Introduction to Indian Food
Indian cuisine seeks a balance of four tastes – sweet, sour, salty and bitter. This goal is based on a 5,000 year-old science that focuses a belief that eating balanced flavors encourages proper digestion and the release of positive, nurturing energy.
The food of India reflects the great variety of Indian life. What Indian people eat depends on the crops raised locally in their area and the ethnic and religious traditions and their lifestyles. On crowded city streets, vendors peddle a selection of tasty on-the-go food such as samosas, a vegetable (or meat) stuffed pastry. Religious affiliations also dictate Indian diets. As a result, people in India eat far less meat than do other people around the world. This emphasis on meatless dining has led to a unique cuisine of vegetarian delights.
Common Spices used in Indian Cooking
- Curry Powder (Yellow)*
- Garam Masala*
Note: Curry Powder and Garam Masala are both Spice blends. They can be purchased in markets or homemade using a variety of spices.
Common Foods Used in Indian Cooking:
- Chick Peas
- Leafy Greens
- Winter Squashes
- Chutneys (a sweet and sour condiment)
The Tiniest Gourmet: Introducing Indian Cuisine with pureed or mashed combinations
It’s simple to add a “Taste of India” to your baby’s food by making Indian-inspired sauces, freezing these sauces in single-serving cubes and adding them to your baby’s pureed or mashed foods.
Coconut Curry Sauce Cubes
Yellow Curry Powder is often associated with Indian cooking. It’s a blend of spices, which vary by region, food, and cooking style. Most Indian curry powders contain turmeric, coriander and cumin. At the market, choose a curry powder labeled “mild” for this recipe.
This recipe uses Coconut Milk which can be found in the Asian section of your supermarket. Coconut milk sometimes separates into a thick layer of white coconut and a watery liquid. Shaking the can before opening can recombine it, but if that doesn’t work, pour the contents of the can into a blender and whirl it, or pour it into a bowl and use a whisk to blend it together.
- 1 (13.5 oz) can Coconut Milk
- ¼ cup Chicken Broth
- ¼ cup Onion, chopped
- 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
- 1-2 Tsp. Curry (mild) Powder
- ¼ tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
Place all contents in a blender and process to smooth texture. Pour into a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour the sauce into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze until ready to use.
Serving: Remove a sauce cube from the freezer, defrost and combine it with pureed or mashed beans, meats rice or vegetables. When first introducing the sauce, try a small amount and work your way up to more. Here are some delicious combinations for awesome coconut curries:
- Lentils, Carrots and Apples
- Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower and Beef
- Brown Rice, Spinach and Chicken
Apple Chutney Cubes
Chutney is a popular Indian Condiment that is made from fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar. It is commonly served with roasted meats or vegetables and curries. It also makes a great snack with cream cheese and crackers.
- 3 large Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1/2 cup Onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup Golden Raisins
- 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Let cool. Pour into a blender or food processor and process to a smooth texture. Pour the sauce into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze until ready to use.
Serving: Remove a chutney cube from the freezer, defrost and combine it with pureed or mashed beans, meats rice or vegetables. At the beginning, try a small amount of chutney and work your way up to more. Here are some winning combinations for tasty chutney-infused dining:
- Banana and Yogurt
- Pork, Butternut Squash and Brown Rice
- Roasted Cauliflower, White Potatoes and Black Beans
- Combine Apple Chutney with Vanilla Yogurt for great dipping sauce
Finger Food: Samosas with Yogurt Mint Dipping Sauce
Popular in India’s cities, samosas are a common street food. Easy to hold and eat, these pockets of dough are stuffed with variety of foods. One the most common fillings is a potato and pea mixture. Samosas are usually fried, but our recipe avoids unwanted fat, by baking them. The perfect time for making samosas is when you have leftover mashed potatoes on hand.
- 1 cup Mashed Potatoes
- ¼ cup Frozen Peas
- ½ tsp. Curry powder
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 1 Package Pizza Dough
- 1 Egg, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a cookie sheet pan with cooking spray. In a medium mixing bowl combine mashed potatoes, peas, curry powder and salt. Set aside. Unroll pizza dough. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 3-inch rectangles. Place a 1-2 Tbsp. of potato/pea mixture on one side of each dough rectangle. Brush egg around the rectangle edge. Fold over the dough over the potato-pea mixture and seal the edges by pressing with a fork or your fingers. Place the samosas on a cookie sheet, and bake until they turn golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with Yogurt mint dipping sauce (recipe below):
Yogurt Mint Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup Plain Yogurt
- 1 Tbsp. Lime Juice
- ¼ cup Fresh Mint Leaves
- ½ tsp. Salt
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Family Recipe: Mulligatawny Stew
Mulligatawny Stew is quite common in India. It’s a simple one dish meal that is served with rice. Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you off – this is a super easy dish to prepare. And the flavor is YUMMY!
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- ½ cup Celery, diced
- ½ cup Carrot, diced
- 1 Onion, diced
- 2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and diced
- 1 Tbsp. Curry Powder
- 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
- 1(15.5 oz.) can Petite Diced Tomatoes
- 3 cups Chicken Broth
- 1-1/2 Lb. Boneless & Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 1 Tbsp. Flour
- ½ cup Coconut Milk or Heavy Cream
- Cooked Brown Rice for serving
In a large stock pot, combine oil, celery, carrot, onion, apple, curry powder, lemon juice. Cook over medium-high for 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place chicken and flour in a ziploc bag. Seal and shake. Add chicken to the stock pot. Bring to boil, and then reduce heat. Cover, and simmer 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in coconut milk (or cream). Serve warm with cooked rice.
Mulligatawny Stew can be frozen into single-serving portions for quick heat n’ eat meals.