A desi girl should never be judged by how round her rotis are!
Traditional desi home-cooked food seems to be made less and less by younger generations.
For many amateur cooks, one of the reasons is that the process from start to finish can be a very daunting one.
The idea of making rotis seems impossible, but don’t get intimidated; a desi girl should never be judged by how round her rotis are!
Indian food can be easy, quick and healthy if the proper method is adopted. After a few tips are mastered, the options of making sabjis (Indian vegetable based dishes) and curries are endless.
Masala acts as the base flavour of each dish you attempt, so it is essential to get the cooking of these right. Once our tips are put into action, there’s honestly no stopping the Desi Chef in you!
Tips for cooking Masala (The base of Indian Food)
- Desi food is all about the onions. Always cook your onions on medium heat. Never cook onions on high as this will result them in burning.
- Subsequently, cook onions until a golden brown colour is achieved. This enhances the colour and flavour of the gravy.
- Grind the onions and tomatoes before frying if you want a smooth curry. This works well for butter tikka masala gravy which is a British favourite.
- Let the masala cook properly. It takes about 7-10 mins for the onions, tomatoes, garlic and masalas to cook.
Tips for cooking Desi Dishes
- Keep all spices in one tray, as it makes the ingredient list less intimidating.
- Never add excessive amounts of water to the gravy.
- Water generally removes flavour from dishes and makes some vegetables soggy (e.g. bhindi/gobi).
- Add a little at a time and let your tastebuds be the judge.
- Measure your spices to improve accuracy of your dishes.
- If the curry requires adding yoghurt, whisk the yoghurt and add bit by bit. This prevents any form of curdling.
- For garnishing, add fresh coriander leaves and green chillies. Aesthetics are always important!
Tips for making Rotis (Now that you are on a Roll!)
- Always add a pinch of salt to the flour.
- The general ratio of water to atta is 1:2.
- Kneading is about taking out your frustration. Put a bit of oil/ghee on your hands. Work with your knuckles and knead away. You will need to knead until the dough does not stick to your hands.
- Cover and leave for 15 – 20 mins.
- Time to rock and roll. The shape truly doesn’t matter. With practice the rotis will look more consistent and circular.
For those looking for an easy way out, there is an automatic roti maker coming out next year which eradicates the need to perfect the round. The Rotimatic is going to be a Desi-Life-Saver (read our article on it here).
When cooking Indian food, it is imperial to keep health issues in mind. Opt for healthy options when exploring traditional recipes with high oil content.
For instance, use coconut oil to shallow-fry onions as coconut oil has numerous health benefits. Refrain from deep frying and substitute it with baking or shallow frying.
Punjabi Kadhi, a yoghurt based curry, usually contains deep fried pakoras. A quick substitution for this can be made with roasted vegetables pan fried cutlets.
Also, instead of paneer, tofu is a good alternative as it is high in protein and low in fat. With these substitutions in mind, Indian food can be made healthier.
Remember, eating Indian food in restaurants removes this flexibility and thus makes it an unhealthy option. Home-made food is unequivocally the healthier option. A roti wrap can be made with any sabji of your choice.
Here’s a recipe that you can try out.
B’s Sabji Roti Wrap
Makes: 5 wraps
- 5 rotis
- 2 tbsp organic coconut oil
- 1/2 onion (blended)
- 5-7 cherry tomatoes (blended)
- 1 tbsp tomato concentrated puree
- 1 carrot (grated)
- 250g tofu, cut into pieces
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- 1/4 cup red peppers
- 1/4 cup corn kernels
- Spices: cumin powder, garam masala, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and pepper
- Tamarind Chutney and Green Chillies (to serve)
- Put oil in a pan with medium heat. Cook onions, then add tomatoes. Add a bit of water.
- Add the spices (masala). Add 1/2 tsp of cumin powder, garam masala and a pinch of chilli powder. Add tomato puree. Add some water if needed. Let the masala cook.
- In another saucepan, pan fry tofu with turmeric, chilli powder, salt and pepper. Keep aside.
- Add corn kernels, spinach, tofu and red peppers to the masala.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Use the rotis as wraps. Serve hot with tamarind chutney and green chillies. (The more green chillies the more desi you are!)
What’s the hottest food in the world? “My desi food, my desi food.” This popular tune was definitely intended to be sung out aloud, and if you did that you truly are a desi guy or girl! But remember, also be a healthy one.
Always remember this aphorism: “1/4 of what you eat keeps you alive, 3/4 of what you eat keeps your doctor alive.” When consuming a meal, prompt yourself to answer if you are feeding a disease or preventing one.
With these great desi cooking tips, you will be on your way to becoming an expert in the kitchen, so what are you waiting for?