Indian Cooking Style

Indian cooking style mainly constitute the following:

Roasting Dry Spices

Garam –masalam, ground cumin and coriander, whole cumin and coriander seeds, and whole curry spices are roasted dry in a frying pan or an iron griddle over medium heat. Preheat the pan and stir the spices with a wooden spatula until the spices turn a shade or two darker (approximately two to three minutes).

Grinding Masalas

A spice or coffee grinder is useful for powering garam-masala and curry powder blends. If you decide to make extra, store it in airtight jars in a dry place so the fragrance of the spices is not lost. The use of a blender proves indispensable for grinding fresh curry masalas.

Seasoning Dals (Tarka)

In a small pan, heat some oil or ghee and add the required amount of cumin and mustard seeds, chopped onion or garlic, crushed dried red chilies, and a pinch of asafetida. Stir and cook for a minute, removing the pan from the heat when the mustard seeds start popping. This blend of seasonings is used to garnish cooked lentils served with rice or chapattis.

Frying Spices and Wet Masala

This is one of the key secrets of Indian cooking style to flavoring a dish, because this process actually removes the raw taste of the spices. The flavor of fried spices more toughly penetrates meat and vegetables than if the spices were boiled in water or coconut liquid. Heat the oil over medium heat to350°F. (To test the temperature of the oil, add a drop of water to it. If the water sizzles, the oil is hot enough.) Reduce the heat to low before adding spices. As a general rule, frying whole spices takes a minute or two longer than frying ground spices. Just make sure that the spices do not burn.

Please note: when mustard seeds are being friend, it is very important that the seeds pop to bring flavor to the dish. When this begins to happen, cover the pan or pot. Unpopped seeds are bitter and pungent. When frying cumin seeds, make sure the seeds turn golden brown and emit their aroma before adding the other ingredients.

Korma or Braising

To braise is to cook meat by browning it in fat and then simmering it in a covered pan with a little liquid. A korma is a thick, rich, and luxurious sauce consisting of delicate spices and herbs, plain yogurt, cream, almonds, and cashews that covers pieces of poultry, lamb, and vegetables. The process of braising in India is quite similar to that of Western cooking, but the meat is marinated in yogurt and spices and then cooked very slowly in the marinade itself over live coals.

Tandoori Cooking

Another unique Indian cooking style is Tandoori cooking. Originally the tandoor oven was used only for baking bread, but today it is used for making whole tandoori chicken, meat and seafood kababs, and nan and roti (breads). An electric or gas oven and even a charcoal grill quite efficiently perform the task of a tandoor oven. The secret of tandoori cooking is the marinating of meat in yogurt, considered a meat tenderizer, and spices.

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