filigree-fried batter made from the sap of the kududawula tree and coconut
milk and drizzled with treacle.
||Carom Seeds / Thyme / Lovage
twisted sugar-stick made from different degrees of caramelized sugar.
||A vegetarian dish using chickpeas, potatoes
||A dish using whole potatoes.
|Am chur or Amchoor
||Mango powder. A very hot sour flavouring
||Pomegranate Seeds (Dried)
||Split Red Gram
from fermenting the sap collected from palm or coconut flower, this is
a heady, alcohol.
||Hing. Gum obtained from root of giant fennel-like
plant. Used in powder or resin form. A rather smelly spice.
||Chupatti flour. Fine wholemeal flour used
in most Indian breads. English wholemeal is a suitable alternative.
alternate medicine that treats with herbal extracts and the controlling
of the diet.
baduns comprise of fish, seafood, meat and game. These are fried in oil
with onion, herbs such as pandanus and curry leaves, red chili and tomato.
widely used for wrapping ingredients (particularly fish) before cooking.
They should be soaked briefly in hot water to make them pliable. If banana leaves are unavailable use alumininium foil.
||The process of frying whole spices in hot
||The best type of long grain rice.
||the finest Indian long-grained rise grown
in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is known as the prince of the rices
because of its fine flavor and aroma. It should be rinsed and soaked for
10 minutes before using.
||Tej patia. This very well known leaf is used
fresh or dried in certain Indian recipes.
||also known as gram flour, this is made from
chickpeas. It is used to flavor and thicken curries and for making Pakoras
and bhajias, pancakes and teamed patties.
||Dryish mild vegetable curry.
||Deep fried fritter, usually onion. See pakora.
|Bharta or Bhurta
||Mash or puree.
||The process of cooking the spice paste in
hot oil. A bhoona curry is usually dry and cooked in coconut.
||Okra - A pulpy vegetable also known as ladies
||A traditional dish. Rice baked with meat
or vegetable filling.
||This is a special sweet spice mix for biriyani
dishes. Grind together the cardamom seeds from 8 pods, 25 g (1 oz) cinnamon
stick, 6 cloves and 1 tsp fennel seeds.
||A smallish fish native to the Bombay area
known locally as Bommaloe Macchi. This was too hard for the British to
pronounce so it became Bombay Duck. It is dried and appears on the table
as a crispy deep fried starter or accompaniment to a curry.
||Small whole potatoes in curry and tomato
||Marinated cubes of lamb cooked in a tandoor
ruggerball-shaped fruit is a popular staple in Sri Lanka. This maybe boiled
and enjoyed with a side dish of coconut sambol or sliced very thinly,
fried and either sprinkled with salt and chili powder or drizzled with
||An Indian fudge-like sweetmeat made from
reduced condensed milk in various flavours eg plain or pistachio.
||A corky bark with a sweet fragrance similar
to cinnamon and is used extensively in Northern Indian cookery. Although
cooked in the curry the bark is too coarse to eat.
||A type of chilli powder.
||Usually cooked with coconut, lemon and chilli.
||Special rolling pin and board.
bread usually made on a circular
cast iron griddle known as a tawa, which is slightly concave to give its
distinctive shape. It is cooked without fat, over very high heat.
||Black Eyed Beans
||also called gram or, in America, garbanzo
beans. As chickpeas often demand hours of cooking before they become tender.
||Small long creamy nuts with brown shells
used in cooking or eaten raw.
||There are a great man species of chillies,
which are the fleshy pods of shrub-like bushes of he capsicum family.
Chillies range from large to small, and colours include green, white,
purple, pink, and red. Curiously, although synonymous with Indian food
they were only brought to the sub-continent from South America some four
centuries ago. They are now the most important heat agent in Indian cookery.
They vary in hotness from mild to incendiary-like potency. Most commonly,
small green or red chillies are used fresh. Red chillies can be dried
and used whole, and chilli powder is made by grinding dried chillies.
||Small rounded nuts resembling Egyptian lentils.
Used in puddings or pullaos.
/ Hara Chana
||Melon seeds. Used as a thickener.
||A dry 6 inch disc of unleavened bread. Normally
griddle cooked ,it should be served piping hot. Spelling varies eg Chuppati,
||The common ones are onion, mango and tandoori.
There are dozens of others which rarely appear on the standard menu.
ingredient, may it be a vegetable, tuber, leaves, potatoes, dhal, fish,
seafood, meat and game can be made into a curry. Usually, but not always,
basing coconut, the ingredient is cooked with spices and herbs and seasoned
with salt, and often tomato and gambol. Stirring, this is cooked until
aromas build up and flavors are combined and taken off the heat before
texture, color and goodness of the ingredient is altered or lost.
||The only word in this glossary to have no
direct translation into any of the sub-continent's fifteen or so languages.
