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How to Americanize Indian Recipes

Not many people are fond of Indian cuisine; for one, they perceive it’s too spicy, and for another, they’re totally unfamiliar with the concept. However, for those who’ve tried and become fans of Indian food, the sky is the limit as they experiment and tweak Indian recipes to better suit their palates; and that’s the glorious part of Indian cuisine, you can alter the dish considerably while retaining the main ingredients and end up with a recipe that’s half Indian, half American cooking. If you’re looking for tips to Americanize Indian recipes, read on:

  • Go easy on the spices; tone down on the chilli and the cumin, two spices that are a necessary part of most Indian dishes. Instead, use green chillies that are halved to retain some of the spiciness without worrying about smoke coming out of your mouth during the meal. Don’t forget the turmeric if you’re cooking meat and chicken – it helps remove the raw smell and is also a great anti-oxidant.
  • Not everyone is fond of rice which is a staple Indian cereal; so if boiled rice is part of a meal that includes a chicken gravy or a paneer masala, you can always replace it with parathas (made of whole wheat if you’re particular) which are available in many stores. They’re pre-cooked, which means they’re ready to eat after a few minutes on a hot shallow-bottomed frying pan with a dash of oil (or ghee if you’re indulging). Or you could just eat the gravy with some bread.
  • Most Indian gravies and curries use coconut milk as a thickening agent; if you’re worried about the health aspect, use coconut paste (grind dessicated coconut with some warm water in a blender until you get a smooth paste) mixed in some water instead. Alternatively, you could also use whole or skim milk; the gravy tastes just as good and is healthier than coconut milk.
  • Indian desserts are very sweet and rich; they use lots of sugar and ghee, both of which don’t really sit well with the American palate. Pick recipes that are milk based and which can be sweetened to the minimum if you insist on an Indian dessert for your meal.

A few tips that help make Indian recipes better:

  • When you’re cooking lentils and pulses, soak them for an hour (toor dal) or overnight (chickpeas) before cooking them. It reduces your overall cooking time.
  • Don’t add salt when cooking lentils and pulses until after they’re done – they don’t get fully cooked when salt is added at the beginning.
  • If you’re using coconut milk in a recipe, add the salt just a few minutes before the dish is done. This prevents the milk from curdling and ruining your dish. Also, cook on a low flame to avoid curdling.
  • If you’re a regular with Indian recipes, it’s best you invest in a pressure cooker to save time when cooking your meals.
  • If your recipe calls for tamarind and you’ve forgotten to soak it in some water beforehand, add hot water over a piece of tamarind and watch it soften instantly.

Indian food grows on you and is a great change from your staple fare, so give it a try whether you’re a foodie or not.