Thursday, 21 December 2017

Chhath Puja

It was a beautiful busy evening and Dilli32 was hosting Hyderabadi food festival. MY blogger friends Mr. Maneesh Srivastva & Mr. Vickram Vicky had come to honor us with their presence. It’s always a pleasure talking to them on various topics, and that day chhath was our discussion topic.

Mr. Maneesh Srivastava says, “Chef Aap chhath puja per kyun nahin likhthe? I said aap ko humari madad karni padegi’’. He has lightened my task by saying that ‘’aap suru to kare”.

Chhath, “A goddess who is called chhathi maata is worshiped for four days. Chhath Maha Parva is celebrated in Shukla Chaturthi of Kartika Month. Mainly every year after six day from Diwali chhath is celebrated. Due to Suryashashthi’s fasting, it is called ‘CHHATH’. It is also said Chhath in Hindi is 6.

It is a mega festival of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. Mithila Region of Nepal also does chhath, infact there is an important connection between chhath and Mithila region. My Rakhi sister Mili Sharma (Mithila Brahmin) vice principal of DAV, Biratnagar in Nepal says that chhath is very popular here and celebrated all over the Nepal with same faith and happiness every year, as we have in Bihar.

The 100% Bihari festival Chhath Puja starts with removing all the negativity and turning it into positive. Chhath means everything to a Bihari, and we feel proud that the oldest ruling history state has such a unique festival in the whole country that it has got respect from every others religion.
It’s a religious festival and celebrated in the family with purity. A four day function where all family members come together to celebrate.

Indians belongs to the family of Aryans. From the Vedic period we worship sun as it is a symbol of power and energy. Life style is based on Varna and Caste. Sanskrit is the main language of communication. People were scared from the natural powers like- Sun, Moon, Star, Rain, Fire and Wind in that era, and hence they started worshiping them like god and goddess.

Upanishad, Ramayana and Mahabharata all are documented in this era and provided many instances on Sun and other worships. Pandavas wife Draupadi used to worship sun for the sake of family’s good health and their longevity.

It is believed that Chhathi maiya is the sister of Lord Surya and if we worship HER, Sun God is worshiped. The worshipers fast and worship on the banks of river Ganga, Yamuna or any river and reservoir.

Dev in Aurangabad district of Bihar has a sun temple and their chhath puja is world famous. Many villagers in Bihar establish the Surya murti in nicely decorated pandal and after chhath they do visharjan.

To wish to have a child in their lives, people started to celebrate chhath puja with a faith and belief in Lord Surya. Believe me it’s true to many………..

My childhood memories begin with the making of ghat with friends in chhath. We used to carry tools like kudal and khurpa in ours hand and went to the riverside to make it. This beautiful journey with childhood friend helped to select the perfect place for the ghat. Then, we wold compete to see who is making it better and quicker.

The festival begins from NAHAY KHAY (Nahay is bath and khay is food), the devotees take a bath and enjoy satvik bhojan thus called “Nahay khay”. Song of chhathi maiya is sung by the family members in every household. Puri, Chana dal, Lauki ki subzi, Aloo chokha, Aloo dum, Dhaniya ki chutney, Arwa chawal and Ghee are the highlights of the menu cooked in sendha namak without onion and garlic Also referred  as ‘’kaddu bhat’’ if anyone eats with rice. 



Second day is the day of “kharna”. The preparation for making Prasad (kheer) with full faith and prayers for family’s well-being is called Kharna. Vartis do fasting whole day, without any water and food and in the evening they worship Lord Bhaskar and offer him Ganga Jal, Gur ka Kheer and ghee ki Roti after that they intake it and later the Prasad is distributed to the family members.  New rice and new gur is used to make Kheer. It is made separately in clay Chulah, in which the mango woods and the cow’s dung cakes are used in the form of fuel.

 In the end I am blessed to wash the leftover cloths of the varti, which is also a very important part of the chhath puja. They wear the same saree throughout the ritural ceremony of chhath.



Arwa chawal/Gur/Fresh cow or buffalo milk

Boil milk add soaked arwa rice and cooked till mashy consistency, remove from fire and add gur.

Nirjala vart

Where varti do the fasting without having any water and food is called Nirjala. Chhath, Teej, Jitiya are the most difficult Nirjala vart of our country.

The 36 hrs long fasting without water is starts after that.

