Food & Drink

How well do you know Indian food?

There is no definitive recipe for curry powder; it varies with the cook and region. A typical mixture uses cumin, coriander, fenugreek seeds, chiles and turmeric, with the possible additions of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and channa dal (split peas).
There is no definitive recipe for curry powder; it varies with the cook and region. A typical mixture uses cumin, coriander, fenugreek seeds, chiles and turmeric, with the possible additions of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and channa dal (split peas). James F. Quinn/Chicago Tribune

Before you start messing up the kitchen, let’s find out where you stand on the spectrum of Indian food knowledge. Are you an old pro who can sort out sambars from samosas from sambals? Or are you an uneasy newbie who can barely order tandoori chicken at a restaurant, let alone make it yourself? Find out with this quiz we devised based on “Indian for Everyone,” by Anupy Singala, a Chicago-based cookbook author, entrepreneur and former journalist.

1. True or false: Curry powder is frequently used by Indian cooks.

2. Chicken tikka masala is:

A. Tandoori chicken in a spicy tomato cream sauce.

B. Chicken stewed with spinach, spices and cubes of fresh cheese.

C. Pan-fried chicken paired with okra, turmeric and chiles.

3. A kadhai is the Indian version of:

A. French saute pan.

B. Chinese wok.

C. Japanese omelet pan.

4. Ghee is the Indian name for:

A. Coconut cream.

B. Palm oil.

C. Clarified butter.

5. What matters most in Indian cooking?

A. How carefully you slice and dice ingredients before cooking.

B. How you season the dish while cooking.

6. True or false: Garam masala is the quintessential Northern Indian spice blend.

7. Besan bharwan bhindi is:

A. Okra stuffed with chickpea flour.

B. Seasoned potato and cauliflower.

C. Roasted eggplant.

8. True or false: Curry leaves are the source for curry powder.

9. What kind of bread do Indians typically eat at home?

A. Roti.

B. Naan.

10. Goa’s lamb vindaloo is rooted in which cuisine?

A. Persian.

B. Portuguese

C. Greek.

Answers:

1. False. “In the South Asian mind, curry refers less to spice and more to the consistency of a dish,” writes Singla. “We rarely – if ever – cook with the spice blend known as curry. To us, curry means ‘gravy.’”

2. A. Tandoori chicken in a spicy tomato cream sauce. “The story is that it wasn’t created in India but by an Indian chef in England. Now it’s the most popular curry in England,” Singla says.

3. B. Chinese wok. A kadhai is a metal cook pot, deep sided, with ring handles. (Indian restaurants sometimes use small ones as service dishes.)

4. C. Clarified butter. Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter, Singla writes, and may be stored at room temperature.

5. B. How you season the dish while cooking. “The key when using spices is to know that you have to cook them,” says Singla, noting that spices should be cooked first in hot oil to release flavor and not just plopped into a dish.

6. True. “In Hindi, garam means ‘warm' or ‘hot.’ And masala means a ‘blend of spices,'” writes Singla. Every North Indian family makes its own version.

7. A. Okra stuffed with chickpea flour.

8. False. “These leaves have little – if anything – to do with curry powder,” writes Singla. “They are added to hot oil in everything from vegetable stir-fries to rice dishes.” Their flavor is a cross between lemongrass and tangerines.

9. A. Roti. Roti is an unleavened bread made from whole-wheat chapati flour and water, says Singla, while naan is a leavened bread baked in a tandoori oven, which are usually found in restaurants.

10. B. Portuguese. “Vin means wine, while alho is the word for garlic in Portuguese, the key language influence in Goa, India’s smallest state,” writes Singla. Goa was a Portuguese colony from 1510 to 1961.

  Comments