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This review is from: Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes (Hardcover)
I've made about a dozen recipes from this cookbook, and every single one of them has been excellent.
* dal with ginger and lime -- of the gagillion dal recipes I've tried, this is the best. Pungent, spicy, and citrusy all at once
* hyderabad cauliflower -- creamy, with mint, cilantro, and coconut-- fantastic!
* baingan bharta -- baingan bharta, in general, is one of my favorite dishes of all time, and Saran's recipe passed the test. It's succulent but not too rich and mushy (like some baingan bhartas)
* the okra with northern Indian spices -- I wasn't even sure I liked okra, but the texture and flavors in this dish can't be beat
Other top hits: stir-fried cabbage with south Indian spices; spicy mango chutney; dhansak (a spicy eggplant, squash, and lentil Stew); and the chai tea recipe.
A few of the things I love about Indian Home Cooking:
1) Medium level of difficulty/complexity/exoticism. The other Indian recipes I usually make come from *The Asian Vegan Kitchen* (http://www.amazon.com/The-Asian-Vegan-Kitchen-Appetizing/dp/156836430X). It's a phenomenal cookbook, and I use it regularly, but most of the recipes require making complicated pastes or powders beforehand. By contrast, in *Indian Home Cooking* Saran has really split the difference between super-complicated recipes that require hard-to-find ingredients, and super-simple recipes that say, "Just add curry powder! Instantly exotic!"
2) On the subject of exoticism... some people might find fault in this cookbook for being 'inauthentic.' Yes, there's a recipe for a tofu scramble. And yes, the (amazing) okra recipe is prefaced by a note saying something like, "This recipe doesn't really come from any particular place or tradition; it's just how I like to cook okra when I'm short on time." In another recipe (I can't remember which and don't have the book on hand), Saran admits that the recipe is--like the modern state of India itself--rather new and always already a hybrid. Other recipes, like the hyderabadi cauliflower, come from regions of India already known for their cultural and culinary mixing. In short: Saran doesn't waste time fetishizing or performing authenticity; he simply shares recipes that are generally Indian, and sophisticated in palate while still highly accessible.
3) Vegan/Vegetarian, plus. I'm a vegan, and this is the only non-vegetarian cookbook I've ever spent money on. There are so many fantastic non-meat recipes; I use something like 80% of the cookbook. That said, the book would also be a great gift to share with meat-eaters. Basically, EVERYONE WHO LIKES INDIAN FOOD, AND LIKES TO COOK, SHOULD HAVE THIS COOKBOOK.
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Initial post: Jan 3, 2013 3:30:22 PM PST
as an avid connoisseur of j's vegan cooking, i must concur wholeheartedly. my thanks to Saran... keep it coming!
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2013 11:33:14 AM PST
Suvir Saran says:
Thanks J and zipzip!
This book is one of the better selling cookbooks and luckily one bought by Indian mothers and mother-in-law's looking to train their sons and daughters and in-law's in the art of Indian cookery.
It is as old or modern as India.
Nothing is didactic. Rather it is as authentic as authentic can be - because to be authentic to the past we also have to be authentic to the present.
I got into food because I craved the brilliant food of the Indian homes I visited in the first 20 years of my life that I lived in India and the homes I visited after. These were recipes I just did not find in Indian cookbooks published here or in India.
So, I set about calling family and friends and cooking with diligence. Stephanie Lyness brought sweat and policing to the recipes by being a guard looking to capture in recipe and words every detail that is always left fugitive either knowingly or because of absence of a brutal other present at the side of writers. Her efforts are gallant and absolutely the reason that this book has made many fans within the Indian diaspora.
Thanks for your very kind and flattering review. Your review has me very excited and feeling proud about my investment in writing the book and having Stephanie be a 50% partner from advance to work to royalties (yes hard work pays off! Lucky us!).
Hope you will continue to cook from the book. Try American Masala and Masala Farm. You might find some Indian and some non-Indian recipes that you might find comforting and addictive. I say that because it seems you and I have similar tastes as you highlighted as your favorites some of my top favorites.
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