Unravelling Indian Cooking

Cooking

Unravelling Delicious Indian Food

I love how popular Indian food is becoming. In the time that I have been using twitter, I have seen a shift from Indian food being a strange entity to the non-Indian follows that I had, to a familiarity with terms such as dosa, rasam, sambar, vada etc and much more familiarity with spices. Now Indian foodies follow non-Indian and vise versa. It wasn’t so common, say, in the first decade of the 2000’s. I love that growth in understanding of Indian food and the confidence to cook it at home.

I notice a small trend with the bloggers of Indian food to use non-Indian terms to describe the dishes, and I say this with sadness. I love the education process that goes on with retaining traditional names, while clarifying uncommon terms. So upma should remain as upma, vada as vada and dosa as dosa. And ghee as ghee (and not clarified butter).

Indian food is first of all very precise. By this I mean that there are very strong traditions around how food is prepared and eaten. Which spice mix goes with which lentil or vegetable, whether the dish is semi or fully liquid, what is eaten with a particular dish, even which part of the year it is cooked.

Some terms I have seen associated with Indian food…. Risotto for Kitchadi and upma, confit for stuffed brinjal baked in the oven, clarified butter for ghee (technichally correct but confusing as French clarified butter is not at all like ghee), patties and fritters for vada, and pancakes for dosa (perhaps technically correct but unlike egg based pancakes in so many ways.) Gravy is used for Kuzhambu, soup for rasam, and so forth. Just as we moved away in the 1980s from believing that all Chinese Asian food was stirfried with crispy noodles, I have my fingers crossed that we will move away from believing that Indian food is “curry”, Dal Makhani, naan bread and samosa. But it does take education on the food, and food combinations. I also admit that I use some terms too, to explain dishes to a general audience, but limit them when I can. – gravy eaten over rice for Kuzhambu, broth for rasam, dumplings for lentil or pulse balls for rasam, sambar and kuzhambu.

Secondly, Indian food is also very very regional, in a way that we are not used to in many parts of the world. What is de rigour in one part of India is unacceptable in another part. So you can understand that learning about Indian food if you do not have an Indian food tradition, can be confusing.

Our site, Heat in The Kitchen, represents a humble attempt to pull together some of my learnings as I journeyed and continue to journey into the world of Indian cooking (along with more general cooking information). The set of Indian Essentials is a collection of basic information for Indian cooking. My loves are Sth Indian food with a preference for traditional foods, and you will notice that here. However, feel free to add information, clarification, corrections and questions and I will do my best to make sure things are properly represented.

I hope this helps both readers and writers of Indian recipes.

Indian Essentials

The set of Indian Essentials is a collection of basic information for Indian cooking. Browse through the posts, or see a list of them below.


Contents

The focus of this article is on the vegetarian foods of India, particularly South India. It is being added to continuously. We try our best to ensure that all links are current, but if you find a broken link, please let us know.

  • For Recipe Writers
  • Measurements in Indian Recipes
  • Indian Cooking Techniques
  • Equipment in an Indian Kitchen
  • Lentils and Pulses
  • Spices
  • Spice Mixes
  • Other Common Ingredients
  • Common Dishes
  • Common Indian Drinks
  • Hindu Festivals and Food
  • A Month’s Shopping
  • Translations of Ingredients

For Recipe Writers

  • Dosa: It is difficult to use English terms to describe Indian dishes. Dosa varieties can vary from something close to a thin crepe to a fritter to being like a flatbread. Dosai are made from flours (lentil flour and rice flour) and are cooked in a pan, so technically they can be called Indian pan cakes. But really, they have little resemblance to them in flavour or texture, so it is best to stick to the Indian names. On Indian Flatbreads. Pancakes or not?; Is a Dosa Really a Pancake?;
  • Red Chillies: As fresh red chillies are used in many cuisines, it is confusing when recipes do not explicitly state whether the chillies to be used are fresh or dried. When writing recipes for Indian food, it is best to be explicit to avoid confusion, ie write Dried Red Chillies. When and How to Use Chillies in Indian Cooking
  • Red Gram: Toor Lentils are often referred to as Red Gram or Red Lentils in Indian recipes. However, the term Red Lentils in parts of the rest of the world refers to a lentil called Split Masoor Dal in India. You can see that it can make quite a difference! When writing recipes, be explicit about the lentil. For example, write Red Gram Dal (Toor Dal). Or use any of the variants of spelling for Toor Dal.
Measurements in Indian Recipes

