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American Masala: 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen Hardcover – October 2, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Suvir Saran's first book, Indian Home Cooking, offered a you-can-make-it take on one of the world's great cuisines, whose many spice blends, or masalas, can daunt Western cooks. In American Masala, Suvir offers 125 similarly approachable recipes that bring the many-layered flavors of Indian cooking to more familiar dishes, yielding, for example, Crab and Salmon Cakes with Spicy Cilantro Aïoli, Indian-Spiced Meatballs with Tomato-Chile Sauce, and Tamarind Roost Turkey with Corn Bread-Jalapeño Stuffing. More traditional Indian dishes, like Sweet Potato Chaat and Lamb Seekh Kebabs, are also included, as are sweets, such as Pistachio-and-Cardamom Pound Cake with Lemon Icing and Pavlova with Spiced Berries and Cointreau Cream.

Saran, a warm, food-loving presence, also offers autobiographical notes that further domesticate his recipes. With color photos and good info on ingredients and techniques, American Masala can help cooks add excitement to everyday and party-giving menus alike. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Although the recipes in Saran's aptly titled second cookbook share no unifying principle apart from their deliciousness—whoever heard of Macaroni and Cheese keeping company with Mushroom and Rice Biryani Casserole?—they complement one another in a mysterious way. Such eclecticism reflects how Saran, chef and co-owner of Dévi in New York City, cooks for his family and enormous circle of Tupperware-toting friends. Unlike many other chefs' signature dishes, which originate in a restaurant kitchen, Saran's most inspired creations begin at home. When this cooking-without-borders approach succeeds, as it mostly does, the results taste like wild siblings of the original: bolder, stronger, deeper. Seasonings for a delicious variation on harira, a traditional Moroccan soup, include Aleppo pepper and garam masala; a buttermilk brine for fried chicken is flavored with ginger, coriander and cayenne. Indian dishes like Mashed Potatoes with Mustard Oil, Cilantro and Onions and Bombay-Style Whole Snapper, in which the fish is rubbed with a spice paste before roasting, particularly stand out for their elegance and ease of preparation. 60 color photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030734150X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307341501
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.9 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew Christensen on October 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I picked up my copy of "American Masala" last night so this review is a first impressions sort of look at chef Suvir Saran's latest cookbook. First of all, the photography and the graphic elements that make up this book are vividly colorful. As you can see from the cover, the colors are rich and intense - almost a visual foretaste of the equally vivid flavors and unique layering of spices you will experience when you try these recipes. Building on "Indian Home Cooking," this second book provides even more background to the recipes - the stories of people and experiences that have inspired Saran's collection of "125 new classics" are a pure pleasure to read. In fact, when I got home last night, I sat in bed reading Saran's book as I would a novel, getting lost in the textures and rhythms of anecdotes from Delhi, New York and other places around the world.

Today I decided to try Suvir's recipe for vegetarian enchiladas with roasted pepper sauce. As I looked through the recipe to make my shopping list, I discovered that I would be actually making three recipies: the roasted pepper sauce, the stir-fried carrot salad, and the enchiladas themselves. Now enchiladas, like many of the foods you will see in this cookbook, may seem a peculiar offering from one of the leading authorities in this country on Indian cooking. But as the title suggests, this book reflects Saran's own experience in America (where, as he states early on, he has lived almost as long as he had lived in India). Many of these recipes will no doubt seem familiar to you as you thumb through the book, but if you look at the ingredients, you will notice how Suvir subtly recreates them with new flavors and spices.

I have just finished making the roasted pepper sauce (fantastic!
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Format: Hardcover
I've got two kids under the age of 9 and it is my goal in life to get them to eat food from every corner of the world. This is not always an easy task. American Masala is brilliant; Suvir Saran has practically written this book with me in mind. It is all the comfort food my family knows and loves, like Macaroni and Cheese and Fried Chicken, but Saran adds the spices and flavors from India that make it unique and exciting. I can introduce my kids to a cuisine I love while satisfying their young need to recognize what they are eating.

When I got the book in the mail I immediately handed it over to my 6 year old and asked him what he would like for dinner. He quickly filled the pages, that look like brightly colored candy, with little sheets of paper to mark his favorites. Last night he chose the meatloaf, aloo bonda potato dumplings and the fig flan. We were all licking our fingers and wanting to dip into the Tamarind glaze that sits on top the meatloaf. It is not the meatloaf my grandma used to make, it is better! And we love hers. Tonight my 8 year old has chosen the enchiladas with roasted pepper sauce, spiced pear chutney and magic bars. Ok I admit this is a crazy menu but if my kids are inspired to eat, I'm thrilled to do it!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Having delved into Suvir Saran's earlier book Indian Home Cooking, I've been waiting for months with giddy anticipation to get my hands on his newest work, American Masala - 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, $35).

Within a week, I have read it cover to cover, senses awakening again as I gazed at each gorgeous color photograph and checking off seemingly every recipe to try sooner rather than later. Mr. Saran writes with the same
passion and wit that he conveys in person, whether it be teaching a class of eager students or sharing a meal with friends and family.

His stories of growing up in India in the shadow (a.k.a. underfoot) of his family's cook, grandmother, and mother somehow transcend his life and inspires others. He shares his joy of learning from those he loves and inspires us to teach those who may be underfoot in our own kitchens.

In American Masala, he takes American standards and gives them an Indian twist. The book begins with the foundation of Indian cuisine, chutneys, pickled vegetables, a raita, and spice blends, especially the keystone: Garam Masala, but quickly moves to the American melting pot with Spinach Lasagna with Roasted Eggplant Sauce and Veggie Enchiladas with Roasted Pepper Sauce. The ease of his recipes and his encouragement throughout the book make it seem as though anyone can welcome unexpected drop-in guests without panic. As he states, with just the fewest of pantry staples like red onions, red bell peppers, potatoes, and jalapeños; a couple of hearty snacks can be in front of your guests at a moment's notice.

At last, Saran gives us his recipe for Manchurian Chicken.
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Format: Hardcover
I have a copy of this book -- intrigued by the title alone. As I read through the recipes, I noticed that most of them are familiar, but there is a bit of a twist on each. I made the Creamy Cauliflower and Spinach soup as a test recipe for a low fat, low cholesterol addition to a feeding study for my job. Spectacular! This soup hit all the marks -- texture, taste, visual appeal, intense flavor. Chef Saran has taken the familiar and left them familiar, adding the subtle spice that reflects a change that is unmistakably there, but not obnoxious. These recipes are for those who are reticent about trying new things on their palate. It's what you would expect from a mac and cheese or fried chicken, but with a little sump'n-sump'n -- like a Masala.
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