I know what I've picked up over the years, but I am no expert on this subject nor am I a huge stickler for authenticity as long as it tastes amazing =) But hoping to share tips and recipes and get some good online sources. What have you learned? Any good recipe sources?
The backbone of my cooking is home food and this website: http://www.vazhayila.com/p/recipe-ind...
She is not the best recipe writer (ingredients listed in the wrong order, occasionally steps left out), but has a great variety of recipes from Kerala. When she says something is hot or spicy it is very hot or spicey by American standards:
To this some tips (Indian cooking is rather involved unfortunately):
1. Onions are the most important step to curries. The onions need to be cut to a uniform size and then cooked hot enough so that they get soft and slightly browned, but not so hot that they burn.
If you are using a lot of onions, add them slowly and see how they cook before dumping them all in. Also once they are in the pot, they can take forever to get soft. But you want them soft and slightly browned (if they are crunchy it makes for a lumpy texture). If you use a food processor to chop the onions, make sure to drain any liquid thoroughly before cooking.
If the onions are taking a long time, you may need to add more oil to the pot.
2. Every household has their own garam masala recipe, and that is the one spice blend that many home cooks bother to do the whole process themselves (sun dry the spices - or oven bake - or sautee on a pan briefly and then grind). Different regions vary dramatically on what spices are used. Garam masala is often tossed in towards the end and therefore the uniqueness/freshness matters more.
3. You can use pre-made garlic/ginger paste (available in Indian stores or you can make your own) instead of crushing garlic and ginger yourself. It does compromise the flavor some, but the garlic/ginger is less essential than the onions.
4. When you add whole spices or spice powders to the pot, there needs to be enough oil in the pot so that the spices cook in the oil and don't just sink and burn at the bottom. Let the spices cook and jump (if whole spices) or darken before moving on to the next step.
5. Once everything's added, the main ingredient (meat or vegetables) usually are done before the curry comes together. The spices often need to simmer for a really long time before they start integrating and stop tasting 'raw.'The more you follow #4 the less of an issue this will be, but this is often why the meat in Indian food gets overcooked.
6. Always buy split dal. When a recipe mentions dal, they are almost never talking about whole dal. Also if you have an electric pressure cooker instead of a stovetop pressure cooker, I've found this chart useful for trying to convert 'whistles' to minutes:
7. Don't forget the salt! It's easy to forget, and the curry tastes dull without it.
8. If the curry is too spicy, you can add potato, milk or coconut milk to try and take the spicy-ness level down.
9. If it is a curry - it will taste even better the next day.