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Indian Cusine - Would like to make at home!

I should start off by saying I apologize, I am rather naive about what comes from where so I hope I don't offend anyone. We enjoy dishes like samosas, chicken tikka masala, lamb dishes, etc. and are open to pretty much anything except goat (I don't like goat for some reason). I am not sure if we have a preference for foods from a certain region...but I am wondering if anyone can recommend some good Indian recipes/websites/or cookbooks for simple, authentic and delicious recipes. We have an Indian market right here so it would not be difficult to obtain whatever ingredients or spices...

Thank you!

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  1. Check out Manjula's kitchen. http://www.youtube.com/user/Manjulask...

    She does a variety of Indian dishes. Her videos are very clear and it's very helpful to see her technique.

    5 Replies
      1. re: BamiaWruz

        Thank you for that link. He also does a very fine job of making an unfamiliar process clear.

        I like that he also lists the ingredients and instructions on sidebars.

        One prob remains tho -- they use ingredients that are familiar to them but not necessarily to American cooks. And some are only going to be available in Indian grocery stores...

        A couple probably will be available to Americans by other names. Coriander leaves are, of course, cilantro. Red pepper powder is cayenne. The black seeds (I think he calls them jeera) are whole cumin seeds. Hing can be available as asafoedita in health food stores. They also use black niger seeds (also used as goldfinch food) but I can't remember the Indian ingredient name.

        1. re: rainey

          More likely that the "Black seed"s are Black Mustard seeds or perhaps Black Cumin.

          1. re: rainey

            Jeera = cumin. Kala jeera = black (royal) cumin. But sometimes kala jeera = nigella seed a/k/a onion seed a/k/a kalonji. Of course, nigella shouldn't be confused with niger seed a/k/a kala til. Confused yet?

      2. Any of Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks or Julie Sahni's. My favorite Indian vegetarian cookbook is Lord Krishna's Cuisine: the Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Yamuna Devi.

        6 Replies
        1. re: PAO

          I have to second Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks... they will get you way past the standard Indian restaurant fare in most American places. One book I have, "From Curries to Kebabs" explores very regional dishes with really interesting histories and stories behind each one. Plus, it will give you some insight on how to use some of the more obscure ingredients at that Indian Market.

          1. re: PAO

            Last October the Cookbook(s) of the Month were Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking" and Madhur Jaffrey's "Indian Cooking." Both of those books are worthy of consideration, and there are numerous threads on this board discussing different types of dishes (meat, fish, veggies) from them. Unfortunately I can't find the post that links to all the different threads.

            As to "Lord Krishna's Cuisine," I beg to differ. In addition to being vegetarian, Krsna devotees have a variety of other dietary restrictions (for example, they don't eat garlic and onions) that render that cuisine, um, unique. Before you buy the book, consider sharing Prasadam at your local Krsna temple. You may enjoy the meal, but you'll likely find it very different from what most people think of when they're talking about "Indian food."

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Here's the master thread with links to all the threads with reports from Sahni and Jaffrey's books (plus good general discussion in the master thread): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/656234

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Thanks, Caitlin. I knew it was on here somewhere but couldn't seem to find it...

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  The Chow guys made this cool COTM archive page w/links to all the master threads: http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

                  There's no pointer on the board for it (and I have no idea why not), so I have it bookmarked.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    The link to the cool COTM archive page is always included in the current COTM thread that is stickied to the top of the home cooking board. That's how I find it, anyway, since I haven't managed to bookmark the archive on all of my various home/work computers.


          2. I have to third Madhur Jaffrey, I love her cookbooks and her style. She was my intro to Indian cooking maaannnyy years ago and I still use her cookbooks.