I often see recipes for Indian food that include instructions such as “take a ladleful of ..” or “a <insert Indian fruit> sized ball of …”. When writing recipes for a wide audience, the more common measures of cup, or better still, by spoon (Tblspn or tspn), volume (ml or l) or weight (g) are more accurate and more standardised. If the measure is actually meant to be an approximate measure, use phrases such as “about 1/2 cup of …”.

Even the phrase “lemon sized ball of …” is misleading as lemons can vary in size from small (golf ball sized🙂 ) to large (meteor sized🙂 ).

Note that a cup measure and a Tablespoon measure are not standard measures, varying from the US to Europe, India, Australia and other parts of the world. But it is usually accurate enough. Recipes, such as breads and baked goods, that require much more precision, should be written using volumes and weights.

A guide to converting between Indian, Australian, UK and US measures.


Techniques


Equipment


Lentils and Pulses

Chickpeas
Mung Beans | Mung Dal
Pigeon Peas | Toor Dal | Tuvar Dal | Toovar Dal | Tur Dal | Arhar Dal | Red Gram, Red Gram Dal, Red Dal
  • Toor Dal is often called Red Gram or Red Gram Dal in Indian recipes, but it is not the same as the lentil referred to as Red Lentils in many other countries – these are called Massor Dal in India.
  • Therefore when an Indian recipe specifies Red Gram or even Red Lentils it probably refers to Toor/Tuvor Dal, which is a tan-red colour when whole and unhulled, but yellow with a slight red tinge when split.
Urad Lentils | Urad Dal | Black Gram | Black Gram Dal
  • Urad whole beans are small, black skinned and oval beans that are pale yellow inside. Their cooked texture is somewhat glutinous. The skinless form is small and pale yellow or white.

Spices

  • Chillies, Red  | Dried Red Chillies: When an Indian recipe specifies Red Chillies it generally means Dried Red Chillies. Fresh red chillies are seldom encountered, unlike green chillies which are always fresh. This is in contrast to other cuisines in SE Asia which will use fresh red chillies quite freely. The flavour of fresh and dried red chillies differ enormously. When and How to Use Chillies in Indian Cooking

Spice Mixes | Masalas | Podis


Other Ingredients

  • Banana Chillies – larger than a green chilli but smaller than a capsicum, these are milder, sweeter versions of green chillies. Used in Indian curries or stuffed as a snack. They vary in size from perhaps double the size of a chilli, to thin and long – about 20cm long.
  • Bananas – Fruit, Flowers, Skins and Leaves: About Bananas, Banana Flowers, Banana Skins and Banana Leaves
  • Basil Seeds – khasa khasa – used in deserts and drinks such as faluda. Soaked in water, the seeds release a lemon basil scent and develop a gelatinous coating while maintaining a crunchy interior – a little like passionfruit seeds.
  • Chickpea Flour – Besan – Gram Flour – made from a smaller variety of chickpeas and is commonly used in batters for deep frying. It is also used in desserts, stuffings, fritters, dosa and many snacks/street foods.
  • Coriander, Green or Cilantro: How to Make Coriander Paste
  • Green Mangoes: About Green Mangoes
  • Ghee – different to Clarified Butter: What is Ghee?Why Ghee is Not Clarified ButterHow to make Ghee; Properties of Ghee; Ghee and Ayurveda
  • Mustard Oil: About Mustard Oil
  • Palm Sugar: Juice extracted from the coconut flower, palmyra palm, sugar palm or aren palm, is boiled and packed into molds to make sugar with a faint caramel taste. It is a delicious, raw, honey-coloured lump sugar much used in coastal India and throughout SE Asia.It is available in block form or in jars. About Palm Sugar.
  • Paneer: Paneer is an Indian cottage cheese-style cheese that is used in spicy Indian dishes. It is made from milk, split into curds and whey with lemon juice or vinegar, and pressed to remove liquid and form a light, spongy solid cheese. You can make it yourself or buy it fresh or frozen in good Indian shops. How to make Paneer
  • Poha, or Pohe: A glorious food made by steaming and rolling rice to produce a flattened version of rice. It is very popular in South India, Maharashtria and Konkan regions of India. It also forms the basis of great snacks. Poha Recipes. More Poha Recipes

