new to indian cooking1

New to Indian Cooking

If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at cooking Indian food but feel intimidated by the variety of spices, don’t worry it’s not as daunting as it may seem. 

When mid-winter arrives, I crave comfort food. While I used to turn to dishes from my childhood, my tastes have expanded over time. Furthermore, in college, I started exploring different cuisines, and Indian food quickly became a favorite. Its wide variety and flexibility make it a great option for experimenting with new flavors and ingredients. However, I was initially intimidated by the array of spices and ingredients required for this type of cooking.

My journey into learning how to cook Indian food began when I met a neighbor from India. At first, I invited her for dinner and made a roasted chicken with apples and prunes, a familiar dish for me but exotic for her. This encounter sparked a connection that would soon blossom into a unique opportunity for cultural exchange.
Subsequently, in exchange for my hospitality, my neighbor, Priya, offered to teach me how to make a basic curry. This simple swap ignited my interest in exploring the world of Indian spices and ingredients. The prospect of learning to cook a new cuisine was both exciting and intimidating, but my curiosity and enthusiasm overpowered any initial hesitation.

My neighbor took me to a small Indian store and helped me to buy my staples. Thereafter, these staples became a base for my future explorations into recipes I was interested in.

Here is what I started with:

  • rice (either Basmati or Jasmin)
  • lentils (yellow lentils (moong dal), red lentils (masoor dal))

Basic spices:

  • garam masala
  • curry powder
  • coriander seeds (ground)
  • mustard seeds
  • cumin (ground)
  • turmeric (ground)

The first recipes I made with her help were:

Indian Moong Dal

Indian Chicken Curry

Remaining ingredients necessary to make these recipes were easily available in my grocery store.

Looking back, I realize that the simplicity and affordability of the staple ingredients were crucial in helping me gain confidence in my Indian cooking skills. A long list of expensive, unfamiliar ingredients might have discouraged me, but by starting with a manageable set of basics, I was able to build my knowledge and abilities over time.

I hope that sharing my experience will encourage you to try your hand at Indian cooking. Don’t be afraid to start small and build your skills over time. Here are two more recipes to get you started:

Indian Butter Chicken

Aloo Gobi



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