The festival of Chhath is the most difficult festival. It’s not easy to spend 36 hrs of long fasting. The whole night is utilized to make Tekua, thikri and khajuri and this work continues till morning. The temperature required to fry Thekua should be very low, more time required due to large quantity of Prasad, thus done in night. The Tekua will be made of only wheat, which is specially washed and dried for Chhath.
In the afternoon, every kalsup and daura is decorated beautifully and traditionally with fruits, vegetables and 7 thekua each. Picture of sun with ghee and sindoor are made in the kalsup. The weight of Kalsup for Arghya (offering) with milk is more than 5 kg.

5 kg chaki ka atta / 2 1/2 kg gur / 300 gm sudh ghee.
Thekua is fried in sudh ghee.


“Daura and Kalsup” are kept on the forehead of male members and all move to the ghat near river side. (Some did it on their rooftop). This is the most enjoyable and responsible task, performed by the male members of the family and ladies keep walking singing the chhathi maiya songs.

काँच के बाँस के बहँगिया, बहँगी सतर्क जाएय् होख॥ सुरूजदेव सहाय…… बहँगी घाट पहुँचाए…… घाट पर हमहूँ अरधिया देबई हे छठी मइयाँ……. it’s a long song, if you sing you fall in love of it.

Kids enjoy crackers throughout the journey…………….

As varti reach the ghat, all daura and kalsup are kept on the ghat floor and ghat is decorated with sugarcane and Banana tree leaves. Some do modern 
lighting too.


The first arghya is called “SANDHYA ARGHYA. Varti does worship in river/pond/ man made water pond. They hold the kalsup in their hands and stand in the water. They move around five times at the same place and every time family members offered arghya of water near the kalsup to Lord Bhasker and take blessings of Chhathi Maiya.

Again, Kids enjoy crackers on ghat throughout the ritual ceremony………….

After the first arghya, “KOSI BHARNA” is an event during Chhath Puja. When your manat is fullfiled by Chhathi Maiya, you do kosi bharna. In a beautiful earthen pot (here, sculpture of elephant) which has many diya in it and in the centre of earthen pot, vartis’ put thekua, fruits, sacha, and puri. The earthen pot is kept in the center under the shades of sugarcane stacks. It’s a thanks giving to the Goddess.

Kids enjoy crackers on ghat throughout the ritual ceremony………….

Many people stay over the ghat in that night. Many cultural activities are performed by the local and celebrities. Varti along with family members enjoy chhathi songs to avoid falling asleep.

As and when we talk about chhath song definitely one name comes to our mind that is of Sharda Sinha. She is world renowned singer by the virtue of chhathi maiya songs.

Those who return back to their houses, wake up at 3:30 am in the morning. The sound of the loudspeaker indicates you to do bath and get ready for the ghat. Without any Pandit this ritural of chhath happens in the supervision of the elder family member. The ugthe surya ko arghya is given with raw cow milk. Everyone at the ghat does the milk arghya. After that, we do surya Arti and dhup hawan and put dhup samagri (shakil) five times and this is done by everyone in the family.

Kids enjoy crackers on ghat throughout the ritual ceremony………….

In chhath the long sindoor on mother’s forehead through the nose, resemble her as goddess.

The chhath puja finishes with blessings and we take prasad and seek blessings of Chhathi Maiya and Lord Bhaskar. Vartis’ do sindoor and khoichha ritural to the others ladies.

Today is Paran day, all varti’ open his/her fasting by eating thekua. The thekua loaded with sindoor looks very attractive and just melts in your mouth. It’s very soft due to loads of ghee used in the preparation. Thekua is divine and is just out of the world.
All Bihari will agree with this statement about thekua…………
There is a tradition to eat fish in the afternoon as Bihari always consider fish as auspicious.

Happy chhath puja to all!!! “Chhathi maiya ki kirpa aap per bani rahe”.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

“Kya pulao se aaya hoga biryani” - An insight to Biryani

Memories of food are often a powerful reality, which gets imprinted in our mind. My first encounter with biryani was when I was working as a Chef in charge at Maharaja Heritage resort, Balsamand Lake Palace, Jodhpur. This beautiful property of His Highness Mr. Gaj Singh is known for their Royal Marwar food. On his 50th Birthday ceremony, I was cooking for him at Sardar Samand lake palace, Pali, Rajasthan. Soola, Boothan, Sath, Safeed maans, Panchkutta, Mokul, khato and his highness favourite Shikampuri kebab were the selected delicacies in the menu for the gala dinner.