Common Indian Dishes

The Dosa Family and Roti
  • Dosa: It is difficult to use English terms to describe Indian dishes. Dosa varieties can vary from something close to a thin crepe to a fritter to being like a flatbread. Dosai are made from a batter made with lentil flours and rice flour that is then cooked in flat circles in a pan, so technically they can be called Indian pan cakes. But really, they have little resemblance to them in flavour or texture, so it is best to stick to the Indian names rather than try to equate them to non-Indian dishes. Traditionally the Dosa batter is left to ferment naturally. These days there are many instant dosa recipes that do not require fermentation. On Indian Flatbreads. Pancakes or not?; Is a Dosa Really a Pancake?; Dosa recipes
  • Adai: Adai is a wonderful thick chunky Indian fritter style dish or Dosa. It is a type of Dosa. Adai batter does not require fermentation, like some dosa batters. Apart from the soaking time, they are quite quick to make.  Dosa recipes
  • Cheela: Another name for Pudla (see below).
  • Pudla or Cheela: Pudla is a member of the Dosa family that sits between the Dosa and an Adai. It is made from a chickpea flour batter and can be made thin like a thin dosa, or thick more like an Adai, or anywhere in between. Pudla batter takes well to additions such as peas, coriander leaves, etc. Pudla Recipes
  • Roti: About Roti
Rice Based Dishes
  • Bisibelebath: A rice and toor dal based dish that contains vegetables and uses a very specific spice mix. VeggieBelly has a great explanation of this dish, much loved in Karnataka. Bisibelebath Recipes
  • Kitchdi | Khichidi| Kitcheri| Kitchari (is not risotto): About Risotto and Kitcheri – is Kitcheri a Risotto?; Kitchari Recipes; More Kitchari Recipes
  • Kheer, Ferni or Payasam: A sweet dessert made with milk and usually rice, sago or vermicelli, but other ingredients can be used. It is a creamy stove-top dessert with over 1,000 varieties that first appeared in the Ramayana as a fertility aide. Thus it is one of the oldest desserts in the world, having been made in India and nearby cultures for more than 2000 years. Coarsely ground or whole grains are cooked in whole milk w sugar to the consistency of a thick soup. Nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios) and raisins are often added. For special Hindu Festivals, Kheer is made with rice. How to Make Payasam; Payasam/Kheer Recipes
  • Pilaf or Pulao: Pilaf is a dish in which rice toasted in ghee or oil and then is cooked with spices and often with vegetables. Pilaf Recipes here and here.
  • Poha, Pohe, Pauwa, Pawa: An uncooked flattened/beaten rice – a glorious food made by steaming and rolling rice to produce a flattened version of rice This ingredient is called poha (po-hay), and there is a common dish made with poha which is also called poha. A great explanation of thick and thin poha with a recipe for the dish Poha. It is very popular in South India, Maharashtria and Konkan regions of India. It also forms the basis of great snacks. Poha Recipes. More Poha Recipes
  • Pongal, Ven: Very similar to Kitcheri. It is not at all similar to risotto. Ven Pongal Recipe
Pickles and Chutneys
  • Indian Chutneys – Thuvaiyal, Masiyal, Chutney, Thayir Pachadi: Although cooked and long-lasting chutneys exist in India, it is most likely that you will find a fresh, quickly made, quickly consumed chutney when reading a chutney recipe. A variety of uncooked or blended/pounded chutneys are eaten all over the South India. They are delicious and healthy, providing a wonderful taste contrast to the main spicy dishes. About Indian Chutneys; Indian Chutney Recipes
Other Dishes
  • Avial / Avayil: A rich variety of vegetables cooked in yoghurt. This is one of the popular dish in South India, especially in Kerala. Avial Recipes
  • Bhajji: In parts of India, dry subzi or poriyal is also called bhajji. However bhajji is generally a spicy Indian snack similar to a fritter. A thick batter of chickpea flour and spices is prepared. Chopped up vegetables are stirred in. The contents are scooped up by a spoon, put on a griddle in the shape of a patty, and with some oil till brown on both sides. They are often known as pakora but pakora are a little different (see below). Bhajji is fried batter with vegetables, pakora is vegetables fried in batter.
