Indian cuisine is such a diverse and exciting way of cooking but it can be quite daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing. A lot of people find that Indian cooking is so useful when they’re trying to stick to healthy eating habits because it’s all freshly cooked and there are plenty of low fat options for you.
The spices in Indian cooking are also very good for you, especially things like Turmeric and Chilli, so you’re getting a lot of health benefits. But people don’t always realise that Indian cooking is healthy because they just picture a takeaway curry but if you cook it fresh at home, it’s great for you.
The only problem is that using those spices can be tricky and if you get the balance wrong, you can easily end up with food that isn’t very nice or is way too hot to eat, so a lot of people steer clear of making Indian food at home. But the truth is, it’s not as hard as it looks once you know what you’re doing and you’ll open yourself up to lots of new recipes.
If you want to try your hand at Indian cooking and you don’t have a clue where to start, here are some great tips to help you along the way.
Get To Know The Spices
The spices are at the heart of Indian cooking so you need to get to know them a bit. A good place to start is with a curry powder that you can get at any supermarket. Just buy yourself a pot and have a read of the ingredients. Supermarket curry powder is simply a mix of some of the most common spices in the right quantities. Having a look at the ingredients will give you a rough idea of what spices go together and in what amounts.
From there, you should head out to a local Indian supermarket (although you can get most of this stuff from any shop these days) and buy a selection of spices. Just open up the bags and have a smell. If you get to know which ones are strongest and what kind of flavours each one has, you can start to learn how to put them together well in a curry.
Try Some Basic Recipes
To get started, try some basic recipes so you can get a feel for the general process of making a curry and get some ideas on how to mix the spices together. There are some great recipe subscription services online that you can use and they’ll send you lots of new recipes to try. This is the best way to start practicing and learning how to make some delicious healthy curries.
Eat At Indian Restaurants
The best way to learn anything is to learn from the experts. If you want to get more ideas about different recipes that you could try or sample different ingredients, you should make an effort to eat out at some good Indian restaurants when you can. That way, you can get an idea of what your curries should look like and you can taste new ingredients before you try them at home. Most of the time, the menu will list the different spice combinations as well so you can get more of an idea about what works well together.
By now you’ll have a feel for Indian cooking and learn about the basic concepts, so now it’s time to get cooking. Learning recipes and practicing is great, but you also need to learn a few basic tips about the cooking process.
Firstly, the onions are a very important part of the sauce. They need to be cooked and broken down properly so they form a good base for the sauce, if you rush this step then your curry isn’t going to be anywhere near as nice as it could be. A lot of people get this part wrong when they first start cooking Indian food because you’ll need to cook the onion for a lot longer than you would if you were making a tomato sauce, for example. It can take as long as 15 or 20 minutes before the onions are ready, so always be patient and don’t try to rush it. You need to wait until they are nice and brown and they’re starting to break down properly before you add any more ingredients.
When it comes to using spices, especially new ones, it’s always best to be cautious. If you go overboard with your spices, it can really ruin a dish. But if you use too little, it will just be a bit bland and you can adjust next time. It’s always better to have too little spice rather than too much, especially with strong flavours like cloves, and definitely with chilli.
It’s vital that you fry the spices off for a few minutes before any of the tomatoes and liquid goes in as well. This will release the flavours in the spices and if you don’t do this properly, your curry can taste bland. Storing the spices properly is very important as well. If you leave the bags open and just stick them in the cupboard, they will lose flavour after a while and your curry won’t have that depth of flavour that you’re looking for. It’s best to use small jars to store them in or buy a proper spice tin to keep them all fresh. If you’ve had them in the cupboard for a while, you might need to replace them.
Salt is essential in curry as well because it brings all of the different flavours together and adds more depth. The salt should go in when the liquid goes in so it can cook through the sauce. Don’t add it at the end as you normally would with most dishes.
Hopefully, this has answered some of your questions about Indian cooking and you should be feeling more confident about getting in the kitchen and trying it out!