I saw our G.M.  Mr. Atul Chana of ITC fame, coming towards me and telling that ‘Bap Ji’ (His Highness) has asked for biryani also to be served on the royal table for the dinner tonight. It was an important order to me and that too at the last moment. Well, I have always believed not to get panic in sudden situations like this, instead calm my own self and concentrate in order to try to deliver the best i can within that short span of time.
Eventually what I did, I just boiled the rice and then layered it over the safeed maans and cooked. Though, I was skeptical but not afraid at all. Finally the biryani was served to him and he had it. Later he called me up and praised me immensely in front of all his Royal friends. He said to me that this was one of the best Biryani's he ever had till now in a really long period of time. That compliment over my confidence and effort made my day and got embarked in my mind forever.

Basically, the Safed maans has all the ingredients which are necessary for a good biryani. Rose water, Cardamom, mace, Fennel, white pepper, ghee, green chilles, ginger, poppy seed, curd and milk- basically it’s a white korma - The trick worked that day.

Rajasthan is not known for biryani except Dargah of Ajmer Sharif, they serve biryani deg, called “Sarai ki biryani”. Marwar have Kabuli pulao which is a vegetarian version with vegetables, raisins, cashewnuts etc and they also add fried breads croutons that look like meat.
“Kya pulao se aaya hoga biryani” - An insight to Biryani
India has a long history of rice cultivation. It developed on the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. From there it got spread to the rest of the world. In India, rice is a symbol of prosperity and from the past old times it was associated with the rich people, because rice was too expensive to afford. It was cultivated and stored for the special occasions. Ghee and milk was also a part of the cooking medium and hunting was very much popular too during Aryan culture.

Rice cooked in water called ‘Bhath’ and is accompanied by ghee, curd, and dal or meat preparation. Pulao is a renowned rice preparation and an Indian delicacy being popular from the Vedic time itself. Mahabharata also referred that when meat and rice cooked together then that is a similar dish. 
''oon soru"
A rice preparation with ghee, turmeric, pepper and meat was served to warriors, which is mention in Tamil literature.
Since we all know, India was ruled by many rulers from time to time and thus has been their influence on the food. . When Alexander conquered the northern state of India at that time he had this Indian delicacy 'Pulao', which he relished a lot and took it from here
to Greece and then from Greece to Turkey. Then the pulao which travelled from India to Turkey that eventually returned back to India in the form of 'Biryani' by the Mughals. “Ain-e- Akbari", the Mughal document also states that pulao was familiar with the Indian people.
If we consider this statement then, my belief becomes even stronger on it, that the Indian Pulao which was served to the Mughal Emperor's table would have only become biryani further. Since the Muslim cooks were known for their innovation and creation of new delicacies. It might have happened that on the demand of their emperor they might have invented biryani, which was cooked in layers and was much easier to cook rice rather than pulao.


Pulao is actually a type of rice preparation, generally cooked in home when there is any special occasion, picnic, festivals or wedding. The preparation of pulao starts with frying meat/vegetables with spices and herbs in ghee (clarified butter), after that water is added which is approximately double the quantity of rice (1’inch above from the level of rice) in the prepared meat/vegetables. Later rice is added and simmered together to absorb the flavours of the spices. This process is called - absorption method.

Soaking is very important in the making of pulao, it helps in minimising starch upto a limit and another characteristic is that the grain of the prepared pulao comes out evenly and separately. Very low heat applied from both the sides which gives pulao a definition of what it is!!!

Rice/Pulao is generally cooked by a male Brahmin (Maharaj) due to its huge volume in the ritual ceremonies in India.
Basic pulao recipes-
1 kg old aged rice/1 kg mutton curry cut pieces/250 gm desi Ghee/250 gm onion/100 gm curd/1 pod garlic/ 1 pcs ginger /5 nos green chillies/½ tsp cumin seed /10 nos clove /10 nos black cardamom /4 nos bay leaf /4 pcs cinnamon/Salt to taste...
First, wash and soak rice for 1 hour. Then fry half of the onion in ghee and pound it nicely. Make a paste of ginger and garlic and strain the juice and keep it aside. Marinate the mentioned ingredients all together- chillies, cumin, cinnamon, curd, salt and juice of ginger and garlic. In a pot, fry bay leaf, clove and cardamom and then add the rest of the onion and fry it upto golden. Now, add the marinated mutton and stir nicely till golden brown colour comes in. Simmer it till all the ghee comes on the top and then you can say that meat is cooked nicely. Now, drain the water from the rice and put in the prepared korma. Check the seasoning and when the rice absorbs the juice of the meat nicely, cover it and then cook it on dum.

Kabuli pulao/Moti pulao/Kofta pulao/Kashmiri pulao/Yakni pulao/Boot pulao/Muzaffer/Zard/Muthanjan/Shahjahani/Coorgi yarchi pulao etc

My recommendation to the readers - Soak the rice, drain the water from it and spread it over a table cloth and let it dry first then fry it in the ghee and later add to the Yakhni to enhance the flavours of the pulao. Always keep this in mind, in order to prevent rice to get overdone add little curd to the pulao before adding water/yakni to it.

“Biryani ka matlab”- 
Biryani comes from a Persian word ‘’ Birinj aur Biriyan’’, Birinj is rice and biriyan means fried- literally means fried rice. Apart from this there is no other evidence about biryani nomination.
Biryani is a combination of rice and meat/poultry/fish/vegetables. It was brought to India by the Mughals and was spread by them to all over the Indian regions, where they ruled. The traditional Mughlai biryani was not documented even in Ain-e Akbari, it has description only about the types of meal which used to be served, and it was meat with rice i.e. pulao/ biryani.


Biryani is a Muslim food and kebab was an accompaniment to the Biryani. Dastarkhwan, a ceremonial spread used to have an array of dishes- from kebabs to Korma and Qaliya all eaten together with biryani. The quality of a cooked biryani can be tested by throwing a handful of it on the ground in a spray. If the grains of rice fall separately from each other then it is supposed to be a good biryani.

Biryani is basically a winter dish. Cooking style of biryani is different in every community in India. Necks, Barrah, parchas and ndare are the various cuts of mutton with least fibrous meat which are best suited for preparing Biryani. The good practice of eating habits says that the food rich in blood are supposed to be consumed in winters. Likewise, biryani has the attributes of a man/the warrior and is considered as sexually potent.
Delhi who was an evidence of Imperial kitchen of Mughals had developed many cooking styles. Mughals were known for having a high sense of taste and aroma of the food. From here they had spread it to all over the Indian Sub-regions. In Delhi, here biryani is cooked in a single layer or double layer with ghee and is being sold in kgs at small eating joints and thelas all over. It is quite a popular as it justifies its worth with the quantity they sell. So that, “koi yah na kahe ki kam di biryani khane ko”

The yield of the prepared biryani is approx. 1 kg meat + 1 kg rice = 4 kg of biryani.

Biryani can be categorised into two forms - ‘Kutchi' (raw) and 'Pukki' (cooked).
Lucknowi biryani is known as ‘Pukki’ biryani and the Hyderabadi is famous for ‘Kutchi’ biryani. According to the 'pukki' style, meat and rice are cooked separately then layered in a ‘Deg’, brass vessel for the finishing whereas in ‘Kutchi’ biryani style (with raw gravy); meat, marinade and rice are layered raw and cooked in 'Dum'.


DEG / DEGCHI: This is a pear-shaped pot of brass, copper or aluminium. The shape of this utensil is ideally suited for the 'dum' method and is used for cooking Pulao, Biryani, Nehari or Shab Deg.

Lucknow was ruled by the Nawab Asaf - ud – Daulah, who were of Persian origin. He was a connoisseur and a great lover of cuisine, who is said to have maintained six kitchens and spent vast sums of money inventing fabulous delicacies. Lucknowi, ‘’Rakabdar ‘’developed the ‘’Dum style’’ of cooking in which food is cooked for a long period of time.

RAKABDAR: In the Royal kitchens of Awadh, this designation was equivalent to that of today’s Gourmet Chefs. Their job was to look after how the food has been prepared, the process and procedure of cooking, the quality etc, they don't use to cook themselves oftenly and rarely in small quantities if required. 

Chilman Biryani

Lucknowi biryani is highly aromatic and full of meaty flavours. It is scented with saffron and vetiver, some used to cook it with dry fruits and nuts also.  They don’t put tenderizer at all. There are many innovative biryanis by Nawabi Rakabdar in Lucknow.
Lucknow serves pukki form of biryani. Pukki means cooked. This biryani mainly has three steps:-

The meat is fried in ghee and cooked with ginger, garlic, crushed fried onion and little milk with warm aromatic spices till the meat becomes tender. The prepared meat yakhni is drain out and jugalbandi of atter with saffron, cardamom and mace are added after checking the seasoning. The nazakat of Lucknowi biryani is that no whole spices should come to your mouth while you are having it.

