Indian cooking challenging for classically trained chef

kuan

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Indian food is so good, but cooking Indian food goes against the very grain of myself as a western trained chef. Things like don't crowd your pan, or no wet stuff in hot oil. It's killing me to do it the Indian way but it turns out so much better. I've tried browning the chicken in oil first and for some reason it doesn't work as well as marinating the whole batch and just tossing it in the pan.

Oh my. I just have to get over it.
 

phatch

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I've been hijacking the crisp fried onions as a flavor booster/thickener for stews and gravy. More than just a garnish.

 
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It's killing me to do it the Indian way but it turns out so much better.
I know what you mean. Who woulda thunk they know how to cook their cuisine? :~) The older I get the more I ask "What the hell do I know anyway?". At least the answer doesn't bother me as much as it used to!
 
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I LOVE learning ways to do things that go against everything you've ever been told to do. I LOVE when "never do this" or "always do it like that" can be proven wrong. I suppose that along with gaining more experience and knowledge comes the realization of the vast amount of things yet to know.

My mother in law crowds the pan to sauté her button mushrooms in oil. When I first saw that, I couldn't help but tell her that she was going to end up with boiled mushrooms. She said not to worry. I watched her unfazed expression while the mushrooms started to render water, and she continued cooking at high heat. Little by little the water evaporated, the mushrooms released back the oil in the pan, and they ended up browning nicely in the oil.
 
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Come to think of it I remember making Chicken Tikka Masala (not exactly a dish froze chim India) where I marinated the chicken morsels overnight then carefully removed the marinade from each piece so that I could first brown the chicken pieces then add the marinade to brown it a bit as well then finally started building the sauce. I wanted to have the browned chicken taste as a component of the flavor profile of the resulting dish.
 
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I can totally relate. When I first made a couple Indian dishes I was thinking “that seems weird” but followed the recipe anyway. It worked and if I made changes later I always seemed to go back to the recipe as described. My wife is a chemist and she says to always follow the protocol the first time you do a new experiment and then make adjustments if you thine they are warranted.

Same deal when I was cooking with a distant cousin in Italy. I said I would do something differently and he said “maybe I’m doing it wrong” and gave me a wry smile.
 
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I said I would do something differently and he said “maybe I’m doing it wrong” and gave me a wry smile.
Personally I believe that thinking in terms of "wrong" and "right" is limiting, and while I've been thinking like that for a long time, I am now trying to get away from it, in favor of thinking in terms of what different results I would get from using different methods. In fact I find that many of the things I've at some point or another thought were wrong have been done purposefully by some "genius" chef at some point with great acclaim.
 

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