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Mar 28, 2008 12:48 PM

Authentic Indian Homecooking

I grew up in Fiji where there is a large Indian community. I have fond memories of eating wonderful curries and ke-babs. I have searched out and tried numerous recipes but they all seem to fall short of what I remember. I go so far as to grind my own spice blends and make my own ghee. To all you Indian cooks, I would love to try your mother's best recipes. Thanks to all in advance.

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  1. I cook Indian/Pakistani food, but my mom is Latvian!

    I've had much success with Duguid/Alford's Mangoes & Curry Leaves cookbook. My husband, who grew up in Pakistan, finds the recipes to be pretty authentic.

    2 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        All of their books are wonderful. I am anxiously awaiting their new book, I think it is titled "Across the Great Wall" it is food of very northern China. I come home each day hoping UPS has dropped it off. It should be out very soon.

    1. From where in India are the majority of Fijian Indians originally from? Also, how has being in Fiji influenced the ingredients typically used? Knowing that would help direct you towards recipes that would be similar to what you ate as a kid in Fiji.

      6 Replies
      1. re: luckyfatima

        I agree with lucky Fatima. if you knew where most Fijian Indians come from, that would be a big help.

        For instance, i have rarely seen recipes for the indian food I grew up eating in any cookbook. My dad's family are maharastrian pure veg folk. the food is not complicated, but it is delicious. it involves a lot of fresh coconut and cilantro and, surprisingly, sugar in the veggies along with the spices, but the spice lists are not that long or complicated.
        Many regional cooking styles have a main masala or spice mix that is used in many dishes (like godhah masala for maharastrian food) if you could figure out what the masala was was used a lot in Fiji, that would help too.

        1. re: missmasala

          I asked my Dad yesterday what regions of India the community in Fiji originated. He said that they were pulled by the British during the colonial era to work the sugar cane plantations and came from all over India, usually dissenters to English rule. Having said that, he said most of his personal acquaintances and friends were in fact from Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, so any help would be wonderful. Thank you for your input.

          1. re: Lenox637

            Lenox637: I was curious, too and I googled it. According to what I read they are mainly Gujaratis and Punjabis, plus a smaller community of Tamilians. All of those three Indian cuisines are very distinct from each other, but since below you mention that you recall eating a lot of meats, I am going to guess you knew some Punjabis. The other question is how being in Fiji has influenced the cuisine. For example, the Indian communities in East Africa as well as the West Indies are heavily Gujarati and Punjabi, but the Indian cuisine of East Africa has been heavily influenced by the available ingredients and you get a lot of coconut curries (not common in Indian Gujarat or in Punjab) and also many East African foods eaten in those communities. You could try googling Fijian Indian cooking for recipes and websites. Good luck with your quest!

            If you wanna try some down home Punjabi cooking, there are Punjabi cookbooks, I also recommend the below mentioned Cooking Like Mummyji although that is British-Indian, not Fijian :-)

            1. re: luckyfatima

              Thanks luckyfatima, I was 6 months old when we moved to Fiji and about 9 when we came back stateside, so distinct memory is difficult sometimes. We left Fiji in 1974, and alot of friends left over the next ten years or so. I am very familiar with East African cuisine and do see the similarities. I will check out some of your recommendations.

              1. re: luckyfatima

                funny, i've never heard the term "tamilians" -- just tamils.

                makes me think of "reptilian...." ;-)

                1. re: alkapal

                  luckyfatima, NOW i have seen the term "tamilian". e.g.,

                  mr. alka is a tamil. now i can call him "tamilian". he's worth tamilian to me! ;-)

        2. I've enjoyed cooking from a book called "Cooking like Mummyji" by Vicky Bhogal, which is all about homestyle Anglo-Indian Food.

          7 Replies
          1. re: greedygirl

            That book features Punjabi-Indian food. If you like that style of food (which I do, and is also the style I cook a lot at home), you will like that book.

            1. re: luckyfatima

              Thanks for the input, I remember Punjabi style as predominant, I'm not sure where Vindaloo is from but I remember that as well.

              1. re: Lenox637

                Vindaloo is a Goan dish I believe (it is of heavy Portugese extraction).

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  Thanks for the clarification, do you have any recipes?

