Tuesday, October 28, 2008

660 Curries

Raghavan Iyer, author of 660 Curries, spoke last night at The Barnes and Noble near my home. I know very little about Indian cooking and he is a great teacher. His knowledge of his subject was all encompassing and as he wrote the book as a teacher, it very easy to use. He defines curry as any food with or without a sauce that gets flavor from a combination of spices and/or herbs. Surprisingly the heat that we associate with curries comes from hot chilies that came to India via the Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. Masala means a wet or dry blend of seasonings and there are as many combinations as there are Indian cooks. The main spices used in Indian cooking are mustard seed, cumin seed, coriander seed, tumeric, fennugeek and black peppercorns. These seeds can be whole or ground, toasted or not, cooked with liquid, fried and manipulated other ways- which explains the infinite combinations. After his talk we tasted two Indian dishes that were well seasoned, with a kick, but not too hot. His web site is www.raghavaniyer.com

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