  • Bharta: Bharta are North Indian (Punjabi) dishes where the main ingredient is roasted and then pureed with spices. The flavours are intensified by the roasting and the resulting dish is spicy and tangy. A commonly known bharta is Baingan Bharta, or Eggplant Bharta. Bharta Recipes
  • Bonda: Bonda is a snack which is either complete mixture of flour with spices , onions and other few ingredients rolled in to a ball and fried, or a ball of cooked or smashed flavored potato with veges dipped in a batter and fried. Bonda is always ball-shaped.
  • Chaat and Snacks: India has a rich street food culture, and even the daily diet of most Indian people incorporates a variety of snacks during the day. Chaat are spicy and tangy dishes generally including the tangy Chaat Masala spice mix. Snack and Chaat recipes
  • Dal Tadka and Dal Fry: The difference between Tadka Dal and Dal Fry is explained well by Chef in You: Tadka Dal is about the “Tadka” or “Tempering” whereas Dal Fry is about the richness of the Dal itself. When you see the word “Fry”, think about richness whereas “Tadka” communicates simple, comforting and warm. Tadka Dal prepares the dal along with onions and tomatoes with the tempering poured right before (or while) serving, while Dal Fry dal has the tempering acting as a base for the dal instead of a garnish.
  • Dal: A dal is made from a split lentil and is a combination of a lentil, spices and tempering. It may contain tomatoes, onions and other vegetables. Some dals highlight the tempering and the lentil base is simple, others highlight the dal base and have simpler temperings. How to Make a Simple Mung Dal. Dal Recipes; More Dal Recipes
  • Erissery: Erissery is a traditional vegetable preparation from Kerala. Vegetables, particularly mushy vegetables, and some fruits, are cooked in a coconut gravy and the dish is tempered with fried coconut. Traditionally, erissery calls for ghee instead of oil which gives it a special flavour and enhances the taste. Usually Erissery is prepared from pumpkins and red beans or from yam and raw bananas cubes. The spices used in this dish include split green chillies, ground coconut, cumin seeds, turmeric and red chillies.
  • Fry, or Vegetable Fry: A simple stirfried or sauted dish of a vegetable with simple spices, for example Carrot Fry or Eggplant Fry. These dishes include the dishes Poriyal, Varuval, Thoran, Upperi, Usili, some Dry Subzi, Palya, and other Sauteed Vegetables and Vegetable Stirfries. Often recipes for a Fry are less formal than for other traditional dishes. Vegetable Fry Recipes, Thoran and Poriyal Recipes, Usili Recipes, Subzi Recipes.
  • Kheer, Ferni or Payasam: A sweet dessert made with milk and usually rice, sago or vermicelli, but other ingredients can be used. It is a creamy stove-top dessert with over 1,000 varieties that first appeared in the Ramayana as a fertility aide. Thus it is one of the oldest desserts in the world, having been made in India and nearby cultures for more than 2000 years. Coarsely ground or whole grains are cooked in whole milk w sugar to the consistency of a thick soup. Nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios) and raisins are often added. For special Hindu Festivals, Kheer is made with rice. How to Make Payasam; Payasam/Kheer Recipes
  • Kosumalli: It is rather rare to have raw ingredients in South Indian cuisine. At the least, most ingredients are sauteed. There are a couple of exceptions. Kosumalli is one, closer to a Western version of a salad than, say, Sundals which are often referred to as salads but differ from their Western counterparts. Kosumalli Recipes
  • Kuzhambu: A South Indian gravy-like dish with vegetables or dried lentil or vegetable dumplings that is eaten over rice. It is generally made without lentils and thus does not have the flowing texture of a Sambar, nor is it generally thinner like a Rasam. Its texture can vary from thin to thicker, however. Kuzhambu is generally considered a sister dish to Sambar. See also Poritha KuzhambuThe Difference Between Sambar and Kuzhambu; Sambar and Kuzhambu Recipes
