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Achar: A pickle

Aloo: Potato

Asafoetida (hing) is a stony resin originally from Afghanistan used powdered. It is used as a hindu alternative to garlic as apparently it does no inflame the senses!

Bhaji: A vegetable starter

Biryani: A rice casserole, often containing meat, poultry, seafood or vegetables and usually served with a seperate sauce

Bhunao is a combination of light stewing, sauteeing and stir frying. It is the process of cooking over medium to high heat, adding small quantities of liquid - water or yoghurt - to prevent the ingredients from sticking, which also makes it necessary to stir constantly.

Chapati: Thin disks of bread cooked on a griddle

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Coriander seeds (dhaniya) is used with restraint, sometimes ground, with zeera, to impart its own special flavour.

Cumin (zeera), both the white one, used commonly in the north flavouring dals and vegetables, and its tinier, darker, reddish, more expensive cousin, shahzeera, grown and favoured in Kashmiri cooking.

Dal (Dhal): Any kind of pulse--beans, peas, or lentils

Dhal Rasam: lentil based soup
Dhaniya see Coriander
Dosa: Crispy, crepe-like southern Indian specialty filled with potatoes or vegetables

Dum or Dhumming: Dum literally means 'steam' and, is the forerunner of the modern braising. In traditional handi cooking the utensil was sealed with atta (whole - wheat flour) dough, so the moisture stayed in and put onto hot coals, further coal was placed on the lid to provide even heat - from above and below. Nowadays this is usually done in the oven, the main ingredient is partially cooked with additional ingredients and then covered with a lid (sometimes sealed with atta dough) and then placed in the oven so that the food continues to cook in its own steam. The advantage of dumming is that since the steam cannot escape, the delicacy retains all the flavour and aroma.


Fenugreek (methi) is deliciously bitter and is usually introduced, along with rai and sometimes zeera, in the first step to flavour the oil in which they splutter.

Ghee: Clarified butter used for cooking

Gosht: Meat

Haldi: see Tumeric

Handi: Traditional indian cookery pot, original heated over coals and used with a lid.

Hing see Asafoetida

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Kari in the Tamil language means 'sauce'.

Korma: Meats or vegetables usually stewed or braised in a thick, mild creamy sauce, usually with cocunut milk.

Kulcha: A, pitta-like bread cooked in the tandoor

Kheer: Indian rice pudding made with basmati rice

Lassi: A yogurt drink that can be sweet or salty

Masala: A blend of spices

Mustard seeds (rai) are piquant and add pep to any meal. They are very popular in South India and in Gujarati food.

Meethi see Fenugreek

Naan: A flat, oval bread cooked in the tandoor, often spiced or flavoured

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Pakora: A type of fritter dipped in a spicy chickpea batter; can be made with vegetables, cheese, chicken or seafood

Paneer: A type of cheese

Pappadum: Lentil basedwafers

Paratha: Flaky bread fried on the griddle

Poori: Light, deep-fried bread, rather like flaky fritters

Pullao: Rice pilaf, usually flavoured with spices

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Raita: A yogurt-based condiment usually containing vegetables

Rai see Mustard seed

Rasam: A thin, spicy broth

Saag: Spinach, but can also refer to other greens

Sambar: An extremely spicy broth popular in southern India

Samosa: Flaky, pyramid-shaped pastry stuffed with potatoes or ground meat; a traditional Indian snack

Tandoor: A deep, clay oven

Tandoori: Any dish cooked in a tandoor

Tikka: small pieces usually of meat or poultry

Vindaloo: An extremely spicy curry dish that's a regional specialty of Goa

Zeera: see Cumin

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