April 19, 2017: The global culinary world is being taken over by Indian cuisine. In America and Europe, more and more Indian restaurants and Indian food outlets are opening up, food lovers all across the globe are falling in love with the taste of authentic Indian curries and flatbreads. This is probably because of the heavy use of nutritious vegetables and meats cooked in varied spices that bring out an array of beautiful flavours. But as delicious as Indian food is, cooking perfect Indian food is no piece of cake! Here are a few general tips and tricks for you if you love cooking Indian dishes at home:
1. For making fluffy, soft Chapatis
Chapatis or wheat flat cakes go with all curries and gravies, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian and can be eaten for both lunch and dinner. To make dough for softer chapatis, add a little warm water and then some warm milk and knead the dough. Let it rest for 15 minutes before rolling it out for the chapatis. To make round chapatis, keep rotating the rolled out dough while rolling it with a rolling pin. This ensures that the rolled out dough gets an even thickness all over and the shape becomes round. But if that’s one of your pet peeves, then just place a small, clean and round stainless steel plate on top of the rolled out dough and just cut out the sides that are exposed to get a perfect round shape.
2. For making Kheer
Kheer is a milk rice pudding made in a variety of ways across India. Preparing kheer is a tedious and time consuming task. A lot of times the pudding tends to thicken too much and sticks to the vessel. Just add a little water to the vessel, before putting the milk in to avoid that fro happening. While preparing kheer, use the deepest most heavy bottomed vessel you have to make sure that it doesn’t boil over and fall out of the vessel.
3. For making dal
To make the dal more flavorful, before cooking, roast the lentils. The same goes for rava. The excess dal water can be used for making rasam, to be eaten with appams and idlis. You can even add the water to chapati dough to make it flavorful. You can also use the leftover dal to make delicious dal parathas.
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4. For fried foods
Fried foods like pooris, bhaturas, potato patties and vadas are popular everywhere across the country. When cooking pakoras or vegetable fritters, add some warm oil and half a tablespoon baking soda in the batter. While making potato tikkis or patties, make sure to boil the potatoes well. The mashed potato mix can be refrigerated for some time, before frying the tikkis. This ensures that the patties are not gooey. To make the pooris more crispy add a little rice flour to the wheat flour, while kneading the dough for the pooris. To make sure that your subzi is flavorful, heat the oil properly, before adding vegetables and seasonings.
5. For making gravies and curries
Curries are a signature preparation of Indian cuisine. For a tomato based gravy, always use only ripe red tomatoes, so as to retain the bright red color of the fruit. Discard the green parts before pureeing the tomatoes. To ensure that the flavor is enhanced, always fry the masla on a reduced flame. The quality of spices and condiments can make or break gravies. Make sure that you have all the adequate spices, that they are from a well known brand and make sure you know them well.
6. For cooking meats
When cooking meats for mutton curry or in biryani, make sure to slow cook it under reduced flame to seal the flavor and the juices in and then increase the heat. Cook it till it’s tender. If you have to store fish for over a day, rub it with salt, turmeric and just a dash of vinegar and then freeze it, to ensure that it stays fresh. Frozen meats are partially easier to cut and slice. But make sure you allow the meat to stand for some time before cooking. This ensures that the meat cooks faster.
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7. For cooking rice
Before cooking add a little bit of oil to the rice to prevent the rice from getting sticky. A few drops of lemon can also do the trick and the grains separate beautifully when cooked. You can always use the leftover rice for the meals next day. All you have to do is add a little bit of stir fried vegetables with some spices and fried onions, and you can make yourself a plate of delicious pulav.
8. For South Indian food
Idlis and Dosas are the most popular South Indian foods, and are enjoyed with spicy cooked lentil curry or sambhar and coconut chutney. For making softer idlis, add a little sago or sabudana or cooked rice while making the batter. A lot of coconut is used in South Indian food dishes, so store a good amount of grated coconut in the refrigerator, if you have to cook a lot of this particular cuisine. Make sure to use good quality sambhar powder for making the delicious curry. Stock up on common condiments used in South Indian foods, like curry leaves and asfoetida or heeng. Also ensure that the asfoetida is good in quality and potent.
9. For cooking with tandoor oven
The tandoor might be an archaic oven now, but it’s still very popular in North Indian villages, particularly in Punjab. The tandoori roti is an indispensable part of the Punjabi cuisine. The key to cooking with tandoor is marinating the breads or meats well. Add a little gram flour or besan to the marinade, before dipping your cottage cheese, vegetables or meats that you want to grill on the tandoor. The flour makes the marinade bind to the meat, making it more flavorful.
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10. For using leftovers
The best leftover fix is to use the mashed potatoes you used to make potato parathas or tikkis the night before, in making a vegetable toast for breakfast the next morning. You can also mix the brown discard left after making ghee at home, for making soft parathas by mixing it in the dough.
So get your ingredients ready and start cooking.
– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang