For anyone who is interested in picking up Indian cuisine, it's all about having the right ingredients or spice box.
A spice box can be found in most South Asian homes — it is a steel dabba or container that consists of staple spices and other ingredients.
In the video above, Indo-Canadian chef Vikram Vij says cooking Indian food is like a "little democracy," basically, you can add any ingredient to create one big flavourful dish. He also goes through the staples of his spice box, focusing on spices, mints and even ghee.
While ghee is something you wouldn't necessarily add to your spice box, it is a staple to keep around in your pantry. And once you have the box ready to go, check out these tips on how to cook the perfect Indian meal.
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This spinach dish gets a rich and creamy flavor with the use of yogurt. Packed full of flavor, and a little bit of heat, this iron-rich recipe takes just minutes to put together.
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These tandoori-style chicken drumsticks are packed full of flavor. Marinated in yogurt spiced with garam masala, mustard seeds, ginger and garlic, they stay nice and juicy -- guaranteed!
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Paneer is a non-melting Indian cheese and serves as a excellent source of protein for vegetarians. This recipe incorporates the fried cheese with aromatic basmati rice and fresh spinach. It as a great main course, or can be served as a hearty side dish.
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This green-lentil curry is served as a Western-style main course. Spiced with coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper, it is served alongside yogurt and rice. It also makes a hearty vegetarian dinner.
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Goan curry is typically tangy, spicy and vibrant, and this shrimp curry keeps true to the flavors of Goa -- a small state in Western India. Spiced with cumin, coriander and tamarind, it is given a bit of heat from the use of dried red chiles and jalapenos. Serve with rice for a complete meal.
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In India, chutney refers to any condiment, though in the U.S. we normally know it as a sweet mango sauce. This mango chutney recipe is both sweet and spicy. Serve it alongside main dishes or with pappadums -- a thin, crisp Indian cracker.
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A little bit spicy and a little bit sweet, this cauliflower dish is a Western take on the classic Indian recipe. Cauliflower appears more frequently in Indian cuisine than it does in American, and it is always incredibly fragrant.
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Many Indian curries do not typically use coconut milk -- we most often associate that ingredient with Thai curries. However, this recipe does call upon coconut milk, and it makes for a wonderful dish. Cauliflower, potatoes and squash make up this dish, but feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand.
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Tamarind is a popular ingredient in India, yet it is one that we almost never find in American cuisine -- and it makes for a wonderful chutney. Equally spicy and sweet, it pairs well against a subtly-flavored curried tofu.
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This vegetable curry stew is full of a variety of vegetables: potatoes, split peas, cauliflower, green beans and carrots. Feel free to omit or add certain ingredients according to your personal tastes. Serve along with white basmati rice for a complete meal.
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Daal, which is very similar to what we know as split pea soup, is a common dish in India and is often times served along with rice. Mustard and cumin seeds spice this dish, and it's topped with refreshing cilantro as a garnish.
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