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on July 14, 2007
This is a great book. It's premise is simple, but not simplistic - take 5 spices combined in various ways and produce a variety of Indian dishes for any occasion. Everything I've made from it has succeeded, and I will certainly make again. The coverplate (chickpeas with dill) is total comfort food, and uses dill as a vegetable in a new and surprising way. I've also made and enjoyed the Cabbage Salad (a fresh take on slaw), Indian Fried fish (tasty and savory), Sweet Potato with Ginger and Lemon, Corn with Mustard Seeds, and the fantastic Mussels in a Green Curry. And anyone who thinks they don't like okra NEEDS to try the Okra Raita - my favorite of all favorites in the book.

Recipes are well-presented, clear and easy to follow. I cook a lot of Indian food, but in no way felt that these recipes were dumbed-down at all. Kahate wisely confines her recipes to simple, practical ones with accessible ingredients. Does Indian food offer complex biriyanis with 15 spices and many ingredients? Sure. But that's not what is offered here. This is fresh home cooking, bursting with flavor, yet able to be cooked quickly. The flavors of the ingredients is prominent. And Kahate is a good guide to ingredients and techniques.

Highly recommended. Mine is already stained from much use!
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on January 25, 2009
I've really enjoyed exploring some of the recipes in this book and getting a feel for the simple spice combinations. After having cooked many dishes from this book over the years, I find these are now some of my go-to spices. The book has been a great addition to our broad ambitions for cooking style, and one of my favorite cookbooks ever. The shrimp and fish marinades alone are worth the price.

I am pretty sure the spicy lamb chop rub is the key to my successful marriage.

The only problem is the binding. The pages totally fell out of the cover after about a dozen uses. Quite poorly made. 5 stars for content, 1 star for printing = 3 stars. But you should really ignore this problem if the content interests you.

UPDATE (Jan 2016): Other reviewers have noted in the comments below that the binding problem may have been addressed.
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on October 17, 2007
I have made several recipes from this book and have been delighted with all so far. I cook a lot of Indian food, and am a fan of the books of Mahadur Jaffrey and Julie Sahni, but this book is going to be used as much as their books. The premise is simple but not simplistic. The recipes are easy to follow and the results are delicious. Particular raves at my house go to the carrot raita, with it's inclusion of walnut pieces and raisins, (I used dried cranberries.) And the Goan eggplant and shrimp curry is a winner, although I used a little more shrimp and eggplant than called for in the recipe and used a full can of coconut milk instead of the cup of water and cup of coconut milk called for. This is a worthy addition to anyone's collection of cookbooks.
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on April 30, 2008
I love Indian food and I often have it for lunch at a nearby
restaurant. My wife has been disappointed in the dishes she
ordered in restaurants over the years. I bought this book based
on the reviews and I haven't been disappointed. I found the book
very clear in its description of the recipes. The photographs
were helpful in selecting the next dish to make. I'm extremely
grateful to the author for demystifying the spices and techniques
used in Indian cooking.

Tonight I made "new bride chicken curry" and it was a great success.
My wife and I both loved it. The house still smells of the
wonderful aroma. And she's taking leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

It may be helpful for others to know that I was able to find an
outfit on the web that sells the spices mentioned in the book:
"The Spice House." I was happy with the quality of the spices
and the professional transaction.

Update: I've now been using this book for a while and have a bit
more experience with the recipes in it. I can say that this is my
favorite cook book so far. Today I made the "Everyday Yellow Dal"
and it was just heavenly. I suppose you have to appreciate Indian
food and its spices to enjoy this dish this fully. But I was tickled
as much as one can be.

I also made "baked fish in a spice broth" with halibut and was
extremely pleased.

A couple of comments regarding the "indian brown beef stew" recipe.
If you make it in a pressure cooker, cooking time should take altitude
into consideration (ie. increase cooking time by 5 percent for every 1000
feet in altitude). I live near Denver and I need to follow this rule.
In addition, "Pressure Perfect" by Lorna Sass recommends using a natural
pressure release for tender beef.

My wife takes the leftovers to work and her colleagues often comment
on the wonderful aromas as she heats her lunch.

Update: Oct 9, 2009
This is still one of my favorite cookbooks. It gets to be used every
week. I have since discovered more elaborate recipes from the likes of
Julia Child and Paula Wolfert, but I keep coming back to this one.
I cannot get tired of Everyday Yellow Dal. The aromas that fill the
house when I make this dish are just fantastic. I hope this author
will come up with other cookbooks. My highest compliments to her.

Update: Oct 16, 2012
I made Railway Potatoes countless numbers of times. I made it again today.
My wife and I could live off of this one dish, since we both love potatoes.
The only modification I made was to reduce the amount of salt by half and
doubled the cayenne pepper called for. We had Swedish meatballs from
IKEA with the potatoes along with lingonberry preserves. I was in Heaven--
simple stuff, but delicious. Can be cooked in 15 minutes.
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on June 28, 2007
I usually don't buy cookbooks because most of them don't work or are not thoroughly tested, but I bought this one. And for once, I'm glad I did.

