Notes On Ingredients

Notes On Ingredients

Most of the ingredients required for use in the recipes are easily available in India although, in places other than the metropolitan cities, there may be a few items which are not in common use.

The following will, however, serve as a general guide and also to enable substitution of certain items outside India.


1. Cheeses

a. Paneer (Cottage Cheese)

This is a dry form of cottage cheese readily available in the India.

If not available, you can first make Chhanna as under and thereafter, can press the Chhanna into a rectangular shape and squeeze out the water to obtain paneer.

To make Chhanna:

i. Boil 1 litre (1 ¾ pint) of milk while stirring continuously.

ii. Add the juice of 1 lemon (or alternatively 1 teacup of curds and ½ a teaspoon of salt) and stir gently till all the milk curdles.

iii. Leave it covered for some time and strain through a muslin cloth.

iv. The moist solid left in the cloth is chhanna — which is in-between cottage cheese and soft cream cheese.


b. Cooking Cheese

Use the variety which is termed cooking cheese and which melts readily while cooking.


c. General

Where the recipe states just “cheese” or “table cheese,” you can use any processed cheese.


2. Curds



Yoghurt can be used as a substitute.


3. Fats

The fats specified in the recipes are all vegetarian. Butter and margarine are entirely interchangeable although in certain cases (e.g. cakes), butter does not give better results.

Moving on to ghee, hydrogenated oils (e.g. Vanaspati type ghee) can be used instead. Butter cannot always be used in place of ghee in many Indian dishes e.g. parathas, Indian sweets, etc.  

You can, however, make ghee at home from butter by boiling butter in a pan until the ghee separates and floats clear on top.

The floating ghee should be strained and stored for use as it keeps for long periods of time without spoiling.


4. Oils

Oil in a glass bottle


The ordinary oil referred to in the recipes is refined groundnut oil or refined sesame oil (til).

If this is not available, you can use any other cooking oil, but each oil will impart its own characteristic flavor to the preparation.


5. Flours

The flours referred in the recipes are:


a. Cornflour

Readymade flour sold by that name.


b. Gram Flour

Flour made from grams. Commonly known as besan ka atta.


c. Maize Flour

Flour made from maize. Commonly known as Makke ka atta.


d. Plain Flour



e. Self-raising flour

Flour containing baking powder.


f. Whole Meal Flour

Flour made from wheat. Commonly known as Gehun ka atta.


6. Khoya

This is also known as Mawa and is readily available in India. It is made by boiling milk in a broad vessel and stirring continuously until a thick residue is left.


7. Masalas



Curry powder is one of those ingredients that is readily available throughout the world. Chaat masala can also be found at any local grocery store in India. Garam Masala is a powdered mixture of black pepper, cloves and other spices such as cinnamon.


Names of Ingredients

By and large, the English names of ingredients have been used and in a few cases, Hindi names. Care has been taken to avoid the use of more than one name for any given ingredient.


Selective Glossary of Hindi Terms

Ajwain: a type of spice like Thymol seeds.

Anardana: dried pomegranate seeds.

Amchur powder: dried mango powder.

Besan: gram flour.

Dhana-jeera powder: coriander-cumin seed powder.

Jaggery (gur): a sweetened product made from sugar cane.

Kabuli channa: large white chickpeas.

Kalonji: onion seeds.

Khus-khus: poppy seeds.

Makhana: lotus seeds.

Papad Khar: a special saltlike substance.

Rajma: a variety of kidney beans.

Sev/Bhel sev: fried vermicelli type preparations made from gram flour.

Shah-jeera: black cumin seeds.

Black salt: a type of rock salt.


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