What are the Basic Cooking Techniques Used in Indian Cuisine?

Embarking on the exciting journey of Indian cuisine, which often appears daunting to beginners, can be surprisingly forgiving, thanks to the magical touch of spices that have the power to elevate any dish. The world of Indian cooking, with its vibrant flavours and aromatic spices, may seem intricate at first, but with patience, practice, and the right guidance, it becomes accessible even to the most novice chefs.

One of the key elements that define Indian cooking is the artful use of spices, and here’s where the “meat curry masala” comes into play. This blend of spices is a secret weapon, adding depth and character to meat dishes like no other.

From the fiery heat of red chillies to the warm embrace of cumin and coriander, this masala is a cornerstone in many Indian kitchens. To embark on this rewarding culinary adventure, it’s crucial to acquaint yourself with the fundamental techniques, including tempering, sautéing, grilling, and tandoori cooking.

These are the building blocks that, combined with the aromatic wonders of the meat curry masala and other spices, will unlock the true essence of Indian cuisine and make your journey in the kitchen an unforgettable one.


Tempering is a culinary technique involving the infusion of aromatic spices into hot ghee, imparting a deep and delightful flavour to various dishes. This method is versatile, finding its place in a wide array of Indian culinary creations such as vegetables, daals, chutneys, and raita.

The timing of tadka varies depending on the dish, with vegetables receiving it at the start, while daal sees it added as a finishing touch. Across India’s diverse regions, tadka takes on different forms. Common elements include whole mustard and cumin seeds, while variations may include the addition of onions and garlic in the North, and shredded coconut and curry leaves in the South.

This technique is a testament to the intricate diversity of Indian cuisine, where the same basic principle leads to an array of delightful regional variations.

Steaming (Dum):

“Dum,” an Indian cooking technique translating to ‘breathe in,’ involves a distinctive steaming method. It entails sealing a round, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid and slow-cooking over a low flame, allowing food to cook in its own steam.

This slow-roasting process enables spices and herbs to release their full flavours. In modern kitchens, a cast iron oven with a heavy lid can replicate this method effectively, while traditional Indian cooking uses a clay pot (handi) sealed with wheat flour dough to trap the steam, preserving aromas and enhancing flavour maturation.


In Indian cuisine, the terms tadka, bar, or chowk all describe the art of tempering. Tempering involves heating ghee or oil and introducing an array of spices, aiming to infuse their aromas and flavours into the cooking medium. The timing of this technique varies; it can be the initial step in some recipes, like Cauliflower Tikka Masala, or the final touch in dishes such as red lentil dal.

Indian Cuisine Techniques

A myriad of spices and herbs, including cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, chillies, and aromatics like ginger and garlic, are commonly used in tadka. The combination of at least two or three of these ingredients defines the unique flavour profile of each dish.


Tandoori cuisine revolves around a traditional clay oven, the tandoor, typically wood-fired. This method involves cooking various dishes such as Indian bread like naan, and tandoori roti, and an array of items like vegetables, tandoori chicken, and kebabs. The process begins with marinating meats and vegetables in a special tandoori masala, followed by skewering and cooking in the clay oven.

For bread, they’re rolled and affixed to the oven’s inner walls, resulting in a distinctive smoky flavour. Tandoori is India’s equivalent of grilling. While tandoors are commonly found in Indian restaurants and rural households, home chefs often resort to grilling or air-frying meats and veggies and preparing bread on the stovetop.


Simmering is a cooking approach commonly employed in Indian cuisine. It’s akin to boiling but involves using a reduced amount of water. Often regarded as the “Indian slow cooking technique,” simmering plays a pivotal role in numerous Indian dishes.

It facilitates the creation of rich, thick sauces and gravies while intensifying the flavours of the various spices and ingredients involved. This gentle, prolonged cooking method allows for the amalgamation of complex flavours, resulting in the signature taste profiles that make Indian cuisine so captivating and flavorful.

Pardah (Covering):

“Pardah,” a culinary practice, encompasses the art of covering a dish while cooking, serving to capture steam and promote uniform heat dispersion. This technique finds frequent application in the crafting of opulent, creamy curries, wherein ingredients undergo slow cooking to attain a silky, luxurious texture.

As the pot is sealed, the exquisite flavours are retained within, culminating in a delectable, aromatic culinary creation. Pardah, in essence, is the secret to transforming ordinary ingredients into sumptuous, flavour-rich Indian dishes that have become emblematic of this diverse and tantalizing cuisine.

The basic cooking techniques used in Indian cuisine are a testament to the rich culinary heritage of the subcontinent. These methods, rooted in tradition and passed down through generations, create the distinct and intricate flavours that define Indian food.

From tempering spices to slow-cooking flavorful stews, each technique plays a crucial role in the creation of diverse and delicious dishes that continue to be celebrated worldwide. Whether you’re savouring a fiery curry, a fragrant biryani, or a savoury snack, these techniques are at the heart of what makes Indian cuisine so extraordinary.

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