  • Moar Kuzhambu: A special type of gravy-like Kuzhambu made from yoghurt, and similar to the Kerala Pulissery. It is generally eaten with or over rice. Moar (or Mor or Moru) Kuzhambu is commonly prepared in South India and is extremely easy to make, taking almost no time at all to cook. Moar Kuzhambu and Moar Sambar Recipes
  • Moar Sambar: A special Sambar dish made with yoghurt as the base that is generally eaten with rice. A South Indian dish. Moar Kuzhambu and Moar Sambar Recipes
  • Olan: A dish that is a strpmg part of the cuisine of Kerala in South India. It is prepared from white gourd, pumpkin or cucumber with, coconut milk and ginger seasoned with coconut oil. Olan Recipes. 
  • Pachadi: A South Indian Pachadi is a version of the North Indian Raita and the Sri Lankan Sambol. It is made with a vegetable (usually) combined with yoghurt. Raitas, or Pachadis, are an Indian version of salads.  To call yoghurt the “dressing” of the salad is a bit of a misnomer. It is more than that – it is the carrier of the vegetables and the flavours of the spices. It holds the whole dish together. The vegetables used might be cooked or raw, and in Tamil Nadu they are served near the end of the savoury portion of the meal, just before payasam/dessert/kheer (rather than along with the curries). It can be eaten as a salad or as an accompaniment to curries. It takes about 10 minutes maximum to make, so is a great last-minute addition to anything. What is a South Indian Pachadi? Pachadi Recipes; More Pachadi Recipes
  • Pakora or Pakoda: Vegetables are dipped in a  batter of chickpea flour and then deep fried.
  • Payasam: Also called Kheer or Ferni. A sweet dessert made with milk and usually rice, sago or vermicelli, but other ingredients can be used. It is a creamy stove-top dessert with over 1,000 varieties that first appeared in the Ramayana as a fertility aide. Thus it is one of the oldest desserts in the world, having been made in India and nearby cultures for more than 2000 years. Coarsely ground or whole grains are cooked in whole milk w sugar to the consistency of a thick soup. Nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios) and raisins are often added. For special Hindu Festivals, Kheer is made with rice. How to Make Payasam; Payasam/Kheer Recipes
  • Poritha Kuzhambu or Poricha kuzhambu: A Kuzhambu made with vegetable, toor dal, roasted spices, and fresh coconut. It is one of the kuzhambu variations that sometimes has tamarind in it, but sometimes does not. Often coconut is included in its ground spice mix and this one of the most defining characteristic of a Poritha Kuzhambu. It usually also contains dal – either green gram dal or toor dal, and this is another defining charadteristic. The Difference Between Sambar and Kuzhambu; Poritha Kuzhambu Recipes
  • Poriyal: The Tamil Nadu version of the Kerala vegetable dish Thoran where a vegetable is briefly stirfried with spices and coconut. Poriyal vegetables are generally finely chopped and the dish is tasty and easy to make. It takes only a few minutes, and coconut is added at the last moment. Poriyal and Thoran Recipes
  • Pulissery: An authentic Kerala recipe made with vegetables, coconut and yoghurt or Indian buttermilk that has also found its way into the Palakkad Iyer cuisine. A perfect blend of subtle flavors and not unlike the Moar Kuzhambu dishes of Tamil Nadu, it is an essential part of Kerala Feasts (Sadya). Pulissery Recipes
  • Puttu, Paruppu: See also Puttu, Tamil Nadu Style. This dish is made from lentils/dal soaked and coarsely ground, then the textured paste is steamed, and the resulting cooked lentil paste is crumbled and briefly sauted, with or without some accompanying vegetables. The lentil crumble is delicious and can be eaten alone, and with briefly boiled or steamed vegetables. The Different Lentil Crumble (Puttu) Types; Puttu Recipes
  • Puttu, Sri Lankan and Kerala Style: A cooking technique common in Sri Lanka and Kerala where rice and/or lentils are steamed with coconut is a special cylindrical pot.