            1. I like Madhur Jaffrey's books too - there are some really delicious recipes - but my secret is that when I want Indian food at home, I use Cook's Illustrated's Chicken Tikka Masala or Vegetable Curry recipes. They are really easy and don't require any difficult to obtain ingredients, grinding of spices, etc that can make Indian cooking more of a weekend than weeknight endeavor. I lived in India for a little over 2 years, so I learned some techniques and recipes that are still my ultimate favorites, and occasionally I'll pull out a Jaffrey recipe for a special meal or party or something, but otherwise, I head right for my CI and still manage to satisfy that craving with stuff from my pantry in less than an hour. Oh - and I always make homemade paneer and naan - they are super easy and really add to the quality of the meal.

              4 Replies
              1. re: RosemaryHoney

                How do you manage to get that lovely char on naan?

                  1. re: rainey

                    A goo way is to get a cast pan screaming hot, put your stretched dough on it, and finish in the oven under the broiler- you get some really nice char and spring to the finished product. I mentioned it here and there is a link to Madhur Jaffrey's naan recipe as well:

                  2. re: RosemaryHoney

                    Just heard on a CBC program about food changes in India, that Chicken Tikka Pizza is popular item in India. Apparently they are adventuresome when it comes to form and appearance of food, but prefer the familiar tastes.

                  3. Just One Indian Cookbook - Home Cooking - Chowhound
                    23 posts - 21 authors - Last post: Feb 6
                    Some of the Indian cookbooks that I do own are either better for ..... An excellent beginner's Indian cookbook is 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, ...

                    Need Indian cookbook and.or recipe tips - Home Cooking - Chowhound
                    14 posts - 12 authors - Last post: Jan 10, 2007
                    I am hosting a buffet dinner party with India cooking. ... can't remember the exact address of either, but i'm sure you can google them. .... which was my first, and is my favorite Indian cookbook. ...

                    useful indian culinary terms translator:

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: alkapal

                      I will Second Ruta Kahate's 5 spices, 50 dishes. It is a great way to learn basic Indian techniques and base flavors. It also provides some lesser know (to most non Indians) dishes that are delicious.

                    2. I hate to say it, but my daughter informed me yesterday that she's never had home-cooked Indian food (including my own) as good as our favorite Indian restaurant. she can't put her finger on the why, however.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: pikawicca

                        Something perhaps to do with the "tandoor" (the oven in which naan, tandoori chicken, etc are cooked)?

                        1. re: pikawicca

                          Intensity of flavor, perhaps. I find that with most recipes, even Jaffrey, I need to double the spices and aromatics to get the taste I want. And also cook everything a lot longer than she says for curries and wet dishes.

                          1. re: cocktailhour

                            Many home cooks use ground cumin, cinnamon, etc. IMO fresh-ground spices toasted just before grinding make a huge difference.

                            Another difference is the quantity of fat used. Prodigious quantities of ghee aren't good for the waistline or the coronary arteries (wonder why all those maharajahs died at 40?), but the flavor imparted to the finished dish is incomparable.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              And possibly salt?? Oil too. I have found that the Indian restaurants I frequent use far more salt and oil than I'm willing to add (and than is generally called for in the recipes I use).

                              1. re: Full tummy

                                A globetrotting friend has taken cooking classes in India, and tells me that way more salt it used than you'd think by tasting the finished dishes. Apparently the myriad of spices makes the salt less obvious. I'm sure that's right, by the look of my ankles the day after I've dined at an Indian restaurant. I need to use a light hand with salt, surely one of the reasons my homemade Indian food wouldn't win any awards. But I can still manage a tasty korma without a lot of fuss. My tolerance for hot peppers is moderate. I don't cook Indian very often so I settle for pre-ground Indian market garam masala and McCormick curry powder, which I do fry in butter or ghee. I wouldn't make it for company, but it suits me fine when I happen to have the ingredients on hand - and my shoes fit the next day.

                        2. Pick up Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking by Raghavan Iyer. That's right, Betty Crocker. I own several Indian cookbooks, including works by Jaffrey and Sahni, and much prefer the Betty Crocker.

