A Taste of India

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Indian cuisine is just about as diverse as it gets.

Infused with many cultures, diversity in climate, ancient trade routes, religious doctrines and social traditions, Indian food is a confluence of all the ingredients made available to it over the last 5000 years of archived study. Its spices, meats, vegetables and dairy products have further been “stirred” by the influences of the British, the Portuguese, the Caribbean nations AND the Asian continent. It also has internal trends, such as vegetarianism (linked with many of its popular religions), which have all contributed to the diversity of the Indian diet.

What’s different about Indian Cuisine?

Typical Indian staples include rice, whole-wheat flour, lentils, beans, chick peas, peanut oil, ghee (a sort of clarified butter), coconut, yogurt, sesame, chilies, cumin, ginger, and garam masala (a blend of multiple spices, including cardamom, cinnamon and cloves). Many other spices and leaves (like curry, bay and mint leaves) all make contributions to the unmistakable flavors of this cuisine.

Indian meals are traditionally a communal affair, with all of the food prepared and served at the same time. They are then shared, with each person choosing his or her own combination of offerings to make the meal to suit his or her tastes.

What kind of meat is used in Indian recipes?

Aside from the protein in lentils and beans, popular meat proteins range from chicken and fish to lamb, but as the Hindu faith does not allow the consumption of beef or pork, both are less often seen in Indian recipes.

Indian foods can be spicy, but spiciness is not their hallmark. Rather, it’s the unusual blend of the aforementioned ingredients that create this enormously popular library of tastes.

At Nino’s, we have a wonderful selection of all the ingredients YOU need to prepare your favorite Indian cuisine.

Got you curious?

If you have never tasted Indian food and would like to try something to get your feet wet, so to speak, here’s a recipe that will give you the essence of the flavor. It includes one of our specialty produce items, Tindora, a common Indian vegetable.

Also known as Ivy Gourd, Tondli, Tindla, Tindli, Kundree, Kunduri, Kundru, Kunthru and Thondykaai, TINDORA is a popular Indian vegetable and is a cross between a cucumber and a gourd.

Resembling a small Kirby pickling cucumber, Tindora has a crunchy, juicy texture with a mild, slightly bitter flavor. You can eat Tindora raw in salads, boiled, steamed, fried or sliced, and you can use it as a garnish in curries and soups. This Indian-inspired recipe is a good representation of a common use.

Indian Tindora Sauté with Cumin

Serves approximately 4 Side Dish Servings

Ingredients:

1 Lb Tindora
1 TBSP Ginger, Fresh, Minced
1 TBSP Garlic, Fresh, Minced
1 ½ TBSP Peanut or Vegetable Oil
½ tsp Cumin Seeds
¼ tsp Black or Yellow Mustard Seeds
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 Cup Tomato, Fresh Wedges
1 TBSP Cilantro, Fresh, Chopped
To Taste Salt

Method:

  1. Cut each TINDORA lengthways, into thin slices, 4 to 8 slices for each piece.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or fry pan. Add cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds sputter, add ginger and garlic and stir fry for a minute.
  3. Add TINDORA, salt, turmeric, coriander powder and chili powder. Stir and cook covered on medium heat, until tender. (5 to 7 minutes for small TINDORA).
  4. Remove lid, add tomatoes and stir fry on high heat, uncovered, for a minute or two, or until all water is absorbed and the vegetable looks shiny.
  5. Plate and garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro.

Recipes of this kind are traditionally served with Dal (a lentil stew) and Chapatties, a type of flat, round, unleavened Indian bread or Naan Bread.