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Old 08-04-2006, 06:15 PM   #11
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Constance I live in Chicago, so still in the midwest perhaps not as interior as you. Indian food is an acquired taste so you are not alone in not wanting to try it or experimenting with it. It's also not something that is widely shown on television here as it is in Britian so Americans are not into it as much as Italian or Chinese for example.

It's a huge misnomer that Indian food is all curry and all spicy and all mixed with coconut and I am not sure what Floyd depicted but I find some of these shows and tours of the country a bit off as far as food and a bit exaggerated (strictly my opinion). I actually seldomly cook with coconut milk. Just like any other cuisine Indian food changes with the part of India you travel to. The coastlines use more fish, shellfish, coconuts, chili's, lime and pungent spices. The northern states make preparations that are milder, creamier and use more tomatoes, cream and yogurt along with nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.)

Indian food is all about spices. When I refer to spices I don't mean hot but fragrant and pungent - like black peppercorns, cumin, corrainder seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, fenugreek and the list goes on and on. If you like spices you will most likely like Indian food. If you are a salt and pepper person it's difficult to appreciate the depth of flavors in Indian food.

I have a lot of mid-western friends who have eaten nothing but salt and pepper. I have a lot of them who have tried Indian food with an open mind and not appreciated it. Then they have tried it some more and now a few enjoy it so much that I am asked to always bring food for them or prepare them for our little cooking sessions together so that they can freeze some or keep some and enjoy it for days. One of my friends husband who had tried nothing all his life but salt (not even pepper) always waits for me to visit them and bring them food.

I don't think recommending a dish would do justice to this cuisine. I think if I were to recommend I would say buy some whole spices - cumin, corrainder, chili powder, turmeric powder at a minimum along with whole spices like cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorns, cardamom and make a spice blend. Sprinkle some on potatoes that you cook or any other veggies and see if you like the flavors. If you do then you will be ready to try something that is a bit more adventurous and that combines these spices with others like garlic, ginger, yogurt, tomatoes etc.
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Old 08-04-2006, 06:28 PM   #12
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Constance I think the best way to get a grip on what this cuisine is like is the next time your in Chicago or other good sized city get a city guide and go to an indian restaurant that serves a buffet for lunch.Its a really good way to try a little of alot of dishes.Thats what I did and I was hooked I actually cook indian food every now and then.I have a little book called {Curries with out worries} its a good starter book.I have a few other books but this one gets you started on the basics like Tandoori chicken,sag gosht and so on.
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Old 08-04-2006, 06:56 PM   #13
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A friend on a yahoo cookbook collecting group asked about a recipe from Floyd's India just this morning. She was hoping someone might have the companion cookbook to this series and be willing to share the Mango-Chile Sorbet recipe. She searched the travel channel website to see if there were any reicpes there but there were none. If anyone has this recipe by any chance would you please email it to me. TIA
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Old 08-04-2006, 07:27 PM   #14
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Beautifully and diplomatically phrased, Yakuta!
I've been cooking "Indian" food for over 30 years, and still consider myself to be a pathetic amateur when it comes to spices. However, I'll tell you one thing I'm positive about - FORGET "curry". Forget what you eat in the local Tandoori Inn, or the Hindu Kush, or the Punjabi Dhaba. Whilst a good number of the available dishes are Indian, I feel they're cooked "Western-style".
Madhur Jaffrey and Julie Sahni have been my inspiration when cooking. Since I'm almost completely vegetarian, Indian food is a natural inclination, too - there are over 800,000,000 vegetarians in India...
I'd start with something very simple. Go to your local Indian grocery and buy some cumin (jeera) seeds; some coriander (dhania) seeds; some turmeric (haldi) and some fenugreek (methi) seeds.
Take a piece of chicken and marinate it for at least two hours in yoghurt, garlic cloves, a tsp of salt and ground up cumin seeds. Fry it gently until barely cooked, then set aside.
Fry an onion in some fat ( Indian cooks often use ghee, but other oils are also used) and, when it just translucent, add 2 tsps ground coriander seeds, 1 tsp ground cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and stir. Add water, stir to mix, bring to a simmer then add the chicken. Cook through until the sauce thickens and the chicken is completely cooked. You may add some diced tomatoes to the sauce.
This recipe does not have hot pepper in it, but if you enjoy chillies, by all means add one or two ( or three, in my case.)