            2. re: greedygirl

              Sorry to cut in on this thread, but I am intrigued by the "Cooking like Mummyji" book. I love Indian cuisine and have a nice collection of Madhur Jaffrey books and others, but I find quite a number of the recipes are just too involved to be much more than "once in a while" dishes. (some are not so bad) Since I cook for just myself, I have no desire to assemble the daunting lists of spices and ingredients that some of them require (granted I have most of the key Indian spices already). Do you think the Bhogal book would suit someone like me looking for delicious yet somewhat simpler everyday Indian home cooking? It seems a bit hard to find in the US, and I don't want to spend the money on another Indian cookbook if it will spend more time on the shelf than being used.
              Thanks! (I don't eat a lot of meat for economic reasons, so a healthy dose of interesting vegetable recipes is also a plus)

              1. re: klieglight2

                Madhur Jaffrey has some great recipes but I also think many of them are more complicated than they should be.

                However, her book Eastern Vegetarian Cookery (or whatever it's called) does have some great recipes.

                Another one that gets used in my house is Neelam Batra's 1000 Indian recipes. It's great for the whole panoply (almost) of the subcontinent.

                1. re: klieglight2

                  The recipes I've made so far from "Cooking Like Mummyji" have been pretty straightforward. I'd suggest having a look online for some of her recipes, which have been published in the British press.




              2. Well, I am 100% Indian and grew up eating my mom's delicious Hyderabadi cooking so I think I can help you out a little bit. We are Hyderabadi Muslims, so that means our strength is meats/chicken, dals, and "khatta" (sour dishes - a staple in Hyderabadi households). Hindus are the experts when it comes to vegetarian dishes though Muslims do make many of them, some quite well. Here is a VERY simple dal recipe - "Khadi Dal" (literally, "standing" dal as it is not ground or mashed up once cooked). It's one of my favourites and cooks in about 15 minutes. I'll be back to share a couple more recipes but this one should start you off.

                ¾ cup red lentils (masoor dal)
                1 large or 2 small onions
                ¾ tsp ginger-garlic paste (use fresh garlic you don’t have the paste)
                about 6 sticks cilantro, washed & chopped
                1 green chili pepper, sliced
                salt, cayenne pepper, turmeric
                ghee or butter

                Wash the lentils in a bowl and set aside. Slice large onion in half. Dice one half and thinly slice the other. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pot and add the diced onion. Add ginger-garlic, cayenne to taste, and ½ tsp turmeric. Brown the onions, then add the daal. Add about 2 cups of water, the cilantro and chili pepper. Stir it all together. The water should come about ¾ inch above the lentils, so add more if you need it. Turn this to medium-low and allow to cook. Check periodically to see if you need more water (mixture should not get too thick).

                Meanwhile, heat about 1 tsp of ghee/butter with 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Fry the onions in this until almost crisp (add more oil if necessary). Remove from heat.

                Check the daal between your fingers. If it’s soft and the water is mostly absorbed, it’s done. Add some salt to taste, stir well, remove from heat. Pour the onions and oil/ghee over top. Done! Enjoy!

                3 Replies
                1. re: zainab13

                  Thank you very much zainab13, I absolutely love Khadi Dal, Iam interested in any of your meat based dishes as well.

                  1. re: Lenox637

                    Hi Lenox, sorry I dropped off this thread for awhile! Are you interested in Indian comfort food or the stuff you'd eat in a restaurant or a dinner party? Because there is a big difference between what Indians will serve at a dinner party and what they'll eat on a daily basis. You would NEVER see khadi dal on the table at my mother's dinner parties, but it was a staple of our regular evening meals. This applies to meat dishes too -- stuff like kabab, tandoori chicken, biryani etc is what ppl are usually exposed to in restaurants but is not usually made on a daily basis at home. I could give you those recipes, or I could give you more "everyday" stuff like kheema, dopyaza, shaami, etc. Or I guess I could give you both :) Let me know what you're leaning more towards - thanks!

                    1. re: zainab13

                      I'm sorry I didn't get back to you directly but a little of both would be great.

                2. Saw this in today's Berkshire Eagle, you may have too. Made me want to attend these classes:

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mjoyous

                    Yes I did catch the article, wish I knew it was happening, I would like to have gone as well.