An Indian dinner
The art and the pleasure of Indian food
Opinions of an Indian-American blogger
The Art of Cooking Indian Food is a blog that talks about Indian Food and also a life of Indian living in the US. The recipe index is quite unusual for an Italian reader as me.
The temptation to offer an Indian dinner to a friend is strong. “Promoting” foreign food among friends is always a key to the success. It’s a way to chat about foreign culture and being in the lovely status of feeling and freedom that travel, even mentally, could give. But how to choose among a Ladoo, Oma Podi or a Mango Rice? Which foods we can successfully prepare even in Rome or New York?
Let’s ask to Sangeeth.
Hi, Sangeeth. The first question is not very easy, but try to give us an overall idea of the Indian cuisine. And which is the different between Indian food in India and in U.S. or Europe?
Whenever anyone tells Indian Cuisine, the first thing that pops is ‘spices’. Indian food is prepared with a lot of tampering to give a unique flavour. It differs from region to region. I would say it is the most diverse cuisine in the world. As you said it is really difficult to explain Indian cuisine. I have tried my level best to give a broad look of Indian Cuisine.
North Indian – Uses high Diary products like milk, Ghee (Clarified Butter) ,Paneer , Yoghurt etc. Mainly uses Aata (Wheat) in their diet. This also includes Roti, Naan, Paratha (all are varieties of flat bread).
Samosa is a very famous appetizer from North India and also Lentils play a major role in the side dishes.
East Indian – This is famous for its dessert variety. The Sweets like Rasagulla, Rasmalai, Rabdi etc are divine. You can never say a no to them once tasted. Fish is very commonly used in this regional cuisine.
South Indian – The major ingredient is Rice with Sambhar ( A lentil gravy), Rasam (A tamarind gravy) and Pickle will be present in any South Indian dinner/lunch. This cuisine demands more use of coconut and also presents to the world a variety of Breakfast/Tiffen recipes like Idly, Dosa, Vada, Puri, Pongal etc.
West Indian – Uses mostly coconut and millets in their preparation.
Generally Indian Food in US or Europe is mostly mixed. It gives an introduction to all the varieties from different region. But when you ask how it is in India, it is really very different from state to state. It has completely different taste and method of preparation in each state is unique.
As you mentioned, usually Indian food means spices. Which are the real Indian spices? What’s there role in recipes?
Spices play a key role. They give a unique flavour to the food.
The basic Spices used in any Indian Food would be:
- Masala – Bay leaves, Cloves, Whole Cardamom, Cinnamon Stick. You can also use basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, nutmeg.
- For Tampering – Mustard seeds, Coriander seeds, Cumin Seeds, Ginger, Garlic, Onions, Fenugreek seeds, black pepper whole, red chilli whole, Turmeric powder, Curry Leaves.
Note : It is not that every recipe requires all these spices. It varies from recipe to recipe.
Also most of the recipe calls for Cumin and Coriander powder.
In your blog there is even a glossary . Are there some peculiar ingredients in the Indian cuisine?
I can’t say that there is any peculiar ingredient. But can say that few are not used in other cuisines often. Like Lentils, turmeric powder etc.
If we desire to offer friends an Indian dinner, which is a basic menu?
Personaly I would go for a South Indian Menu, as I was born and brought up there. But, I would like to give a variety here. So here goes the menu,
Soup – Lamb Leg Soup (Non-Veg)
Tomato Soup (Veg)
Appetizers – Samosa (Veg)
Chicken Tikka (Non-Veg)
First Course – Naan/Roti
Main Course – Peas Pulao or Vegetable Briyani (Veg)
Chicken Biriyani (Non Veg)
Side Dishes – Panner Tikka Masala
Aloo Gobi Fry
Chicken Tikka Masala
Dessert – Rasamali
I know most of you will be unfamiliar with the recipe names. But trust me, they all taste awesome.
To prepare it, from where we have to start? Which foods could be prepared in advance?
To start with just familiarise yourself with the basic Indian spices. You get them in Indian shops all over the world. Start with a simple recipe like Dal (Lentil Gravy), Roti (flat bread) etc. We have step by step video tutorials in Youtube and Videojug. My favourite is Vahrehvah.com.
where the chef gives a step by step explanation. You can also refer to many of the Indian food blogs. I have given many in my blogroll.
You can prepare Naans, Rotis in advance. In a half cooked state you can store them for a month if you freeze it. Reheat them before serving. Even few desserts like Gulob Jamun can be done the previous day and stored.
Some hints on how to present Indian food in a glamour way at our homes?
In India we use Plantain leaf to serve the dishes during functions. I have attached a picture for you to get a better idea of how it is served. Mostly we eat with our hands. Spoons and Forks have less work in Indian cuisine.
At home you can use fancy vessels add a great look to your dinner/lunch.
You can wear Saree (a traditional Indian dress) and welcome your guests.
Always garnish before serving so that the food looks fresh.
Sangeeth raghunathan introduces herself …
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