The rice is slightly fried in Ghee, and boiled in the meat broth or water.

Cooked meat and cooked rice are layered twice or more in a deg. Saffron or food grade lemon yellow and orange colours are sprinkled on the layered rice. Then the deg is sealed and cooked over low heat. The result is perfectly cooked meat, rice, and a homogenous flavour of aromatic meat yakni, aromatic spices and sweet flavors.

The city Hyderabad is known as a land of Biryani in India. The famous Kacchi gosht ki biryani is prepared with marinated lamb and rice cooked together. The use of tenderizer i.e. papaya in marination (Kachi yakni) makes the difference here. The highly aromatic biryani has green and red chillies, peppercorn, star anise, cardamom, kebabchini, mint etc.
In Hyderabad collection of biryani is rich and vast and in their both preparation whether it is vegetarian or non- vegetarian and has many delicacies.
The Hyderabadi Muslims got their food habits from the Mughals. Hyderabad serves both the original Hindu Andra style and Mughlai Hyderabadi biryani which highly influences by Mughal imperial kitchen. One main preparation difference is the use of lemon juice instead of tamarind juice by Muslims. Andhra produced largest chillies which actually reflect in their biryani which is why it is much spicier then north. Here, mirch ka salan and bhurani are eaten with biryani, which helps to aid digestion.

Bhurani is a good healthy combination with biryani supposed to prevent constipation occurs due to rice.

Procedure of making Hyderabadi kache gosht ki biryani -

Mutton is marinated with lemon juice, green papaya paste, curd, onion, garlic herbs and spices with desi ghee. The marination is kept for minimum 1 hr to 4 hr in the fridge.

Rice is soaked, drained and cooked in mutton stock or water with potli masala. The first layer of cooked rice is almost 30% done spared all over the marinated mutton and the second layering is of 50% cooked rice is added and spread nicely. Pre-soaked saffron milk is sprinkled all over the rice and more ghee is added on the top.

Seal the deg with dough and put the lid on and live charcoal is placed on the top as well and let it cook on slow flame till done. 

In my early commi days, I used to marinate the meat very well for the kache gosht ki biryani, the only problem I faced was while cooking rice. The timing to take out the rice from the boiling pot and layering it over the meat was very important and one has to leave some water along with the boiled rice while pouring it over the marinated meat. If you didn't maintain the timing it spoils the whole process of making biryani. The biggest challenge for me was to maintain the consistency. Either the grain of biryani were too mashy or the rice/ meat remain raw.

Hyderabad is also known for its Pulao, Qubooli Mughal influence rice and lentil preparation. It is also cooked with meat as a non veg option.

Potli ka masala
Black cardamom /cinnamon/bay leaf/coriander seeds/kebabchini/dried rose petals/kapoor kachai/pan ki jad/star anise/stone flower/sandal wood/khus ki jad/gehunwala

On my grand trunk culinary journey trip, I got chance to explore the biryani of Calcutta. It was quite a knowledgeable opportunity. Calcutta is known for their love towards biryani. One can easily assume that Calcutta biryani is a true copy of Lucknowi biryani. Every aspect of biryani is equally same, only difference is the uses of potatoes in it. If you ask me then, I must say, Calcutta biryani has less ghee and kushboo in comparison to Lucknowi biryani. The best part is that it was light in taste.

Calcutta Biryani

Why Potatoes in Calcutta biryani?? One of my friends who are a school teacher, Debolina Mustaufi expressed:-
Mouth-watering biriyani have stolen the hearts of people of every region of India, with the expansion of Islamic rule in India the culinary expansion also happened simultaneously. Along with the Nawab Wajid Ali Shah coming to Bengal, biriyani spreaded its fragrance to millions of Khaddyo Rasik (food loving) Bengalis. The Lucknowi biriyani with a yummy tender potato along with meat pieces had made its entry to the long list of mukhorochok (mouth-watering) khaddyo talika (Ala carte) of Bengali cuisine. You must be wandering why a Potato in biriyani??Well that reminds us of a saying "you have to adjust with ups and downs of life and enjoy to the fullest”. The Nawab lost his wealth but not the taste, so his chef found that the boiled succulent potato can be the alternative for the eggs in the biriyani. There begins the journey of potato along with the meat in biriyani. No wonder that this boiled potato cooked with spices adds the volume to the dish and has blended so well that now it has become another style of this age old preparation of biriyani, named Kolkata style biriyani...

