Ann Vinod has traveled the world to experience different spices, ingredients, and cooking techniques. She fell in love not only with a man who was born in India but with Indian cuisine, as well. Now, with her cookbook, Indspired, she introduces flavorful Indian fusion fare and makes it accessible to novice cooks and experienced foodies alike.
She presents starters, main dishes, snacks and more in this innovative collection of east meets west. The flavors of both cultures mesh perfectly in each recipe, creating new and delicious taste combinations. She draws upon her experience as a restaurant cook to make your kitchen a place of complex flavors and fun.
All of the entrée recipes in Indspired are paired with leading single malt whiskies. She encourages adventurous chefs to learn how to match this classic spirit with her modern recipes. Take an imaginative trip around the world including the far reaches of India and return feeling truly Indspired.
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Indian Inspired Fusion Cuisine
By Ann Vinod
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Ann Vinod
All rights reserved.
Elements of a Well Stocked Pantry
Over the years, I have built a vast pantry of spices and equipment to assist in my culinary endeavors. Every time I tried a new idea I ran to the store to buy special, authentic equipment. After many shopping excursions I realized that I had filled every inch of my pantry shelves with spice jars and every corner of my cupboards with my treasures. I learned that most of what I thought would use often, I rarely use. To assist in building a realistic, utilitarian pantry, just a few ingredients and equipment will suffice for nearly all of my recipes. Most of the ingredients are available at any grocery store, however a few items may only be available at specialty or Indian grocery stores.
Fresh Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices, whether fresh or dried, are the key ingredients in all cuisines, from Indian to French. Fresh herbs are very perishable and should be purchased, or picked, just before they are needed. Herbs should be kept in a container in the refrigerator so they do not dry out. Other fresh ingredients may be purchased in advance and used as needed.
One word of caution about chiles needs to be mentioned here. If you do not care for spicy hot food, feel free to reduce the heat. This can be done by reducing the number of chiles used in the recipe, removing their seeds and removing the white membrane inside. Do not eliminate chiles from the recipes entirely as their flavor is crucial to the overall taste of the dish.
Core Herbs and Spices
Green chiles, usually Thai chiles or Serrano peppers
Onions, the small red Indian variety
Additional Herbs and Spices
Dried spices should be used within a year; after that, the flavor deteriorates so larger quantities of spices are needed to achieve the desired results. Store all spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark location. I prefer to grind my spices as I need them so the flavors are at their peak but, with limits on my time, I often use ground rather than whole spices.
Core Dried Spices
Dried red chiles
Green cardamom pods
Red chile powder
Additional Dried Spices
Black cardamom pods
Dried fenugreek leaves
Dried mango powder (amchoor)
Masalas are simply mixtures of flavorful spices. They are prepared in advance so they are ready to use when needed. Recipes for these spice mixtures vary based on personal preferences so they have a different flavor based on who made it and the specific amounts of ingredients added at that time. Most of them are available in Indian grocery stores and some chain stores. I have included my recipes for some of the most popular spice mixes.
Chaat masala, originally from North India, gets its trademark sour and salty flavor from dried green mangos that have been ground to a powder and special black salt. Himalayan black salt, or Indian black salt, contains a high amount of sulfur that gives it a distinctive odor. Chaat masala is sprinkled on snacks and fruit, and used in Party Chaat, Chaat Masala Dip, Chaat Masala Dressing, Paneer Tikka as well as other recipes.
1/4 cup coriander seeds
3 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon ajwain seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
6–7 dried red chiles
1 1/2 tablespoons dried mango powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon asafetida
1 1/2 tablespoons black salt
1 teaspoon salt
1. One at a time, dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ajwain seeds and peppercorns in a skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, just until the aroma rises and they begin to brown. Let them cool.
2. Remove the stems from the dried red chiles and break them into pieces. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together. Grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder.
Curry Leaf Podi
I created this podi, or powder, to be used as a spice mix to enhance dishes like Curry Leaf Seasoned Rice, Curry Leaf Steamed Rice Cakes, Curry Leaf Chutney and mixed with oil for an accompaniment for dipping bread.
1 cup fresh curry leaves (35 grams or 1.3 ounces)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons skinned black gram
2 tablespoons dried white chickpeas
4 dried red chiles
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1. Remove the curry leaves from the stems and wash them. Spread the leaves out on a paper towel, turning occasionally, to dry.
2. In a skillet, dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds until the aroma rises then set aside to cool.
3. When the curry leaves are completely dry, roast them in the skillet over medium-low heat. As the leaves turn crispy, transfer them to a bowl until all of the leaves are crispy. Do not let them burn.
