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Andy Lynes

Q&A - Beginners Guide to Regional Indian Cooking

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Hello Monica,

Beautifully done! The imagery and descriptions are fantastic. While my cuisine of choice is primarily Indian and I began cooking Tamilian and Keralite foods first, my husband and his family being from Punjab has been a definate path to what I normally cook on a regular basis. Oustanding! :smile:

Jenn

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hi monica,

an interesting read--good education for non-indians (and maybe even some indians). on that note, a small point: you indicate in the bengali section that the chinese ruled bengal? shurely shome mishtake. also, it should be "shonar bangla" not "shonar bangal", though i've been known to refer to myself as that latter. you have left out the afghans though from your list of invaders--who, both in the north-west and the east may have had more of a lasting impact than the turks (or more precisely the turkic invaders, who were more from central asia than turkey--both ghazni and ghor are in present-day afghanistan).

a bigger point: garlic in any bengali fish dish? let alone in shorshe-bata maach? now that you've fingered chef seth as the source of that "inspiration" it may not be safe for him to go to calcutta. and speaking of calcutta and safety, i feel i should inform you that there are many bengalis (present company excluded, of course) who are as unrefined as their mustard oil.

and whatever happened to the poor north-east? they're on the map but not in the kitchen.

regards,

mongo

p.s: i presume that despite the article being posted by andy lynes, you are the owner of the personal pronoun in it. i'm a little curious--earlier you'd said that you had not gone to college in india (i think you said you'd left when you were 6 years old), this article, however, seems to state the opposite. or is this chef seth's college-days being referred to?

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tryska   

what great pictures!

your writing was wonderful too monica - thanks for the class!

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hi monica,

an interesting read--good education for non-indians (and maybe even some indians). on that note, a small point: you indicate in the bengali section that the chinese ruled bengal? shurely shome mishtake. also, it should be "shonar bangla" not "shonar bangal", though i've been known to refer to myself as that latter. you have left out the afghans though from your list of invaders--who, both in the north-west and the east may have had more of a lasting impact than the turks (or more precisely the turkic invaders, who were more from central asia than turkey--both ghazni and ghor are in present-day afghanistan).

a bigger point: garlic in any bengali fish dish? let alone in shorshe-bata maach? now that you've fingered chef seth as the source of that "inspiration" it may not be safe for him to go to calcutta. and speaking of calcutta and safety, i feel i should inform you that there are many bengalis (present company excluded, of course) who are as unrefined as their mustard oil.

and whatever happened to the poor north-east? they're on the map but not in the kitchen.

regards,

mongo

p.s: i presume that despite the article being posted by andy lynes, you are the owner of the personal pronoun in it. i'm a little curious--earlier you'd said that you had not gone to college in india (i think you said you'd left when you were 6 years old), this article, however, seems to state the opposite. or is this chef seth's college-days being referred to?

Thanks for the note.. yes. I will correct that about the Chinese.. it was meant to inducate influence not rule!

Garlic is Sudhir inspiration :laugh:

I did not grow up in India and did leave when I was 6. I went back for a 4 year stint and went to college in Bangalore, India

You are right about the Afghans. thanks for that.

As you will see this is a just a glimpse of what the country offers.. like I said in the piece perhaps in part II we will include so much more!

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Thank you for a very impressive piece. Even though I've had a well stocked Indian larder and a basic knowledge of Indian cookery for some time, I've never progressed beyond a couple of basic dishes (my specialty being Curried Cupboard Contents.) You've inspired me go a little further (though I have to say the subject is so vast it's a little intimidating.)

I have a couple of general questions about Indian cooking: How many dishes are usually eaten at a regular, not special occasion, home dinner. I ask because I find that if I make an Indian meal of even one dish, perhaps Inauthentic Vegetable Curry, it takes a considerable amount of effort by the time you include the raita, bread, chutneys, rice etc. I imagine that adding another couple of dishes, which I assume would be normal, would make dinner preparations stretch for hours. I think I'm not alone in falling back on a basic curry. It's sort of like the Stir Fry (remember those?) standing in for all of Chinese cookery. It was definitely a cop out but at the same time it was a reasonably respectful adaptation that enabled a foreign food to make sense in our (American, Canadian etc.) lives. I assume the answer is fairly complicated because the typical work night supper would differ based on social class, the presence of domestic help etc. So rather than try to speak for all of India, perhaps you could tell what you eat on a typical night (when you eat Indian, that is.) Is Indian food reserved for occasions when you have the afternoon to cook? Or do you sometimes just make one dish and some rice and call it dinner? Is it my misconception to think of Indian home meals as consisting of multiple dishes?

