Indian cuisine is a labor of love. It's expertly spiced, fully aromatic and incredibly satisfying -- especially this time of year when we could all use a little extra heat on our plates. Unfortunately, most of us have only tasted Indian food as a quick and cheap take-out option. And that surely does not do this rich cuisine any justice (that is, unless you have an amazing take-out place near you, and if so, please do tell). Some of us don't even have the convenience of Indian restaurants nearby, and sadly miss out on this entire culture's fragrant dishes.
While many home cooks have browsed through Indian recipes, many of us were deterred from ever trying one in our own kitchen -- usually because of the unknown and intimidating ingredients on the long list of them required. Well, it's high-time we remedy this sad situation. Once you stock your cabinet with a few essential spices, an entire collection of recipes will become available to you. You can plunge into these recipes fully equipped to come out with an amazing Indian dinner with a quick overview of less common Indian ingredients.
Garam masala is a blend of spices which varies according to region. A typical version includes a mixture of peppercorns, cloves, malabar leaves, mace blades, cumin seeds, black pepper, cardamom pods, nutmeg, star anise and coriander seeds. You can find garam masala at most grocery stores, but certainly at any Indian market.
Another spice commonly found in Indian cuisine is tamarind -- it's the pulp of a seed pod and has a sour flavor. If you have trouble finding it, you can replace it with lemon or lime.
Ghee is clarified butter, and is used in almost all Indian recipes. Many of the recipes that you find in the gallery below replaced the ghee for butter or oil. Feel free to use the more traditional ingredient if you decide to pick it up.
Other ingredients you should be sure to have on hand are cumin, coriander, turmeric, mustard seed, unsweetened coconut, cardamom and cilantro.
What is your favorite Indian dish? Leave a comment below!