Indian cuisine is a medley of rich flavours and one can experiment so much when it comes to different ingredients. Some people like their food extra spicy, some like it sweet and some like it tangy. While we have an array of sweet, spicy and savoury dishes in our gastronomy, we never fail to try-out more. When it comes to cooking, it’s very important to know your ingredients well and use them mindfully. Using the right one, at the right time and the right place might do wonders for your dish.
Let’s talk about some souring agents which have been a saviour in crafting so many extra delicious dishes in our cuisine. There are so many wonderful ingredients which are being popularly used all over India since ages to add tanginess to them. Read on to know more:
Imli – the legend!
Tamarind is a translation from the Persian term "Tamar-i-hind," which means "date of India". Imli is a pod which is seeded, dried, and then its pulp is used to add flavour to many dishes. It can be rated as one of the top most ingredients when it comes to adding a tangy hint to many foods. It is as dear as coconuts to the South Indian cuisine, so much that almost every dish has some amount of imli in it.
Tamatar – kisi se kum nahi!
Tomatoes have so much to offer that we might never get done with praising it enough. Not only in terms of its health benefits but also its unique abilities to takeflavours in food to a whole new level. Whether we are making gravy for any sabzi, or just a regular weekday curry, adding tomatoes are never a bad idea. They infuse their wonderful tanginess in every sabzi effortlessly.
Amla – khatas bemisal!
Indian gooseberry or amla has made it to the list of the sourest foods in the world. And why not, there is no competition between amla and any other ingredient when it comes to being tangy. Period! Amla has great health properties and has been used in Ayurveda since times immemorial. This tiny, translucent berry is used in making pickles, murabbas and juices for years, and it is also used as a condiment in dals and pulaos. The flavour which amla adds to food is a yummy tickle to the taste buds!
Nimboo ka jadoo!
It is quite difficult to determine whether lemon is used more as an accompaniment or a condiment. Lemon has made life so easy, and it is generally the go-to option when a dish is too sweet, tastes bland or is extremely spicy. Nimboo nearly works for everything! It has great health properties too and it is said a glass of lemon water in the morning will keep you energetic throughout the day.
Amchoor – subtle burst of swad!
Mangoes are pure bliss and there are so many different ways to incorporate them in your food. Amchoor or ‘dried mango powder’ is an essential one. In some parts of North India, this ingredient has been long there in their ‘masale ka dabba’ and without a pinch of amchoor, the dish was slightly incomplete. So, the next time you are looking for some easy way to make your food extra flavoursome, go for amchoor!
Yes to yogurt!
Yogurt, curd or dahi is dear to us Indians to the very core of our heart. A must for many on their lunch table, dahi has been used as a souring agent for long. It also has great anti-bacterial properties and medicinal properties too.A bowl of dahi with biryani or pulao has never failed to delight us. Apart from being used to add tanginess to our foods, it is widely used as a thickening agent as well as a meat tenderiser.
The list of souring agents is never-ending, and there are many more like these – pomegranate powder, vinegar, citric acid, kokum, etc. These great ingredients help us to maximise flavour and give them a ‘wow’ factor without working a lot on it!
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.