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Food Operations - Indian Masalas & Gravies
Secret of happiness is variety. But secret of variety like the secret of all spices is knowing when to use it.
…Daniel Gilbert, American Social Psychologist and Writer.
There is a common string connecting all Indian cuisines though; and that is: the spices. Indian cuisines are incomplete without spices.
Indian masalas or the spice mixes are the hearts of cooking stews and curries. They provide taste and aroma to lentils, veg and non-veg stews, curries, and rice dishes. What’s more, the Indian street food is also treated with spices. The masalas are prepared with the intention of balancing hot and tangy taste of the food.
The dry masalas (powdered spice mixes or curry powders) are used to flavor lentils, vegetables, seafood, and meat. The ingredients are roasted over low heat until they release a faint aroma. A fine powder is made and they are stored in an airtight container.
Some of the popular spice mixes used in Indian cuisines are given here −
It is used for savory spiced colorful and flavorful rice.
|Fennel Seeds||50 gm||Black Cardamoms||10 gm|
|White Poppy Seeds||40 gm||Star Anise||10 gm|
|Cumin Seeds||30 gm||Caraway Seeds||10 gm|
|Cinnamon Powder||30 gm||Bay Leaves||10 gm|
|Whole Cloves||20 gm||Mace||10 gm|
|Green Cardamoms||20 gm||Nutmeg||Powder of 2/4 piece|
It is used for chick pea curry.
|Coriander Seeds||2 tbsp||Cloves||4-5|
|Cinnamon||1” piece||Cumin Seeds||2 tbsp|
|Black Cardamom||3-4 pods||Anardana (optional)||1 tbsp|
|Bay Leaf||1||Whole Dry Chilies (optional)||1 or 2|
|Black Peppercorns||1 tbsp|
Coastal Fish Masala
It is used for fish curry and fish fry.
|Dry Coconut Grated||3 tbsp||White Pepper Corns||¼ cup|
|Sesame Seeds||1 tbsp||Green Cardamom Pods||½ cup|
|Mustard Seeds||2 tblsp||Cumin Seeds||¾ cup|
|Saffron Strands||¼ tbsp||Nutmeg Powder||¼ cup|
|Black Pepper Corns||¼ cup|
It is a usual spice mix used in stews.
|Coriander seeds||4 tbsp||Black Cardamom||3-4 large pods|
|Cumin seeds||1 tbsp||Cloves||2-3 pieces|
|Black Peppercorns||1 tbsp||Cinnamon||2 × 1” pieces|
|Black Cumin seeds||1 ½ tbsp||Bay Leaves||2 Crushed|
|Dry Ginger Powder||1 ½ tbsp|
Kala (Goda) Masala
It is used to flavor lentils and Masala Rice.
|Coriander Seeds||500 gm||Mace Flower||50 gm|
|Dry Red Chilies||250 gm||Cinnamon Bark||50 gm|
|Dry Coconut shredded||250 gm||White Poppy Seeds||50 gm|
|Dry Turmeric Roots||50 gm||Caraway Seeds||50 gm|
|Asafoetida Chunks||50 gm||Sesame Seeds||50 gm|
|Cloves||50 gm||Sesame Seeds||50 gm|
|Black Pepper Corns||50 gm||Bay Leaves||50 gm|
|Flower Stone||50 gm||Green Cardamom||25 gm|
|Whole Nutmegs||5 pieces||Black Cardamom||25 gm|
It is used to flavor chicken and lamb dishes.
|Cumin Seeds||20 gm||Ginger Powder||5 gm|
|Coriander Seeds||8 gm||Garlic Powder||5 gm|
|Cloves||5 gm||Red Chili Powder||5 gm|
|Cinnamon||2” Stick||Turmeric Powder||5 gm|
|Orange food coloring||1 gm||Mace Powder||5 gm|
It is used in a tangy stew paired with pao (bun-shaped bread).
|Red Chili||50 gm||Black Cardamom||4-5 pieces|
|Coriander Seeds||50 gm||Dry Mango Powder||25 gm|
|Cumin Seeds||25 gm||Fennel Seeds||10 gm|
|Black Pepper||25 gm||Turmeric Powder||1 tbsp|
|Cinnamon||25 gm||Star Anise||2 pieces|
It is used to spice kidney beans curry.
|Cloves||4 pieces||Black Peppercorns||4 pieces|
|Cardamom||2 pieces||Cumin Seeds||1 tbsp|
|Cinnamon Stick||1” stick||Cumin Powder||1 tbsp|
|Bay leaf||1 piece||Ginger Garlic Paste||1 tbsp|
|Coriander Powder||1 ½ tbsp||Garam Masala Powder||½ tbsp|
|Red Chili Powder||1 tbsp||Dry Mango Powder||½ tbsp|
It is used to flavor a curry named Sambar; prepared with cooked pigeon peas, drumsticks, tomatoes, pumpkin pieces, and cubes of other vegetables. Sambar is paired with Idli, Urad wada, Uthapam, or various types of Dosai.
