Spiced Oils and Vinegars
To add flavor to cooking, spices can be added to oil. Place spices in a bottle with a neck large enough to take the whole spice, then cover with oil. Cork and leave for 2-3 days. Heated vinegar mixed with fresh spices will assume their flavors, and can be used to create wonderful salad dressings.
Flavorless oils with a high smoke point (the temperature at which oil starts to smoke) are essential for sizzling whole spices and searing meat, fish, and poultry before we stew them in sauce. Vegetable-based oils, including canola (which is not rapeseed oil), work perfectly for this. Peanut and corn oil also work well for this purpose, but many people are allergic to peanuts. Rice oil found it to be part of "flavorless" category and since it is rich in antioxidants, contains no trans fat, and has a smoke point at 490° F, also it is good for Indian cooking. To find out more about cooking oils and which oils to avoid for better health, click here>>>
Every region of India has its favorite oils, many of which not only provide fat for searing and sizzling but also infuse flavor. In the southwest India and Sri Lanka very popular is coconut oil, rich with buttery taste and saturated fats. The lauric acid in coconut oil helps to fight infections (this is the same acid found in mothers' breast milk).
The southeast prefers unrefined sesame oil for its delicate nutty taste.
Mustard oil, much valued in northeast, North and Northwest is known for bitter taste in the curries. Ghee is great for deep-frying because it has high smoke point. Once we perfume an oil with spices it is hard not to notice the role of garlic and onion in providing fodder for the subsequent layer of sauce. when consumed raw or pureed onions taste pungent, but when stir-fried long enough so that the starches change to sugars, their sweet personality takes over, giving a curry incredible sweetness.
Heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a small cast-iron pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add 1 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper or chili pepper. Stir once. Remove from heat, and allow it cool slightly. Strain and store in an airtight bottle. This is an orange-colored oil popular in Chinese cooking, use it in very small quantities to dribble into soups and sauces.
Empty a bottle of wine or cider vinegar into a saucepan. Add 1 tsp each of peppercorns, whole cloves, ground ginger and celery deeds, plus 1 cinnamon stick, 1 dried chili and 2 tsp sugar. Bring to boil, and then simmer for 3 minutes. Cool and bottle without straining.
Put 1 tbsp of the fresh or dried spice leaves into a jar. Gently heat 2 1/2 cup white vinegar and then pour onto the laves. Screw on the lid, then leave in a warm place for 2 weeks. Strain the bottle.
Mix 5 cups vinegar and 3 tbsp cayenne pepper in a bottle. Leave for 1 month, shaking the bottle daily. Strain and bottle.
Cut 50 fresh chilies into halves. Boil 2 1/2 cups good pickling vinegar, leave it to become cold, then pour it over the chilies, Keep the mixture in an airtight container to store until needed, then bottle and use.
Cardamom honey dressing
A delicious dressing for fruit salads, melons, or waffles.
1 1/4 cups clear honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
a few drops orange-flower water
1/2 tsp cracked cardamom seed
Beat honey in a mixer until light in color.
Gradually add in the lemon juice and orange - flower water. Stir in cardamom seed
Keep in an air-tight jar.
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 inch cube fresh ginger root
2 tbsp honey
2 cups water
Peel the ginger, and roughly chop two - thirds of it. Remove several strps of peel from the lemon.
Mix the water and honey, then ad in the slices of lemon and chopped ginger. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 7 minutes. Remove and discard lemon and ginger.
Slice the remaining ginger as finely as possible, then cut into small threads. Remove another piece of peel from the lemon, and cut is as small as possible.
Add the ginger and lemon bits to the syrup, and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool.
Ad some lemon juice before use.
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