South Indian cooking involves a larger number of spices!! So if your planning to make a Southy today, be prepared to do some extra spice shopping.
- Oil/Ghee- 1tsp
- Mustard- 1 tsp
- Channa dal- 1 tsp
- Curry leaves- 2 twigs
- Garlic cloves- 1 or 2 cloves
- Dried Red chillies- to taste
- Grounded Coconut (Optional)- to taste
Heat oil/ghee and season mustard (let it splutter) and add white gram dal, dried red chillies and curry leaves. Add the grounded coconut. Sauté for 5 minutes.This is the very basic south Indian base. The south Indian dishes have more variety and quite a few addition and subtractions but using these basic ingredients can be helpful in developing a strong mystic south Indian flavour to your dishes.
The trick is in heating ghee (clarified butter) for 2 minutes and then adding the garlic and the curry leaves. In some dishes black pepper is also used. This brings in a very strange spicy but soothing effect to your dishes. Try it out!! I have not yet found a substitute for this base recipe for the foreigners. If anyone has found, do let me know.
Bengali foods are signatured with the smell of mustard oil but its an oil which has more calories, so calorie conscious eaters can skip this.
- Oil- 1tsp
- Mustard/Cumin seeds – 1 tabsp
- Onions- 1 cup
- Tomato- 1 cup
- Turmeric powder- 1tsp
- Chilli powder- 1tsp
- Ginger- 1tsp
- Green chillies
Heat up oil and put the seeds after 2 minutes and let it splutter in medium low heat. Add the ginger, garlic, green chillies and stir fry for 2 more minutes. Add in the onions till they are golden brown and add in the tomatoes, tumeric powder, chilli powder and salt to taste and fry till the oil oozes out from the mixture. This is the basic base for most bengali recipes with some additions and subtractions.Once this base is ready, different preparations can be prepared. Keeping this basic recipe in mind, one can cook most of the dishes even with closed eyes. 🙂
In case you live abroad, then try using pesto alla genovese (a garlic olive paste) instead of the garlic and ginger, with Arabiatta (a tomato and red chilli mixture) instead of the tomatoes in the above recipe. The ratio of pesto to tomato being 1:3. You can get these readymade items in any supermarket. Since I live in Germany, I can say you can get them in Pennymarkt, ALdi or any supermarket. There is no need to rush to Indian stores if your in a hurry. So is a great time saver.