The word was coined by the British in India centuries ago. Possible contenders
for the origin of the word are,Karahi or Karai (Hindi), a wok-like frying
pan used all over India to prepare masalas (spice mixtures): karhi - a
soup-like dish made with spices, chickpea flour dumplings and buttermilk;
Kari - a spicy tamil sauce;Turkuri - a seasoned sauce or stew; or Kari
Phulia, neem or curry leaves.
||Yoghurt or Curd
||A meat dish cooked in a savoury yoghurt sauce.
||Cinnamon. The quill-like dried bark of the
cinnamon tree. It is one of the most aromatic spices. Same family as cassia,
it is generally used in dishes which require a delicate flavour.
||dried split peas, usually bought skinned.
There about sixty varieties of
pulses available in India. THese are dreid seeds of plants such as beans
and peas and those most popularly sued include chick peas (kabuli channa),
split black chick peas (bengal gram or channa), black gram (urid daal),
red lentils (arhar) and yellow lentils (moong). Pulses should be rinsed
in several changes of water. Pre-soaking usually cuts their cooking time
by half and salt tends to harden pulses it should not be added until the
end of the cooking. As they take a long time to cook, a pressure cooker
is a great aid to cooking most pulses. The more unusual pulses are sold
in health food or Asian food stores.
||Brass or metal saucepan without handles also
called Pateeli or Batloi.
its name, devils are a wicked preparation of meat, fish or seafood, sautéed
with onion, tomato, capsicum and chilli.
||Lentils. There are over sixty types of lentil
in the sub-continent. The most common restaurant types are masoor, channa
||Coriander. One of the most important spices
in Indian cookery. The leaves of the plant can be used fresh and the seeds
used whole or ground.
||Traditional chicken or meat dish cooked in
lentil and vegetable puree.
||Applying the smoke of charcoal to ingredients.
||Traditional meat dish. Do means two and piaza
means onion. It gets its name because onions appear twice in the cooking
||A south Indian pancake made from rice and
lentil flour. Usually served with a filling.
|Dosa or dosha
||is a flat bread made with flours, rice, wheat
or legumes, cooked like a pancake. It may be filled with a spicy mixture.
||Steam cooking. Long before the west invented
the pressure cooker India had her own method which lasts to this day.
A pot with a close fitting lid is sealed with a ring of dough. The ingredients
are then cooked in their own steam under some pressure.
||Spiced scrambled eggs.
||turmeric and saffron will color food yellow,
but you can also buy coloring that has no taste.
||Lightly cooked vegetable dish.
||Literally 'hot mixture'. This refers to a
blend of spices much loved in Northern Indian cookery.
||clarified butter made by melting butter and
separating the fat from the solids. It can be made at home. From the best
flavor ghee is made from unsalted butter. Cheaper blends of butter are
most suitable to make ghee. Once prepared it will keep for up to three
or four months in a cool place.
|Goor or gur
||Jaggery (palm sugar) or molasses
is a flat leaf commonly found in Sri Lanka. Kotukola candgi and Kotukola
sambol are extremely popular in Sri Lanka.
||An Indian dessert. Small 1-inch diameter
balls of flour and milk powder deep-fried to golden and served cold in
syrup. Cake-like texture.
||Kidney - Gurda kebab is marinated kidney
skewered and cooked in the tandoor.
||A sweetened coconut
paste wrapped in Kande leaf.
||Sweets made from syrup and vegetables or
fruit. Serve cold in small squares. It is translucent and comes in bright
colours depending on ingredient used; e.g. orange (carrot), green (pistachio),
red (mango), etc. Has texture thicker than Turkish delight. Sometimes
garnished with edible silver foil.
||Earthenware cooking pot.
||Pieces of chicken breast, lamb or beef marinated
in spices and then skewered and barbecued with onion, capsicum and tomato.
Of Turkish origin.
||Hindi is the official language of India.
Although there are fourteen or so other languages in India, only Hindi
translations have been used in this glossary. Spelling of Hindi translations
have been used in this glossary. Spelling of Hindi words can vary in English
because 5they are translated phonetically from many Hindi dialects.
a bread from the South, almost like a cake, round and thick, made with
fermented rice from the Kerala and legume flour (urad), shaped and then
steamed (the legumes have a leavening effect).
||Tamarind - A date-like fruit used as a chutney,
and in cooking as a souring agent.
sugar made from treacle – mostly palm treacle. These hard, mound-shape
cakes are nibbled with ginger tea or grated and used in almost all Sri
Lankan sweetmeats and desserts.
||Sautee or stir fry
||An Indian dessert. A flour, milk powder and
yoghurt batter pushed through a narrow funnel into deep frying oil to
produce golden curly crispy rings. Served cold or hot in syrup.
||Mace, the outer part of the nutmeg
||Cumin - There are two types of seeds: white and black.