The recipes are easy to work through, don't call for a laundry list of ingredients that are impossible to track down and most importantly, delicious! I've now made the book's chicken in cashew nut sauce, black-eyed peas in a spicy goan curry, shrimp curry with eggplant, spicy seared shrimp and cucumber salad with crushed peanuts for my family and everyone has loved them.

As someone who cooks alot, I was pleasantly surprised at just how flavorful everything was, even though sometimes you're not using a lot of spices. And her premise that you can cook Indian food with just coriander, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds and cayenne really does work.
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on July 2, 2007
This fine little treasure of a cookbook can be a great introduction for gourmet cooks who are unfamiliar with Indian cuisine. For the professional chef it contains creative, seasonal and well tested recipes that can offer new possibilities for any restaurant menu. I am particularly attracted to the array of vegetable recipes, for example corn with mustard seeds or butternut squash and green beans in coconut-milk curry. The clever lay-out of the book as well as the number of recipes(50) and beautiful photos make this a must-have cookbook to add to your shelf.
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on October 7, 2009
I forced myself to write this review because of the last review. To give a view from the other side.
I own the book. I think the book format is clear, easy read; recipes simple enough for the novice. Not many choices for each chapter, if I may add. For instance, I think there are about 3 chicken recipes. Thus too much money for not much in return.

I do think it's a crime to limit Indian cooking to 5 spices! Indian cuisine is so vast, the 5 spices did not include the aromatic spices (Cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bayleaves, etc), which is found in EVERY SINGLE indian home. I teach Indian cooking classes and I've seen grownups can handle more than just 5 spices. Thus I feel it does not do Indian cuisine justice.
As the author tried to limit some of the recipes to just 5 spices, it has DEFINITELY taken away from authenticity and true taste of certain dishes, such as the Lamb with Burnt Onions. Her writing about it with such excitement made me want to try it. I tried it a couple times and hated it every single time. I didn't feel this was true Indian fare.
For a reader/cook who doesn't ever want to visit an Indian grocery store and just stick to 5 spices, maybe this is a good start as these spices can get quite expensive in a regular grocery store. But that's all it is, a start; well, not even quite.

Another point I want to make is, almost every single recipe had ginger and garlic in it, and possibly cilantro. The title leads you to believe that once you're stocked with the 5 spices you're all set.
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on July 6, 2007
I am a person who loves to cook, I find it calming. But driving from
store to store searching for ingredients has the exact opposite
effect, especially here in San Francisco where its impossible to find
a parking spot! So I think the author of this cookbook had a great
idea. You can make all the recipes in the book with only five spices
(available at Safeway), and everything turns out really yummy. My
faves so far are the spicy seared shrimp and the lamb meatballs, the
sauce is fantastic.
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on December 12, 2011
I have about eight cookbooks on Indian cuisine, many of them more involved and possibly considered more authentic than this one. But on nights when I'm in the mood for a different twist on an old theme, and I am short on time, I need something fast and simple. This book does that for me. It's a great gift for someone who loves to cook but hasn't ventured into Indian cooking yet. It is not overwhelming for a beginner to use this book and there are many pictures. The "Indian fried fish" was great. Unlike the implication of the title, it is not deep fried but lightly fried in a little oil in a cast iron pan, no breading, just a bit of flour and seasonings. Last night I made an "Indian Brown beef stew," consisting of beef and potatoes, it was incredible. I added carrots to it so I wouldn't need to make another side veggie dish. I was short on time and this dish was a tasty surprise. Beef is the forbidden food of the Hindu Brahmin, but this book does include three beef dishes. When I see lamb dishes, I sometimes substitute beef to fit my palate since neither my husband nor I are crazy about lamb. Call me a rebel, but it is my kitchen. I am after the taste of the spices most of all, to me that is the fun of cooking exotic foods. This recipe also suggests using a pressure cooker to cut the cooking time of the beef stew down to 1/3 the normal time.

There are other pages tagged to try. "A simple cabbage stir fry" and "chapati bread" too. Thus, this book IS simple and user friendly and geared to making it hard NOT to make something from this book. I still use my other Indian cookbooks, but when I want big taste and am short on time, this one works.
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on July 7, 2007
This cookbook is a great find. It is one of the few Indian cookbooks with recipes that can actually be made on a weeknight! The beef stir fry is exceptionally easy and delicious.

And the recipes are so diverse that I can serve them with an Indian or a non-Indian themed dinner. The corn with mustard seeds complemented burgers and a salad for an easy 4th of July dinner. The creamed farmer's greens are a nice alternative to creamed spinach or braised greens.

I look forward making all the recipes in this book.
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