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Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes Hardcover – August 31, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
There's much to like in this informative cookbook, which offers an accessible take (if, inevitably, not a comprehensive one) on one of the world's most vast and complex regional cuisines. It's a natural development for Saran, who teaches Indian cooking classes and opened the New York restaurant Amma last year. Such expertise is welcome in a book that cherry-picks freely from Moghul meat dishes, Gujerati dals, Hyderabadi greens and Punjabi tandoor dishes. That said, many of the curries are familiar, like Chicken Tikka Masala and Simple Lamb Curry with Coriander and Garam Masala. Surprisingly straightforward vegetable dishes include Smoked Spiced Eggplant, and Crisp Whole Okra with Fennel and Coriander. Rice dishes range from simple (Cumin-Scented Rice Pilaf) to elaborate (Sweet Saffron Pilaf with Nuts and Currants). Lassis, raitas, breads and some unexpectedly Western-sounding desserts (e.g., Blueberry-Lemon Pie and Gingersnap Pudding) complete the volume. Unfortunately, the book's minuscule print poses a nuisance for home cooks, who may be called upon to dash back and forth, adding spices to the pan every 30 seconds. Just taking the time to find one's place on the page can result in smoke and burnt seasonings. Still, Saran and Lyness fill a crucial niche in the cookbook market; their work should be avidly welcomed. 75 color photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Author
"This is my generation of Indian cuisine, While many of the recipes in this book are traditional, my approach to Indian food is eclectic and, perhaps more important, pragmatic. I devise recipes on the basis of what tastes good to me - using accessible American ingredients in place of some Indian ones - and I simplify wherever possible." from the Introduction
Top customer reviews
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His secret for home cooks, is that he makes everything as fast and simple possible, like a true Indian grandma, but he insists on toasting fresh spices -- and if possible grinding them in your grinder (if possible). That's the one area where he doesn't encourage taking shortcuts. It makes all the difference and only takes an extra minute or so. Same for his dals. You need to make the tempering oil, as he shows, to get the layers of flavor that dazzle people.
It is not a beautifully designed or "pretty" cookbook. It's not for show. But Suvir really, really knows the needs of the home cook. Simple recipes, easy to understand, etc. Even his way of making rice is so simple. Also, if you google videos of him, you'll see him on Martha Stewart or elsewhere making many of the basic dishes, which can be helpful.
The recipes are packed with flavor and explore new and exciting combinations (to me). Definitely worth the purchase.
Some of the examples of hard to find ingredients are:
Black Mustard Seeds
* 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.