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660 Curries: Two Great Dipping Sauces

SpicesSauces abound in Indian cooking. Sauces for dipping, sauces for main courses, even sauces for dessert. What else could you expect from the culture that invented chutnies?

Raghavan Iyer’s “660 Curries” presents LOTS of tasty sauces in the Spice Blends and Pastes section.

Iyer’s selections run from very mild, chile-free assemblies of sweet and tart fruits to combustible concoctions that are mostly chiles. He seeks to present your palate with all six elements of taste in a minimum number of condiments, usually three or four.

Here are the six elements:

  • Bitter
  • Sour
  • Salty
  • Sweet
  • Pungent
  • Astringent

The first four are primary in all cuisines, and many cookbooks will tell you how to combine them in a dish or a meal to maximize dining pleasure.

The next two are identified by Asian cooks. Pungent refers to the zesty heat of chiles and the like. Astringent refers to bit players (by quantity) that “punch up” the flavor. Words like harsh, acerbic or even caustic are part of astringency. Besides enhancing the other elements, astringency helps clear your tongue and palate between bites.

If you only use two sauces, you’ll want to try these:

The first sauce, a savory one, provides the heat, with creamy dairy and aromatic mint as finishing notes. The second sauce balances the bite of the first sauce with tongue-coating (and fire-extinguishing) sweetness. This last element, which the Japanese might call “umami,” is important to the enjoyment of food. And the aromas are wonderful! Almost the complete package, in two simple sauces…

Enjoy the (Flavorful) Heat!

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