4. Heat the sesame oil in the same pan. Fry the black gram, chickpeas and red chiles until the lentils turn golden brown, stirring occasionally. Let cool.
5. Place the curry leaves in a food processor and grind until powdered. Add the cumin and coriander seeds, lentils, red chiles and garlic. Grind until all of the ingredients are powdered. Add the asafetida and salt, then grind until well mixed.
Literally translated as 'hot spice' in Hindi, this North Indian spice mixture is used to supplement the spices in savory dishes. It is used in Chickpea Masala, Mushroom and Onion Risotto, Mushroom Pulav, Tadka Dal, Masala Mashed Potatoes and non-vegetarian dishes to give a rich aromatic flavor.
1/4 cup dried red chiles, ends trimmed and seeds removed
1/2 cup coriander seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon green cardamom pods, smashed with shells
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1. In a skillet over medium heat without any oil, roast the spices for 5 minutes stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Cool and powder the spices in a spice grinder.
This South Indian spicy chile powder from Kerala and Tamil Nadu gets its heat from a generous quantity of dried red chiles. It is served as an accompaniment with Curry Leaf Steamed Rice Cakes.
1/2 cup urad dal
1 1/4 cup dried red chiles
1/2 cup Bengal gram dal
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon asafetida
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons oil
1. Heat the oil and roast the dry ingredients one by one except for the salt. Cool and coarsely grind all of the ingredients in a spice grinder.
Lentils and beans have an important role in Indian cooking. They are inexpensive and high in protein. They may be the primary ingredient in a recipe or added in a small amount to enhance the texture and taste of the dish. They are sold whole, skinned or split. The term dal is used as the name of many lentil dishes as well as the term for lentils that have been skinned and split.
Bengal gram dal or chana dal, look like chickpeas that have had their rust colored skins removed and are split into halves. They are larger than other lentils and have a firmer texture and a nuttier flavor than chickpeas. When ground without the skin, the flour is called kadala mauve or kadala podi in Kerala or besan in North India.
Black gram, a small black bean with white insides, has a mild earthy flavor. When skinned, it is known as urad dal.
Black chickpeas are smaller than the white chickpeas that are popular on salad bars. They have a firm texture and a nutty flavor. When skinned and dry roasted, they are known as odacha kadala or pottu kadala.
Green gram or mung beans are often sprouted and eaten in salads. Also available as green gram dal which is skinned and split, exposing the flat, yellow inside.
Salmon-colored orange lentils have an earthy flavor and a creamy texture. They cook, without soaking, in a fraction of the time of other lentils.
Small red beans, called chori or adzuki beans, have the same color and a similar flavor to their larger cousin. After cooking, these small red beans retain their shape well and have a firm texture.
India is the land of basmati rice and most of it is grown in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains across northern India and Pakistan. With its distinctive nutty flavor, it is typically used in special dishes like biryani. A long grain variety, I tend to use it exclusively because it is easy to cook consistently and turns out the same each time I make it.
Long grain rice is considered to be everyday rice. It is used when making steamed rice like Spiced Rice.
Idli rice is used for making steamed rice cakes. This variety has very short and round grains and is found in South India.
Parboiled rice is rice that is boiled in its husk and dried before the husk is removed to push nutrients from the husk into the grain resulting in healthier rice. It takes longer to cook but when it is done, the grains are firmer and do not stick together. It is also called converted rice. This rice is also flattened and used to make snacks. Called beaten rice, rice flakes, aval or poha, it is popular because it cooks so quickly.
Many different types of oil are used in Indian cooking. Each brings its own flavor to food and is best suited to specific uses.
Coconut oil is used in many Indian dishes to give food a light coconut flavor. It is not used for general cooking.
Mustard oil has a distinctive flavor and is used in curries, pickles and for frying.
Olive oil is not traditionally used in Indian cooking but with its popularity today, many people use it for its health benefits. Select one that is light so the flavor does not conflict with the food.
Sesame oil is commonly used in cooking in South India, often for tempering spices since its flavor complements the spices.
Any type of vegetable oil is an excellent pick for Indian cooking since it is flavorless and has a high smoke point.
Ghee, made from clarified butter, is often used in Indian cooking because of its buttery flavor and tolerance for high heat.
Two of the signature ingredients in Indian cooking that have made their way into Western cuisine are coconuts and dairy products.
