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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Basics of Indian Cooking

Indians love their food and this is apparent in the variety of dishes which are on offer. Indian food is fast catching up in the western world as more and more people are learning to try out different cuisines to challenge their palates. The huge variety of spices available in India and its rich history has made it abundant treasure trove of wonderful foods. People in India have borrowed a number of cooking styles and techniques from the foreigners who invaded it in previous centuries and have developed them to suit its cuisine.

Before equipment from Europe and America became popular on Indian shores, the people mostly used 'Chulas' or charcoal ovens to cook. A Chula is actually sort of a brick cube with a hole in the top for the burners and holes in the front for the charcoal and wood to be put into it as fuel. Making a Chula is not easy and is considered quite an art form. It has to be made in a way to make sure that the vegetables or meat that is being cooked is being supplied with an even source of heat.

The barbecue is actually nothing but what Indians call the 'Tandoor'. The tandoor is a method or technique that is used widely in India even today though its use in normal households has gone down. However, the tandoor is still something most Indian hotels will have in their kitchens and it is used in the preparation of a wide variety of items like breads, meats and vegetables. 'Tandoori Chicken' is perhaps one of the most famous dishes cooked with this technique. The recipe for this famed dish is to skin a whole chicken and marinate it in a medley of spices and yogurts for at least 5 to 6 hours. Next, the chicken is cut into small pieces and placed in iron skewers. These skewers are then placed inside the tandoor. Because the tandoor is very hot, the chicken gets cooked nicely in a short time and the masalas all get coated well. The tandoor also ensures that none of the flavors and aromas of the spices are lost. The same technique is used in preparing dishes like the Tandoori Fish, Tandoori Paneer, etc.

Spices are something that Indian cooking just cannot do without. Most dishes in India will require quite a few spices for their flavor and aroma. Both the Garam Masala and the Curry Powder are prepared with lots of spices roasted and grounded and they impart a typically Indian flavor to curries.

Cooking Indian food is not as difficult as it is made out to be. If you are interested in trying your hand out at cooking Indian food, start out with lentils and simple vegetable curries. Most importantly, have fun!

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