                          PS--One interesting thing about this cookbook is it includes several Sino-Indian dishes and a few Indo-Aryan dishes as well.

                          1. Until the real thing comes along, here are two fake Indian-oid recipes that will work like a charm: 1) Tandoori Chicken: Mix 1-2 tablespoons of Tandoori Masala with a container of plain yogurt, bury raw chicken pieces (cut some boneless skinless breasts into hunks) in it, cover, and refrigerator 24 hours. Lay pieces on foil-covered cookie sheet and bake at 425* until done. 2) Accompany the chicken with this: Cook frozen chopped spinach. Drain. Immediately mix with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder and curry powder plus salt to taste (amounts per box of spinach). 3) Rice (although you can go fusion and have baked sweet potatoes filled with butter and brown sugar, a nice if odd match with the chicken and spinach)..

                            1. +1 on Jaffrey. Her book "Invitation to Indian Cooking" is usually overlooked but I'd particularly recommend: it's semi out-of-print but worth tracking down, because the recipes are great, its writing geared toward beginners, and its measurements in imperial volume rather than metric weight (as in the books she's written for British readership.)

                              Just as a general note, cooking Indian at home can take a little patience at first. I don't know what you normally cook or the time expectations you have, but as a rule Indian food can require a lot of prep work - chopping vegetables, grinding spices, rolling out bread, or doing multiple frying steps. Resist the temptation to skip steps or cut corners. One good strategy is to learn one new dish at a go, combining it with easier and familiar sides til you get the hang of the process and timing. Since you have access to an Indian grocer, I'd also frozen breads (parathas, roti, etc) as a big time saver.

                              1. Another good/fun Indian cookbook is Ismail Merchant's "Passionate Food." (Merchant of the Merchant-Ivory movies.) Although he uses a lot of Indian spices, it's not classic Indian cooking - he lived in America for many years and was trying to re-invent the food he grew up with using local ingredients and simplifying/lightening recipes so they'd appeal to the many American folks he was constantly entertaining. I've never had trouble making them, and they've almost all turned out beautifully. His egg salad recipe with dijon mustard and scallions has become my stand-by. Plus it's a really fun book to read just for the anecdotes. One of my favorite quotes from his first book (not Passionate Meals) was from Simon Callow... said IM would invite cast members every night, cook the whole meal himself, and then start pushing them out the door about 9:30 with wrapped up leftovers, because "he wanted us all on the set early the next morning, well-rested and hopefully not too fat."


                                4 Replies
                                1. re: pasuga

                                  Jaffrey and Merchant moved, so to speak, in the same circles. While my first Indian cookbook was a Penguin paperback published in 1970, my next two were by Jaffrey and by Merchant.

                                  The relatively recent Chicken Tika Masala throwdown, had Jaffrey giving Bobby some tips. Both sides worked with basic set of 5-6 spices (conveniently stored together in a covered tray (masala dabba).

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    I tried to find the recipes used on the show and I guess these are not posted. Any ideas?

                                    1. re: walker

                                      It shouldn't be hard to find recipes for the chicken and the rice on the web, or Indian cookbooks. With those in hand, rewatch the Throwdown, paying more attention to technique than quantities.

                                      Both sides used typical Indian methods for cooking the rice. One fried the aromatics (black mustard seeds) and cooked the rinsed rice with them (pilaf style). The other cooked the rice in excess water (pasta style), drained it, and let it finish by steaming with the retained moisture.

                                      The chicken is a national British dish, so there should be dozens of recipes around.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I noticed the woman in upstate New York cooked the sliced onions a long time; she used red onions, which is what they usually use in India. Strange that they don't post the recipes from the show.

                                2. I'd advise you to learn to make a good masala. Once you do that, you have the basis. Cookbooks by authors like Julie Sahni, Madhur Jaffrey, and Yamuna Devi will give you an excellent start. Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking", for example, is a great introduction to how Indian spices work.