The white seeds are a very important spice in Indian cookery. The black
seeds (Kala Jeera) are seldom used. Both can be used whole or ground.
||Flat slotted spoon
||Prawn butterfly, marinated in spices and
fried in batter.
|Kabli chana or Kabuli Chana
||Curry leaves - Small leaves a bit like bay
leaves, used for flavouring.
||Black Cumin Seeds, or Caraway Seeds
||Black salt or Rock Salt
||Nigella, similar to wild onion seeds.
||Nigella, similar to wild onion seeds.
Small black tear-shaped onions seeds, used to add piquancy to vegetable
curries and Indian breads.
||Red chili pepper
||Karai, korai etc. Cast iron, wok-like, frying
||karalla is a tiny, bony fish.
of small, slightly pointed leaves. The closest substitute would be bay
||Metal flat spoon used for turning frying
||Small, dark green, knobbly vegetable of the
||Whole chicken stuffed with minced meat.
||Restaurateurs creation. A sweetish curry
often using lychees or similar ingredient.
||Small serving bowls which go on a thaali
||Skewered food cooked over charcoal. A process
over 4000 years old which probably originated in the Middle East. It was
imported to India by the Moslems centuries ago.
||Minced meat curry.
||Saffron - The world's most expensive spice,
saffron is the stamen of the crocus flower. It takes 70,000 stamens to
give a recipe a delicate yellow colouring and aroma.
||Screwpine water. An extract of the flower of the tropical screwpine
tree. It is a fragrant clear liquid used to flavour sweets. It is a cheap
substitute for rosewater.
||Grinding stone or pounder.
||Technique of making a sort of cream. Milk
is cooked with cucumber and pureed.
||full fat milk powder
||Dried Whole Milk/Thickened Milk
||Lamb or chicken, whole with spicy stuffing.
||Sultanas or Currants
||Minced meat or vegetable balls in batter,
deep-fried, and then cooked in curry sauce.
is a type of watercress plant. Both the leaves and the shoots make popular
||A variety of plum, pitted and dried. Prune-like
and very sour. Also known in Malayan as mangosteen.
||To most restaurants this just means a mild
curry. Traditionally it is very rich. Meat, chicken or vegetables are
cooked in cream, yoghurt and nuts, and are fragrantly spiced with saffron
and aromatic spices.
is a huge fruit, average in 1 ½ - 2 feet in length with the middle circumference
averaging around 1 foot. The skin is tough, green and thorny. Curries
and mallums are made from the raw fruit as well as the seeds of the fruit.
The ripe fruit is extremely juicy and has the sweetness of honey.
||Reducing milk to a thick sticky solid. Used
for sweet making.
||Small leavened bread sometimes stuffed with
mildly spiced mashed potato and baked in the tandoor.
||Indian ice cream. Traditionally it comes
in vanilla, pistachio or mango flavours.
|Lasan / Lahsun
||A refreshing drink made from yoghurt and
crushed ice. The savoury version is Lhassi namkeen and the sweet version
is Lhassi meethi.
||A small oval-shaped bean which grows in a
pod like the European pea.
||A type of bread made in Bengal using white
||You will not find a traditional recipe for
Madras curry. It is another restaurateurs invention. But the people of
South India do eat hot curries; some original chef must have christened
his hot curry madras and the name stuck.
||Refined wheat Flour
||A traditional dish. Tandoori chicken is cooked
in a ghee and tomato sauce.
||The curries of Malaya are traditionally cooked
with plenty of coconut, chill and ginger. In the Indian restaurant, however,
they are usually mild and contain pineapple and other fruit.
is a seasoning used in almost all Sri Lankan dishes. Bonito (also known
as skipjack) is boiled, smoked and sun-dried until rock-hard. Shavings
or tiny chunks of maldive fish are sprinkled into curries, sambols and
are the cooked version of sambol. Quickly tossed in a heated pan or wok,
this is a very healthy and extremely delicious ‘rice-puller’.
||Puffed basmati rice.
||A mixture of spices which are cooked with
a particular dish.
||Red lentil with green skin.
||Round earthenware pot used to freeze ice
cream. It is filled with ice and salt.
||Fenugreek. This important spice is used as
seeds and in fresh or dried leaf form. It is very savoury and is used
in many Northern Indian dishes.
||widely used herb often paired with lamb.