  • Puttu, Tamil Nadu Style: A technique common in South Indian cooking but missing from other cuisines is the steaming of lentil batter, which is then crumbled and added to other dishes. The thick lentil batter is made by soaking the lentil and then grinding with scant water to form a batter. The Different Lentil Crumble (Puttu) Types; Puttu Recipes
  • Rasam: Rasam is best described as a spicy broth that can be eaten over rice, used to moisten drier curries or eaten like a soup.  The Difference Between Rasam and SambarRasam Recipes; More Rasam Recipes
  • Raita: A North Indian Raita is a version of the South Indian Pachadi and the Sri Lankan Sambol. It is made with a vegetable (usually) combined with yoghurt. Raitas, or Pachadis, are an Indian version of salads.  To call yoghurt the “dressing” of the salad is a bit of a misnomer. It is more than that – it is the carrier of the vegetables and the flavours of the spices. It holds the whole dish together. The vegetables used might be cooked or raw. In Tamil Nadu they are served near the end of the savoury portion of the meal, just before payasam/dessert/kheer (rather than along with the curries). It can be eaten as a salad or as an accompaniment to curries. It takes about 10 minutes maximum to make, so is a great last-minute addition to anything. Raita Recipes
  • Shrikhand or Shrikand: A sweet Indian Dessert made from thick (hung) yoghurt and fruits, it is a cooling mix of the thick creamy yoghurt, saffron, green cardamom, and nuts for texture. It is one of the main desserts in Gujarati cuisine and Maharashtrian cuisine. Shrikhand Recipes
  • Soups, Indian: “Soups” are an interesting concept in South India. Soups do exist, although I suspect they are a relatively modern concept influenced by the British occupation. Contrasted with this are many soupy South Indian dishes like rasam, sambar, kuzhambu, kootu, dals etc that are not soups as we understand them, yet appear to be soup-like to non-Indian eyes. Indian Soup Recipes
  • Subzi/Subji: This term literally means ‘vegetable dish’. It is used in connection with any vegetable. Subzis can be dry, wet or in curry form. Pronunciation: sub-jzee. Also Known As: Bhaji. Subzi Recipes
  • Sundals: Sundal is a snack food and often a street food, made from a quickly sauteed lentil or pulse with spices and coconut. Also Sundal traditionally was a prasadam, cooked specifically as offerings for the Gods (and still is, especially during Navarathri), but now is much more ubiquitous. Often confused with Usli. Sundal Recipes
  • Thoran: The Kerala version of the Tamil Nadu vegetable dish Poriyal, where a vegetable is briefly stirfried with spices and coconut. The dish is tasty and easy to make. It takes only a few minutes, and coconut is added at the last moment. Poriyal and Thoran Recipes
  • Toasted Sandwiches, Indian Style: Part of the rich cuisine of Indian Street Food that are also easily made at home. Indian Sandwiches are serious business with much attention paid to the fillings. Indian Toastie Recipes
  • Usli and Sundal: Often thought to be the same, traditionally Usli is a mixture of lentils and vegetables, while a Sundal comprises lentils only. Usli is a dish eaten at mealtime, whereas Sundal is more of a snack food/street food. Sundal also traditionally was a prasadam, cooked specifically as offerings for the Gods, but now is much more ubiquitous. Sundal Recipes; Usli Recipes
  • Vada: Deep fried South Indian “fritters” made from lentils and eaten as snacks with sambar or chutneys. Vadai Recipes
  • Vadagam: Hard, Sun-dried seasoning balls made from vegetables, seeds, lentils and pulses with spices, used in South India. They are added to Sambar, Rasam, Kootu, Kuzhambu and chutney.
  • Vathal, Vatral: Vathal are sun dried vegetables which are used in South Indian Vatha Kuzhambu recipes. They can be made with single vegetables or the combination of vegetables like Turkey Berries, Cluster beans, Raw Mangoes, Okra ,Black night shade seeds,etc.  Recipes using Vathal
  • Wadi/ Vadi: Dried dumplings made from vegetables, lentils and spices that are then cooked in a spicy gravy. How to Make Mung Vadi; How to Make Punjabi Wadi; Wadi/Vadi Recipes

