11 Cool Uses of a Food Processor in Indian Cooking


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The food processor is an indispensable part of our kitchen, and I love Indian food, but it occurred to me I’ve never explored the uses of a food processor in Indian cooking before. So I decided to investigate.

Here’s what I uncovered:

A food processor is a GREAT addition if you love Indian cooking. From grinding meat, making chutney, chopping nuts, whole spices, or coconut flakes, puréeing sauces & even making dough for naan, chapati, roti, or paratha. You will quickly wonder how you ever did without one of these amazing machines!

But there’s so much more to get into with food processors and Indian food, so let’s keep going!

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.

What is a food processor used for in Indian cooking?

I LOVE Indian food and culture. That probably started when my Mom brought me back a sitar from visiting my brother (who lived in India) when I was a teenager. I also love to cook.

If you love to cook, love Indian food, and don’t own a food processor, you don’t know what you’re missing! Heck even if you DON’T love to cook, a food processor is still well worth owning because it will get you in and OUT of the kitchen that much faster.

But even if you have an old Cuisinart food processor sitting under a counter somewhere, you may not be aware of everything it’s capable of.

If there’s a more versatile small kitchen appliance out there, I can’t think of it.

After all, a food processor can:

  • Blend – perfect for making Indian sauces like korma, saag, masala, etc
  • Chop – great for chopping nuts or coconut pieces for chutneys
  • Grate – perfect for when you want nuts, coconut, or onions and garlic finely minced
  • Mix – great for mixing complex sauces or dry spice blends like garam masala, or for churning butter to make ghee
  • Make bread dough – perfect for making naan or chapati bread dough
  • Purée soups – blend lentils and veggies together a little chunky or perfectly smooth

It’s not the smallest kitchen appliance in your arsenal, but it can honestly do the job of several other small kitchen appliances you probably have hanging around (immersion blender, counter blender, cheese grater, etc.)

In short, if you need to mix, blend, fold, chop, or combine ingredients in any way, get to know your food processor!

We’ll get into more great information below, but let’s dive right into the . . .

11 Cool Uses of a Food Processor in Indian Cooking

1. Dough for naan bread (recipe below)

Indian bread, whether it’s naan, chapati, roti, paratha or another variety, are an essential part of Indian food and cooking. You’ll be amazed at just how easy it is to make your own bread dough with your food processor. I have a great recipe down below.

2. Tamarind & mint/cilantro chutneys (recipe below)

I love using chutneys as a condiment or even just to dress greens for a salad.

Tamarind is the dark-brown, almost raisin-like chutney that is very common. But you often see a green chutney as well which can be cilantro, mint, or both.

Puréeing in a food processor, along with chopped nuts and/or coconut flakes, maybe some plain yogurt and water make creating your own chutneys quick and easy! Check out one of my favorite recipes below.

3. Making kofta (meatballs, often vegetarian)

You’ll see lamb or perhaps chicken kofta all across the Middle East.

In India, while not exclusively, these are often vegetarian. The most common method of making these vegetarian meatballs is by blending potato and paneer cheese, cornstarch, and often adding ground cashews.

So your food processor works great to blend all of that up and then simply form into meatballs and fry (or air fry – check out my article on all the Advantages of an Air Fryer (click to read)).

4. Churning butter to make ghee

Ghee is just clarified butter and it’s the cornerstone of Indian food.

While you can buy ghee (not refrigerated usually) at the grocery store, it’s often expensive. Instead, make your own! Just pour heavy cream into your food processor (with a pinch of salt if you wish) and process for about 10 minutes and you’re done!

Then to clarify the butter to make ghee, simply heat the butter either in the oven or on a stove top for about 15 minutes on low heat.

It will foam, bubble, and then start to foam again, and then, usually around the 15-minute mark, it’s done.

Pour through a strainer or some cheesecloth to remove any solids and allow it to harden back and it’s ready to go. Refrigerate for longer shelf life, but even at room temperature, it will last a month.

5. Finely chopping spinach for Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer may well be my daughter’s favorite thing to eat when we go to our favorite Indian restaurant in Austin (Asiana).

Essentially, it’s a creamed spinach with large chunks of paneer cheese floating in it. Many recipes call for frozen spinach, but whether you use frozen or fresh, it works great to puree in your food processor until smooth.

