Popular Science

How to start cooking more Indian food

Learn how to stock a pantry of Indian staples, master a few basic techniques, and start cooking more Indian food with “Indian-ish” author Priya Krishna
One of the simplest Indian cooking techniques to master is <em>chhonk</em>: whole spices such as cumin and chiles (left) or black mustard seeds and curry leaves (right) sizzled in oil or ghee until fragrant.
One of the simplest Indian cooking techniques to master is <em>chhonk</em>: whole spices such as cumin and chiles (left) or black mustard seeds and curry leaves (right) sizzled in oil or ghee until fragrant. (Mackenzie Kelley, food styling by Judy Kim/)

This story originally published on Saveur.


Indian food is my everyday food. Dal, rice, and sabzi are the staples my mom used to make for our family when she came home from busy days at work and had to put dinner on the table in 20 minutes. These are the dishes that I cook when I come back from vacation and need to reset.

In the U.S., Indian cooking is often misunderstood to be complicated, time-consuming, and overly heavy. Unlike most takeout , the Indian food you'll find cooked in people's homes is not like that at all—it's bright, vibrant, and, like any cuisine, a mix of lighter fare and richer indulgences. And it's not rocket science, either; learn a few fundamentals, and you can seamlessly cook with. With a little patience, it should make flavorful dals (lentil soups) and sabzis (cooked vegetable dishes) a weeknight staple for you, too.

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