North Indian Cooking

Indian cuisine is extremely popular all over the world and, as a result, Indian dishes have been adapted and re-invented to suit local palates.  Here Jaspal Boyce outlines the basics behind traditional North Indian cooking at home.
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At last people are beginning to realise that Indian cuisine is not just about curry, chillies, oil and fruit thrown in for good measure.  This is thanks to a number of TV chefs that have been spreading the word, including Rick Stein, who searched India for the best Fish curry; Gordon Ramsay’s Great escapes, where he explores the country’s culinary traditions; and others such as Jamie Oliver, who include Indian dishes as part of their repertoire.

Supermarkets have also started to stock the required ingredients; so finally recreating traditional Indian dishes is becoming easier for everyone. Luckily for me, I already knew it was easy thanks to my Mum!

Indian dishes are regional and diverse, and every home has its own way of cooking. These techniques are usually passed down from generation to generation. My Indian cooking knowledge and experience was passed down to me by my Mum and the methods are common in the Punjab.

Tomato - FreeDigitalPhotos

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Punjab is a northern state of India and is known for its rich foods. Most recipes are prepared in delicious tomato based sauce which is simple and healthy.

The secret unfolded for a basic tomato sauce:

This is a versatile sauce that can be used as a base for most meat, fish and vegetable dishes, creating a delicious rich gravy, which can also be used with beans and pulses.




  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove,
  • ½ inch fresh ginger
  • 1 green chilli (for a hotter sauce add more green chillies)
  • ½ of the 14oz tomato can (fresh chopped tomatoes can also be used)
  • ½ tsp  cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp  haldi / turmeric
  • ½ tsp  garam masala
  • 1 tbsp  sunflower oil
  • Fresh coriander
  • Salt to taste



cumin seeds and onions

Cooking the cumin seeds and onions

  • Using a blender, chop the peeled garlic, ginger and chilli to form a paste.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, and, when hot, add the cumin seeds and cook for 30secs. Do not allow to burn or the taste will be bitter.
  • Then add the chopped onions and cook until golden brown in colour. Keep stirring so that it does not stick to the pan.
  • Add the blended garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a few minutes until the ginger and garlic start to turn a slightly golden colour, stirring all the while so that they do not stick to the pan.
  • Then add the haldi / turmeric powder and cook for 30 secs.
  • Add the tomatoes, salt and garam masala and cook until the fat starts to separate from the tomatoes. You can add boiling hot water if it is getting too dry. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the fresh chopped coriander.


tomato sauce

The finished North Indian tomato sauce

At this point the tomato sauce is ready and, as mentioned before, you can add whatever vegetables or meats that you wish at this point and continue to cook until ready. Lamb, chicken and mince are all great with this sauce, as well as vegetables such as potatoes, peas, carrots, aubergines, and cauliflower.

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