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Interesting facts about Traditional Indian Kitchen:Tools,Techniques and Ingredients!
A Brief Introduction To The Indian Kitchen
© Chitrangada Sharan Dec. 2014
All Rights Reserved.
- Once I was in conversation with a friend from a western country, who asked me 'What is unique about Indian cooking and its kitchen?'
- When I started narrating to him, to my surprise, I went on and on. Perhaps I had not thought about this topic at such length and depth earlier.
- There was so much to tell.
- When you say, Indian food, most would think, 'Hot, spices, curries, chapatis, sweets etc.'
- Yes, its all that but much more beyond that.
- To understand this, lets have a look into a standard 'Indian Kitchen.'
- Most Indian kitchens are already equipped with every ingredient and kitchen tools to create delicious Indian delicacies.
- To set up an Indian Kitchen is a lengthy job. Because certain cooking tools are specific, without which it would be difficult to prepare the staple food such as chapatis, parathas etc.
- Similarly certain herbs and spices such as the turmeric, curry leaves, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala (whole and ground) etc. are a must.have in the kitchen cabinets.
Must Have Tools Of The Indian Kitchen:
- Most cooking is done on top of the stove or gas stove. Earlier it was done over coal or earthen stove or wood coal.
- Indians favor cast iron or earthenware cooking pans. However saucepans or frying pans of any materials are being used these days.
- A round bottomed cast iron pan, called kadhai is most commonly used in India.
- A cast iron griddle called a tava, is used for cooking parathas, chapatis, rotis, dosas,pancakes( both sweet and salted) etc.
- Most of the curries, lentils, rice, fried or shallow fried recipes are cooked in medium sized saucepan with a lid cover.
- A wok is now popular for deep frying and also for those recipes which do not need cover, such as pakoras, upmas, samosas etc.
- For preparing curry spices, a mortar and pestle was used traditionally for this purpose. It provides a very fine aroma but nowadays people prefer electric mixers and grinders or food processors.
- Tandoor oven is India's unique cooking technique. A tandoor oven is a clay receptacle, with rounded sides, standing about 1.5 meters high and there is burning charcoal at the bottom as the heat source.
- Tandoor ovens are generally not found in homes but in restaurants or dhabas (open cooking spaces).
- This particular mode of cooking relies on the intense heat inside created by hot coals. Thus you can cook meat, seafood, chicken, naans, parathas etc.
- The food thus cooked is crispy on the outside but soft and juicy on the inside.
- Long, metal skewers are used to place meat, kebabs etc.inside the tandoor to cook.
- These foods are already marinated with special spices and yogurt etc.
- India is a country with diverse culture. As such every state has a different cooking technique and different cooking tools.
- For example South Indian cooking requires Idli maker and dosa tava. And the Gujaratis require special tools for making dhoklas, khakras etc.
- In South India a special round mortar and pestle is used for grinding lentils, rice etc.
- Its not possible to mention all kinds of Indian cooking techniques and the tools in one single hub. But by and large the above mentioned tools are the basic tools.
- You will definitely find a tava (cast iron flat pan), a kadhai (something like a Wok), chakla-belan (Indian style rolling pin), coconut grater, chimta (tongs), kalchi (spatula with or without holes), pressure cooker etc. in every Indian kitchen.
- For making sweets for special occasions, special tools are required.
- Even Indians in India may not be familiar with all the varieties of cooking tools, techniques and cuisines used throughout the country due to the variety and vast range of cooking styles.
Indian Kitchen: Something About Techniques And Ingredients:
- Some of the recipes need lot of prior preparation. For example dosa, idli, dahi wada etc.
- Indian cuisine involves soaking, grinding and slow cooking.
- The Indian cuisine comprises of variety of spices, not only for the flavor, taste or aroma but for its numerous health benefits.
- A special cooking technique is tempering or (tadka/ chownk/ baghar). Wherein whole spices are put in hot oil or pure ghee in lentils or vegetables.
- Whole or ground Coriander seeds, Cardamoms, Cloves, Cinnamon sticks, Fenugreek seeds, Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, Aniseeds, Asafoetida, Bay leaves, black pepper, Turmeric, Sesame seeds, Saffron etc. are almost regular ingredients in the Indian kitchen.
- Whole spices are used for tempering and ground to prepare curry paste.
- Pure ghee is another important ingredient for spreading on chapatis, parathas or for lentils etc. It is a must for preparing sweets such as laddoos.
- Jaggery, curd or yogurt, coconut milk and paste, ginger, garlic, onion are included in the recipes almost invariably.
- Another must have is green coriander leaves, curry leaves, mint leaves etc.
- Besides vegetable oil such as Sunflower, mustard oil is also a favorite among North Indians.
- Chutneys, pickles, papad (papadum), sweets are a must in a regular meal. In some part of India there is a practice to start the meal with sweets while in other parts sweets are served last.
- Sweets are an important part of Indian cuisine. And there is an endless variety of them, differing from region to region, state to state.
- On special occasions, there is a practice of serving Paan (Betel leaf) or Mukhwaas (mouth fresheners, comprising of sweet Aniseed/ Betel nut etc), after the meal is over.
Are you familiar with the Indian cooking tools?
- The Indian cooking and kitchen has evolved and come a long way. Although on special occasions, weddings, festivals you would still see only traditional food prepared in an authentic way.
- Nowadays you can find fusion foods. North Indians prepare South Indian food with their own special touch and the same with South, East or West Indian cooking.
- Not only that Indians have adopted cuisines from different parts of the World and added their own touch to create delicious food.
- So there is the Italian pizza or the Chinese food or the Thai food and others cooked with an Indian touch and they all taste so well.
© Chitrangada Sharan 12th Dec. 2014
All Rights Reserved.
Protected: Please do not copy!
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© 2014 Chitrangada Sharan