Indian mint has a stronger flavor and more pungent aroma than Western
||Pepper or chilli.
difference between a modju and a pickle is that a pickle is blanched in
vinegar , where as a modju is blanched in very hot oil and its base is
||Cooking in the style of the Moghul emperors
whose chefs took Indian cookery to the heights of gourmet cuisine three
centuries ago. Few restaurateurs who offer Moglai dishes come anywhere
this excellence. True Moglai dishes are expensive and time-consuming to
||Fish dishes cooked in coconut and chilli.
||Large white radish.
||One of the more commonly used lentils. It
has a green skin and can be used whole, split or polished to make various
dhals. Green Gram, Skinned Split
||A Tamil sauce which has become well known
as a British soup.
||Whole Black Pepper
||A speciality dish of whole chicken, marinated
in yoghurt and spices for 24 hours then stuffed and roasted.
||a yellow oil made from mustard seeds that
is pungent when raw and sweet when heated. Much used in Kashmir and Bengal.
||a kind of bread popular in North India. It
is made with leavened dough (chopped onion or cilantro can also be added
to it), and the leavener is often made from buttermilk or yogurt. The
dough is stretched by tossing the piece of dough quickly from one palm
to the other to form a thin oval flatbread, slightly thicker around the
edges than in the center. Traditionally is baked on the walls of a tandoor
oven, brushed with a thin coating of oil or ghee and served hot. It can also be stuffed with cheese, vegetable
curry or meat. In this case, the filling is placed on part of the dough
which is then folded over on itself before being rolled flat with a rolling
||Naan bread stuffed with almonds and or cashew
and or raisins and baked in the tandoor.
||Naan bread stuffed with a thin layer of minced
meat curry then baked in the tandoor.
||Indian scotch egg spiced minced meat around
a hard boiled egg.
||Coconut - essential to many dishes. It is
obtained from the white flesh of the nut and is both rich and smooth-testing.
widely used in southern Indian cuisine, is used both savory and sweet
dishes. Buy a fresh coconut to
extract the milk or use desiccated coconut to thicken sauces or garnish
/ Pav / Pao
||To all intents and purposes the same as the
||Betel leaf folded around a stuffing lime
paste or various spices and eaten after a meal as a digestive.
||Bengali Five Spice - mix of five spices -
cumin seeds, onion seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and anise
||Cheese made from bottled milk which can be
fried and curried (matter paneer).
||a fruit with good digestive properties
||Mild red pepper made from capsicums. It originally
came from Hungary and only reached India this century. Its main use is
to give red colour to a dish.
bread; richer version of chapati, crispy and cooked in ghee on a griddle.
They are very thin and are stacked up like crêpes.
||Meat, usually lamb, beaten and cooked in
||Restaurant seafood curry with thick, dark
brown, sweet and sour sauce.
||A long grain rice.
||Mirch. Has for centuries been India's most
important spice, gaining it the title king of spices. It grows on vines
which flower triennially and produce clusters of berries, which are picked
and dried and become the pepper corns. Green, black and white pepper are
not different varieties. All peppercorns are green when picked and must
be bottled or freeze-fried at once to retain the colour. Black pepper
is the dried berry. White pepper is obtained by soaking off the black
skin of the berry. Peppercorns are a heat agent and can be used whole
||A very hot curry (the hottest) invented by
peeaz or pyaz
||Pungent, hot pickled vegetables or meat essential
to an Indian meal. Most common are lime, mango and chilli.
||Pista magaz. A fleshy, tasty nut which can
be used fresh (the greener the better) or salted. It is expensive ad goes
well in savoury or sweet dishes such as biriani or pista kulfi (ice cream).
||Mint leaves or powder.
full of goodness and many beneficial properties.
bread fried in hot oil, completed submerged so that it puffs up. Pooris
are common to the
|Poppodums and pappads
pre-made and precooked flat breads (made from legume flour (urad) and
rice flour) that need only be immersed in hot oil to puff up instantly;
they are turned with a skimmer so that they stiffen up slightly and then
are drained and served while still crisp. Some are plain, others are spiced
with mixtures of spices. They can also be prepared under the broiler,
thus eliminating the chore of frying.
||Prawns in a hot sauce served on puri bread.
||Rice and meat or vegetables cooked together
in a pan until tender. In many restaurants the ingredients are mixed after
cooking to save time.
chawal or kesar chaval
||Rice fried in ghee, flavoured and coloured
/ Raee / Rai
||Mustard Seeds (Small)
||A cooling chutney of yoghurt and vegetable,
cucumber for instance, which accompanies the main meal.
|Rajama or Rajma
||Red kidney beans.
||Walnut-sized balls of semolina and cream
cheese cooked in syrup (literal meaning juicy balls). They are white or
pale gold in colour and served cold or warm.
||Kebab minced meat inside a net-like omelette
||Rasgullas cooked in cream and served cold.