Then you simply saute with some onion, garlic, freshly grated ginger and maybe a little bit of chile for some heat, eventually adding the spinach and some essential spices like cumin and coriander. Plain yogurt gives the spinach it’s creamy texture at the end.

6. Blending onion and tomato for a sauce base

LOTS of Indian sauces and curries start with a base of onion and tomato blended together.

Just dropping them into the food processor and blending until you get the smooth consistency you want is super easy! For some reason, a lot of Indian recipes don’t call for garlic, but I love it and add it to almost everything, so throw a few cloves in as well if you love it too.

7. Dicing potatoes or okra or other veggies

The dicing blade doesn’t work for all veggies (carrots can be challenging for some reason) but works great for potatoes, long beans, and things like okra, all of which work great in a variety of Indian recipes

8. Make your own curry paste

Curry paste is an essential ingredient in curry, although don’t be confused by the Differences Between Indian and Thai curry (click to read my article).

Make your own curry paste for Indian food quickly and easily in your food processor.

While there are MANY varieties of Indian curry pastes, the base of many is often onion, tomato, ginger, and garlic. So just start by puréeing all of them and adding the common spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander.

9. Create amazing homemade soups

My friend Doug loves Indian soups! I’m a little weird in that I only really eat soup when it’s cold outside. That being said, Indian cuisine gives us some GREAT Indian soups.

Many just blend cooked lentils or garbanzo beans as the base. You’ll also hear the term Shorba, which can be a catch-all phrase used throughout the Middle East to describe a variety of types of soups.

Mulligatawny is probably the most widely known type of Indian soup probably due in large part to The British making modifications during their colonization period of India.  But no matter what the base for your Indian soup recipes, blending in your food processor is a sinch!

10. Make your own garam masala spice blend

Garam masala is a spice blend used extensively in Indian food. Often (but not always), it’s sprinkled on top of a finished dish rather than cooked with it the whole time.

You would typically start by toasting whole coriander, cumin, fennel, and cardamom seeds, along with whole cloves, a small amount of nutmeg and peppercorns.

Add a small amount of chili powder for heat if you wish. Toast in a dry skillet over low heat. I would not toast anything where you’re using a ground spice; just the whole pieces.

Then simply transfer to your food processor and blend until smooth. For a larger sized food processor, this works best with a large batch. Otherwise, you might use a clean coffee blade grinder.

11. Mince ginger the easy way

Ginger is an essential part of Indian food. But it’s also notoriously hard to work with! It can be tough, and stringy, and even on a grater, you tend to leave more long strings of ginger on the grater than you end up with in your pile of grated ginger.

So do yourself a favor and, once you’ve peeled your ginger, simply drop in your food processor and pulse until it’s perfectly minced!

So those are some fun uses of a food processor in Indian cooking, but that’s just the beginning! Let’s keep reading more about all the things you can do, including Gordan Ramsay’s 5 favorite Indian recipes!

What all can you do with a food processor?

I got into a lot of the basics above, but specifically, I love to use my food processor for everything from:

  • Masa for tamales
  • Caesar salad dressing
  • Grating cheese
  • Tortilla dough
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de gallo

And then since we’re gearing this article towards Indian food, I really love it for:

  • Chutney
  • Chapati dough
  • Korma sauce
  • Churning butter (which can then cook down to make ghee)
  • Making kofta (essentially a meatball, but often are vegetarian)

In the case of chutney, I like to pulse my food processor.

That simply means instead of just turning it on and letting the blade chop everything to bits, I manually turn it on and off in a rhythm. This gives it a chunkier texture.

Traditional Indian chutneys can be anything from tamarind-based, to cilantro based, coconut based, mint based, or even a combination of some of those. While I prefer my chutney a little chunky, for a smoother chutney, don’t pulse; just turn it on.

For making any kind of dough, you typically remove the blade attachment and insert the paddle attachment. They are basically the same except the paddle isn’t sharp. Thus it doesn’t cut; it just mixes.

For any sort of meatball, just add your ingredients and turn it on until everything is well mixed. Then remove and form into several small balls you roll by hand and they’re ready for cooking.

Lastly, it might surprise you, but you can churn butter with your food processor!

But it really is as simple as just adding cream with the blade attachment and letting it go for a minute or two! Oh, how the pioneers might have wished for one of these!

