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Indian Cooking Traditions

Indian Cooking Traditions

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Indian Cooking Traditions

306 pagine
2 ore
Aug 21, 2013


For Nina Kaul, food isnt just eating or entertaining, its how she
shows love. Her food isnt just creativity mixed with tradition, its a story
and a smile. She wants to impart Indian history through her food to
her readers. She is a loving mom who passes and shows love to her
family and friends through food.
Traveling and living in many different countries has given her the
opportunity to learn and believe that food indeed brings different
cultures together. With that desire she hopes and wishes that her
readers will enjoy and have fun cooking from her book. This book isnt
just meant to help you cook a great Indian dinner, but also a way to
share creativity, tradition, stories, smiles and love.
Aug 21, 2013

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Indian Cooking Traditions - Nina Kaul

Copyright © 2014 by Nina Kaul. 83543-KAUL

Library of Congress Control Number:   2011908445

ISBN:   Softcover       978-1-4628-7715-7

            Hardcover      978-1-4628-7716-4

            EBook            978-1-4771-8126-3

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Rev. Date: 10/24/2014





Author’s Note






Fresh salads




Nan, Paratha, Poori


Basmati Rice


Fish and sea food








Chutneys, Relishes, Pickles






Handy Snacks








Author’s Note

Indian cuisine is as old as its civilization, dating back more than three thousand years. Indian food, like its culture, has developed through the influences of different ruling empires. The development of techniques and flavors are traditions still cherished today.

India is a country with diverse religions, varied in their traditions and culture, that indeed influenced our food preferences to a great extent. One common thread, though, is nonviolence toward living creatures. For this reason, India has the world’s largest vegetarian population.

As any cuisine, different climate and geography has determined availability of food and spices from region to region. However, with a myriad of different climates in India, what is considered Indian cuisine can really be broken down into different regions. For example, how French, German, and Italian food can be distinct from one another, so can the foods from Kashmir, Punjab, and Madras. All Indian food of course, but all very different.

This book seeks to showcase some of the differences in Indian food by letting you, the cook, taste the regions where the food comes from. It was compiled to be simple yet detailed, easy to follow, and fun to cook.

Moreover, it is my belief that anybody can be a good cook. It is an art where you can fill in the colors of your ideas and imagination to make it a creative experience.

It is a matter of basic knowledge and learning how to use the wealth of Indian spices easily available everywhere. Any recipe can turn out to be a great dish with your effort. Using spices and ingredients in different ways is what cooking is all about.

My recipes are quite descriptive since every step of these recipes was detailed to achieve the right taste and flavor. However, even with this detail, every effort was expended to make sure readers find it easy and simple to follow. All the recipes have been tried and tested in my kitchen, not just for this book, but over the last few decades.

Lastly, I must sincerely thank readers for trying out my recipes. I am sure your creativity will result in new interesting dishes.


Behind the dedicated efforts to bring this cookbook to its completion, there was an unforgettable and joyful writing and cooking experience. My special and sweetest thanks to my sons—Rishi, Riti, and Gautum—for their constant help, support, and encouragement to see me through organizing this book.

Thanks to my family and friends whose motivation was a driving force to write. I am also very appreciative and thankful to all those who worked closely with me to bring this book to its perfection and made the completion of this project a success. This wouldn’t be possible without their contributions.

Lastly, it is my conviction that anything is possible; you only have to believe in yourself.

Encyclopedia of herbs and spices by Andi Cleverly, Katherine Richmond, Sally Morris, and Lesley Mackley.



(Nina’s Tips)

Traditionally, Indians cook without measurements, but instead get their desired results over time experimenting. All my growing years, I have watched my mother doing the same, and I am following it too. When friends ask for my recipe, I have to look into my cookbook for the measurements, and I cook regularly but have never measured.

I would encourage you to use your own creativity and judgment while trying out my recipes, and enjoy food to your desired taste. Some ingredients have Indian names for the reader’s convenience to buy them from Indian grocery stores. My sincere intention is to pass on the cooking that is fresh, healthy, and tastes like a home-cooked meal.

Since Indian cooking calls for a number of unfamiliar ingredients, it would be helpful to know about them before cooking. Spices are used in the correct order. For example, asafetida or heeng, as we call it, is the first spice to be used before anything else is added; otherwise, it is not going to give the dish the right flavor and aroma. Also, garlic has to be fried a little before other ingredients, or else it will give a raw taste. This was concluded after trying out many recipes in which spices added in a certain order did make a difference in taste and flavor. Keeping that in mind, I have been descriptive in all my recipes so that my readers can give the right taste to the dish.

I recommend you keep small quantities of spices like garam masala, cumin, and coriander that should be lightly browned in a pan and then ground. This prevents a moldy smell in humid weather and increases their shelf life. I must emphasize keeping fresh stock that retains the needed flavor and aroma to your food. I would also strongly suggest making garam masala at home for all my recipes to achieve best results. I personally grind all my spices at home. It only seems quite a chore, but is worth it. Most all spices have a short shelf life, else they lack their aroma and taste.

Ginger and garlic paste can refrigerate well for a week. But if you need to freeze garlic paste, mix a little salt in it. That will allow you to scoop it right out of the freezer. The longer you freeze, the less flavor it retains.