Difference between Lucknowi and Hyderabadi biryani

Pulao vs Biryani

Basmati the finest long grain rice quality in world comes from India and some parts of Pakistan and known for their aromatic fragrance which is ideal for the biryani and pulao due to their non-sticky characteristic .Both white and brown are very much in use and can give really result good when stored and aged for 2 to 5 years. Old aged basmati rice requires less water to cook in comparison to the new age one.

Tahari is neither a pulao nor a biryani, both Lucknow and Hyderabad claim it to be an expert in making of it. Pilibhit ki tahari is one of the most famous one. Use of mustard oil and turmeric provides Lucknowi tahari the different taste and texture. Potatoes, cauliflower are cooked with yellow masala rice is the most likely tahari in north India. It appears like a pulao, while the ingredients used are as similar to biryani. Hyderabadi take on tahari is similar to their dish and is much closer to biryani. One more unique aspect which differentiates tahari from pulao and biryani is that the tahari is comparatively spicier. 

Food provides nutrition to the body. Biryani has all the main five nutrients which required to a good health. That’s why Biryani is a complete meal in itself.

If biryani is perfect then it really doesn’t require any accompaniments – don’t remember exactly who said this but heard from many Muslims friends.

Now, it’s time to talk about why I am writing or trying to understand biryani. The reason lies in my previous article on curry; someone has requested me to write about biryani as well. Honestly speaking cooking rice is a very difficult subject to handle in home as well as in hotel business. One has to be perfect while dealing with biryani and pulao even simple rice needs experience to cook it perfectly. Kehtey hain, “Aag, Hawa, Pani Aur Nazar ka khumar hai cooking”, ya phir kahe to, “haath ki safai hai”.

Here, I am not trying to claim any statement it is just for the viewers reading pleasure.

Happy Cooking...............

Saturday, 25 February 2017



Curry or Kari means a liquid or semi liquid food which gets from proper use by blending of spices.Curry and gravy both words has the same meaning in Indian cuisine. Gravy is the English word for the curry. The word comes from “Kari”, which is from the Tamil language. Leaves of the curry tree are known in Tamil as 'Karuvapillai'. They added flavour to the curry. Some also claim the origin of curry comes from the word Kadahi or karhi, which is an iron wok shape cooking utensil used all over the India.

These words sound differentially but have the same meaning:-

Curry is also known as rasa in the many part of India. “Rasa” is a Sanskrit word means "juice, essence or taste". Tambda, Pandhra, Varhadi are the few rasa preparation.

Jhol is a light thin Bengali curry with ground spices.

Tari is an Urdu word means juice of vegetable and Meat cooked with water and spices.

Tarkari is a vegetable preparation of both Hindu and Muslim communities in many part of the India.

It consists of thick curry based on chickpea flour, and contains vegetable fritters called pakoras, to which sour yogurt is added to give it little sour taste.


Curry varies not only within the religious, communities but from area to area, curry influenced by the staple food of the area – in the north wheat grows the food (breads) is dryer and the curry is thicker in the south where rice is staple diet, curry are thinner. Climate too plays its role and because of the rain fall vegetable grows in abundance and make vegetarian curry varied and exciting. It is the different combination of a handful of spices that produce the most delectable dishes in the world called curry.

What is a Spice?
A spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark, berry, bud or vegetable substance primarily used for flavouring, colouring or preserving food. A spice has various properties likes: - Flavouring agents/ Enhance and vary the flavours of the food / Act as preservatives / Nutritional & Medicinal.

A vital member in the kitchen brigade who had to take care of grinding together spices that would season the food is called MASALCHI

Each single spice that goes into making the curry has a specific role in aiding digestion, toning the digestive system and helping the absorption of just the right nutrients from the food. Additional aromatic spices like cloves, cinnamon and cardamoms and flavourings like fresh ginger and herbs to give each curry an individual flavour.

Hot and cold properties of Curry

Keeping medical criteria in mind one can divide curry inner properties into two distinct groups. i.e., hot & cold which play a vital role to the health of the consumers. Curd, milk, melon, fish, raw mango, onion, sour products, these ingredients are high in water content and has cold properties are used to make the curry in summer. While the energetic, hot and the curry with blood is consumed in winter due to their hot nature. Meat, ginger, ajwain, Dal and honey are good in winter to warm the human body.  

The sensation of flavour perceived in the mouth and throat on contact with a substance is called taste.

