My Writings

More questions on Tikka, Washington Post, January 31st, 2007

This is from the Washington Post. Reader’s questions answered —-

Cookbook author Monica Bhide could not join us for our Free Range chat last week, when readers asked some Indian food-related questions (see "Tikka in No Time," Jan. 24). Hence, a twofer:

Kosher Indian? I’m excited to find some of the products in our local stores [in Dallas]. We try to cook kosher style, and the hardest thing about making Indian food at home is that meat gets marinated in yogurt. Are there any good nondairy substitutes? Will soy yogurt work just as well?

Monica Bhide: Along with dairy products, Indian cooking uses acidic ingredients, such as lime juice and raw papaya, to tenderize meats. While the acids are good, I find that yogurt (and sometimes buttermilk) is often the most effective tenderizer; it also adds a heartier flavor than lime or papaya, which add tang. I haven’t tried soy yogurt. If you get really fresh young lamb or goat meat, you can sometimes forgo the marinade, because the meat is already so tender.

New to Indian cooking: I have finally convinced my husband that he likes Indian food. I admit I have been scared away because of the long preparations in most recipes. I recently purchased a lovely spice mix of garam masala at a spice store. Do you have any good recipes that use this mix?

Monica Bhide: Ground garam masala is primarily used as a garnish for finished dishes; whole garam masala is used in the beginning of the cooking process. Both provide flavor and aroma. For finished dishes, think biryanis, yogurt dips and chicken or meat curries. You can also use it as part of a marinade for lamb chops along with lemon juice, red chili powder and salt. Marinate, refrigerated, for up to 2 hours, then grill the lamb to your liking.

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