Indian Essentials: Black Gram Powder (Raw and Roasted) | Urad Powder and Flour

Black gram powder/flour is used in a range of South Indian dishes including yummy snacks. It is easy to make and hardly needs a recipe.

If making roasted powder, roast the urad first. Take hulled whole urad and roast in a dry pan until the beans are aromatic and turning red. Watch carefully so it does not burn.

For raw and roasted powder, now grind the urad into a fine powder.

Use in recipes as instructed. Continue reading “Indian Essentials: Black Gram Powder (Raw and Roasted) | Urad Powder and Flour”

Indian Essentials: Freeze Ginger or Make Ginger Paste and Ginger-Garlic Paste for the Winter or Lockdown

The best time to freeze ginger or make Ginger or Ginger-Garlic Paste is Late Summer or Early Autumn. Ginger and garlic are plentiful then, good quality, local and cheap. You can often get young ginger at this time – it is gentler in flavour and delicious.

A good strategy for Autumn is to make a couple of jars of Garlic Paste and Ginger Paste (or Ginger-Garlic Paste),  freeze 1 or 2 kgs of garlic, broken into cloves, to supplement the paste, and freeze some ginger root. Adjust the amounts to suit your family’s consumption of garlic and garlic.

You can also see how to make Coriander Paste. And Chilli Paste. Also how to Freeze Tomatoes for Winter. Explore other ways to preserve goodies for Winter.

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Indian Essentials: How to make Chai and Tarak Chai

The word chai originated from the Hindustani word chai which was derived from the Chinese word for tea, known as cha. Chai just means tea in India. Outside of India it is often known as masala chai to indicate the inclusion of spices.

The making of Chai uses techniques that go against all of the rules of British-influenced methods of brewing tea. It is brewed in milk rather than seeped in water. The tea that goes into making chai is simmered for some time, rather than seeped for under a minute or two. It is sweetened as a matter of course. And of course, chai includes spices (although it can be made without spices). Chai tastes nothing like regular tea with milk.

There is a distinct method or ritual for making chai, and one that I will share with you today. Tarak chai (also spelt kadak, karak and tadak) is a strong tea, and describes the taste that you get when tea is simmered rather than seeped, and simmered for a number of minutes.

Chai can be infused in water (milk is added later), directly into simmering milk, or in a combination of milk and water. Each household makes chai slightly differently.

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Moth Beans (Matki) and Horse Gram – Different lentils that look similar

There are 2 lentils, less well known outside of India, that look similar at first glance but are quite different. Even in India these two lentils are confused, with many writers and bloggers thinking they are the same.  Similar in colour, both are grown in dry almost inhospitable land on vines. Both have an earthy taste and require good soaking before cooking. They are even used to make similar dishes. However, they are different, with different shapes, colours, textures and tastes.

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Singapore Curry Spice Mix

While all-purpose Curry Powders are not a thing in India, they do exist in countries with strong Indian populations – for example, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Malaysia and Singapore. This spice mix is representative of the Singapore Indians – Singaporean influences on traditional Indian flavours.

Use Singapore Curry Spice Mix in stir fry dishes, with noodles and in curry sauces. Add to coconut milk for Malay style curries, and to tamarind water for South Indian style curries.

Similar recipes include What is Curry Powder?, Sri Lankan 5 Spice Curry Powder,  and Malay Curry Powder.

Browse all of our Curry Powder Spice Mixes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here.

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Indian Essentials: Madras Curry Powder for Quick Anglo-Indian Flavours

I grew up with Keens Madras Curry Powder, the Australian introduction to the flavours of India. It was used for all sorts of Western dishes that home cooks believed were enhanced by a bit of spice and heat. It is still used by many to provide a generic curry base to English style curries and in general to add colour and spice to any non-Indian dish. Thankfully those who do cook more traditional Indian food (at least in Australia) generally grind their own spice blends that are specific to the dish. For anyone interested, this recipe is similar to the Madras Curry Powder of old.

Actually, Madras curry powder is not a traditional Indian spice blend while it does use Indian ingredients. It was originally a selection of ingredients that were designed to suit English colonial tastes, and differs quite a bit from the spice blends used in Tamil Nadu and South India.