Evolution of Curry

Persian also ruled India time to time they introduced all the exotic spices, nuts. They also used yogurt in their curry food.
Their influence is widely seen in North Indian cuisine. They brought meat delicacies like korma and kofta. 

Persian influenced Shahi korma; it is a braised meat preparation. Shahi comes from the Persian word “shah” meaning the ultimate aristocrate.

In the 16th century mogul emperors made strong impact on Indian curry they were brought to Indian markets. There relations with Hindus also help to create the Mughlai curry so unique and popular that no further innovation or improvement required. Muslim cooking was based on meat. Their influence was strongest in north and central India. Since then, well known Mughlai dishes were evolved which have soon developed into an important culinary art and is part of Indian cuisine.
The Ain I Akbari describes the three classes of delicacies in the royal court of Akbar.

The first class is sufiyana the curry with no meat. Saag, dal and vegetables is eaten with khushka, Khichiri and zard birinj.

The second class of delicacies is rice and meat both. Rice, haleem, pulao, biryani, shulla etc are few names of the preparations.

The Third class in which meat was cooked with ghee, spices, curd, eggs etc. to give such curry dishes as yakhni, do-pyaza, dumpukht, qaliya and malghuba.

Lavish curry dishes were prepared during the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan.

Portuguese rule Cochin, Goa and Bengal. They introduce many new ingredients to Indian markets like’s potatoes, tomatoes, vinegar, wine, rajma and chillies. The strong influence of Portuguese is seen in Goan cuisine.
Portuguese dish “Vindaloo’’ means meat cook with wine and garlic.

The Portuguese reaches in Bengal in the late 16th century. Chhana of Bengal Indian cottage cheese, ‘paneer’ was result of Portuguese influenced.

Britain gets credit to bring Indian dish curry in front of the rest of the world in 18th century. Curry was first introduced in coffee houses in Britain as spicy sauces, which added to bland boiled and cooked meats, fishes and vegetables. Indian recipes were published and curry powder was made commercially available in the Indian market. The word curry was primarily used for a spicy stew flavoured with curry powder or a paste made from the powder and oils.

Primarily curry powder consist, coriander, cumin, turmeric, mustard, peppercorn, chillies and fenugreek

Anything cooked with spices is curry for Britishers.
Jalfrezi the leftover meat pices tossed with onion and vinegar, chop a potatoes cake, cutlets dipped in egg and crumbed fried are now part of the menu. English mustard give birth to the famous Kasundi mustard.

A desi version of mustard Kasundi is a mixture of pungent mustard paste, mustard oil, turmeric, aniseed, ginger, dry red chillies and salt.

India is a sub continent, equal in size to Western Europe, but without a single common language. It has about two and a half times the number of people, several language scripts and many more religions. So it is not easy to label its cuisine under a single heading. The regional dishes from different parts of India are influenced by regional, availability of ingredients and old traditions and customs, many of them being influenced by the different invasions.

Famous Regional curry
Ritu/ Season
Grishma/ Summer
Kadi, Khargosh ka gholia, Alleppey fish curry, Jhol,
Barsha/ Mansoon
Bhaji, Sohito, Pumpkin erissery, Shorshe ilish, Rasam, Avial
Sharat/ Autumn
Nimona, Thukpa, Rasa, Dhal, Madra
Sheet/ Winter
Nehari, Nadan tharavu curry, Saag, Chingri malaikari, Paya,  Mussallam,


Regional curry

Kalia–A widely used variety of rich curry prepared all over India. The basic constituents are – meat, milk and dried nuts such as cashew, pistachios and nuts with turmeric and saffron. This curry is normally associated with – Awadh, Kashmiri and Bengali cuisine. Kundan kalia, Chandi kalia and Mahi kalia are some Awadhi delicacy invented by the bawarchi and rakabdar of Nawabi court. Use of gold leaf is compulsory inclusion lends a touch of luxury to kalia.

Korma–Aromatic and widely acclaimed gravy. This is thick, semi dry or thin curry made from the onion, curd, stock and essence. The colour can vary from white, yellow, orange and green. Oil/Ghee as an ingredient is liberally used in its preparation. This Persian influenced curry is further made famous by the kitchens of Lucknow.

Salan–The curry originated from the cuisine that catered to the Nizam of Hyderabad. Initially it was used to pickle the vegetables but somehow the taste was so good that it made way into the Nizam’s curry which was used as an accompaniment to the delicious biryanis. Experiments with different vegetables were done while cooking it with the gravy and thus different salans were originated. In Awadh salan is meat base gravy.

