Additional Ingredients

You will need to have the following ingredients on hand for many of the recipes. These can be bought from Indian stores and stored in separate jars with tight lids in a cool place ready to cook a great meal. It makes for a very decorative display and shows that you are well versed in the art of Indian cooking.

Cardamom Pods (Elaichi)
The best-known Indian spice, cardamom has been called “seeds of paradise.” Its sweet aroma and taste stimulate the appetite while adding that characteristic Indian flavor. This spice is used in ever so many dishes and is one of the main flavors in chai.
Cardamom comes in green and white pods. The green ones have a stronger flavor that is perfect for these recipes. You can also buy the seeds only, which can be coarsely ground in a food processor. Store in a tightly closed jar in a cool, dark place.

Cayenne Pepper, Red (Lal Murchi)
Red cayenne pepper makes a dish hot and spicy. There are hot and medium cayenne peppers. The recipes in this book are written for hot peppers, but the quantity in each recipe will result in a medium-flavored curry. You can add more at any point in the recipe. Remember that it takes some simmering to bring out the full flavor, so don’t add a lot at a time.

Cinnamon Sticks or Bark (Tuj)
Cinnamon gives food a warm-chest sensation with a pleasant, sweet aroma. The best can be bought at Indian stores and is made from the tenderest cinnamon bark.These small bark chips release flavor more easily and are more aromatic. Do not buy the coarse, big, curled cinnamon sticks except for making chai.

Cilantro Leaves
(Coriander Leaves, Chinese Parsley or Khotmiri)

This flavorful and aromatic herb is used as a garnish in most of my recipes. It is also used in many chutneys. Grown from coriander seeds, cilantro greens are readily available in grocery stores.

Citric Acid (Limbu Na Phul)

Citric acid can be used in small quantities instead of lemon juice. It has a strong tangy flavor so add carefully, to taste.

Cloves (Laving)
Coconut Milk, Canned
The regular works better than the light variety. Just eat less if you are concerned about calories.

Cumin Seeds, Whole (Jeera) Citric Acid (Limbu Na Phul)
This ingredient is used in most vegetable curries, prawn curries and rice dishes. The seeds can be stovetop-roasted in a dry, nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat for 2 minutes (turn off the burner and keep stirring until cool), then coarsely ground with a rolling pin to make a flavored yogurt drink (chass).

Curry Leaves (Limbdo)
Buy limbdo fresh and freeze the leaves in a zipped plastic bag for immediate use in khadi, dhal and vegetable curries.

Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Seeds)
Fenugreek is used in some vegetable curries. The seeds can be planted, and the greens can be added to vegetable curries. They are called muthia or methi bhaji and are available in Indian stores either fresh or dried.

Gram Flour or Chickpea Flour (Besan or Channa Flour)
Made from hulled ground and split chickpeas, this flour is used for badjias, dhokra and thickening certain curries. Sieve and store in a jar.

Lentils (Dhals)
Dhals are a great protein source for vegetarians. Here are some of the varieties that I like to use:
Yellow split chickpeas (channa dhal)
Oil dhal (tuar dhal)
Moong dhal
Split moong dhal
Cleaned blanched moong dhal
Masoor dhal (non-blanched)
Blanched masoor dhal (pink in color)

Mustard Seeds, Black (Rai)
Black mustard seeds are used in some vegetable dishes, fried until they burst with flavor and aroma. I use the black variety exclusively.

I like to use safflower or sunflower oil because they are light and don’t have a strong odor or flavor. I personally do not like the flavor of canola oil.

Omum Seeds (Ajwan or Ajma Seeds)
Omum seeds are used in vegetable dishes and are well known to aid digestion.
Papadum is available in so many varieties. My favorite way of cooking this delightful, crispy complement to any curry is to place 5 separate pieces in a brown paper lunch bag and heat unsealed in the microwave for 1 minute at full power. Check for crispiness. When ready the papadum becomes opaque and slightly browned.

Hungarian paprika has a mild flavor and is the best spice for adding color.
Poppy Seeds, White (Khas Khas)
White poppy seeds are sprinkled on desserts and sweetmeats and are available in most Indian grocery stores.

The best rice is long-grain basmati rice from Amritsar, India. It comes in various packages, often in burlap bags. The older the rice, the better the flavor. Rinse the rice only once with cool water before cooking to retain the vitamins and nutritional benefits.

Saffron (Keser)
This extraordinary spice brings rich color and a delicate, permeating and memorable aroma even when used in small quantities. To get the most aromatic flavor, place 1/2 tsp (2 mL) in a metal spoon, heat on a burner for a moment or two, then crush with your fingers and soak in 1/4 cup (60 mL) of hot water.
It is said that saffron is more expensive than gold. Thankfully you don’t have to use much of it.
The best-quality saffron is of Spanish or Iranian origin and is dark red with very few or no orange strands. This type has exceptional aroma. Store it in a tightly closed container.

I like to use sea salt, so all the recipes in this book are based on this. Sea salt is less salty, so if you substitute regular iodized salt, definitely use less. Salt always reminds me of Gandhi’s civil disobedience action against the repressive English colonial salt laws.

Tomato Paste
Keep a couple of small 8-oz (250-mL) cans on hand.

If using fresh tomatoes, use the Italian Roma variety. They are better because they are fleshier and have less liquid. Fresh tomatoes are nicer to use in the summer, but you can use canned varities all year round. Crushed or diced canned tomatoes can be substituted for fast cooking.

Turmeric (Haldi)
Turmeric gives food a deep mustard color and adds a bitter flavor. It is used in small quantities in most curries. It is available at grocery stores and can be bought in bulk in Indian grocery stores.

Yellow Food Color Powder
You need only a small container for a few recipes.