Indians use spices lavishly and cook with a wide variety of them. Spices are the key to Indian cooking. Most dishes require elaborate combinations of freshly ground spices or seasonings called masalas. Indian food is almost always prepared with fresh ingredients along with delicate mixtures of many different fresh and dried spices and the exact recipes often vary greatly from one household to the next.
General Perception and Myths
Curry powder itself is an English invention and never used in authentic Indian cooking. The very word "curry" is, a vague Anglicization with no real meaning in traditional Indian cooking, loosely interpreted as "gravy" or sauce Indian food is usually perceived as 'spicy' or 'hot'. If you do not prefer the heat, stay away from any dishes that contain liberal use of chilies or tone down the chili amount to suit your taste. The other ingredient to be careful with is black peppercorn, most commonly referred to as "pepper".
The recipes listed in my book are only examples of a few Indian dishes and should not be considered as a general guide for Indian food. India is a very diverse country and all regions have their unique cuisine. I strongly recommend substituting spices and altering the taste of the recipes to suit you. Indians regularly engage in such practices and often create unique tastes in their households.