food that takes the roof of your mouth off
July 31, 2007 4:27 AM   Subscribe

Looking for good Indian food recipes.

I've cooked Indian food in the past, but haven't been very happy with the results. Whether that's because the recipes haven't been very good or because I haven't acquired the requisite skills for preparation of this type, I can't say. But I'd like to keep trying, and want to find out if any other MeFites have recipes they've liked that they can recommend, be they greatest hits like Chicken Tikka/CT Masala, Aloo Gobhi, Vindaloo, Chana Masala, Daal Makhni, etc., or something completely different.
(I've perused this thread, but would like additional suggestions ... bonus points for recipes on the web, as I don't have easy access to cookbooks at the moment, but no other restrictions apply.)
posted by the luke parker fiasco to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 88 users marked this as a favorite
(First, a parenthetical remark: A lot of what we call Indian food is actually Pakistani.)

For some tasty Indian food, though... Try this from Hansa's Indian vegetarian cookbook - it's one of my staples. I halve the oil.

1 large aubergine (cut in chunks)
3/4lb frozen peas
1tsp ginger (crushed)
1tsp garlic (crushed)
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp cumin and coriander powder
1 tsp red chillies
1 tin tomatoes (liquidised)
5 tbsp oil
1.5 tsp salt
Coriander to garnish

Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds. When they pop and turn grey, add the tomatoes and the rest of the spices.

Simmer for 5 mins. Add the aubergines and the peas. Cook for 20-25 mins on low. Garnish with coriander.

I'm only posting one recipe because you should buy the book. It's the only cookbook I have where following the instructions results in a delicious dish - every single recipe I have tried from it has been great.
posted by handee at 4:39 AM on July 31, 2007

Accept no substitute! (the UK site, where there be reviews).

The recipes suggest grinding your own spices. I can buy in ready ground in bulk where I live so it's not something I generally bother with. Worth it if you're hosting and want to impress though, the taste difference is as significant as the book mentions.
posted by vbfg at 4:41 AM on July 31, 2007

What I've said on other Indian cooking threads is that you need to get comfortable producing and using massive amounts of garlic and ginger paste. Also, you need to be comfortable browning sliced onions in oil to a point far darker than would be appropriate for European-style foods. These are the underpinnings of good desi flavor.

For example, handee's recipe above is a good one, but if you're going to use a whole eggplant and a whole can of tomatoes (whatever size), you're going to want a lot more than one teaspoon each of ginger and garlic. More like 4 tablespoons each.

I know this isn't on the web, but I really like Suvir Saran's book, and you should at least get it from the library if that's available to you.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:46 AM on July 31, 2007

My SO has been attempting to perfect his curry for a while now. For a long time, whatever we did with the spices, he just could not get it to taste like restaurant-quality, fantastic, curry.

Then we decided to stop being wusses and get some shrimp paste like many of the recipes you can find online call for. My gosh, it was a difference of night and day! Now, his curry is restaurant-level quality, with just the right bang in the flavor. (and, according to the ingredients, there isn't actually any shrimp in it! All our Western queasiness was for nothing!)

You can probably find shrimp paste at any Asian market. I know this isn't a full recipe, but trust me: shrimp paste will turn your food into complete deliciousness.
posted by Ms. Saint at 4:49 AM on July 31, 2007

This is our favorite Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.
posted by nimsey lou at 5:11 AM on July 31, 2007

Here are a few weblogs that focus primarily on foods of India that I am particularly fond of:

Mahanandi -- I believe the author is originally from Andhra Pradesh, and currently lives in Seattle.

Saffron Trail, in Mumbai.

Tigers and Strawberries also has a lot of good material on Indian cooking.

A book I found useful for getting started cooking Indian and Indian-American food regularly at home is Indian Home Cooking, by Suvir Saran, who runs the restaurant Dévi in New York. The book is less interested in showing you an "authentic" snapshot of a particular regional cuisine or in teaching you to replicate restaurant meals than it is in giving you the dishes that he cooks in his own home kitchen, today. The recipes are clear and user-friendly. Some are online here.
posted by redfoxtail at 5:48 AM on July 31, 2007

(That's the same book rxrfrx mentioned, but I wanted to say a little more about it and point out that at least some of the material is online!)
posted by redfoxtail at 5:53 AM on July 31, 2007

This recipe for Spicy Indian Dahl came out great on my first attempt. Lots of room for experimentation based on individual flavor/spiciness meters.
posted by gwint at 6:11 AM on July 31, 2007

Just as a warning, if you find English recipes then be aware that the strength may differ significantly from what Americans may expect. I've known several Americans who've wandered into English Indian takeaways and ordered from the hot end of the menu only to find them several orders of magnitude hotter than they expect.

Of course, I have no idea which is more accurately Indian...
posted by twine42 at 6:17 AM on July 31, 2007

I'm a big fan of Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking.

I've also had good luck with some of the stuff from this site, particularly the chicken makhani.
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:54 AM on July 31, 2007

"...and a small aubergine."

make y'self some pau bhaji, this is the best street food in the world.

and try just about anything else from here, easy and delicious. also worth looking here.

dosa is wonderful, but not the easiest thing to make at home.

in any case, freshness of spices IS the key. you want to temper and/or grind them yourself, it makes a world of difference (altho there are certain things, e.g. aforementioned pau bhaji, where even the best pau-bhaji-makin-auntie-machines all agree (and so will your taste buds) that you should use a store-bought masala)
posted by dorian at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2007

Madhur Jaffrey's books are great and easy to follow. An Invitation to Indian Cooking is a classic.

Julie Sahni's cookbooks are also quite good and give easy to follow directions.

