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Old 12-30-2008, 08:56 AM   #1
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Indian cooking and oil

I got an amazing Indian cookbook for my birthday and I've been trying everything -- I even ordered all the spices to do it. These recipes represent the whole of India and most of the curry recipes use copious amounts of vegetable oil; for example, the Sambar curry I made this evening uses 1.5 cups of vegetable oil. I can't bring myself to use that much and at most I'll use 1/3 of a cup. The oil is always flavored by cooking said spices in it BEFORE adding anything else, and so here's my question:

Do you think that using less oil extracts less flavor from the spices?

I'm asking because the dish I used tonight had a lot of Hing, a very odorous spice, but I couldn't detect it in the curry.

BTW, if anyone can recommend a good site that deal with Indian cooking, I'd appreciate it.

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Old 12-30-2008, 09:36 AM   #2
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Hi whole milk I am not sure what cook book this is and why it's asking you to use so much oil. The amounts you have posted do seem outrageous. I am Indian and cook Indian food and I use much much less oil.

You can use for example use 2 tbsp in sambar and that's enough to temper the whole spices. You can use approx 1 to 2 tbsp in almost everything. Also the key is to heat the oil until it smokes, then reduce it and then put the whole spices so they really get a chance to temper in the hot oil and you need less oil.

Finally you can also use any type of oil not just vegetable oil as the recipe says. I normally use only olive oil in curries and canola oil for any fried recipes like samosas. The spices used in Indian food are so strong that you cannot really taste the flavor of the oil that's used to cook it.

I don't know any good Indian sites on Indian cooking but I my favorite book on Indian food is the one by Charmain Solomon called the complete asian cookbook. She is not a native of India but I love the authencity of the recipes in her book. I also like Madhur Jaffrey, her recipes are from the western part of India (gujarat) and I like that type of food.
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Old 12-30-2008, 10:05 AM   #3
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Thank you very much for the info!

I live in Japan and the book is written in Japanese for Japanese, if that explains the amount of oil, or not, I don't know, but I'm really glad it's not the norm.

BTW, do you know how to make Pav Bhaji Masala? I want to try Aloo Paratha but the recipe says to use a mix and there are none here; I haven't been able to find one on the Net, either.

I'll look up the authors you recommended.

Thanks a lot,
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Old 12-30-2008, 11:05 AM   #4
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Hi wholemilk, you don't need pav bhaji masala for aloo paratha. You can make it with whatever spices you have handy. Here is how I make it:

- Make the dough - Just some wheat flour, salt and water and knead it until it's nice and soft. Let it rest for atleast an hour

For the potato filling:

Boil 4 large potatoes until tender, peel and mash and keep on the side.
Make a spice blend as follows - Some cumin seeds about 2 tsps, some corrainder seeds about 2 tsps, dry roast on a skillet and powder
1 green chili finely chopped
1/4 inch ginger grated
salt to taste
1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
Add 1 tbsp of oil to a pan, when it's hot, add the green chili, ginger and spice mix along with turmeric, let it saute for a minute until the raw taste of the spices go away. Now pour the hot oil (spices and all) into the mashed potatoes. Add salt, some lime juice and freshly chopped cilantro to the potatoes, mix it all together.

Now roll the dough, put a little mashed potato mixture in the middle. Cover with the dough into a ball, roll like a small pan cake and roast in a griddle on both sides. Enjoy with some plain yogurt.
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Old 12-30-2008, 05:47 PM   #5
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Thank you much Yakuta.

I'm going to be making this this weekend.
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Old 12-30-2008, 06:15 PM   #6
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Here (Manjula's Kitchen)is a video demonstration of parathas that I found very helpful. Yakuta posted another paratha recipe (here) too.
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Old 12-30-2008, 07:14 PM   #7
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Thank you VERY much, I've been looking for a site like that for a few months. When I've searched for websites on Indian cooking I get millions of hits and it's difficult, for me, to sort out the wheat from the chaff, if you know what I mean.

Cheers,
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Old 12-30-2008, 07:30 PM   #8
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It would depend what part of India you are talking about. There are several cuisines in India.
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Old 12-31-2008, 08:25 AM   #9
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First you decide whether you will like veg or non veg.

If you like veg then North Indian & South Indian cuisine good, if you prefer fish then try Bengali cuisine and if meat then try Moglai.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:49 PM   #10
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Old 01-02-2009, 07:30 PM   #11
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Well, I need to cut back on the calories, so I'm doing a lot of vegetarian cooking these days. I'm really asking about peoples favorite combinations, I know India's cuisine is vast -- much, much broader and diverse than American cookery -- but people still have their favorite matches and I'm willing to try all things delicious.