Madras Curry Powder gets its heat from Indian chillies and black pepper, and has a lot of turmeric which provides an intense yellow colour. Spices like fenugreek and cumin provide much of the flavour. Use in lentil and vegetable dishes, as well as soups, dips, and slow cooked bean dishes. Add it to coconut milk, pureed tomatoes or tamarind water, to form a base for any dish.

There are many different blends for Madras Curry Powder. Here is one that I particularly like.

Similar recipes include What is Curry Powder?, Sri Lankan 5 Spice Curry Powder,  and Malay Curry Powder.

Browse all of our Curry Powder Spice Mixes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here.
Continue reading “Indian Essentials: Madras Curry Powder for Quick Anglo-Indian Flavours”

Kerala Spice Mix

I am not a great fan of pre-mixed curry powder, preferring to mix and grind them as needed. However, sometimes you want to elicit the flavours of a region without  following a traditional recipe. In such cases, it is a perfect time to roast and grind spices into a powder and mix with ingredients. For example, this can be mixed with finely chopped or pureed onions, garlic, green chillies and ginger as they are sauteed in coconut oil, then this paste is mixed with coconut milk, yoghurt or stock for a great sauce for vegetables, even tofu.

It does not have to be restricted to Kerala style use. Use the coconut or stock mixture as a base for noodles and chopped vegetables, S. E. Asian style. Cook pineapple cubes or plantain in it, add it to sauteed okra. Your uses are limited only by your imagination.

Similar recipes include a Deeply Flavoured Coconut-Curry Stock, What is Curry Powder and Curry Paste, Madras Curry Powder, and Malay Curry Powder.

Browse all of our curry spice mixes, and all of our Kerala dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here.

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Indian Essentials: What is Kosumalli aka Koshambari?

Kosumalli (aka Koshambari) is a simple spiced yet cooling salad. There are many varieties, but the most common is made by mixing soaked mung dal or channa dal with cucumber and/or carrot, with coconut, and tempering the salad with spices.  It is a South Indian specialty, eaten as a snack or made to accompany a meal. The crunch of the cucumber, the sweet flavour of coconut, and the tang of lemon balances the sweet earthiness of the lentils for a deliciously flavoured and textured salad.

It is rather rare to have raw ingredients in South Indian cuisine. At the least, most ingredients are sautéed. There are a couple of exceptions including  Kosumalli which is closer to a Western version of a salad than Sundals and Pachadi  and Raita dishes which are often referred to as salads but differ from their Western counterparts.

While Western salads depend on their dressing – primarily oil, vinegar, mayonnaise and herbs – to make the collection of raw ingredients interesting, Kosumalli salads use texture and simple layering of flavour to achieve the same thing. The salad has a characteristic aroma which makes your mouth water even before it is seen.

The ratio of ingredients varies from household to household, and perhaps even season to season. Hot weather? Increase the amount of cucumber. Cooler weather? Make it heavy with lentils and eat with a cup of hot chai.

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Indian Essentials: What is Kachumber?

Kachumber, or cachumber, is the Indian version of a chopped  salad, originally using tomato and cucumber. Although there are many variations now, it usually consists of freshly chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onions with a pepper and lemon or lime dressing. It often includes fresh chilli peppers, or chilli powder can be added to the dressing. The dressing is unique to this salad, as it does not contain any oil and gives a peppery tang to the salad.

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Common Rices of India

There are hundreds varieties of rice grown around the world. Rice is a staple in India, Asia, Middle East and parts of the Mediterranean. Yet, for all this, few know of the different types of rice.

Rice originated in India, and it is first mentioned in the Yajur Veda (c. 1500-800 BC) and then is frequently referred to in Sanskrit texts. In India there is a saying that grains of rice should be like two brothers, close but not stuck together. This holds true until you come to South India, where Pongal is a porridge-like rice dish.

Rice is often directly associated with prosperity and fertility; hence there is the custom of throwing rice at newly-weds. In India, rice is also the first food offered to the babies when they start eating solids or to husband by his new bride, to ensure they will have children.

Additional Reading

For completeness, this article shares some information with that post.

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