Ingredients and Cooking Terms used in Indian Kitchen

  • Achar - Indian pickles (vegetables or fruits, preserwed in oil, often mustard oil).
  • Adrak - ginger
  • Ajwain - carom seeds
  • Almond Flour - it is gluten-free flour, one of the healthiest and the best flour for weight loss because, unlike wheat flour, it is low in carbs and has an extremely low glycemic index due to which it reduces sugar levels in the blood, ultimately leading to weight loss.
  • Aloo - potato
  • Amchur (Amchoor) - green mango powder
  • Anardana - pomegranate seeds
  • Arbi - taro root
  • Atta - whole wheat flour made from whole wheat grains, also know as a chapatti flour.
  • Badam - almond
  • Bagar (Tadka, Vagar) - tempering, where you add spices to hot oil.
  • Baingan - eggplant
  • Banana leaves - widely used for wrapping ingredients (particularly fish) before cooking. They should be soaked briefly in hot water. If banana leaves are unavailable use alumininium foil.
  • Basmati Rice - this fragrant rice from the foothills of the Himalayas is known as the prince of the rices because of its fine flavor and aroma. It should be rinsed and soaked for 10 minutes before using.
  • Bengal Gram Flour - besan flour
  • Besan - chickpea flour made from chana dal (split brown chickpeas). lso known as gram flour. It is used to flavor and thicken curries and for making pakoras and bhajias.
  • Bharta - a mashed vegetable dish (mashed eggplant dish)
  • Bhelpuri - a popular Indian street food made with puffed rice, chutney, onions, spices.
  • Boondi - deep fried crispy small ball prepared from gram flour and few spices. It is a main ingredient in making boondi raita often served with chaat recipes like dahi bhalla or dahi vada or added to a the pani puri.
  • Biryani - a popular rice dish that can be made in a variety of ways
  • Biriyani masala - a special spice mix for biriyani dishes.
  • Bhuna - a dry stir-fried dish
  • Chaat - a savory Indian snack often made with fried bread, potatoes, chutneys and chatpata (tangy) spices.
  • Chai - Indian tea
  • Chana/Chole - chickpeas, garbanzo beans
  • Chana Dal – a split yellow lentil, also known as split chickpeas. It has a slightly sweet taste, and it is used in variety of vegetable dishes.
  • Chapati - whole wheat unleavened flatbread. Also known as roti or phulka
  • Churmure - Puffed Rice
  • Chawal - rice
  • Choti Elaichi - green cardamom (chhoti - small)
  • Coconut - widely used in southern Indian cuisine, is used both savory and sweet dishes.
  • Coconut milk is obtained from the white flesh of the nut and is both rich and smooth-tasting.
  • Dal - lentils
  • Dahi - yogurt
  • Dalchini - cinnamon
  • Dhania - coriander
  • Dosa - a South Indian crepe made with a rice and lentil batter.
  • Dum - steam (cooked slowly in steam)
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  • Food colorings - tumeric and saffron will color food yellow, but you can also use coloring that has no taste.
  • Garam masala - aromatic Indian spice mixture
  • Ghee - clarified butter, regarded in India as the purest food because it comes from the sacred cow, giving a rich, buttery taste. It can be made at home. The advantage of using it is that it can be heated to a very high temperature without burning (so is useful for browning onions in order to give a sauce a good rich colour, and for sizzling spices before the main ingredients are added to the pan.
  • Gosht - lamb
  • Kabuli Channa - chick peas
  • Kachori - pastry stuffed with spiced mung beans, served with tamarind chutney
  • Keema - minced meat, cooked separately with onions, garlic, ginger and spices. Often, keema is used as filling in the naans, parathas or non-vegetarian samosas.
  • Kofta - balls or dumplings of ground or mashed meat or vegetables, grilled or fried and often stuffed with spices or diced nuts
  • Korma - powder or aromatic spice, with white pepper instead of chili powder and used in mild curries cooked with yoghurt
  • Kulfi - milk ice cream flavored with mango, pistachios or almonds
  • Maida - flour
  • Masoor Dal (Whole) - red lentils
  • Masala (masaladar) - with spices
  • Moong Dal - this split yellow lentil is quite similar to chana dal, but smaller.
  • Mustard oil - oil with a completely unique flavor and aroma. Used in Bengali cuisine.
  • Mughlai - method of cooking using cream, yoghurt, almonds and pistachios
  • Murgh - chicken
  • Naan - soft textured bead made from white flour leavened with natural yeast and baked by moistening one side and attaching it to the inside of a tandoor oven; may have poppy or sesame seeds or onion added.
  • Paratha - crisp, layered, buttery bread served plain or stuffed
  • Pilau (pillau, pulao) - rice stir-fried in ghee then cooked in stock and served with fish, vegetables or meat.
  • Poha - Beaten Rice Flakes
  • Poori - whole-wheat bread, like a chapati, fried, usually in ghee, and puffed into a ball; served with vegetarian foods, particularly dal (lentil), potato and bean dishes (cooked pooris can be stuffed with hot curried fillings as a quick snack)
  • Poppadum - flat, dried wafers of lentil, rice or potato flour, deep fried and served as a snack; can be highly spiced
  • Raita - yoghurt relish
  • Rajma -red kidney beans
  • Silver Leaf (Varq) - it is used as a garnish over sweets. It is extremely fragile. It has no aroma or taste.
  • Sooji - semolina
  • Tamarind - pods which have become essential in Indian cooking, often made into a chutney as a dip for deep-fried snacks and the juice is used extensively in Southern Indian food
  • Tandoor - barrel-shaped mud or clay oven used for roasting meats and baking bread (moistened and placed against the sides of the oven)
  • Thali - complete meal on a tray with each curry, relish and dessert in separate bowls or katori, plus bread or rice
  • Tikka - small pieces of chicken or lamb served as an appetizer
  • Vindaloo - very hot dish seasoned with ground-roasted spices and chilies with vinegar and/or tamarind; a specialty of central and western coastal India.

Masala Blends

As there are often a lot of ingredients in a recipe, it is a good idea to measure them out and have them ready before you begin to cook, so that you are not held up looking for things at a crucial moment.

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