The other question is about noodles. My first exposure to anyting remotely Indian was a version of "spaghetti" (remember that?) that I made up and grew to love when I first started cooking. Canned tomatoes, ground beef, onions, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper. Today I eat some slightly more sophisitcated versions (like linguine dressed with cilanto and whole spices cooked in plently of ghee, a favorite rice substitute.) When I eat these I'm not thinking fusion, nor am I trying to make something from Thailand or Singapore or Malaysia. I'm honestly trying to make an Indian dish make sense with noodles intead of rice. So that's my bias, now my question. I realize that asking why there isn't more use of noodles in India is like asking why there isn't more use of noodles in France, but why isn't there more use of noodles in India? It seems that with all those influences coming onto the continent, one of them would produce a noodle region. Is there a noodle region? Are there noodle dishes indigenous to India? Or is it more like this: India has a rich tradition with breads and rice. "Curry" is exported to places with rich noodle tradition. The marriage of curry and the noodle comes back to India via eg. "Singapore noodles" and are subsequently adapted. This is all groundless speculation, a specialty. Anyway, just wondering about noodles.

-michael

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Feel free to disregard the nonsense of my previous post. Here's a more sensible question: Are there regions that use any preserving techniques like curing, drying, smoking, (sausage making?) etc. for meat or fish or are animal proteins generally used fresh?

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easyguru   
Feel free to disregard the nonsense of my previous post. Here's a more sensible question: Are there regions that use any preserving techniques like curing, drying, smoking, (sausage making?) etc. for meat or fish or are animal proteins generally used fresh?

Yes. All these methods are used in preserving meat. Dried fish and prawns are widely used in some parts of the country. Pickling of meat is also done in some parts. Goa is famous for its sausages.

The dried fish is mostly used off season during the mansoon when fresh fish are not available. It is also predominantly used by low income people becuase it is cheap.

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trillium   

I'm far from an expert, but based on personal experience I can assure you that there is a pretty decent rice noodle eating tradition for a certain bunch of people from India (think south...sevai), plus all those noodle desserts (imagine homer simpson voice...phaaaloooooda) . For what it's worth, Ms. Jaffrey asserts in her new book that Indians have been eating noodles as long as they've been cultivating grains, which is a pretty damn long time, if that's right.

regards,

trillium

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easyguru   

The other question is about noodles. My first exposure to anyting remotely Indian was a version of "spaghetti" (remember that?) that I made up and grew to love when I first started cooking. Canned tomatoes, ground beef, onions, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper. Today I eat some slightly more sophisitcated versions (like linguine dressed with cilanto and whole spices cooked in plently of ghee, a favorite rice substitute.) When I eat these I'm not thinking fusion, nor am I trying to make something from Thailand or Singapore or Malaysia. I'm honestly trying to make an Indian dish make sense with noodles intead of rice. So that's my bias, now my question. I realize that asking why there isn't more use of noodles in India is like asking why there isn't more use of noodles in France, but why isn't there more use of noodles in India? It seems that with all those influences coming onto the continent, one of them would produce a noodle region. Is there a noodle region? Are there noodle dishes indigenous to India? Or is it more like this: India has a rich tradition with breads and rice. "Curry" is exported to places with rich noodle tradition. The marriage of curry and the noodle comes back to India via eg. "Singapore noodles" and are subsequently adapted. This is all groundless speculation, a specialty. Anyway, just wondering about noodles.

-michael

Why there isn't more use of noodles in India?

Noodles are used in Indian cooking but they may not be like the typical noodles. Sevai (vermicelli) are primarily used in India for both sweet and spicy dishes. Kerala cuisine has idiappam (string hoppers), which are like noodles and are used as bread.

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Very interesting lesson. I was thinking about trying the Kashmiri lamb chops and had a couple of questions. I assume that with the cook time that these chops end up fairly well done? I am also curious about the initial milk cooking process and what this does for the dish. Oh, and when the recipes call for red chile powder is this cayenne or ?

Thanks,

Nathan

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jhlurie   

I know we site officials aren't supposed to waste bandwidth on Q&A threads gushing about our content but...

...gush. Totally gush. I hadn't seen this one pre-posting and it just rules. I love how the best of our eGCI courses embrace history and general culture as much as cooking (although they certainly don't skimp on the cooking).

Thank you Monica. Thank you Andy. Thank you Chef Sudhir.

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easyguru   
I assume the answer is fairly complicated because the typical work night supper would differ based on social class, the presence of domestic help etc. So rather than try to speak for all of India, perhaps you could tell what you eat on a typical night (when you eat Indian, that is.) Is Indian food reserved for occasions when you have the afternoon to cook? Or do you sometimes just make one dish and some rice and call it dinner? Is it my misconception to think of Indian home meals as consisting of multiple dishes?

-michael

Most of the time it is a simple afair with one or two dishes with rice or Indian bread. Many time it might be just one single dish.

Elaborate cooking is on special occasion or weekend.

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Thanks for all the questions -- Chef Sudhir should respond shortly

and thanks for all the PM's and emails .. I appreciate the feedback

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Marlene   

All of these recipes have now been entered into RecipeGullet. I have also provided a link in the inroduction section of each recipe back to Monica's instruction course.

:smile:

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