54

The restaurants may be adding asafoetida, a ground root product that adds a savory, onion-y flavor to food. It's very concentrated stuff and smells awful, but once you cook it for awhile it's absolute magic.


32

I make biryani frequently. The recipe I follow differs from your link in a couple of areas. Specifically, in terms of your concern about onion flavor, my recipe uses much more oil, and twice as much onion. I slowly fry two, very thinly sliced, large onions (the variety doesn't seem to matter so much), in 3/4 cup of oil. The onions are cooked until they ...


26

Well, that depends on the individual Thai dish or Indian dish and how it was cooked, of course. But I understand what you're talking about. However, the difference in heat sensations is not due to the kind of pepper employed. It's all about fat, really. Frequently Thai dishes are made with fresh peppers, and have a lot of acid and salt in them (from ...


21

Garam masala is a catch-all term for an Indian spice blend. It has no fixed recipe but is likely to contain a combination of cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay, black pepper, star anise, dried chillies, coriander, cumin and maybe more or less. Blends vary according to family tradition and region. Spices are then dried out and possibly roasted, before being ...


17

Chutney is a fairly generic term, so your confusion isn't too surprising - the definition may also vary from region to region, and it's a loanword. It's generally defined as a condiment consisting of some combination of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and/or spices. (So by definition, it's intended to be paired with other foods.) This means they're usually fairly ...


17

Basically, a chutney is a kind of savoury jam. This is a very simplistic definition though. The main differences between jam and chutney are as follows: The preservation in jam is only by sugar. In chutney, vinegar and sugar are used together, so chutneys are not necessarily sweet. Jam is almost always made with fruit as the main ingredient. In chutney,...


16

When you cook a vegetable, such as a cut up onion, it will release water. The water initially will create an emulsion with the oil in the pan, so you won't see them as clearly separated elements, but the water will also be evaporating. When enough (perhaps all) of the water has dissipated, the emulsion breaks and you see the oil separate from the rest of the ...


16

I'd recommend Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian", I use it all the time. It's certainly what I would call comprehensive; besides containing tons of recipes for everything from entrees to breads to soups, the sections are prefaced with tips on how to improvise or switch up the recipes as desired, including vegan alternatives.


16

They are fried chickpea noodles called "sev". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sev_(food) Usually they are added to street food snacks such as bhel puri and pani puri, for example see what a nice look they add to this panipuri http://food4yourmood.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/pani-puri.jpg I usually buy them in Indian grocery stores, though I would think it's ...


14

Indian food is commonly cooked with ghee (clarified butter), for both religious and flavor reasons. Where ghee is not used, coconut or refined palm oil are common. I can also tell you from experience that Indian food can be made with unflavored vegetable oils (canola, sunflower or soy), without a deleterious effect on flavor or texture.


14

Rule of thumb, dairy in the north and coconut in southern recipes. ie korma wouldn't have coconut Indian yogurt is made with whole milk. As with western recipes, balancing the fat for good mouth-feel is important: yogurt can be a good choice when a larger quantity of liquid is called for. Cream works great when a finishing splash smooths out flavors without ...


14

Hardly - pepper was exported from India before chillis were introduced. Some linguistic subgroups still use it in preference to chillis, and certain dishes use it in preference to (or in addition to) chillies. Ginger's also native (or at least an early import) to India (and while not always used in 'traditional' cooking), I do believe that garlic and ginger ...


13

It sounds like you're assuming that recipes are scientific creations carefully engineered to achieve a precise result. But most "recipes" are an attempt to relay a rather imprecise series of steps based on available ingredients, familiarity, superstition, and habit in a way that is approximately reproducible by someone else. Even within the bounds of ...


12

In India curd means plain yogurt.


11

This spice is called "Kalpaasi" in Tamilian cuisine. I use it in my chicken gravy, mutton gravy and for few vegetarian recipes too. I use kalpasi when I season some of my chutney varieties. It releases a strong curry smell the moment you add it in hot oil. This spice grows inside water wells absorbing pure air (from what I heard from my aunt when I was ...


11

If you are having trouble rolling dough to a uniform thickness then you might consider putting training wheels on your rolling pin until you get more practiced. http://www.amazon.com/Rolling-Hills-Pin-Rings/dp/B000I1ZXBC (I don't know anything about this particular brand.) These rubber bands fit on your rolling pin and act as spacers so you can enforce a ...