Love curry? Curry is delicious but many are confused about Indian and Thai curry differences (click to read my article), so if you aren’t sure, I highly recommend you take a moment and review my in-depth post on that.

Is a food chopper the same as a food processor?

That’s a bit like asking if a bicycle and a motorcycle are the same.

They can look a little similar, and they do some similar things, but they are kind of altogether different in many ways too.

A food chopper either refers to a hand (non-electric) chopper that you press down repeatedly on to chop vegetables. But it can also refer to a small electric food chopper which essentially does the same thing.

In either case, the food chopper isn’t powerful enough to mix, blend, or purée. Want to coarsely chop garlic, onions, or carrots?  A food chopper works great for that.

But that’s about all a food chopper can do.

A food processor can do all that (in much larger quantities) and so much more. Thus, in my opinion, while a hand chopper is a great addition since clean up is so much easier than with a food processor, an electric food chopper is kind of a waste.

Can you use a food processor as a blender?

The short answer is yes, but there are some key differences, so let me explain why I have both in my kitchen.

A blender is tall and slender and gravity naturally pulls everything down to the bottom where the blades are. A food processor, on the other hand, is wider and more spread out. It also has a larger blade.

A blender works great on soft foods like making a smoothie or a milkshake. In fact, it works better than a food processor for things like that.

A food processor is also not a great choice for puréeing small amounts as there’s too much extra room for the ingredients to go which could prevent them from blending well.

Want to grind nuts, make dough, chop veggies, or grate cheese? The food processor is the only option here.

But your blender is the king of:

  • Puréeing soups
  • Making smoothies
  • Blending milkshakes
  • Crafting custom cocktails

So ultimately while both feature a spinning blade, they are built for different purposes and both have a place among your small kitchen appliances.

How to make Indian chutney in a food processor

I love Indian food, and I love the different kinds of chutneys they offer.

A chutney, if you aren’t familiar, is simply a slightly chunky sauce used as a condiment. It is often tangy, sometimes spicy, and often a little sweet at the same time.

In Indian restaurants in the US, a tamarind chutney (dark brown) and mint and/or cilantro chutney are the most common. But you also see tomato, mango, onion, and others too.

Here’s a simple recipe I love for a mint-cilantro chutney.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1-2 serrano or jalapeno chiles (optional, remove the seeds for a milder version), stem removed
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/4 cup almonds or coconut flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons of water

Start by using the blade attachment on your food processor to finely chop the almonds or coconut flakes, ginger, and chiles if using. Then add the mint and cilantro and process until fairly smooth.

Add remaining ingredients except for water. Begin to pulse as you slowly add the water down the chute until it reaches a sauce consistency; not too watery but not super thick.

You can use only mint or only cilantro, omit the chiles altogether and you can also add plain unsweetened yogurt for a creamier chutney too. Experiment and see how many delicious variations you can create!

Can you use a food processor for baking Indian food?

When most people think of a small kitchen appliance for baking they think of a mixer; either a hand mixer or a big Kitchen Aid mixer.

But you can actually do a lot with a food processor in terms of baking.

First, it’s great for making any kind of dough. For Indian food, that would be chapati, paratha, roti, or naan. But you can also make corn masa for tortillas or tamales, flour tortilla dough, or dough for loaves of bread.

For dough making you just use the paddle attachment instead of the blade.

Beyond that, it’s also great for mixing cake batter where (in most cases) you would simply add all your ingredients and just blend (using the blade).

It’s also great for making pastry dough as well, so yes; a food processor works GREAT for baking.

How to make Indian naan bread dough in a food processor

While my site is not geared towards recipes, I do want you to have a good understanding of how to use a food processor for Indian food.

The most popular types of Indian bread include naan, chapati, roti, and paratha.

Since in the US, naan probably is at the top of that list, let’s review a quick recipe on how to make naan bread using your food processor.

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (look for unbleached)
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or ghee
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast

In a bowl, add yeast packet to the warm water. In another bowl, combine in the butter, milk, and egg.

Let the yeast sit for about 10 minutes until it foams. In your food processor, add in the sugar, salt, and flour and mix well, using the dough blade attachment. As it runs, slowly pour in the yeast water. Then pour in the milk, egg mixture.  Allow to mix well until it comes together as a soft dough.