|Chana Daal||¼ cup||Black Peppercorns||¼ cup|
|Urad Daal (black gram)||¼ cup||Dry Red Broken Chili||¼ cup|
|Coriander Seeds||½ cup||Dry Grated Coconut||¼ cup|
|Cumin Seeds||¼ cup||Mustard Seeds||¼ cup|
|Fenugreek Seeds||¼ cup||Turmeric Powder||2 tbsp|
|Dried Curry Leaves||20 pieces||Asafetida Powder||2 tbsp|
It is used to prepare flavored tea.
|Black Cardamom||1 pod||Black Peppercorns||¼ tbsp|
|Cardamom Seeds||From 25 pods||Dry, Ground Ginger Powder||1 tbsp|
|Cloves||4 pieces||Ground Cinnamon Powder||1 tbsp|
|Fennel seeds||½ tbsp||Carom Seeds (optional)||¼ tbsp|
There is a very large variety of spice mixes for side dishes such as curd based salad named Raita, appetizers such as Jal-Jeera and Chhach, sweet flavored milk named Thandai, and Indian street food named Chaat.
There are also some other spices such as pickle masala, a combination of five spices named panch-poran used in eastern states of India. The list goes on according to the taste preferences and diversity in cultures.
Basic Indian Gravies
Gravy is the soul of Indian cuisine. Gravy is a thick liquid of saucy consistency that provides body and flavor to the curries and other food preparation. It provides the basic five tastes − bitter, hot, sweet, sour, and salty. In this section, we will discuss some popular gravies −
A basic gravy that adds body to the curries.
|Chopped Onions||300 gm||Green Cardamom||2 pieces|
|Cashew nuts||200 gm||Bay leaves||2 pieces|
|Water||200 ml||Chopped Green Chilies||2|
|Ginger-Garlic Paste||25 gm||Oil||5 tbsp|
|Sweet Yogurt||200 gm|
- Put cashew nuts in boiling water for five minutes.
- Drain the water and put fresh water and chopped onions into it.
- Cook till onions turn soft.
- Drain the water and grind to fine paste.
- Heat oil in a wok.
- Add cardamoms, bay leaves, and chopped green chili.
- Add yogurt into it and cook for a while.
- Add cashew nut-onion paste and cook further till oil separates.
- Cut the heat and let it cool for storing.
A variation named Yellow Gravy is prepared by adding turmeric and saffron and replacing green chili with yellow chili.
It is tomato based gravy that introduces sour taste.
|Tomatoes||1kg||Ginger Garlic Paste||20 gm|
|Onions||500 gm||Garam Masala||10 gm|
|Tomato Puree||250 ml|
|Chili Powder||30 gm|
Boil tomatoes by adding onions and whole Garam Masala till they turn soft.
Blend them together till smooth.
Add ginger-garlic paste, salt, red chili powder, and tomato puree in this mixture.
Boil the mixture for 20 to 25 minutes.
Yet another version of this gravy called Makhani Gravy is prepared with addition of butter 100 gm, 200 ml cream, and 2 tbsp fenugreek powder.
It is used as a base for preparation of meat curries.
|Chopped Onions||1 kg||Red Chili Powder||30 gm|
|Tomatoes||500 gm||Tomato Puree||200 ml|
|Garam Masala||5 gm||Oil||5 tbsp|
Heat oil in a pan.
Add Garam Masala, chopped onion into it and cook till the onion turns brown and translucent.
Add red chili powder, tomatoes, and tomato puree.
Cook on medium heat till the tomatoes leave water.
Grind this mixture into fine paste.
This gravy is used in gourmet Indian cuisine.
|Cashew nut||200 gm||Onions||50 gm|
|Almonds||75 gm||Green Cardamom Powder||5 gm|
|Poppy Seeds||25gm||Bay Leaves||2|
|Ginger-Garlic paste||10gm||Garam Masala||1 tbsp|
Boil cashew and poppy seeds together.
Boil onion and almonds separately.
Grind them to fine pastes.
Take oil in a frypan.
Add Garam Masala, bay leaves, and cardamom powder.
Add all pastes except cashew-poppy seeds paste.
Cook for a while on low heat by stirring occasionally.
Add cashew-poppy seeds paste.
Cook further for a couple of minutes and cut the heat.
Yet another version of Shahi Gravy called Korma Gravy is prepared using 1 cup dried solid milk (Khoya) and 1 cup yogurt.
This gravy is used in gourmet Indian veg and non-veg cuisine. Its main ingredient is coconut.
|Fresh grated coconut||2 cups||Fresh Chopped Cilantro with stems||1 cup|
|Green Chilies||4 pieces||Mint (Optional)||¼ cup|
|Salt||½ tbsp.||Ginger||1 ½” piece|
- Put all the ingredients in a blender.
- Grind to fine paste of thick consistency by adding a little water.