A very rich sweet.
jot or Rattam-Jog
||Alkanet root. Beetroot coloured , dried,
wafer-thin bark of the root. It is used as a deep red dye to make-up,
clothing and food. Traditionally the Northerners obtained their red tandoori
and rhogan josh gosht colouring from it.
||Literally means red juice lamb. It can be
spelt dozens of ways. It is a traditional Northern Indian dish. Lamb is
marinated in yoghurt then cooked with ghee and spices and tomato. It should
be creamy and spicy but not too hot.
name is related to the French word "rôtie," meaning toasted
bread. It is made from whole wheat (aata), millet (bajra) or sorghum (jowar)
||Rosewater - A clear essence extracted from
rose petals to give fragrance to sweets.
bread, or handkerchief bread, which is also found in other eastern countries,
is made up of numerous layers of dough like a folded handkerchief.
||Sago or Yuca
||A generic term for vegetables.
are the appetizers of a Sri Lankan meal. Very much like the Thai, Sri
Lankans also do not have courses in a meal. Rather, the appetizers are
enjoyed as part of the main meal. This is a very simple mixture of onion,
green chilli, salt, lime and maldive fish often folded into thinly sliced
vegetable such as bitter gourd, or fish such as salted sprats.
||A south Indian vegetable curry made largely
||a southern Indian spice mix for vegetable
||The celebrated triangular deep fried meat
or vegetable patties served as starters or snacks.
||Drumstick. A bean-like variety of marrow
which looks exactly like a drumstick.
hot and sweet sambol made from shallots, garlic and maldive fish.
||Allspice - Related to the clove family, the
seed resembles small dried peas. Called allspice because its aroma seems
to combine those of clove, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and pepper. used rather
more in European cooking than Indian.
||Round minced meat rissoles.
||Cubes of skewered meat.
or seekh kebab
||Spiced minced meat shaped on a skewer and
grilled or barbecued.
||A pair of grinding stones: Sil, large stone,
batta, small pounder.
||A Goan pork dish with heart, liver and meat.
||Term to describe India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Nepal, Burma, and Sri Lanka as a group.
||Mixture of seeds and sweeteners for chewing
after a meal. Usually includes aniseed or fennel, shredded betel nut,
sugar balls, marrow seeds etc.
||A style of charcoal cooking originating in
north -West India. Originally it was confined to chicken and lamb and
naan bread. More recently it is applied to lobster etc. The meat is marinated
in a reddened yoghurt sauce and placed in the tandoor.
||Garnish of spices/onions.
||Lentils fried and garnished with spices.
||a flat cast iron pan used for making bread.
patia or Tej Pattia
||A tray which holds the complete meal served
in individual bowls (katori). Used by diners in the South.
||Skewered meat, chicken or seafood, marinated
then barbecued or tandoori baked.
||A vegetable of the cucumber family.
dal or Toovar dal
||a glassy dark yellow split pea, similar to
||style of cooking where the dish remains dry.
||Black seeds of a basil family plant. Look
like poppy seeds. Used in drinks.
||Haldi or huldi. A very important Indian spice,
turmeric is a rhizome. The fresh root is used occasionally as a vegetable
or in pickles. The ground spice is extensively used to give the familiar
yellow colour to curries. Use sparingly or it can cause bitterness.
||a flat bread whose dough is made from semolina
instead of flour. It can be quite rich and may include onions, chilies,
ginger, mustard seed, nuts, various vegetables etc.
Dal, Urid Daal, Kaali Daal
||Horse Bean, Black Gram, Sabut, split black
lentils, often used as a spice in southern India. It takes quite a long
time to cook.
savories made from dhal or black gram flour.
are an ancient tribe in Sri Lanka. Living as one with nature, these people
are untouched by the modern world. However, these people are by no means
primitive. Their knowledge of the forests they dwell in and their respect
to nature constitute them as a tribe of wise men.
leaf used as a decoration for both sweet and savory dishes.
||Edible silver or gold foil.
||A fiery hot dish from Goa. Traditionally
it was pork marinated in vinegar with potato (aloo). In the restaurant
it has now come to mean just a very hot dish. Also sometimes called Bindaloo
||A Goan dish using chicken and coconut.