Who doesn’t love the wonderful and exotic blend of flavours so characteristic of Indian cuisine? We often run to our favourite Indian restaurants just to satisfy our cravings for those unique, complex dishes that leave wonderful memories in our palates.
But wouldn’t it be infinitely more satisfying if we could create these dishes anytime, right in our own home too? Yet most of us shy away from learning traditional Indian cooking because of the seeming complexities in understanding the use of its plentiful array of spices.
Contrary to popular belief, however, creating authentic Indian food can be an easy and enjoyable creative experience, once you know a few basics. In this article, we’ll start you off with learning the different methods of cooking Indian dishes, so you can get to collecting the kitchen equipment you will need for preparing your dishes:
Tempering is a technique used to enhance the flavour of vegetables, lentil dishes, chutneys and raitas. The process involves cooking spices in ghee, in a fully-heated small pot. The spices often used for tempering are mustard and cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and chilis. The order in which spices go in is very important, as some spices burn more easily than others. Thus, the correct order for tempering would be: whole spices, herbs, and powdered spices last. Tempering releases the aroma of the spices. After the process, the spice blend is added to the finished dish, deepening the flavours of that dish.
Steaming is the process of cooking a dish in a closed pot through the steam emitted by the heat inside that pot. Steaming allows the slow-roasting of spices and herbs to fully release their flavours into the dish. In traditional Indian steaming methods, a clay pot is used, and dough is wrapped around the top edge of the pot before the lid is placed. This keeps the steam from escaping the pot. For modern-day cooking, a cast-iron oven with a heavy lid can be used as an alternative.
Similar to the Asian stir-frying method, Indian sauteing achieves deep flavours by cooking dishes in medium to high heat while constantly stirring the ingredients. The goal of sauteing is to create a thick, spiced paste that can be thinned into a hearty gravy. Vegetables or meat are added to the ghee in a frying pan, along with spices. Browning the ingredients and adding liquid a bit at a time achieves the deglazing that creates a rich-tasting gravy.
In this North Indian method, a small bowl with a piece of lit charcoal is placed on top of the dish placed within a larger vessel. Some ghee is poured over the charcoal, and the large vessel is then covered with a lid to allow the food to be infused by the smoke of the charcoal with a sweet, smoky flavour.
Deep-Frying (Talina or Talna):
Food is fried in 1-2 inches of oil in a deep pot, enough to immerse the food in the oil. The food is cooked in small batches to allow space between one another and avoid reducing the oil’s heat.
A tandoor is an Indian clay oven used to cook flatbread or meat in a hot charcoal fire. This results in a delicious roasted and smoky-flavoured meat or bread. Home tandoors can be purchased and used in the backyard, but yes, your home oven or barbecue grill will do just fine if you’re not inclined to getting a tandoor.
Now that you know the basic Indian cooking methods, you can move on to learning the different Indian spices and spice combinations for a sumptuous home-cooked meal. There are many easy recipes that you can follow on the Internet, for a start. Check our blogs regularly to learn more about Indian cuisine as well.
For the most convenient way to get a bite of your well-loved Indian dishes, try our home-cooked menu at Curry Corner. The craving for tasty Indian cuisine in Melbourne started with us, and we know you’ll love our dishes just as much! Visit our store today, or browse through our website for the menu and get it delivered straight to your door.
Phone: 0406 238 094
Landline: 03 9663 4040