Common Indian Drinks

  • Lassi Drinks: Lassi is a cooling summer drink made from yoghurt that can be sweet, have a fruit base, or non-sweet/salty. Lassi Recipes
  • Panaka: Indian Limeaid, a tangy, sweet drink that is perfect in Summer heat. Panaka Recipes
Teas and Infusions

Hindu Festivals and Food

The Hindu Calendar is full of festivals, major and minor, and special days throughout the year. Our local Hindu Temple which caters for Hindus from all parts of India and other parts of the word, celebrates over 110 such days during the year. Food is strongly associated with every festival and special day, and most have specific dishes for that day. An example is that Sundals are associated with Navarathri. Every region of India and every family within a region will have their own traditions and foods associated with these days. A Western equivalent might be how a xmas dinner is celebrated – the general concept of the meal is common, but each family will have their own interpretation of that.

There are two kinds of foods cooked for each Festival and special day – those made as offerings to the Gods – Naivedyam and Prasadam – and those cooked for the family to eat.

See here for information on Hindu Festivals and associated recipes.


Shopping


Cooking in the Kitchen: A Street-Eyed View of Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Translations

more to come

Name Common Name Other Names
Pigeon Peas Toor Dal Tuvar Dal; Toovar Dal; Tur Dal; Arhar Dal;
Pauwa, Pawa (Hindi, Gujarati) Pohe (Marathi) Poha (Hindi, Gujarati)
Poha (Hindi, Gujarati) Pohe (Marathi) Pauwa, Pawa (Hindi, Gujarati)
Tuvar Dal Toor Dal Pigeon Peas; Toovar Dal; Tur Dal; Arhar Dal; Tuvar Dal
Sabudana Sago
 Aachar  Indian Pickles
 Chai  Tea
 Sundaikkai  Thai Eggplants


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Unravelling Indian Cooking”

  1. Great post. I have been cooking Indian food for myself and my family pretty intensively for the past two years. I too am fascinated with the different regional cuisines, the ones that you rarely find in the Indian restaurants which seem to have standardized around Punjabi/Mughal dishes.

    Regarding ghee, I think it is worth mentioning that it is exceedingly easy to make at home from good unsalted butter. The homemade stuff is much fresher tasting than a lot of the commercial offerings that I have tried here in the US.

    Like

  2. Please, some quick help for someone brand new to Indian cooking . . . What are the “skins” in recipes that call for “1 cup split mung dal without skins?” And how does one get rid of mung bean skins? This is an example of some recipes I’ve run into here. This example is from the recipe for “Gentle Mung Dal Soup: Sada Moong Dal”. Probably an easy and logical answer, but I have to remember that no question is a stupid one, especially if the questioner really doesn’t have a clue.
    Thanks for your indulgence.

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    1. If you buy split mung dal, it will usually not have any skins/peel on. It will be yellow in colour. Whole mung beans, however, will be green ie still with their skin or peel on.

      It takes a while to get the hang of the different dals (lentils) in Indian cooking. Never fear, you can’t go too wrong, even if you use the wrong lentil. It will still taste good.

      Like

  3. This site is completely delightful, inspiring and most importantly educational. I feel I can walk away from it enriched in a way that I can apply and better my dinners and lifestyle. I am obsessed with the Indian food stretch down Main North road near Blair Athol (in Adelaide) because it is so authentic. Now they may just be seeing a little less of me as I attempt to make my first Indian dish ever, hope it goes well ha ha. You picture above is so stunning that you should WATERMARK it fast.

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  4. Love your site and your passion for Indian cuisine. Love that you have so much in-depth knowledge of Indian cooking including south indian cuisine. I have recently started blogging and that’s my attempt at popularizing Kerala(south indian) cuisine. Do visit me sometime too. Best, Indu

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