The right ingredients

Mallika Basu - The right ingredients



A few weeks ago, Shari who writes from Japan raised the very pertinent issue of missing ingredients when cooking Indian. No matter how close you live to an Indian spice stocked shop, there are bound to be occasions when you can’t find a certain masala or when you have run out and can’t make the trek to the shop.

If, like Shari, you live in an exotic location with no real claim to Indian cooking fame, finding the right ingredients could be that little bit too difficult.

When I am missing a crucial recipe ingredient, I tend to use a few expletives and just get on with it nonetheless. Life is too short to cry over curry leaves. In most cases, you won’t get the most authentic version of the dish, but it’ll still taste great.

There are some shortcuts you could use. For example, instead of mustard oil use normal oil and mix in a small amount of mustard to give it the flavour you need. But this is all down to creativity and not science.

I did some research and there seem to be a number of online resources available to help us buy Indian spices:

  • very comprehensive range. If you place an order from a far flung part of the world, they will email you with the best options for overseas delivery
  • This delivers to the UK and Europe only but the range is good
  • For organic spices only and they don’t come cheap

With all of these, there is a flat rate for a certain weightage, so best to stock up for your favourite recipes at once.

Talking about recipes, I am very conscious that I have not been the best at posting mine on my return from India. I blame the holiday season (Christmas in a week everyone, how exciting!!). Having sliced the best part of my ring finger off cooking casserole and erecting a real Nordic Christmas tree at home yesterday, I feel like I am ready to dive wholeheartedly into the pleasures of Indian cooking again.

5 responses to “The right ingredients”

  1. Shari says:

    Thanks a lot Mallika. I’ll look into the on-line sources you mention. 🙂

    Sorry to hear about your finger!

  2. Asha says:

    Hope your finger recovers in time for the big day!
    AH!!The joys of cooking.I have burn marks all over my right hand bcos of the oven!
    We have to drive atleast 30miles to get our spices and I stock them like crazy! I freeze my precious curry leaves!:D

  3. Trupti says:, I can totally relate to this living in Nf…We don’t have a proper Indian grocery store here, so, I often have to get things shipped from Toronto…and yep, I have often substituted many,many ingredients for another….As a matter of fact, I posted one such incident today….I ran out of Tamarinds to make a sweet,tangy chutney so I used applebutter and added some zing to it…hey, it worked! Thats what counts eh?

    Hope your finger gets better! Have a wonderful x-mas.


  4. CookingChat says:

    good advice, not to let missing ingredients worry you too much. though I’m fortunate to have an indian grocery story just around the corner!

  5. […] PS = If you are a prolific Indian cook, I am sure you will be baffled by my various shortcuts and apalled by my apparent inabilities. Fear not, the recipes do work and they save you time. A look at the glorious recipes posted by other very talented Indian cooks is also an absolute must. […]

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