Do pyaza–One of the famous dishes from the Mughal emperor Akbar court, "Mughal do pyaza" was a meat preparation. Which means double onion.
Another philosophy about it is the meat cook with vegetables is known as do pyaza example: - shalgam do pyaza or gobhi do pyaza

Mughlai–As the name itself suggests, it was introduced to India by the Mughals in the time of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The original gravy was prepared with the mutton stock and was off-white in colour. Later on people experimented with it and a few different colour shades were originated. Turmeric / saffron used for yellow coloured gravy.

Lababdar–A type of masala base curry made with onion and Nuts. This curry was introduced to give a little wetness to the food which would otherwise have been totally dry. The idea was simply to coat the main dish and to enhance the taste as well as the eye-appeal to it. This curry is used with both forms of the food – vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian.

Yakhni–This is curd based smooth curry made with onion. The curry is mild in spices and highly aromatic. Normally made for mutton based dishes. Stock is a main ingredient to make the curry. It is normally off-white in colour.

Shorba–A nutritious curry of thin consistency that is traditionally prepared overnight on a slow fire. Initially it was made for non-vegetarian cuisine but the popularity soared so high that cooks experimented with a few vegetarian ingredients with success.

Base Curry/Gravy
Uses In Hotel/Restaurant Kitchen Menu
Pasanda, Kofta, Mughlai, Shahi, Shahjhani, Dum preparations, Salan
Kofta, Dum preparations, Kalia, Salan
Pasanda, Kofta, Zafrani, Dry veg preparations, Kalia

Kadhai, Dry veg preparations, Vegetable  preparations
Makhani, Kofta, Pasanda , Dry vegetable preparations
Kofta, Pasanda, (very useful when onion in crisis)

Here is the recipe of brown gravy for your reference

Brown gravy

Ingredients                                Quantity     

Oil                                              150 gm
Boiled onion paste                         120 gm
Garlic Paste                                   10 gm
Curd and fried onion Paste              50 gm
Gram masala                                 15 gm
Salt                                             to taste
Coriander powder                           05 gm
Fresh tomatoes puree                     500 gm
Brown Cashew nut paste                 30 gm
Ginger paste                                  10 gm
Red chills powder                           10 gm
Turmeric powder                            02 gm
Green cardamom powder                02 gm
Nutmeg powder                             a pinch

  • Heat ghee in handi adds whole gram masala, sauté till it crackles.
  • Add boiled onion paste, sauté for two minutes, add ginger garlic paste sauté for half minute.
  • Add red chilli powder, turmeric coriander powder, bhuno
  • Add tomato puree, bhuno up to oil separated from the masala.
  • Remove from heat add yogurt and fried onion paste, bhuno.
  • Then add brown cashew nut paste, again bhuno up to oil separated from the gravy.
  • Add cardamom and nutmeg powder.
Cookery terms and techniques use to make curry

Baghar means to fry the curry in the ghee or oil before and after cooking.

Dhungar means to give smoke in the prepared dish by placing a katori(bowl) with a live charcoal in the vessel and put a drop of ghee or the masala of which you have to give smoke cover the vessel tight for 5 minutes. 

Bhunao means to fry the curry till ghee or oil starts separating from the masala.

Bhuna means dry curry preparation with no curry.

Dum Pukht
Persian influence cooking technique, dum literally means 'breath' and pukht is ‘to cook’. In this process Semi-finished ingredients put in a vessel, sealed with flour dough then a cover lid is placed over it and the heat (burning charcoal) is applying both from top and bottom. It is also called Dum Bakht. This cooking style was adopted and experimented by Awadhi rakabdar. The curry, cook through this philosophy has unique flavour, aroma and texture.   

Few Facts of Curry
  • Always select the spices i.e.  Fresh and bright in colour, skin should be hard and without moist. Use mortar and pestle to grind the spices.
  • Always use white ingredients for white curry, brown for brown, red for red, yellow for yellow and green for green.
  • Cook the curry with the help of lid.
  • Add water always once and it should be hot.
  • Strain all the curry through strainer or muslin cloths.
  • Aromatic spices always added in the end. Likes- saffron, mace, nutmeg, etc.
  • Bay leaf, big cardamom, cinnamon added always in the beginning or ‘Baghar’ in the end.
  • Uses of oil vary from region to region.

I hope the above insight on curry will help to understand it in a better manner.

Happy Cooking……