How hard is it to learn to cook delicious Indian food?

Perhaps, for people who grew up in India, it's seen as fairly easy. However, for chefs in India, it is not considered easy or simple. For non-local chefs, it is a daunting endeavor indeed-the work of a lifetime-to become proficient in just one or, perhaps, two of the cuisines of India.

There is no one "Indian food." There are multiple traditions across the sub-continent, each with its own distinctive ingredients and, sometimes, methods. In fact, India has one of the worlds most diverse cuisines. There is nothing simple about it.

India's cuisines are often subtle and sophisticated. Differences taken for granted by locals may be overlooked entirely by visitors. Some traditions are based on religious practices but all evolved through long cultural interactions and intermingling with foreign influences.

Geographic regions have their own specific influences. Dairy products in Northern India, sweets and desserts in East India, rice and sambar in Southern India, for example. In Western India there are three distinct cuisines: Gujarati, Maharashtrian (two types) and Goan each with its own ingredients, spices, and methods. In Northeast India, the cuisine is much closer to that of Burma and China with almost none of the familiar spices found in the rest of the country.

It is a mistake to assume that because much of what is found in "Indian" restaurants in the US, Britain, and other Western countries seems simple that nothing more than learning about a few spices is required to become proficient in its preparation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The food of India, just like any great cuisine, requires a long learning curve. Many of the assumptions behind the methods, techniques, and ingredients are not even known in Western culture much less well understood-it is truly a uphill battle for a non-Indian but well worth the effort.

It is truly a great cuisine.

Delicious Indian food? Not that hard, in my opinion. There are any number of cookbooks that will guide you through the process.

Delicious and authentic? That's a completely different beast. You will need to learn, for example, the difference between spooning ground cumin out of a bottle that's been languishing in the back of your pantry for months, and lightly toasting cumin seeds in a pan and grinding them just before using. You will need to figure out that "garam masala" is not an ingredient, but rather an expression of yourself. You will make your own paneer, and learn to make your own bread.

It's the freshness of the spices that makes it a rare occasion that I'll tackle cooking a real Indian feast. I simply can't use up the spices fast enough to justify buying them and throwing them out because they've gone bad or stale before I could use them all. One simply does not walk into Mordor and buy 1/2 tsp of fenugreek seeds! I think I would need to dedicate myself to cooking Indian food daily before I dive back into it.

It is hard if you don't have a reference to sample. A few years ago a friend of mine got a recipe for a balti dish. They were new on the menus in the UK and he had not tried one. It didn't taste too good.

If you have tasted something then you know what to aim for. Tweak the spices, maybe some salt or sour or acid or extra heat in there.

At home we have over a dozen Indian cookbooks and with access to the correct ingredients we can probably manage to cook about 80% with success. Some of the 20% are down to getting hold of ingredients, equipment or not knowing the technique.

Some form of Indian cooking is available to most home cooks. There are plenty of sources out there which include recipes of various cuisines and they try and make the dishes straight forward to cook. I have a slow cooker book that gives you the traditional method and the slow cooker method on the same page. The tarkka dhal was pretty amazing.

That depends entirely on you. Are you a quick study? Are you already conversant with basic cooking practices? Can you afford a personal trainer/ cooking class?

Or do you have trouble boiling water?

If the former, you shouldn't have any problem picking up the basics of Italian -or any other cuisine's- cooking techniques.

If the latter...maybe you should just eat out.

If you are determined to persist, know how you learn, and optimize your chances by following whatever mode of learning that is. You'll get there.... Eventually.

Indian food is a cuisine I've yet to cook. In order to answer your request, and get a better knowledge fit myself, I researched it. I've concluded that it is more time consuming that difficult. This is I'm sure what gives it such a wonderful flavor. There are so many fresh spices, foods, and oils used, it takes more time to prepare. Most any dish or cuisine is simply better when fresh ingredients are used.

Since I don't have any recipes of my own, here's a link to what seems to be a good source if them. Hope it's as good as it appears. 21 Incredibly Delicious Indian Recipes

Bon appetite !!

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