11

I would say that Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, with 650+ recipes, has been a source of great inspiration for me. It's comprehensive and boasts a great number of different styles and ingredients. Additionally it's informative, offering a lot of history about the foods, the places they have come from and the people who developed them. It strengthens the "...


11

It is a combination of the marinade (with yoghurt and lemon juice probably being the main factors in the tenderness) and the hot, fast cooking in the tandoor, further enhanced by the use of metal skewers which conduct the heat to the middle of the meat quickly. A good tandoor chef will time the cooking perfectly so that the meat is safely cooked but hasn't ...


10

There is nothing inauthentic about using sugar in an Indian dish, even a savory one. For example, Gujarati cooks often add raw sugar (jaggery) to daal and curries. Quoth Wikipedia: "It is common to add a little sugar or jaggery to some of the sabzi/shaak and daal. The sweet flavour of these dishes is believed to neutralize the slightly salty taste of the ...


10

I was doing some product demonstrations at an Asian market in Portland once, and an Indian vendor treated me to some of his samples brushed with a brownish ghee. I mentioned that I had never seen this kind of ghee before; I was used to a more yellowish, clarified-butter style. He told me "Yeah, my wife hates it when I make this kind of ghee, but I prefer it ...


10

I've had good luck baking naan on an indoor grill. I have an electric one, but you could use a stovetop one as well. Just apply a little butter, ghee, or spray oil, wipe it off, and bake. (Click for larger images) I used an alternative method to make lavash: an inverted wok over a stove burner. You'll need a gas stove to do this one. I applied them dry, ...


10

For whatever reason, the brand of tinned tomatoes I used to buy regularly had somewhat bitter-tasting seeds; the flavour was definitely present in pureed soups / sauces. I used to squeeze them all out by hand, but some still made it into my precious San Marzano tomato sauces. Then I found the perfect tool for skinning and seeding larger quantities of ...


10

As far as I'm aware, the traditional Greek tzatziki doesn't generally include mint at all. It's a cucumber dip that is made of yogurt and sometimes includes dill or mint as a flavoring: Tzatziki (Anglicized: /tsɑːtˈsiːki/ }; Greek: τζατζίκι [dzaˈdzici] or [dʒaˈdʒici]) is a Greek sauce served with grilled meats or as a dip. Tzatziki is made of strained ...


10

Starting with a "random piece of meat" may be part of the problem. Some cuts are more suitable for this than others. If the meat seems "raw", then something is very wrong here. An hour at pressure-cooker temperatures is more than enough to over-cook it. There's no way it could be raw. I suspect that over-cooking is the problem, and that will depend on the ...


10

I'm not sure if this gets at exactly what I'd call an "onion" flavour, but otherwise your experience sounds very similar to mine. I was pretty good at many different Indian recipes, but for the longest time, biryani eluded me. I tried all kinds of different things and ingredients and combinations, but could never seem to quite nail down a recipe that made my ...


9

Try Caraway as a substitute for Cumin. It has a similar flavour profile, just a little more intense. Some people prefer the flavour of Caraway and use it in all their recipes instead of Cumin. I cannot tell you if you will be allergic to this herb, just like I don't know if you'll be allergic to any other herb because you'r allergic to cumin. Caraway comes ...


9

Apparently a lot has changed since this question was first posted exactly five years ago today. Today a simple Google search yields many recipes, a lot of lore, and lots of pictures. Here's one picture I like from DamnFineLife: But, I suspect that one has been very much prettied up for the camera. This one is from the blog Fit Foodie Megha, which does ...


9

Hot, medium and mild are very subjective terms, which is why it is difficult to qualify regional variations in India. I have had palak paneer in north India and south India. Generally, this dish is hotter in south India. I am a south Indian, but have lived in north India for most of my life, and would call the north Indian (traditional) variety medium. Again,...


9

Judging from those Wikipedia articles: Clarified butter is rendered butter, which means that the solids are removed. Beurre noisette is browned butter, which contains the solids. Ghee is slightly-browned (it should have a golden color) butter that is rendered. So you melt the butter till it's golden. Then you remove the solids by pouring the top layer into ...


9

@JoshCaswell's answer is right on the money, you see the oil because the water has evaporated. That actually has nothing to do with the spices being "done". Spices don't cook so they can't be done or not done, the question is whether or not they have released their flavors, and whether there is water in the pan or not is no indication either way. The ...


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