|May 27, 2023

INDIAN COOKING 101: ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS AND TECHNIQUES FOR BEGINNERS

There is a big misconception about Indian cooking, as people think it is hard to make Indian dishes easily and quickly. But the reality is with the use of essential ingredients that goes with every dish you make. To get the best out of every Indian recipe, you must understand flavor profiles and ingredients' tastes.

There are varieties in Indian cooking for almost everything- spices, rice, lentils, vegetables, meat, etc. Due to the cooking with little twisting, it becomes easy to get the hang of Indian cuisine quickly.

India has different states and regions, so their taste and recipes. North Indians prefer mostly spicy food, and people in Gujarat and the Western side prefer sweets more in their recipes. In contrast, South Indian dishes are mainly rice-based.

Essential Ingredients For Beginners

Beginners need to understand the essential ingredients used in every household. Different varieties of rice, lentils, vegetables, curries, etc exist. 

Rice

Rice

Rice is the most consumed ingredient in India. With rice, there can be many variations also, such as idli, dosa batter, desserts, pulao, biryani, etc. It is the most common thing you will get in Indian cooking. Rice also comes in many types-

  • Long-grain Rice- Long-grain rice, as its name suggests, has higher than approximately three times its width. Basmati rice and jasmine rice are the most popular rice in this category. They serve fluffy, free-from-clumps rice and are best for making biryani.
  • Medium-grain Rice- This is the variety of rice where the length of rice is less than long grain and more than short grain. This category of rice goes well with rice pudding (kheer). It becomes a bit clumpy after being prepared.
  • Short-grain Rice- Short-grain rice has the shortest size among the varieties. After cooking, they stick with one another and are a bit clumpy in texture. These are used to prepare desserts, etc.

Lentils

Lentils

Various lentils are present- Urad dal, masoor dal, tur dal, and chana dal. The preparation technique for these lentils is similar. Lentils must be included in Indian cooking and form the foundation. They are considered a good source of protein and hence included in Indian cuisine for a long. These lentils also make other dishes, such as sambar with sambar powder.

Flour

Flour

The essential thing in Indian cooking is flour. To make parathas and roti, flour is used profoundly. Flours are also of many types, such as multigrain flour, processed flour (maida), whole wheat flour, maize flour, etc. The most common and nutritious flour is multigrain flour.

Essential Spices Used in Indian Cooking

The use of spices in Indian cooking is of supreme importance. The spices' role is to change and transform any dish from bland to tasty. The knowledge of the flavor profile of spices must be there to prepare delicious Indian food. From curry powder to coriander powder, the list of spices is long.

Turmeric Powder

Turmeric powder is the most common spice powder used in every recipe. It is golden-yellow with many nutritional benefits. A dash of this magical powder enhances the overall taste of the recipe and must be included in Indian cooking.

Coriander Powder

Coriander powder

It is also the frequently used spice while making curries, fries, etc. It has a piquant flavor and adds a citrusy flavor to the recipes. A small quantity is sufficient for an extra zing that coriander powder can add to the dishes.

Red Chili Powder

Red chilli

To make recipes spicy, red chili powder is added, whether in dry form as dry red chilies or red chili powder. It adds the perfect spice level required for making a delicious and spicy dish. It also gives a vibrant red color to the food. 

Garam Masala

Garam masala

Garam masala is a spice blend of various whole spices. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds,  etc., are dry roasted and blended to a fine known as garam masala. Many spice blends are made now for particular recipes, such as sambar powder, curry powder, etc.

Types of Curries in Indian Cooking

Curries or gravies are also one of the essential parts of Indian cooking. There are many curries for different recipes- tomato-based, spicy, onion-based, and so on.

Onion-based Curry

onion curry

This is the type of curry that mostly goes with non-vegetarian dishes. A thick curry base of onions and whole spices with added ground spices gives a flavorful outcome with the pleasant aroma of spices.

Coconut-based Curry

coconut based curry

A curry made with coconut has a delicious taste and health because using coconuts for cooking make your recipes healthier. Firstly after the usual cooking steps, like roasting cumin and coriander seeds and making fine powder, then adding bay leaves and red chilies in oil heated over the pan, and adding coconuts to make a curry. This type of curry works well with chicken recipes.

Tomato-based Curry

tomato curry

Tomatoes help to make curries thicker and add color to the dish. Chopped tomatoes are added after cumin seeds and curry leaves are cooked in heated pan onions are fried. This curry goes perfectly with chickpeas, jackfruit, rajma, etc.

Summing Up

To become a pro in Indian cooking and making delicious dishes, it is essential to know the basic ingredients and spices used in cooking. The common elements used to create recipes are the same in almost every recipe.

Understanding spices, their usage, and their flavors are vital in Indian cooking because spices form the basis of Indian cuisine. Various ground masala, such as turmeric powder, coriander powder, and red chili powder, are added to every recipe.

There are whole masalas, and many spice blends are used in Indian cooking. Beginners must store some ready mixes and curd milk in the refrigerator for an instant meal and to prepare dishes in less time than they take to be ready.

To get the essential ingredients to kickstart your cooking journey, Alcoeats has all you need. There is a wide range of spices and Indian gravies for instant cooking. Give it a try and get the essentials right here.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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