Here's another that I LOVE. Parboil a few potatoes. Set aside and chop roughly. Fry a little onion in some oil, along with two or three garlic cloves - gently does it. Add a tsp of whole cumin seeds, a little chilli powder ( as much as you like) , half a tsp of whole fenugreek seeds and a half tsp of turmeric. Stir once then add half a cup of grated coconut.Add the potatoes, about 5-6 chopped tomatoes, half a cup of water, stir a little, tsp salt, then reduce the heat to minimum and put a tight-fitting lid on the pot. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, inspecting occasionally to ensure the mixture doesnt stick. When almost ready, add 1 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp vinegar. Put the lid on again for 4 minutes, then serve with chicken.

Another very simple one. Do you HATE zucchini? This will change your mind.
Slice the zucchini ( small ones) crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Sprinkle with salt. Put 1 1/2 tsps whole cumin seed into a little pot and place next to the pan. Chopp a little green chilli pepper and do the same, IF you like chilli peppers, otherwise, omit. Heat your wok or frying pan, then put in the oil of your choice ( ghee, in my case) until it smokes. Toss in the zucchini and stirfry for about 2 minutes. Add the cumin seed and the peppers , mix well together and then remove.
Serve with the chicken and potatoes.

For a refreshing salad, mix together diced cucumber, a little coriander leaf, salt, ground cumin seeds and a tub of yoghurt. Chill.
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Old 08-04-2006, 07:55 PM   #15
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Yakuta, I cook with a lot of different herbs and spices, and like to try new things. The only things on your list of suggested spices that I don't have are coriander seeds, fenugreek and cardamom. I have read about cardamom, and it sounds like a flavor I'd like. As for the coriander, I'm not fond of cilantro leaf, but the seeds could be a different matter.
I think the problem with the cilantro is that I grew some one year. When I harvested it and brought it in the house, the scent was so over-powering, and unattractive that it made DH and me both about half sick.
I didn't know anything about fenugreek, but I found this:

http://www.foodreference.com/html/artfenugreek.html
Sounds like an interesting spice.

I shall take your advice, although I may use rice instead of the potato to try the flavors.
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Old 08-04-2006, 10:43 PM   #16
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Hi Constance, looks like you are already there. The flavor of corrainder seeds and corrainder leaf aka cilantro is not the same. So you can still cook good Indian food without cilantro. Cilantro is mostly used as a garnish in a lot of dishes and can be substituted by chives for example.

I like some suggestions that Clive made. I would recommend making this one dish with fish (if you like fish) and tell me how it comes out. It truly is simple and will hopefully get you a subtle introduction to Indian food.

Tilapia Fillets - 4
Dry Roast 2 tsp of cumin seeds, 2 tsp of whole corrainder seeds and 2 arabol chillies (available at any grocery store). Once a nice aroma develops powder them.
Take a cup of plain yogurt (any kind) in a large bow, squeeze in a lime, add salt to your liking, pinch of red food color or paprika (2 tsp) and the entire spice mix you made. Add 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger to this and then add the fish and let it marinate for an hour in the fridge.

Take a few sprigs of fresh mint, get the leaves out, pile it and chiffon it. Add this to the marinade at the last minute.

Place the fish and marinade in the oven or pan and cook it until the fish is done, remove the fish and cook the marinade down to thicken it, pour it over the fish. Serve it with fresh lime quarters and some sliced onions.


