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Dec 5, 2006 01:36 AM

Indian Food: recipe in a box...

I live in the SF Bay Area, and there are several Indian groceries in this area. They have a plethora of spice packets for specific indian dishes. They include cooking instructions. I have tried several of them, and approve of them. Sad, but true.

I suppose you could argue that they may not be authentic (although they are imported directly from India, I am sure at least some of them use non-authentic ingredient shortcuts), or that they spices are not fresh (using fresh spices in sine qua non in India, although these are packed in stay-fresh foil packets). Still, I like them a lot and they make mighty tasty food, the equal to what I get in local Indian restaurants. Just make sure that you follow all the directions on the package and do not cheat or substitute: I always get really good meals from them.

They have name brands like Shan or Parampara and come in small packets or boxes that look like small paperback books. Right now, I have just finished something called 'Kunna Matka Gosht Curry Mix' for lamb. It is might tasty, and pretty hot, too, so keep your beer handy. The markets near my home have literally dozens of such things for all kinds of different foods, including soups, vegetarian, dumplings, etc.

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  1. jerry, i have not tried the spice packets but i have tried ALOT of the vacuum-packed foil pouches of preprepared indian foods, and also the packaged udapam and wada mixes. so many excellent things in a box! a whole other world of foods to discover, eh? !

    1. Recent discovery for me is papadums.
      In the restaurants they are fried.
      I tried the microwave -- it works great.
      One or two, on a plate (uncovered) for 2 minutes -- fat free, crispy crunchy.
      A package of about 20 papads costs $1.50 (at Vik's).
      They have different flavors -- I like the cumin seed ("jeera").

      3 Replies
      1. re: Joel

        wow, THAT is a surprise. no oil? i'll have to see that; amazing!

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          Works like a charm, and the results are pretty darn healthy, since they're made with legume flour. A box keeps forever, and they make an excellent with-drinks nibble alongside some homemade chutney.

        2. re: Joel

          try them on the BBQ next time you fire it up! even better if you're using oak.

          When I tasted these several years ago, I thought "the snack food industry is missing out not using these flavors." The chili/cumin ones are amazing. And healthy! Dal is ground legume flour.

        3. I'm not so sure about the "healthy" part of this. The packets I've checked out have huge amounts of sodium, way more than you would add if you were cooking these dishes from scratch.

          3 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            My healthy comments only apply to pappadums.

            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              Are the pappadums low in sodium? I ask because my family and I have a high blood pressure problem and I'm always looking for low-sodium snacks. Pappadums have always seemed rather salty to me in restaurants, though...

              1. re: Petitpois

                pappadums are the OPPOSITE of low salt. sorry.

          2. I agree - they can be great for flavorful and easy indian food. As for authenticity, I was introduced to them by my boyfriend who is from Delhi. We use them for chana masala and pav bhaji, both of which get better after a day or two in the refrigerator. There is one for fruit as well. It tastes most like cumin and can be sprinkled on papaya, for example. It's a bit unusual at least for a lot of American palates, but worth a try.

            1. "using fresh spices in sine qua non in India"

              My Latin's a little rusty, but if you're saying that most Indians utilize fresh whole spice, this is not the case. Pre-mixed spice packets are extremely popular.