Guide to basic techniques and more about cooking Indian food at home
Basic Indian Cooking Techniques
Bhapa This technique is simply steaming, usually in banana leaves or in foil. This is used in Eastern India and other parts of India for fish and vegetables.
Bhunao/Kasha Process of cooking mainly rich meat dishes in a onion spice base on low heat stirring frequently for a very long time.
Bagar/Chowk or Sambara Process of tempering foods with the final addition of spices and ghee. It is used for most lentil dishes.
Dum-Pukth Cooking in a sealed steam pot, this method is typical of the cooking of Lucknow and is used for rice dishes such as biryanis and pullaos.
Sekhna Process of pan roasting for nuts and griddle breads.
Talna Term for frying both deep and shallow. Tikkas and kababs are cooked this way.
Indian Pots, Pans and Spoons
Crock Pot Immensely helpful for stews that need a lot of slow cooking time. It retains the flavors and lets the stew simmer without any attention.
Heavy Bottomed Skillet This is useful for dry roasting the spices. The appropriate way to roast the spices is to do them in small batches and for a few minutes.
Bhaaji or Sabji Deep-fried vegetable dipped in a seasoned batter – usually made with onion.
Karahi or Indian Wok Usually a smaller cast iron wok shaped pot. The shape of this is extremely useful for deep frying since it transmits the heat evenly.
Pressure Cooker This on the converse end of a crock pot which cuts down cooking time tremendously for beans and other items that take a long time to cook.
Sarashi A pair of metal tongs, these are useful for turning breads and other hot foods.
Steamer or Steaming Pot There are several dishes especially in South India cuisine that need to be steamed, a good pot that allows for this is immensely useful.
Tawa or Flat Heavy Griddle or Pan A good hard anodized one is especially useful for tikkis, Indian flat breads and pancakes.
Coffee Grinder Essential for making spice powders and good Indian cooking is incomplete without the same.
Food Processor Indian cooking entails an enormous amount of chopping, pureeing and pasting. This device is worth its weight in gold in the time it saves.
Grinder Made with special granite stone, grinders are used to prepare many South Indian foods such as idli, dosa, vada, chutney etc. Some of the modern electric grinders also have additional attachment to knead the dough for puri, chapathi, parotha etc. The manual grinder has single grinding stone in the center. The modern electric grinders have two roller stones and the grinding takes place between the roller stones and the stone bottom of the grinder vessel.
Idli Plate Special plate with concave dips where the idli dough is poured and then steamed.
Mixie or Mixer Grinder Mixer grinder is commonly called as mixie by Indians and is used to prepare chutneys, juices, powders (sambar powder, idli chili powder etc), pastes etc. The mixies come with different size and shape jars for different purposes.
Mortar and Pestle A good marble mortar and pestle is useful for the coarse grinding of spices and herbs.