need help with Indian cusine

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by spice tree, Dec 17, 2004.

  1. spice tree

    spice tree

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    I need help in using Indian spices and cooking. I like cooking and ready to experiment. I live in a small town and also if some one can tell me a good site on net to buy spice and Indian rice.
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Where do you live? Rather than buying on the net, and there are plenty of suppliers, I'd look first to your local communities or nearby communities. Buying in an ethnic grocer is a real treat and the proprietors have all been excited to help me in my selections. Seeing and handling before purchasing helps as well as seeiing things you didn't even know existed.

    It's also nice when you find a new dish and don't have to wait 4-5 days for something to arrive in order to cook it.

    I do have a list of mail order sources, but its dated 1980 in a Julie Sahni cookbook. Way out of date.

    Phil
     
  3. keeperofthegood

    keeperofthegood

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    Hey oh

    Indian is fun. Ah, you mean Indian as in south of Pakistan I am imagining? Or are you talking about traditional foods of the first nations people?

    With Indian food, there is little that you will need that you won't find at your local grocer. At least not to begin with anyway. There are a few oddball spices, you can get those as you get comfortable with Ididan cooking methodes. Realise that spices are a sign of wealth, not of the dish. There are many Indian women that only have a few spices, while others have many. One tool I have found good to have is an electric coffee grinder. I use it to make bean flours. Sifting gives me fine and coarse flours. The primary pea used is lentals, but green or yello split peas are a good substitute. Basmati rice can be subed with any other rice. Rice is essentially rice. Basmati tends to be looser than a lot of rices when cooked. Really though, its a matter of texture more than of taste.

    The biggest barrier to Indian (and any ethnic cooking not your own) is not being in a family of that ethnicity. Like trying to learn a forein language by tape. I would sugest, if you do live near a larger urban center, seeing if there are Indian comunity groups. Here in my hometown, there is offered classes in Italian and Thai and Korean and Polish and the list goes on. You would do well to see if there is such nearby.

    Cook and be well.
     
  4. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    If you can't find the spices you need, locally, try Penzey Spices. They have a website and have most spices imaginable. They also sell a number of Indian spice blends. It is a great way to start out with Indian cooking. I, personally, keep 2 or 3 of their Indian spice blends on hand at all times. If you want to experiment, from scratch then the first thing you should do if find a good garam masala recipe. Garam masala is a spice blend that is used throughout Indian cooking. Recipes are as varied as American BBQ spice blends, some containing 4 or 5 ingredients, some containing well over 10. With all the variation in garam masala recipes you are sure to find one that contains only spices that you can pick up at most grocery stores. In fact, here is one I have used often, its not my favorite, but it is a good recipe and most of the ingredients are pretty available.
    1/4 cup Cumin Seed (preferably whole)
    1/4 cup Coriander Seed (also whole)
    1 1/2 Tbls. Cardamon (in India I believe they prefer the black or green cardamon, but I have used the white that you can find in most spice sections, especially around this time of year)
    2 whole Cinnamon sticks
    1 1/2 tsp. Whole Cloves
    4 each Bay Leaves
    Toast the spices in a dry saute pan until starting to brown and the cumin seeds just start to pop. Dont burn them. Immediately transfer them to a spice grinder (coffee grinder) and grind until fine.
    This is a great all around Indian seasoning that will get you started on your way.
     
  5. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    I've been shopping at Indian markets for almost 30 years and the two brands of Basmati rice that I highly recommend in descending order are ELEPHANT RICE and TILDE RICE.

    When it comes to saffron, ensure that the saffron you buy is grown in Spain. Spanish saffron tastes and IS the best. It's grown in Spain.
     
  6. scott123

    scott123

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    Spice tree, your local library will have a handful of Indian cookbooks. That's a good place to start. Also, if you do a search online (google, webcrawler, altavista, yahoo, etc.) for "Indian Recipes" you'll come up with thousands of hits.

    What is drawing you to Indian Cuisine? Are you looking for something different/something exotic? Are you attempting to recreate food from your favorite Indian Restaurant? American Indian Restaurant food and authentic Indian cuisine are slightly different. There is some overlap, but generally speaking, restaurant style food is a loose interpretration of heavily Muslim influenced North Indian/Punjabi Cooking. Some cookbooks touch on North Indian cooking, but for the most part, it's very difficult to find a recipe that perfectly replicates the dish at your favorite restaurant. Authentic Indian cuisine, on the other hand, is very complex/regional, but if that's what your interested in, there's volumes of information on the subject.

    Phil is right about trying to find a nearby Indian community/grocer. It would make your life a LOT easier were you to find one. Although Indian cuisine relies heavily on spices, it's only one facet of the whole picture. Most of the commonly used fresh ingredients you'll be able to find at your local supermarket (garlic, ginger, onions, spinach, chicken, etc.) but there are a few fresh ingredients that an Indian grocer is invaluable for, like garlic/ginger paste, mustard oil, mustard greens, paneer and others.

    Welcome to the forum.
     
  7. spice tree

    spice tree

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    It was really nice to hear from all of you out there. For last two days I also did some researh and found one site addaspice.com. I loved the site and they infact have all the spices and good rates too. Besides that they have some curry blends which according to them make full meal in minutes without any prior preparations. I have already placed order of spices with them and with that order they are going to send me a sample of their blends. Once I try it out will let you know. You may also look at the site, it is worth it.
    I talked to the people their and they will be coming out with their news letter with easy to do cooking and spice help.