Basic Ingredients, Abbreviations, and Preparations

Contents in a basic spice box in Indian cooking:

Asafoetida (Hing)
Cumin Seeds
Mustard Seeds
Red Chilli Powder
Garam Masala - A traditional mixture of spices used in North Indian cuisine.
Goda Masala - A traditional mixture of powdered spices, a staple in Maharshtrian Kitchens

Other staple ingredients:

Curry Leaves
Fresh Ginger
Fresh Garlic

Whole Spices (I would recommend Penzeys, their spices are fresh, I have found that the spices at local Indian Grocery Stores are not always fresh):

Fenugreek seeds
Fennel Seeds
Ajwain Seeds
Bay leaf
Black Pepper

tbsp: tablespoon
tsp: teaspoon 

Ginger or Garlic paste
Store bought ginger or garlic paste will never give your meals the same flavor as fresh paste. I make either paste on an as need basis. I peel the ginger or garlic and grate it on small stainless steel grater to yield a pulp like paste that has a wonderful aroma.

Often the starting point of any Indian dish, this procedure entails the heating of an oil (canola, safflower, mustard) or ghee in a pan. Once hot, spices are sauteed in the oil. If seeds are used (such as cumin, mustard, and ajwain), allow them to crackle and sputter before adding ground spices such as asafoetida). This releases their flavors and aroma.

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