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The Indian Spice Kitchen


The adventurous, savvy American palate no longer limits Indian food to a bowl of curry. Professional chefs, home cooks and diners are discovering the culinary splendors of Indian cuisine, recognizing the difference between North and South Indian styles of cooking as well as variations from regions such as Kerala and Chettinad in the south, and Gujarat and Goa on the western coast. Classic recipes appearing in restaurants and specialty food stores include dosa (a South Indian thin, often stuffed, crépe made from a batter of rice, lentil flour and water), chat snacks and Matar Paneer (Indian fresh cheese and green peas in tomato sauce of cumin, coriander and cilantro).


Amy's KitchenTwo years ago, Rachel Berliner, creator and co-owner of Amy’s Kitchen, in Santa Rosa, Calif., introduced an Indian line to her organic, vegetarian, home-style prepared-meal offerings. Selections include classics such as Mattar Paneer, Chana Masala (chickpeas in a caramelized onion sauce of cumin, ginger and mango powder) and Vegetable Korma (carrots, green peas, green beans in cardamom nut sauce). “The line has become the top-selling packaged Indian food in mainstream supermarkets and natural foods outlets with more launches scheduled,” notes Steve Warnert, director of sales and marketing.

“Our customers want the real flavor, the way Indians dine at home. So we begin with fresh ground spices and cook in small batches in kettles,” explains Berliner, who has become as versed in Indian spices as a masalawala (spice seller) in old Delhi. Berliner prefers to stay away from strong flavors. “We work with familiar spices and use small quantities.”

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