an article which conducted a study on why Indian food tastes different than other cuisines. The interesting find is that Western cuisine primarily use complimentary food ingredients, that is ingredients which share a common flavour for example cheese and milk or sage and rosemary etc. Indian dishes on the other hand use ingredients which are completely different in the flavour spectrum, such as chilies and jaggery, yogurt with cumin powder and many more, hence making it more exciting to our gustatory senses. You can read the article here: https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/theres-a-scientific-reason-why-indian-food-is-so-delicious , which will give you an idea as to why food lovers enjoy eating Indian.

Indian Cooking Method

Before we start talking about the process, lets first understand what are the main cooking methods used for cooking Indian food. This is not going to be neuroscience or a mechanical thing, so relax! Its simple everyday way of cooking, but perhaps a bit more time involving. Cooking Indian involves one or few of the following methods depending on the recipe. I will explain each method in detail in another post but for now lets just stick to the key techniques used. The list is not exhaustive but only the most commonly used methods. These are:

  • Frying
  • Tempering
  • Deep frying
  • Boiling
  • Steaming

In Indian cooking frying is perhaps the most frequent and important method of cooking. Almost all dishes barring a handful, use this method. The reason is because of the use of spices in the dishes. Spices such as cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric and many others are used in a raw form. They therefore impart a very strong and pungent taste if not cooked or fried properly for the actual flavours to come through without the sharpness of its raw taste. And that is why Indian dishes taste different to other cuisines. Its like an arranged marriage between spices, and the aromatics i.e. onion, garlic, ginger etc while oil and other fresh ingredients add to the party !

 What is The Process ?

Finally,lets talk about ‘the process’!

Each stage of cooking an Indian dish involves finishing the present and then coming to the next.  For example if the recipe asks you to brown the onion, you must brown it first, till its cooked and the rawness goes and then move to the next step which may include adding ginger garlic paste or tomatoes or spices depending on the recipe.  And that is the process you must follow each time you make an Indian dish.There may be many steps to follow to complete a dish, so you must allow time to cook each ingredient at each stage before moving to the next. This is where your patience comes to test. However, if you are hard pressed for time then simply try recipes which does not involve using onions. You will save about half the time.

There are thousands and millions of recipes out there simply if you google ‘Indian recipes’. You will also get many videos of the recipes on you tube where you can learn a particular recipe. But watching a dish being made and experiencing the whole process is different. You need to get in, get stuck and make it, to understand the process!

So here you have the key to get cooking your own Indian dish that will taste authentic ! Good Luck !

Please feel free to share your thoughts below or email me if you have any questions regarding Indian cooking. I love to hear from you!