Cooking with Indian spices


I have cooked Indian food for a long time and I had some excellent tutors along the way. The one important thing with Indian food is that the spices have to be added in a particular order and they need to be sautéed in hot oil or ghee until they become fragrant before adding other ingredients, otherwise you might as well boil the spices. Then the dish would not taste right at all. However, everything changed and all the rules when out the window when I no longer could use onion, garlic and dairy in cooking. The whole base that the spices rested on, onions, was removed. I had to learn to cook without them. I use the same substitute for onions as I do for Southern cuisine, bell peppers, but based on the flavor profile, I might use red or yellow peppers instead of green. I also don’t add any celery because that is not a vegetable traditionally used in Indian cooking, or parsley either for the same reason.

I checked the local Indian grocery and found several spice mixes that do not have onion or garlic added. The recipe that is printed on the box may call for onions and garlic but I leave them out. I made a fish curry with one of the mixes and I think it turned out really well.

Another type of Indian cuisine does not use any onions or garlic in their cooking and that is called Jain style cooking. I picked up some of those spice mixes as well and I have used them in the past.

Jain style spice mix

Cooking with Indian spices

Recipe by HeliCourse: Uncategorized


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 1/2 cup of cashew nuts

  • 1 cup hot water

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup white rice

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or ghee (add more as needed)

  • 1 red bell pepper

  • 1 medium tomato

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • Small bunch of cilantro

  • 1 pound fish filets (can be strong tasting fish)

  • 1/2 box Fish Curry Masala spices

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  • Soak the cashew nuts in hot water for about an hour. Drain and puree in 1/2 cup of fresh water. Set aside.
  • Place 2 cups of water in a saucepan with the rice and bring to boil. Cover and turn on low to let the rice cook about 20 minutes or until done.
  • Take half of the spice mix from the box and place it in a bowl. Set aside. Wrap the rest for later use.
  • Place the oil or ghee in a large saucepan and add the chopped bell pepper, sprinkle it with a some cumin powder and, sautee until soft. Add the tomato, sprinkle it with cumin powder and sautee until done.
  • Chop the cilantro, including the stems and add them to the mix. Save some leaves and set them aside to place on top of the dish when done.
  • Add more oil if needed and add the fish, sprinkle it with the rest of the cumin and about a tablespoon of the spice mix from the bowl. Brown the fish carefully on both sides. Add more of the spice mix and oil as needed. Turn the heat to low and cover the dish.
  • In the meantime, in a small saucepan, heat some oil or ghee and place the rest of the spice with enough oil to make a think paste. Sautee over medium heat for a minute or two. Be careful not to let the mixture burn. Add the pureed cashew nuts and stir to mix. Add enough water to make a thin paste. It will thicken as it cooks.
  • Pour the spice mix over the fish and heat through to make sure the fish is cooked. Sprinkle the cilantro over the fish and serve over hot rice.
  • If you prefer naan in place of rice, you can just heat up premade naan before serving.


  • I am using the cashew cream in place of a real cream or yogurt in this dish. I have found that hydrated pureed cashew nuts and canned chick peas pureed in some water make a really great substitute for cream or yogurt in almost any savory dish.

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