Cooking my way around India
March 14, 2013 1:17 PM   Subscribe

I want is to be able to start generating a variety of curries with the ingredients I have to hand, and have them be slightly more authentic than the old apple-sultana-coconut-yoghurt-and-contents-of-spice-rack 1970s British curry knockoff. Is there an internet resource somewhere with the Westerner's Introductory Taxonomy of Regional Indian Cooking?

I've cooked various curries in my time, with a variety of different ingredients. It's obvious that there's a kind of regional taxonomy of curry that I'd love to learn more about.

I'd love to have a short list of "canonical" recipes that everyone in India would recognise as coming from a different well known region, or failing that, a small set of ingredients and cooking techniques that are typical of that cuisine.

Resources I've found so far have either been WAY too long and detailed for me to take in, or so brief that I'd struggle to recreate a recipe. I don't want an encyclopedia, but maybe something a bit more than a magazine editorial!

I'd rather not buy a book, but if there's a really great one for this purpose then I will...
posted by emilyw to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have an earlier version of this book by Madhur Jaffrey. I was a little underwhelmed by the number of recipes, but a lot of the basics are there, and a lot of the book is given over to techniques and basics and equipment and how to pair different foods. I'm sure you could get an earlier edition for cheaper.
posted by geegollygosh at 2:32 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

My own curry cooking tends towards Anglo-Kashmiri restaurant style, so I can't offer any first-hand information. However, these websites look like a good starting point for a huge range of Indian regional cuisines; indeed, I'm tempted to have a crack at some of the recipes myself:
posted by Bodd at 2:58 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

This short list talks about various types of curry dishes and their regions. It's not perfect, but should give you a starting point.

I am making a very weak Americanized version of the "Basic Curry" on the bottom. Onions, cooked on medium for about 8 minutes, then adding chopped garlic and chopped fresh ginger, a can of diced tomatoes and a few generous spoonfuls of Patek's curry paste (chicken masala). I just don't have access to a lot of the required spices here, so I cheat.

I bake boneless chicken breasts on a cookie sheet at medium high (375 F) for about 30 minutes (depending on how thick they are, but not overdone, 35 minutes if they are very thick), first coated in a tiny bit of oil and rubbed with whatever spices I have at hand. Today I had cumin, chili powder, a tiny bit of ginger powder, and some of the generic curry powder sold in stores. I shred with two forks or cut finely with a fork and using the knife to scrape away thin pieces. One large breast gives me enough meat to add to a dish like this.

After the onion/garlic/ginger/tomato/paste bit had cooked for a minute, I added a can of chickpeas, the shredded chicken, and about 1/3 of a large bag of frozen spinach, plus some chicken broth. I have both plain thick yogurt and cream, so I will add a bit of that at the end, plus I have a lime ready to squeeze in case it's too hot.

I've also found that Uncle Ben's makes a brown basmati rice with no sodium that's microwaveable so I'm using that because I am all about short cuts.

What I found helpful in the past was learning about wet masala, which, like the "trinity" in Southern cooking can be a starting point for any recipe. I have tried making my own paneer in the past, sometimes with good success, and sometimes watching it all pour down the drain due to some mistake on my part! I would pick your favorite dish and go from there. For instance, peas and potatoes, it's so good!

Also popular is Manjula's Kitchen.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:07 PM on March 14, 2013

I have 50 Curries of India and I like it a lot. It has regional dishes as well as information on those regions and their culinary traditions. It also explains techniques and how to use spices and what they bring to a dish.
posted by shoesietart at 5:01 PM on March 14, 2013

Although the site itself doesn't break down recipes by region, Show Me The Curry will often discuss the origins of a particular dish in the description or in the video. Although, I'm guessing you're looking for more detailed information than that.

As I've recently started cooking some Indian dishes (using this cookbook), I'll be watching this thread closely because I have the same question!
posted by absquatulate at 7:07 PM on March 14, 2013

I started by working my way through all the styles for which Patak's made curry pastes, mostly with my trusty Madhur Jaffrey in hand, and then did more intensive research into making more sophisticated versions of the styles I liked.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:30 PM on March 14, 2013

Best answer: 660 Curries has something like the taxonomic approach you're looking for.
posted by clavicle at 7:47 PM on March 14, 2013

Response by poster: I have bought the Madhur Jaffrey book and the 660 curries book and started cooking... the results are very tasty so far!

Thanks all.
posted by emilyw at 4:28 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

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