Very often we come across a situation when we added too much salt accidentally. Add 1–2 walnut-size whole wheat dough balls; they will successfully absorb the unwanted salt from your dish. The number of dough balls depends upon how much salt you want to get rid of.

We all try our best to exhaust off the strong smell of fish while cooking, but it still lingers on. Mix 4–5 teaspoons of vinegar in a bowl of hot water and keep it wherever needed. Often we need a small quantity of a spice, wet or dry, and a coffee grinder is a handy substitute for bigger grinders or blenders. To clean and remove the spice odors and stains after use, grind a handful of plain uncooked rice; it will do the job.

Do not use aluminum pots and pans for my recipes because it may not impart the right amount of heat. Any other heavy-based pan will do fine.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the ingredients of Indian cooking since that will make it very easy and interesting. For example, an onion used in different countries for the same recipe gives different results because its water content varies. Eno salt is easier to digest than baking soda and gives the same results. Do consider such variations not only for my cooking but also for other cuisine as well.

Cooking Mediums

(for Indian cooking)

The choice of cooking medium for an Indian cook is varied; the regional availability is one of the major influences, besides the food that it complements. Some cooking mediums have affinity with certain foods to give the desired taste and flavor.

The best example is French food that goes so well with butter as its cooking medium. Similarly, Indian food cooked in authentic ghee taste delicious. It is an established fact that cooking mediums can affect the taste and texture of any food cooked with them.

Fats for cooking purposes are solid fats that are saturated fats, and liquid oils that are polyunsaturated.

Cooking medium plays a vital role in it. Most of my recipes will give good results if cooked with any refined vegetable oil of your choice, unless specified otherwise.

Ghee (Clarified Butter)

Ghee is the purest form of fat available that has high saturated fats like butter. It has a distinctly unique fragrance and taste that cannot be substituted. Commercially sold ghee is easily available, but you can make your own at home.

The heavenly aroma that some of the Indian sweets have is because of ghee. You have to use it cautiously because of its high-saturated fat content, but then overindulgence of anything is harmful. It can be stored for more than a year in an airtight container.

Ghee solidifies into a white soft solid that could be melted easily. Before the invention of refined oils, ghee used to be a major medium of cooking that is now quite limited.

Groundnut or Peanut Oil

The oil is colorless and odorless and is used extensively for cooking. Because the oil is extracted from the nuts that are rich in protein, it has high protein content.

Coconut Oil

It is extracted from the dried kernels of coconut and is used in regional cooking; hence, its use is limited. Otherwise, it is very useful as a hair tonic known to aid in hair growth. I have sweet memories of hair massage with hot coconut oil while growing up.

Mustard Oil

This is pungent-smelling thick oil, rich gold in color, that is also a regional preference besides its affinity with certain foods like fish. The oil has to be heated till it starts fuming, so as to burn away its pungent smell, which happens as soon as it hits that temperature, without burning it. The oil then can be cooled before anything is added to it. If food is added before the oil has reached its peak temperature, it will pick the raw pungent odor of the oil, which is not desirable.

If used correctly, it imparts its distinctive flavor and taste to the food that cannot be substituted by any other oil. It is also used to make some pickles and used as hair and body massage oil. You can buy and store it as it has a long shelf life.

Refined Vegetable Oils

These are extracted from different seeds and fruits like corn, sunflower, olive, soybean, and sesame; besides some others that are obtained from nuts like peanut, walnut, etc. Some of the oils are light, used mainly for salads. All vegetable oils are polyunsaturated and, therefore, are used more than any other cooking medium.


It is a high saturated fat that is either salty or sweet. Although its use in Indian cooking is mostly limited to baking needs, it has been used in some dishes successfully.

A Few Essentials

Homemade Plain Yogurt

Homemade yogurt is very easy to make and my favorite accompaniment. No Indian meal is complete without serving yogurt. My mother used to rub yogurt in my hair as a hair conditioner. We were using fresh, chemical free, homemade, and yet very effective hair tonic. I still sometimes rub fresh yogurt in my hair for its benefits.

Use full-cream milk if thick and chunky consistency is desired. For weight watchers, low-fat milk can be substituted.

Yogurt drinks are very healthy and cooling, especially in hot weather. Lassi, as it is known, is a very popular drink at home and abroad. Commercially sold yogurt makers can be used, depending on the ease wanted by the user. You will need yogurt culture; to make, either buy one sold commercially or use a sample from your previously prepared yogurt. Always leave some for making again.

If yogurt is too watery, either milk was too hot or your culture was not good. Yogurt making is an art that needs a little practice to perfect it.

Serves 4.

2 pints or 4 cups fresh milk

1 tbsp yogurt culture

1. Boil milk in a saucepan. Cool it down. It should be just warm to touch and not hot.

2. Pour it in a round glass bowl (preferably a clay pot if available) with a lid, add culture, and mix very well. Cover with a small baby blanket, and place it in a warm place. This is to maintain a certain temperature needed to set yogurt. Leave it overnight, or at least 6–8 hours, depending on weather conditions. In hot climates, it will set faster. Do not shake or move it while it is setting.

3. Remove and refrigerate. A good set will be

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