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”

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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Poritha Kuzhambu

This Poritha Kuzhambu is made using the third of 3 methods outlined by Meenakshi Ammal in her 4 volumes of Cook and See. It sautees the spices before grinding them to a paste and adding to the dish. This deepens the flavours and adds a toasted overtone.

Poritha Kuzhambus are very delicious. These recipes are without tamarind and with coconut added for a beautiful sense of the tropical South of India. Beautiful indeed.

You might like to find out more about Kuzhambu. We suggest that you read The Difference Between Sambar, Kuzhambu and Kootu. Also have a look at the other methods of making Poritha Kuzhambu. The differences are minor, but they do change the flavours significantly. The first uses Sambar Powder, and the second replaces that with a few individual spices.

Similar recipes include Amaranth Leaves Coconut Kootu, Puli Keerai, Plain Masiyal of Amaranth Leaves, Beetroot Vathakuzhambu, Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Fenugreek Kuzhambu, Green Amaranth Soup with Tamarind, and Race Kuzhambu.

Are you looking for the recipes of Meenakshi Ammal? They are here. She certainly is my guru of Tamil Brahmin cuisine.

All of our Sambar and Kuzhambu dishes can be browsed here. Or have a look at all of our Indian recipes. Or you may like to explore our Late Summer recipes.

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What is Bitter Melon? Bitter Gourd?

Bitter is an important flavour in the Indian Ayurvedic tradition, and also in other Asian medical regimes. Bitter Gourd (also called Bitter Melon)  is only one of a range of bitter ingredients in those parts of the world, but in the western world it may be one of the most bitter tastes one is likely to experience. Even in the areas where it is commonly eaten, it is not universally loved. People either love or hate it, and if you love it you are likely to become addicted to it.

Bitter melon is a native of India. There are two types, the so called Indian Bitter Melon (karela) which is dark green with large teeth like protrusions on its skin, and the Chinese bitter melon which is lighter green and fatter, with wart like bumps on its skin. The bitterness is around the same in both varieties. They appear in late Summer and can often be found through to early winter, in Asian and Indian markets.

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Making Tamarind Paste from Tamarind Pods

Don’t you L O V E tamarind? I am not sure what I would do without this ingredient in the kitchen. While others rave about black garlic, it is the commonly available tamarind that gives that umami taste to my dishes. As a added bonus, it is at once sweet and sour. Oh, the delights of tamarind!

Occasionally, fresh tamarind pods are available at our Indian and Asian groceries. Sometimes we just nibble the tamarind from the pod, and sometimes we make tamarind paste for our Indian food, and a Mexican Summery cooling drink from the fresh paste. Win-Win.

The origin of the name comes from tamar-e-hind, which means fruit of India  or date of India. It was called this in the Arab countries although it is a native of Northern Africa. Its arrival in India shows of healthy trade routes between Africa, the Middle East and the Sub Continent. The fruit was well known to the ancient Egyptians and to the Greeks in the 4th Century BCE, and is now commonly grown and used in used in India (where it is called imli in Hindi), Africa, Mexico, the Philippines, the Caribbean and throughout South East Asia.

Similar recipes include Eggplant in Tamarind Leaf Paste, Sticky Tamarind and Kaffir Lime Leaf Tofu, and Okra in Tamarind Sauce.

Browse all of our Tamarind recipes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Winter recipes.

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Moringa Leaf Podi | Drumstick Leaf Spice Powder

One last item we are making in this particular focus on Moringa leaves is a podi, or South Indian spice powder. For this, the leaves are dried quickly and then powdered. Simple, easy and quick.

We like to make our own seasoning from Moringa Leaves. Moringa Leaves are the next big superfood to come to the West from India, but available mainly in pill form. Many will never have seen a fresh Moringa Leaf! We love to cook with them, dry them, and use them as a seasoning in a powdered form. Our Moringa tree is growing well and we hope to have our own leaves next season.

Similar recipes include Moringa Leaf Thoran, Sundakkai Vathal Paruppu Podi, Grape Vine Leaf Powder, and Sambar Powder.

Browse all of our Moringa Leaf recipes and all of our Podis. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Indian Essentials: Tomatoes in Indian Cooking

One of the best kept secrets of Indian food is the way in which tomatoes are used. Outside of India, when using tomatoes we look for the juciest and sweetest around, often adding a pinch of sugar to dishes late in the season if the tomatoes are not as sweet as we desire them to be.  In Indian cooking, it is the opposite. Tomatoes need to have some tartness to balance the spices used. It is considered a souring agent, along with others such as yoghurt, kokum, tamarind and lime/lemon.

Browse more information on Indian Cuisine. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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