Fusion food is big news and has been for a long time. There’s long been a connection between British and Indian food and the resulting Anglo-Indian cuisine has been embraced enthusiastically by the UK today. But beyond the ubiquitous chicken tikka there are other ways that Indian food can be blended with other cuisines of the world. In theory, you can fuse Indian flavours with any cuisine – although some combinations will work far better than others. If you like to try new things in the kitchen, read on. Here are a few basics to help you inject some Indian pizzazz into your next family meal.
Be creative with spices
You don’t need to have a spice cupboard full of every spice ever included in any Indian recipe. All you need is a few well-chosen spices that will add a subtle Indian impact to your dish. Coriander will add an understated undertone to any dish, while cumin will add a warm, earthy note (plus the latter is the most-used spice in the world after black pepper, so is worth investing in).
Use whole spices
The ready-ground spices that are sold at supermarkets may be convenient, but they tend to lose their flavour very quickly. It’s best to buy your spices whole and grind them as you need them to get more intensity of flavour. They also last much longer. Add them to a dish at it will instantly transport you to India.
Dry roast the spices
A technique known as tempering, dry roasting a selection of spices to use in dishes is a great way to release the flavours. This is a technique that can be incorporated in many dishes to create a more intense taste – think macaroni cheese, home-made humus or anything else you fancy.
Beyond mango chutney India has a while host of chutneys and pickles – both sweet and savoury – that are used as an accompaniment to dishes. But don’t just use them as a condiment, they work well in sandwiches or as marinades for meat. Indian chutneys include pineapple, coriander, coconut, ginger, onion, tomato and carrot, so you can see why they are so versatile.
Perhaps not literally, but certainly in cooking terms. Fresh chillies and dried chilli flakes are your friend in the kitchen. Use them sparingly or use them liberally – just make sure you use them!
Of course, there is no guarantee that by taking a taste of India and mixing it with your roast dinner and apple crumble you are going to create a meal that wows the family (although you never know). If you prefer not to experiment in the kitchen and enjoy eating out then there are other alternatives. Head to London and book a table at one of the capital’s excellent fine-dining Indian restaurants. Here you can taste mouth-watering meals, including a range of fusion dishes, prepared fresh for you by expert chefs. They’ve been cooking fusion dishes for a long time so there will be absolutely no nasty shocks.