Cheers everyone.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:04 PM   #12
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hi whole milk I am from India and expert in indian cooking.I don't feel u need to put that much of oil.A good and tasty food is one which is tasty to palate and nutritious too,if so much oil is added then there won't be any taste of spices but only oil you will be tasting.I think u shd discard the book that u have...I have my own cooking blog where u will find many indian recipes,wanna have a look,below is the link.So enjoy healthy cooking and healthy eating:-)
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whole milk View Post

BTW, if anyone can recommend a good site that deal with Indian cooking, I'd appreciate it.
I love Indian food but was always scared to try cooking it. But then I had an Indian dish that I had to have again. But my home town does not and any place to eat Indian food. So I searched for the recipie. Found it on You Tube. Lots of great Indian recipies for some great chefs.

Now I am experimenting with Indian food. A coworker on my current project is Indian. He says most of the things I cook are real. But he does want more heat.
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:53 PM   #14
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I agree, way too much oil. You can do with much less.

Indian cooking is awesome and for those wanting more vegetables, what a source of great meals.

As you heard above, one difference in Indian cuisine is cooking your spices first so that their flavors meld and temper and go throughout all the items in the dish.

Please share all your favorite recipes and ideas on this cuisine.
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:36 AM   #15
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Hello Whole Milk,
Indian food does not always have to be oil & fat heavy.
I have logged my own experiences tips & tricks to go oil free/low fat in the popular indian dishes and those low fat recipe versions in my fat free Indian cooking blog. Have a peep there for the answer to many of your questions.
Thanks
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Old 03-01-2009, 01:25 PM   #16
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I just Googled "sambar recipe" -- the first one on the list calls for 2 teaspoons of oil, the second one uses only a tablespoon. That makes me wonder about the book you have; perhaps it's a little too authentic or old-fashioned for modern health-conscious cooks.

You're obviously very fluent in English, so I would suggest you try to find one of the cookbooks written by Madhur Jaffrey (in English). Excellent recipes, much more healthful than what you've described.
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Old 03-10-2009, 03:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yakuta View Post
I don't know any good Indian sites on Indian cooking but I my favorite book on Indian food is the one by Charmain Solomon called the complete asian cookbook. She is not a native of India but I love the authencity of the recipes in her book. I also like Madhur Jaffrey, her recipes are from the western part of India (gujarat) and I like that type of food.
Yes, Madhur Jaffrey is a really good place to start - her recipes are absolutely excellent, and very authentic.
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:13 AM   #18
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Whole Milk, if you want to dabble in vegetarian cooking, Indian, to me, is the way to go. There are so many recipes you can just delete the meat from. I'm with Yakuta (who is my guru for all foods Indian), just a couple of tablespoons of oil will do it. I use peanut oil simply because I keep it on hand for stir fries and fried rice. But all the lentil, split pea, and chick pea (garbanzo) dishes are high in nutrition and very filling. If you can get it, buy some basmati rice; it has a different flavor and texture from the rice more common in other cuisines. The rice with the above mentioned legumes makes for very filling, nutritious meals when you want to skip meat for a day or two or three a week. Add a salad and you're in business. Also, to the leftover legume-based curries (dals and others) you can add some water or broth to the leftovers the next day and have a great bowl of soup.
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Old 04-01-2009, 04:31 AM   #19
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Thanks for all the advise, everyone.

I've been reading lots of different blogs out there and playing a lot in my kitchen. You're right about the amount of oil but that is what the book says. I'm guessing it's because these were recipes from restaurants, I'm not sure. Anyway, I'm think I'm ready for a new book on Indian cooking. I'm especially looking for vegetarian dishes and different bread recipes and the stories behind them -- I love the variations with Indian flat breads like Aloo Paratha, Puran Poli, and Parotta / Lachcha Paratha. It'd be nice to more about their history and the places their from.

Any suggestions?
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:34 AM   #20
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India is a big country and every region has it's own cooking style. You are better off getting books that focus on each regional style.

South Indian Recipes
Gujarati Recipes
Maharashtrian Recipes
Bengali Recipes
Mughlai Recipes (North Indian dishes are heavily influenced by this style of cooking)
Goanese Recipes
There are many others but these are the main ones I can think of

If you go by just bread recipes each region has their variation on it. So for example Puran Poli. I have eaten various variations of this. It's a sweet bread but in some cases it's made super thin almost like a thin pastry (I prefer that) and in other cases super thick and chunky. Same with aloo paratha, in gujarat they add different ingredients (mustard seeds for example) to the recipe than they may in moghlai/north india (mustard seeds are not used in north indian and muglai cuisine as much as it's in gujarat).

Hope what I stated makes sense.
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