Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vegetarian Indian Cooking Basics

Welcome to the world of Indian cooking...very flavorful and exciting dishes. Listed here are the basic spices and ingredients to put together some delicious vegetarian Indian recipes. Use this list for reference when selecting a recipe. Most are found in main stream groceries and some ingredients are available in Indian groceries. Ready made spice choices help those of us who are busy but want to expand our cooking experiences.

Ginger - Fresh or ready made paste or a ready made ginger and garlic mix

Garlic - Fresh, ready chopped, ready minced or garlic paste

Onions - Your favorite onion and particularly the regular yellow onion

Green Chilies - Finger hot chilies (use with caution), jalapenos and Anaheim peppers

Fresh Cilantro - (commonly known in India as coriander leaves)

Red Chilies - Fresh (fiery red or orange pods), dried or crushed

Goan Red or Kashmiri Chilies - Add vibrant color and less pungent flavor

Red Indian Chili Powder - Much hotter than Paprika which is a mild form of chili powder

Turmeric Powder - Bright yellow careful, can stain plastic or wooden utensils

Coriander Seeds and Coriander Powder - Make your own powder in a mortar or food grinder after dry roasting the seeds - Aromatic fragrance

Cumin Seeds and Cumin Powder Creates a sweet mild flavor to a recipe

Dhania Jeera Powder - Equal mixture of coriander and cumin...can make your own

Bay Leaf - Dried - Remove before serving

Garam Masala - A combination of seeds and spices: whole or powdered

Green Cardamom - Whole or ground - grind in small amounts as it quickly loses its natural oils and flavor - Ready ground is expensive - Used in Indian sweets

Black Cardamom - Used for flavoring rice dishes

Cinnamon Sticks - Sweet and mellow flavor

Cloves - Whole or powdered

Saffron - The most expensive spice - Used for coloring and flavoring curries and Indian sweets - Best if bought whole, toasted and then crushed just before using

Masala - A combination of herbs, spices and other ingredients ground together

Wet Masala - Water, vinegar, yoghurt and sometimes other liquids mixed together with spices

Spice Grinder - To release the flavors - mortar and pestle or small electric coffee grinder works best

Storing Spices - Masala Dabba (Indian spice box) with 7 small compartments will store and protect your most-used spices from light and air for the convenience of cooking. (These can be purchased on eBay) Or use small cans and dark bottles stored inside the cupboard for light and air protection.

Here is a collection of vegetarian Indian recipes from VegWeb. The recipes have reader comments and tips. There are four pages of
vegetarian Indian cooking recipes available.

Tofu Mutter - submitted by Susan (photo)

Carol’s Dal Curry - submitted by Carol (made with lentils)

Curried Chickpeas - submitted by jgannon

Homemade Garam Masala - submitted by Adagio (spice toasting explained in reader comments)

Chana Masala - submitted by Mary Jane (chick peas)

Indian Bean and Potato - submitted by Amber (served over rice)

Authentic Bhindi (Okra) - submitted by Jenufleck

Indian Spinach and Potatoes - submitted by J.E. (eaten with rice)

Real Deal Falafel - submitted by Jeff

Please feel free to make comments if you have questions about Indian cooking.

Happy, healthy cooking!