Mahandi (mentioned above) is a very thorough Indian cooking blog. And I've found that she'll answer any questions.

Priya's Kitchen is another Indian cooking blog. She often shows detailed pictures and her recipes are very good.

If you are in the US you should check out the asian grocery stores for good quality and cheap spices.
posted by sulaine at 7:28 AM on July 31, 2007

Quick Indian Cooking - a food / cooking blog with easy recipes and easy to follow explanations
posted by darsh at 7:30 AM on July 31, 2007

Neelam Batra also has some very good books. The Indian Vegetarian is one I like best.
posted by elendil71 at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2007

Listen to rxfrx. Brown your onions and use tons of garlic and ginger. (Your local Indian grocery, or somewhere like Kalustyan's online, will sell you jars of garlic/ginger paste. I prefer using fresh garlic but I'm too lazy to grate my own ginger and use a paste.) Also, don't skip steps like frying the spices in oil until they pop. And using real ghee, again easily purchased, makes a huge difference too.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:56 AM on July 31, 2007

I enthusiastically second sulaine's recommendation of Julie Sahni's cookbooks. They are the ONLY cookbooks I use for Indian food, and they are absolutely amazing.

I also own the above-mentioned Suvir Saran cookbook and have found it, at best, adequate. The corresponding recipes in Sahni's cookbooks are infinitely superior.
posted by fuzzbean at 9:56 AM on July 31, 2007

CunningLinguist, have you tried Microplane graters? I use this Fine Grater with the Attachment and it practically turns garlic and ginger into puree in seconds. It works so fast and effortlessly, I hold the grater and attachment over the pan and just grate right into the oil.
posted by junesix at 10:14 AM on July 31, 2007

I have one but just never thought of using it, as I got it long after I had given up grating my own with the old style grater. I'll absolutely try it, thanks!
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:03 AM on July 31, 2007


doesn't work on ginger (fibrous!) but oh man it minces the ever-loving hell out of garlic... thingy. it's not quite as ron-popeil-easy-to-use as claimed, but in my opinion it still works a treat and there is not any waste.

also: microplane.
posted by dorian at 12:21 PM on July 31, 2007

Pop your ginger in the freezer first and it becomes incredibly easy to grate.
posted by redfoxtail at 1:31 PM on July 31, 2007

My parents are from way south in India. This book on vegetarian cooking is the most authentic I've found for that region. It's pretty spicy, and depending on the type of chilies that you use, could take your mouth roof off.

BTW, to piggyback, I'm a meat eater, but I've been unable to find a good (way) South Indian non-veg cookbook. Suggestions anyone?
posted by bluefly at 1:45 PM on July 31, 2007

prefer using fresh garlic but I'm too lazy to grate my own ginger and use a paste

If you have access to a Cuisinart, I find that buzzing some roughly-cut, skinned ginger with a little water or oil makes a perfectly good paste, without any grating necessary. I put the garlic in there too.
posted by rxrfrx at 2:12 PM on July 31, 2007

Sorry to continue this derail, but does the resulting paste keep, I mean if you use oil? Can I make a big mess of it and keep it on the fridge door?
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:35 PM on July 31, 2007

If you want to keep it, fill a baggie, throw it in the freezer, and use it within a few days. Do NOT store it in oil. The jars of garlic in oil you see in stores have been boiled and citric acid has been added to prevent botulism growth.
posted by junesix at 5:00 PM on July 31, 2007

I just bought a 5lb bag of fresh, machine-peeled garlic from a restaraunt supply store — it was $8! It's done wonders for my cooking style (and my breath) when I can reach into the fridge and grab a fistfull of fresh cloves. I also bought tubs of curry paste, butter, and tofu for a third of what they cost normally. I love it when I can afford to be liberal in the application of ingredients.

Go forth and find your local restaurant supply grocery!
posted by blasdelf at 12:25 AM on August 1, 2007

Food that takes the roof of your mouth off? I thought this was a thread on food of a high temperature like Chicken Pot Pie. there any food that gets as hot as Chicken Pot Pie?

But, On a serious note...I don't have the recipe, but if your are in Seattle, The Bombay Grill has Tikka Masala to die for!
posted by rmoore at 9:57 PM on August 6, 2007

Being Indian and a cook here are some suggestions.

Cooking most kinds of Indian food is easy, just takes a little practice. First go stock up on basic spices like Cumin seeds, Coriander seeds, Turmeric powder, Garam masala and black mustard seeds. You don't need much else to start. And don't buy premixed spices (like for example, aloo tiki masala). Also get a jar of ginger and garlic paste while you're there (It's also super easy to grind them up fresh in your cuisinart if you're so inclined).

Don't buy these at whole foods or any similar location. Find the nearest ethnic grocery store (or international food store). They come in plastic bags but transfer them to an air tight mason jar. This will be way more cheaper and the quality will be the same (if not better).

Fresh spices make a huge difference. If a recipe calls for ground cumin then toast it for a few minutes (make sure it doesn't burn) and then grind it in a coffee grinder (same with coriander; other spices are already ground). It will be awesome (trust me). I also have the habit of pre-measuring spices before I start so I add everything at the right time in the right quantities. It's like having a miss-en place.

Go to a bookstore and get a basic Indian cook book. I recommend something like 1000 Indian recipes. If you want to try popular recipes online then look on delicious.
posted by special-k at 11:22 AM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Many months late, but here is Suvir Saran's website, which includes several recipes from his books and links to other recopes of his.
posted by adgnyc at 10:47 AM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by adgnyc at 10:47 AM on November 12, 2007

« Older iTunes added my new music tracks as podcast...   |   Any Scrabble apps for Intel Macs with networked... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.