'South Indian' on Serious Eats

Dal (Spiced Lentil Soup)

There as many versions of dal as there are Indian cooks. This is just one of mine, made with red split lentils and with no vegetable other than onions. The flavor is very South Indian, but the use of butter instead of oil (I actually use the spiced clarified butter niter kibbeh) and the inclusion of vadouvan at the end (to refresh the soup's flavor) take this out of strictly traditional territory. More

Spice Hunting: Curry Leaves

By now I think it's reasonably common knowledge that curry powder is a British invention, not an Indian one. Indian cooking is no more summed up by that blend of turmeric, cumin, and black pepper than American cuisine is by ketchup and cheddar cheese. But there is a spice called curry—even by Indians!—whose singular aroma and flavor herald Indian cooking more than almost anything else. I'm talking about curry leaves, the nigh-magical herb essential to much of South Indian cooking. More

Spice Hunting: Kodampuli

I'm afraid I'll never be able to get the stench of these out of my cabinets. I debated for months whether it was even worth writing about them. They stink, they aren't versatile, and there's not much English language information about them accessible to home cooks. But sometimes in the name of culinary creativity you do things you don't want to do, like cook with some curls of sun-dried and smoked fruit that look and smell like you found them behind an Ewok's ear. More

Spice Hunting: Asafoetida (Hing)

Some spices are statement flavors that speak for themselves. They're the big-name headliners that sell recipes the way A-list actors sell movie tickets. They may be subtle and unassuming like basil and sage or bold and brash like cumin and pimentón. They play well with all sorts of flavors and ingredients, crossing culinary boundaries while always remaining the star. Asafoetida is not that kind of spice. More

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