Introduction to Indian Cooking

January 8, 2021

Kitchens in typical Indian households are quite sparse compared to what many people are used to and most cooking is done on a stovetop. Ovens themselves are fairly uncommon as, historically, ovens have been used worldwide in order to cook and to heat the home and, as India is a hot country, ovens aren’t needed to provide heat. This may be why ovens are so uncommon outside of the country’s far north.

Foods are often cooked by steaming, stewing or boiling which may also explain the popularity of pressure cookers in the country (they appear in around three quarters of all Indian households). The modern pressure cooker is a French invention that appeared near the end of the 17th century although records show that India has been using a similar piece of equipment 80 years before it’s invention. These original pressure cookers were pots sealed in order to steam foods under pressure. This method is used to cook palaō and biriyāni rice dishes.

The first steps in making curries are somewhat unusual from a western perspective as the cook has to, first, sauté spices in either fat or oil with a paste made from garlic, ginger and oil. The next step is to stir fry meat or vegetables in this mixture before adding small amounts of liquid into the pot and boiling until ready. The spices cooked at the beginning may be removed and added to the finished dish as a garnish.

Other common methods include tālna (deep frying), bhunāo (drying meat in an oven before cooking it) and bhunāna (grilling in a tandoori oven). One colourful technique is dhuanār where spices or ghee are added to a hot tile placed in the middle of the dish. The dish is quickly covered allowing the aromatic steam to infuse with the food.


This article features the following businesses:

Mughal Dynasty

Mughal Dynasty

Classic Indian curries and tandoori dishes served in a smart, long-running restaurant and takeaway.

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