Perfectly fried onions...I think I can tell you more about frying onions than I possibly can about southern fried chicken. Whenever it came time for Ramadan, Eids, or any huge event at our home, you'd expect my mom(and now myself) to pull out the mandolin and frying pan! The house (and all of us) would smell of onions for days , which was the most unpleasant part of the entire process. This staple, however, is very important for many dishes such as biryanis, kormas, and haleem. Fried onions can make or break the dish and it is not as easy as it seems!! It has taken many burnt batches of fried onions for me to learn how to make the perfect batch(and I still find myself making mistakes). After all my successes and fails, I have come to realize you don't have to be a masterchef to make this, the secret is all in the timing.
4-6 large onions
Oil for Frying(I use canola)
Deep pan or pot for frying
1. Take the onions and finely slice them using a mandolin or food processor.
Tip: Wrap the sliced onions in paper towel to soak up excess juices for about 15 minutes. This will help lessen the cooking time and make crispy onions.
2. Take your frying vessel and heat about 1/4 gallon of oil. You will need enough oil to cover a batch of onions completely.
3. Put the heat on low and slowly add about half the onions. Please be careful while adding the onions, as it bubbles up when the onions are added.
4. Raise the heat to about medium-hi and let the onions fry for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Start stirring the onions more aggressively when it starts to brown(first picture). Keep stirring until it becomes a tan brown(second pic).
6. Turn the flame off and remove quickly onto a plate/tray lined with paper towel to soak up excess oil. Let cool as it crisps up and store in a ziploc bag or airtight container. You can freeze until used.
Homemade Ginger-Garlic Paste
Ginger-Garlic Paste, also known as Adrak Laisan, is another important staple to have in your 'jahez'. To save time, store-bought versions may be used, but the aromas from the homemade version enhance the taste much more than what you would get with store-bought versions.
2 Cups Peeled and Roughly Chopped Ginger
1 Cup Peeled Garlic
1. Place the chopped ginger and garlic in a food processor. You may have to divide into 2 parts.
2. Add about 1/2 cup of water and chop to a fine paste.
3. Place in air-tight container and keep in refridgerator. This will store for about 2 months. You can also divide into smaller portions, freeze, and use as needed.
The heart and soul of Indian food, Garam Masala is a blend of unique spices that makes
for a bold, fragrant spice lend. Each region of South Asia, and even household, has their own recipe for Garam Masala, which makes for the diverse flavors you will find in South Asian cooking. The blend I use includes cardamoms, shahi zeera(caraway seeds), cinnamon sticks, and cloves. The aromas from this combination of spices help bring a complex and bold flavor in Hyderabadi cuisine. The following is a simple recipe for my moms garam masala, which is made by dry-roasting the whole spices and grinding them into a fine powder. It can be pre-made in stored in a air-tight container.
2 tbsp Cardamom
1 tbsp Caraway Seeds(Shahi Zeera)
1 tbsp Cinnamon Sticks
1 tbsp Whole Cloves
1. Heat a pan and dry roast each spice for about a minute to release the oils and fragrance of each spice.
2. Allow the roasted spices to cool completely and then use a coffee/spice grinder to grind each spice into a fine powder.
3. Mix all the spices together and store in an air-tight container.