Remove the dough from the food processor.

Knead the dough for between 5-8 minutes on a floured cutting board or counter until the dough is well mixed and smooth. Then roll the dough into a ball and place the dough in a large bowl coated with spray oil or wiped with vegetable oil.

Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel, and allow to sit for 1 hour away from heat or excess sunlight. It will roughly double in volume.

After 1 hour, begin to work the dough which will cause it to release some air and shrink in size a little. Mix in the garlic thoroughly.

Divide the dough evenly into golf ball sized chunks. Roll each into a smooth ball and place on a cutting board. Cover with a kitchen towel again and allow to rise for 30 minutes this time.

As it starts to rise, decide if you will cook the naan on a grill, a griddle, or on the stovetop (ideally on something like a comal as you would cook a tortilla). Go ahead and preheat whatever your cooking source is.

Not sure what a comal is? I love mine, and they are great for cooking or reheating flatbreads both Mexican and Indian. Check out all the Uses of a Comal, and see if you don’t need one in your house!

After 30 minutes, using a rolling pin (or a tortilla press) go ahead and roll out your naan into discs.

On a grill, brush the grill with a little oil and cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes until it starts to darken and puff up. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. For a griddle or comal you may find they cook faster, so check more frequently to ensure they don’t burn.

Do Indian chefs use food processors?

Having worked with a number of excellent chefs over the years in my 20+ years with Whole Foods Market, including a couple who were Indian, I can tell you unequivocally yes; chef’s do use food processors.

Ultimately the job of a chef and the cooks in a professional kitchen is to crank out a large quantity of amazing food for hungry guests and to make sure those guests want to return, tell their friends and give glowing reviews.

Thus, almost every chef is going to want to use tools that can help expedite food preparation without sacrificing food quality.

That’s exactly why professional chef’s LOVE food processors!

Specifically, in most pro kitchens you’re likely to find a Robot Coupe (pronounced robo-koo) professional food processor. These are similar to the home versions but have a much larger capacity and are designed to consistently knock out hundreds of meal preps night after night.

Robot Coupe products are NOT inexpensive and will be out of reach for most home chefs and enthusiasts.

But if you’re curious, check out all the Robot Coupe Products on Amazon and see why they’re in the kitchens of all your favorite restaurants.

Which food processor is best for Indian cooking?

The word “best” is pretty subjective.

But if we’re talking about one that features:

  • High power
  • Great reviews
  • Large capacity
  • Awesome alternate blades
  • Great warranty

That does help us narrow it down.

For my purposes with product reviews, I like to find items with 4.5 stars (or better) with over 100 reviews and 5% or fewer of the reviews being 1 star. That way, you truly know it’s a GREAT product.

Honestly applying that criteria on Amazon only leaves us with 1 brand (Breville), making the determination of “best food processor” (for Indian food or any food) easy.

So my pick for the best food processor for Indian (and other) food is the Breville BFP800XL Sous Chef 16 Cup Food Processor.

It features:

  • Free shipping
  • 16 cup capacity (many are only 8 or 12)
  • 5 discs and 3 blades included
  • 2 16-cup bowls (great for 2 uses without having to clean in between)
  • 1 small bowl for quick, smaller jobs
  • BPA-free plastic parts
  • LCD display displays count-up and count-down auto timer
  • 5″ cutting chute (so you don’t have to precut to fit them in)
  • 1200 watt motor (many are only 500)
  • Comes with a space-saving storage box
  • An Amazon’s Choice product with over 1,000 reviews

Of course, it also features standard food processor options like a pulse button and the safety feature of disengaging the motor if the lid isn’t secured to the base.

CLICK HERE to check current prices on Amazon.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about the uses of a food processor in Indian food?

In this post, we explored the world of Indian food.

To be fair, we really just scratched the surface, but we did look closely at how a food processor can make the preparation of Indian food so much quicker while turning out some delicious results.

Specifically, we explored all there is to know about the uses of a food processor in Indian cooking. So the next time you’re making a delicious chutney, dough for naan bread, or even a rich korma sauce, don’t think twice; grab that food processor!

What is your favorite Indian dish to make?

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.


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Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, blogging on his main blog over at newmiddleclassdad.com or, of course, in the kitchen.

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