Coconuts are used in many Indian recipes and even more so in the south where coconut trees grow in abundance. This fruit is used for its water, oil and meat. When a coconut is cracked open, the first thing that you see is the water. It is a popular summer drink in India because it is full of nutrition and quite refreshing. The meat inside of the coconut is used in many ways. The most common use is to chop, grate or grind the white flesh and add it to many recipes for its flavor and tasty crunch. A white liquid can be extracted from the flesh, called coconut milk. It is used in curries instead of cream, most often in South India. Coconut milk can be purchased in a can or made at home. Coconut oil is pressed out of the meat as well and is used for cooking and flavoring foods. It is a solid at room temperature and must be melted before cooking.
Dairy products are common in Indian cooking. Buttermilk is the tart white liquid that remains after milk is churned for cream and butter. It is added to some curries to make them smooth and add a bit of sour flavor. It is also added to raita to make the yogurt smoother. Many people drink it by itself for its refreshing taste. Yogurt, made by fermenting fresh milk with healthy bacteria cultures, is used for its rich, creamy texture and its signature tang. It is the primary ingredient in raita. Paneer is a homemade cheese that is made by curdling milk with lemon juice, pressing out the water and forming it into a block. It is used in many dishes as an alternative to meat. Its texture is similar to tofu, but firmer.
Most of the equipment needed to prepare the recipes in this cookbook already exists in your kitchen. Only a few recipes require special equipment.
Spice grinder for grinding whole seeds to a powder
Small skillet for roasting spices
Large pots for building curries
Saucepans for boiling rice
Blender or food processor
Slightly curved cast iron pan, called a tava, for cooking chapatis
Idli mold for shaping rice cakes
Steamer for steaming rice noodles and rice cakes
Every style of cooking has an established set of fundamental practices and techniques that define and document how recipes are to be prepared so they can be used by other people to make these recipes in the future. French cuisine is undoubtedly the most sophisticated in this regard with its rich sauces, subtle flavors and elegant presentation. Indian cuisine offers techniques that bring out the special flavors of spices and layer them on top of each other to create heavenly flavor. The union of techniques from many cultures makes cooking fun and exciting.
Roasting whole and ground spices in a hot, dry skillet for about half a minute brings out their flavors and aromas. These spices are then added to the recipe being prepared.
Frying whole spices in hot oil for a minute enhances their flavors and colors greatly. The seasoned oil becomes the base in which the rest of the recipe is cooked. For the technique called tadka, or tempering, spices, including whole mustard seeds, cumin seeds, whole dried red chiles, cinnamon sticks and others, are added one at a time and then fried in hot oil. After a minute the spices and their seasoned oil are poured over the top of the dish as the last step in the cooking process just before it is served. This adds an additional layer of flavor as well as provides a garnish to the dish.
Frying sliced onions slowly in oil until they caramelize and using them as a garniture in a dish is a common practice in Indian cooking, mostly done in biryani and rice dishes. During this process, the sugar that occurs naturally in onions caramelizes and gives the onions a delightfully intense sweet flavor and beautiful dark brown color. Caramelized onions can also be ground into a paste and used to enhance the flavor of many dishes. This technique is also used to create my Shallot Chutney Cream Sauce and Masala Mashed Potatoes.
Curries and Sauces
Creating curries starts with oil generously seasoned with an array of spices to which vegetables, usually, tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger, are cooked until soft. Water may be added to assist in the cooking process. Depending on the recipe and personal preferences, the base may be puréed to make it smooth. Once this base is created, yogurt or cream can be added for flavor and texture. Curries are sometimes thickened with ground cashews, almonds, coconut, or tomato paste to create the desired consistency. Cumin and coriander give food a rich brown color as well.
Part of the appeal of Indian cuisine is its wide array of different colors. Saffron and turmeric are used not only for their individual flavors but to add yellow color to food, typically rice. Sometimes yellow food coloring is used to turn a few grains of rice an intense yellow before it is mixed in with the rest of the dish. Red food coloring is added to tandoori and tikka marinades to turn the food red before it is grilled.
Baking and Roasting
Baking food in an oven is a popular method of cooking food slowly with dry indirect heat. Roasting is the same process and is used for cooking large pieces of meat and vegetables.
Braising is a variation of baking in which liquid, commonly wine or broth, is added to the meat to keep it moist during the cooking process. The meat is seared in a pan first to brown the outside to help retain its juices.
In this process, food is cooked in an oven directly under direct heat at a high temperature.
Excerpted from Indspired by Ann Vinod. Copyright © 2015 Ann Vinod. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Elements of a Well Stocked Pantry, 1,
Pairing Recipes with Whisky, 13,
Starters and Snacks, 19,
Chutneys and Raitas, 35,
Pork, Lamb and Beef, 75,
Rice and Grains, 165,