Clive,

You mentioned zucchini, try making it this way:

Slice zucchini into rounds
1 tbsp of mustard seeds
1 green chilli finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 sprig of curry leaves
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of corriander powder
1/2 tsp of turmeric
salt to taste
juice of a lime
cilantro for garnish
1 tbsp of oil

Add the oil, when it's hot, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and chili. Next add the garlic and saute it for a few seconds. Now add the zucchini and all the dry spices stir, cover and cook on low until the zucchini is done. Squeeze with some lime, garnish with cilantro and serve with roti's.
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Old 08-06-2006, 07:31 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yakuta
Hi Constance, looks like you are already there. The flavor of corrainder seeds and corrainder leaf aka cilantro is not the same. So you can still cook good Indian food without cilantro. Cilantro is mostly used as a garnish in a lot of dishes and can be substituted by chives for example.

I like some suggestions that Clive made. I would recommend making this one dish with fish (if you like fish) and tell me how it comes out. It truly is simple and will hopefully get you a subtle introduction to Indian food.

Tilapia Fillets - 4
Dry Roast 2 tsp of cumin seeds, 2 tsp of whole corrainder seeds and 2 arabol chillies (available at any grocery store). Once a nice aroma develops powder them.
Take a cup of plain yogurt (any kind) in a large bow, squeeze in a lime, add salt to your liking, pinch of red food color or paprika (2 tsp) and the entire spice mix you made. Add 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger to this and then add the fish and let it marinate for an hour in the fridge.

Take a few sprigs of fresh mint, get the leaves out, pile it and chiffon it. Add this to the marinade at the last minute.

Place the fish and marinade in the oven or pan and cook it until the fish is done, remove the fish and cook the marinade down to thicken it, pour it over the fish. Serve it with fresh lime quarters and some sliced onions.


Clive,

You mentioned zucchini, try making it this way:

Slice zucchini into rounds
1 tbsp of mustard seeds
1 green chilli finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 sprig of curry leaves
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of corriander powder
1/2 tsp of turmeric
salt to taste
juice of a lime
cilantro for garnish
1 tbsp of oil

Add the oil, when it's hot, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and chili. Next add the garlic and saute it for a few seconds. Now add the zucchini and all the dry spices stir, cover and cook on low until the zucchini is done. Squeeze with some lime, garnish with cilantro and serve with roti's.
That looks to be right up my street! Thank you!
And just as a PS - what a difference the lime juice makes at the end!!
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Old 08-06-2006, 08:20 PM   #18
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Jpm, I live 350 miles south of Chicago...I'm less than an hour from Paducah, Ky. We are "hillbillies".
I used to travel a lot, but now don't get around so well, so we usually don't venture too far from home anymore.
I could honestly get around better in a wheel chair, but that would be giving up, and I'm not ready for that yet.

Clive, you and Yukuta have my mouth watering! Other than coconut, these are flavors sound wonderful to me. In fact, many of them are spices I already use, though in a different way.
(If I leave the coconut out, it might not be authentic, but I'm sure it will still be delicious.)

I am copying and saving all of your recipes.

Many thanks...
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Old 08-06-2006, 10:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Constance
Clive, you and Yukuta have my mouth watering! Other than coconut, these are flavors sound wonderful to me. I am copying and saving all of your recipes.
Many thanks...
Constance, firstly, coriander seeds are totally different from the leaf. In my opinion there's a very slight orangey flavour to them - I have combined them with citrus fruit to good effect.

As for playing with the spices, it seems to me it's like the quest for eternal life. Just when you think you've got it off pat, someone comes along with a new, different, more tasty combination so it's back to square one!
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Old 08-07-2006, 08:38 AM   #20
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Oh, I love this. Yakuta has helped me many times. Yes, people do tend to think that everyone in Illinois is in Chicago and has Chicago resources. I live 3 hours from Chicago and have only been there a few times. BUT I do have a Pakistani/British(100% American) couple who live there and can bring me ingredients when I need them. Once one of them went from store to store in Chicago to find me some Harissa (my husband has since learned to make it himself). I think this shows how food can be a great binder to keep people together. The nice thing about Galena is that we have a great little spice/tea store. I've taken friends from all around the world there to pick up spices so they could cook for us.
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