When it comes to cooking, nothing beats Indian cuisine. Full of flavour, colour and spice, Indian recipes are easy to follow, fun to cook and delicious to eat! From bhajis to poppadoms, chapattis to samosas, and not forgetting basic curry recipes, there are hundreds of varieties of Indian food available. Kris Dhillion has exposed all his Indian recipe secrets in one book, including how to create the perfect chicken curry. But just what do you need to cook like a professional Indian chef?
1) Herbs and spices
Indian dishes are famous for their heat and flavour, which all come from a vast array of herbs and spices. Restaurant chefs prefer spices that are ground to the finest powder. This can be done at home in a coffee grinder, with the back of a spoon, or with a pestle and mortar.
2) Snacks and nibbles
It is tradition in an Indian restaurant to serve a snack with a drink when waiting for your meal. These nibbles can range from a mixture of nuts and spices, otherwise known as a Bombay mix, poppadoms, sauces and chutneys, and these are all really easy to replicate at home.
3) Curry sauce
This is essential when preparing a curry and is a closely guarded secret among Indian chefs. The sauce ranges from very mild to very hot and is not only used in curry dishes, but also when marinating meat or fish.
4) Starters and side dishes
Aside from your more common onion bhaji and potato-based dishes like Bombay Aloo, meat dishes are an important factor when cooking an Indian starter. These include kebabs and curry side dishes.
All Indian dishes are served with a soft, flat bread, such as naan, chapatti, bhatura or paratha. They make for a delicious added extra and come in very useful when needing to mop up the leftover sauce from your plate!
This is probably the most common choice of Indian food. All curries are cooked in a large, deep frying pan, to make sure the food is in contact with a hot surface at all times. This speeds up cooking time and allows the sauce to thicken. A large amount of oil also helps bring out the flavour of the dish and creates the right texture in the sauce. Certain curries are known for their distinct colouring – chicken tikka masala, for example, is generally almost red. Using artificial or natural food colourings such as turmeric or paprika will help you get these results at home.
It is not all about the meat-based curry when it comes to Indian food. There are vegetarian options available like the chickpea-based Chana Aloo. A great alternative if you’re a fan of Indian, but not so much of a meat-eater!
To add substance to your dish, rice is the perfect accompaniment. Indian restaurants use basmati rice, which has a nutty aroma to complement the curry, as well as being suited for sweet dishes. Basmati can be expensive however, so there are other variations of rice available.
Used to tenderize meat and fish, yoghurt helps the flavour stick. It is also used as a cooling side dish.
For lots of great restaurant quality recipes, read The Curry Secret: How to cook real Indian restaurant meals at home (£7.99, Robinson) by Kris Dhillon