Customer Review

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indian Cooking, American Style (in a good way), November 30, 2010
This review is from: 660 Curries (Paperback)
Any author writing an ethnic cookbook is faced with a substantial challenge: translating a foreign cuisine for the American home kitchen, which has different tools, cooking style and techniques, not to mention shopping habits and availability of ingredients. More often than not, these fall short of the mark. This book is a happy exception: it successfully translates a rather complex cuisine for the American home cook. I will be using mine for quite some time to come.

The recipes are relatively simple to do, and should not give you any problems. They are no more difficult than the recipes in the food section of your local newspaper. I have never been to India, but the food I make from this book, especially the vegetarian ones, seem to be as good as what I get from neighborhood Indian restaurants.

The key chapter, of course, is the one on spices (and also the glossary in the back), since these are the heart and soul of Indian food, and are even more valuable than the recipes that use them. On page 14, there is a list of suggested spice blends to have on hand: garlic paste, onion paste, Punjabi garam masala, Dhania-jeera masala, Sambhar masala, and ghee. I would exclude the pastes, and just keep fresh garlic and red onion on hand, and add panch phoron to the list. I only wish the author had also included a shopping list of recommended spices for that trip to the Indian supermarket or website order. I wish there were suggestions about what each spice blend is usually used for.

Yes, there are heavenly recipes for chicken, pork, and especially lamb. But the epiphany here are the recipes for lentils, paneer, biryani, and seafood. The Curry Cohorts chapter has an important primer on various rices and what to do with them. The variety of vegetable recipes was quite amazing and very useful. Whenever I come home from the market with lots of fresh, high quality, inexpensive, in season vegetables, there is almost always a matching recipe.

Sadly, there is not a separate section for info about ingredients such as vegetables; rather this info is scattered randomly through the text. So, important info (seeded, peeled cucumbers can substitute for luffa squash and that yellow crookneck squash will stand in for bottle gourd squash) is easy to miss. It would have been useful to have all these sidebars gathered together for easy reference.

Also, a list of the recipes at the head of each chapter would be useful, if you have a main ingredient and are looking for a matching recipe. A primer about regional Indian cuisines would have been useful, as would keying each recipe to its region of origin (like Italian food, Indian food is quite regional).
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