Indian cooking techniques are acclaimed for their use of spices and intense flavours. It is a way of showing love and care and creating something tangible from scratch. As Indian cooking is a bit more complex than other cuisines, it is essential to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make the experience more enjoyable. While some unique cooking methods may seem daunting at first, this guide will introduce you to the basics of Indian cooking methods so that you can create delicious, authentic dishes in your own kitchen.
An Indian household is not complete without a spice box or masala Dabba. Undoubtedly, cooking techniques are extremely important as they bring out the flavour and aroma of Indian spices. To understand Indian cooking, one must be familiar with some of the traditional techniques used in this cuisine. Finally, once you have mastered the fundamentals, you can start experimenting with different flavours and ingredients to create your own unique dishes.
Tadka or Chaunk – Basic Indian Cooking Techniques
Tadka or chaunk is a tempering technique used to flavour oil or ghee. This is done by heating the oil/ghee until it is hot and adding spices such as cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cloves, bay leaves, or peppercorns. The spices will start to splutter and release their flavour into the oil. Once the tadka is ready, it adds a beautiful aroma and flavour to the dish.
Bhuna or Stir-Frying
Bhuna is a frying method used to cook meats or vegetables. This technique is specifically used to add crispiness to the dish. First, the oil is heated until it is hot enough. At last, the food items are added and fried until they are cooked through. The golden brown colour is an indication that the bhuna process is complete.
Talna or Frying
Talna is a deep-frying method used to cook food items such as chicken, pakora or fish. First, the oil is heated until it is hot enough. Deep frying is one such technique that Indians use to cook their food. Also, after frying, Indians drain the excess oil using a paper towel. The delicious crispy skin and succulent inside make deep frying so special.
Dhungar or Smoking – Flavourful Indian Cooking Techniques
Dhungar is a smoking technique used to add smoky flavour to the dish. As one of the unique Indian cooking methods, dhungar involves lighting charcoal and placing a metal bowl over it. Then, the bowl is filled with oil or ghee and allowed to smoke for a few minutes. After that, the smoked oil is used for cooking the dish. This adds smokiness and depth of flavour to the plate.
Dum or Slow cooking
Dum is a slow cooking method that allows the flavours to develop and mingle. Also, as one of the Indian cooking techniques, it involves cooking the food on low heat for an extended period of time. A lid is placed on the pot to trap the steam and create a dum to add more flavour. Further, this method is used for cooking meats or tough vegetables that need time to soften. The special Biryani rice is one of the most popular dishes cooked using the dum method.
Tandoori cooking is a unique Indian cooking method that involves cooking food in a tandoor or clay oven. First, the food is marinated in a mixture of spices and yoghurt. Then, it is skewered and cooked in the tandoor at a high temperature. This results in juicy, flavourful, and slightly charred food. Moreover, Indians use this cooking method to make tandoori chicken, kebabs, and naan.
Ubalna or Boiling
This frequently used cooking method involves boiling water and adding the food items to cook them. Further, it is one of the simplest Indian cooking techniques to cook vegetables or pasta. In addition, this method can also be used to make soups or stews. Simply, this cooking technique holds an important place in Indian cuisine to infuse more flavour.
Varan or Simmering
Varan is a simmering method used to cook dal or lentils. Firstly, the water is brought to a boil and then the dal is added. After that, the heat is reduced, and the dal is allowed to simmer until it is cooked. Also, it’s not limited to cooking dals; simmering has a significant role in making curries and gravies.
Steaming is a method of cooking food without using any oil or fat. In this Indian cooking technique, the food is placed on a perforated platform inside a steamer. Then, the steamer is covered, and the water is allowed to boil. As a result, the hot water vapours rise and cook the food. Steaming is a healthy ancient cooking method as it retains most of the nutrients present in the food. Dhoklas, idlis, and momos are some popular dishes cooked using the steaming process.
Kurchan or Scraping – Most Common Indian Cooking Techniques
A cooking method integral part of making certain Indian sweets, kurchan involves scraping the cooked food from the bottom of the pan. A household favourite, this method is a party trick that adds a beautiful layer of crunch to the sweet. Not only sweets but kurchan can also be used to make savoury dishes such as Bhuna chicken. Also, the scraping adds a lovely texture to the dish that accentuates the flavour.
Indian cuisine basics are not difficult to master and are simple to follow. With a bit of practice, anyone can make delicious Indian food at home. Further, the variety in these Indian cooking techniques is what makes the country’s food so unique. So, the next time you wish to try something different, attempt one of these methods and surprise everyone with a delicious Indian meal.