Editor’s note: This text and the recipes were excerpted with permission from Indian Flavor (Laurel Glen Publishing, 2002) by Jeeti Gandhi. Gandhi is a qualified dietician who lectures and writes on lowfat, low-cholesterol diets in India.
Indian cuisine is a unique combination of different spices and herbs with meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, legumes, paneer (homemade fresh cheese), and yogurt. Certain recipes require one or two spices only, while more elaborate ones may need eight to ten or more spices to obtain the desired flavor. It is therefore correct to say that Indian food is “spicy,” but not always “hot” or “pungent.” The only spice that makes Indian food hot is green or red chili peppers, chopped or in powdered form. These can either be totally eliminated or the amount adjusted according to taste without affecting the flavor of the dish. The amount of other spices used in the recipes can also be altered according to taste. If you prefer a pungent taste, add extra chili pepper or hot chili powder.
As I come from northern India, most of the recipes are from that region and a special effort has been made to avoid the use of unhealthy ingredients. Ghee (clarified butter), cream, and butter have been used sparingly or replaced by unsaturated vegetable oil.
So go ahead and try some of my recipes, and surprise your family or friends with a delicious, home-cooked Indian meal. I can assure you that, without exception, they will taste far better than the so-called Indian food made by simply adding curry powder to a dish!