Monday, June 28, 2010

10 dip families from across the world

10 Simple Dips / Spreads

This cookbook lists 10 simple dips/ spreads eaten across the world.

1.: Mustard dips ( America / Europe) Take half a handful of white mustard seeds. Add two pinches of salt and a pinch of turmeric. Blend to a powder. Mix in water to a thick paste. Mix in the juice of a lemon. Let sit for 2-3 days (or more, if it is still bitter) before using.

Dip- A Primer A dip / spread (the thicker version of a dip) is used across the world to accompany breads / finger foods. The variations are infinite but the principle is simple – blend a variety of ingredients listed below to a thin or thick paste, mix in flavouring, additives and your dip / spread is ready.

Dip Families : The dips across the world can be grouped into several families depending on the major ingredient, as listed below :

Seeds: Mustard paste (Europe, America) & sesame paste ( Middle east) form the basis for a huge variety of dips.

Nuts: Roasted nuts are blended to a paste ( eg. peanut butter) or blended with chilies and salt into a spicy dip like the walnut based middle eastern Muhammara.

Coconut : Hugely popular in South India, coconut is blended with chilies and salt into innumerable chutneys

Oil based Emulsions: French cuisine discovered that oil and acid can be blended together into a creamy sauce using an emulsifier (usually egg yolks). This led to the creation of a variety of Mayonnaise and Vinaigrettes.

Lentils (boiled / roasted) and blended to a paste form the basis for another family of dips, the best known among them being Hummus, made from chickpea puree.

Herbs can be blended into fresh tasting dips, as in Pestos.

Yogurt forms the base for many dips across the world, Indian Raita being the most popular. Strained yogurt or yogurt cheese is a dip by itself, or can be mixed with other ingredients to become the Greek Tzatziki or the Indian Shrikhand.

Tomatoes chopped / crushed / blended become the base for Mexican salsas. Cooked tomatoes form the basis for Ketchup, Pizza sauce and Pasta sauces.

Sauces serve as dips across cuisines, soy sauce being the most widely used. It also forms the base for a large variety of Chinese dips.

Oil including butter and ghee ( clarified butter) can serve as a dip by itself - and also carry a range of flavouring and additives to enhance their taste.

Fruit / Vegetable puree (raw or cooked) can be turned into delicious dips like the Indian chutneys, Mexican guacamole ( using raw vegetables/ fruits) or Middle eastern Baba ghanoush (which used grilled eggplant).

Sour cream / soft cheeses can be served as a dip on their own or mixed with other ingredients. Melted cheese ( fondue) is also a popular dip.

Melted chocolate or sweet wine form the basis for a separate category of dessert dips.

A mix of these bases form new category of dips. Across the world, almost all combination of these bases are mixed together into delicious dips.

Mix in a variety of flavouring agents like garlic / ginger / spice powders and new dips emerge. Additives like chopped scallions / shallots / lemon juice, chilies etc can be mixed in to mix up more variants.

All these can be used as a dip, their thicker versions can be used as a spread and most dips can even double as salad dressing.

2.: Nut dips ( America/ Europe) Take half a handful of roasted peanuts / cashew nuts/ walnuts/ almonds. Blend to a powder. Blend in enough oil to get a thick paste.

3.: Coconut Dips ( South India) Take a handful of chopped coconut. Add a chopped green chili, two pinches of salt and blend to a thick paste.

4.: Egg- Oil dips ( French Mayonnaise) Crack an egg in a blender. Add two pinches of salt. Blend for 5 seconds. With the blender running, add your favourite oil in a very thin stream (preferably drop by drop at the beginning). Keep blending and adding oil till you have a thick, creamy sauce in your blender. (One egg would need roughly around 200 ml oil)

5.: Vinegar Dips ( French Vinaigrette) To a blender add two spoons of lemon juice / your favourite vinegar and six spoons of your favourite oil. Add two pinches of salt, pepper and blend for 5-10 seconds till the oil and vinegar / lemon juice are mixed up. This will separate on storage. So mix / shake / blend before using.

6.: Sesame Dips ( Middle Eastern Tahini) Take half a handful of toasted white sesame seeds and a pinch of salt. Blend for 5 seconds. With the blender running, add an oil in a very thin stream till you have a thick, creamy sauce in your blender.

7.: Herb Dips ( Italian Pesto) In a blender/ mortar, add a handful of chopped edible herbs ( rocket, sage/ spinach/ cilantro etc). Add a handful of young basil leaves, a spoon of pine nuts, two pinches of grated parmesan cheese and a garlic clove. Add two pinches of salt and black pepper (or to taste). Blend / pound everything together. Mix in a spoon of olive oil (or use your favourite oil).

8.: Yogurt Dips (Indian Raita) Take a cup of yogurt. Mix in two pinches of salt, cumin powder. Mix in a handful of chopped / grated salad vegetables ( onion / cucumber / daikon / carrot etc).

9.: Tomato dips (Mexican Salsa) Take a handful of finely chopped tomatoes., Add a chopped garlic clove, the juice of half a lemon, half a handful of chopped onion, a chopped green chili and two pinches of salt. Serve straight, or coarsely blend to a chunky paste.

10.: Soy Dips ( Chinese) Take a handful of finely chopped spring onions. Mix in two pinches of chili powder, 3 spoons of soy sauce and a spoon of vinegar. Mix to a thick paste.

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