Question and Answer
Here are some answers to your questions about Indian vegetarian cooking.
- What is "hing"?
- Hing is the Hindi word for asafoetida powder. Hing is a bitter, yellowish powder derived from the sap of a plant. It is generally added in small quantities during the sautéing of curries. The primary purpose is to serve as a digestive aid, and secondarily as a flavor enhancer. It can be purchased in small bottles at an Indian grocer.
- Can puri be made without oil in the dough?
- If you do not add oil to the puri dough, then you will have to eat the prepared puri's within 1 or 2 days. The puri's won't stay soft as long without oil. You can store them in a closed box so they last a little longer. Using less oil and water in the dough will result in harder (kadak) puris.
- How is ghee different from butter? Can butter be substituted for ghee in all recipes?
- Ghee is clarified butter, prepared by simmering unsalted butter for 10-15 minutes. This separates some of the milk solids (proteins) from the butter. The removal of the solids allows for high temperature frying. Ghee is softer than butter and has a similar flavor. It can be refrigerated or stored at room temperature for extended periods of time without souring. You can substitute equivalent amounts of butter for ghee in all recipes, but using butter will result in a slightly thicker consistency.
- What ingredient can I use instead of rice flour for making samosa dough?
- You can substitute all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour for rice flour when making samosa dough. The taste and crunchiness will be only slightly different.
- What is the difference between Indian whole wheat flour and American whole wheat flour? In your recipe for chapati, you mentioned 'Indian whole wheat flour'.
- When you knead the dough, American whole wheat flour is more rubbery and more suitable for bread. Indian is more soft, and that makes it easier to roll the chapatis. The taste of both is also different. Indian whole wheat flour can be purchased from an Indian grocery store, or the International foods section of a better-stocked grocery store.
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