Indian food is an intoxicating blend of delicious spices and herbs. Whether it’s blandoori or grandoori I’m planning on whipping up, these are the very basic Indian ingredients I need to have in my cupboard. I can get a lot of them in the supermarket, but for really good quality and value the best place is the local Asian food store. Not bad for between €20-30:
- Garam masala (mixed spice)
- Coriander seeds/powder
- Cayenne pepper or chili powder
These ingredients will allow you to make authentic dishes:
- Cinnamon sticks (better), powder will do
- Cardamon pods
- Fennel seeds
- Black mustard seeds
- Bay leaves
- Peppercorns (whole)
- Gram Flour
If your Indian neighbour is coming over for dinner and you want to impress, these will give food that little extra:
- Fresh curry leaves
- Fresh coriander
- Ghee (clarified butter)
- Tamarind paste
These crop up in a lot of Indian recipes:
- Coconut milk
- Tin of tomatoes
Here’s a recipe to get you on your way. Although this dish is not traditionally made in India, this fiery curry is so so tasty that it has to be tried. If you want to taste it before you cook it, KonKan, on Upper Clanbrassil Street in Dublin, offer a great Madras for €9.90 takeout. Just tell them how hot you like it.
- 3-4 tbsps vegetable or sunflower cooking oil
- 1 kg lamb, chopped into cubes
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 tsps garlic, ground to a paste
- 1 tsp ginger, ground to a paste
- 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 6 peppercorns
- 6 cloves
- 2 tbsps coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 cup thick coconut milk
1. On a medium heated dry pan, roast the fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and peppercorns until they are slightly dark and aromatic. Remove from heat and grind to a fine powder mix.
2. Place the mix with the garlic and ginger pastes, red chilli powder, cinnamon and 3-4 tbsps of water in a food processor and grind until it’s a smooth paste.
3. Heat the cooking oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat. Fry the onion until golden, add the above masala paste and bay leaf and reduce heat slightly. Stirring often, fry until the oil separates from the spice paste. If required, add water to keep the masala from sticking to the pan.
4. Add the meat and brown it, then add the tomatoes, coconut milk and 1 cup of hot water. Season with salt. Cook until the lamb is soft and the gravy is thick. If required add hot water to maintain the amount of gravy as you cook.
Remove bay leaf and serve with brown or pilau rice and naan bread.