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The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes Paperback – September 7, 2010
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"Of all the world's cuisines, India's is perhaps best suited to the steady simmer of a slow cooker...If you love Indian food, have a look at Anupy Singla's The Indian Slow Cooker. Folded in with lush food photography are easy, healthful recipes with traditional flavors." Lois White, Better Homes & Gardens
"My favorite new slow cooker book is The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla....Because Indian dishes are rich in spices and robust flavors, they stand up well in slow cookers. Singla actually developed the recipes specifically for the slow cooker so the techniques and ingredients work well in the machine." Genevieve Ko, Good Housekeeping, October 14, 2011
Singla's book goes against what many believe is required of Indian cuisine--infusing hot oil with a whole mess of spices as the base for dishes. Instead, she argues, throw everything into the Crock-Pot and let the aromatics do their thing... the book gives old- and new-school cooks alike ample reason to give Indian food a shot.” Janet Rausa-Fuller, Chicago Sun-Times, October 20, 2011
"Ms. Singla says her book is aimed at anyone who wants to eat more vegetarian food and she doesn’t believe in calling Indian food spicy’ or exotic’ anymore." Wall Street Journal, India Real Time Blog, August 24, 2010
"[The Indian Slow Cooker] is slim in appearance, a mere 136 pages. Yet the author has packed its pages with 50-plus recipes, lots of guidance and enough enthusiasm for slow cookers and Indian food that fans of either or both will be prompted to try one of her recipes...” Judy Hevrdejs, Chicago Tribune, April 6, 2011
"Next time you have a hankering for Indian food, don't think take-out. Think ahead. That's the message from Anupy Singla, author of The Indian Slow Cooker who is on a mission to correct misperceptions about Indian food..." Michele Kayal, Associated Press, October 26, 2010
"In her friendly voice, Anupy Singla welcomes everyone into her kitchen, even busy and beginner cooks. With her comprehensive guide to ingredients and surprisingly simple and healthy recipes that perfume the house on a cold day, The Indian Slow Cooker is a great first book on Indian cooking. We love recommending it to our customers!" — Lara Hamilton, Owner of Book Larder, Seattle, WA
"Anupy has a fantastic blog, Indian As Apple Pie, a beautiful cookbook, "The Indian Slow Cooker", and an innovative spice box product now being offered by Williams-Sonoma." Nancy Loo, WGNtv.com, September 5, 2011
"Anupy is really on to something here. In 50 well-crafted and imaginative recipes, Anupy shows you how to use the modern slow cooker to get the beautiful, complex flavors of her ancient native cuisine. A book that will surprise you.” Dorie Greenspan, author of Baking with Julia and Around My French Table, as well as contributing editor to Parade magazine, December 23, 2010
"For those who love Indian food--or who are interested in starting to explore it--Anupy shows how to prepare the classic dishes in healthful versions that use far less oil and saturated fat than traditional recipes...Anupy introduces the mainstay spices of an Indian kitchen, and how to store, prepare, and combine them in different preparations.” WLS-ABC Channel 7, March 26, 2011
"The talented and beautiful Anupy Singla, author of The Indian Slow Cooker, understands that many home cooks are intimidated by Indian spices and cooking. So she created spice packets, small bundles of 5 essential Indian spices, that will get anyone cooking Indian. Demystify something for people, and they will love you.” Susan Russo, writer for FoodBlogga blog and contributor to NPR’s Kitchen Window
"Singla's recipes, and writing in general, exudes common sense and practicality...Straightforward, healthy recipes for easy preparations of all your favourite Indian dishes combined with mouthwatering photographs make this a cookbook any lover of Indian food will appreciate." Rebecca Baugniet, EAT Magazine
About the Author
Anupy Singla's food writing has appeared in numerous venues, including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and The Wall Street Journal. She lives with her husband and two young daughters in Chicago.
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I've used this book to cook about 8 recipes and here's what I've found. Implicitly I am comparing it with my favorite slow cooker books, the "Not your mother's slow cooker" and "Not your mother's slow cooker for two", which I like because they have a balanced set of recipes and have clearly tried making them different ways: they specify when things need to be browned before adding to slow cooker, and say whether high or low is better for a given recipe.
The 8 recipes I made are mustard greens and spinach, chana dal, green lentil and rice, dry dal, cauliflower, pigeon peas with garlic and lemon, and my boyfriend made the chicken vindaloo and chicken masala, and then made lamb vindaloo based on the chicken recipe.
1. Prioritizes spices: she says if you're going to buy 7 spices, which are the 8 you should buy. That wasn't a typo: she lists 7 of the crucial spices, and then adds an 8th, and then pictures of her crucial 7 spices include spice #8 while omitting another.
2. Some of the food is really good. I like the flavors of 5 of the 8 recipes we've made (disappointing ones discussed below). Other food others have liked, even thought I haven't, like the cauliflower.
3. I like how conversational the book is, and that she mentions how the recipes fit into her life.
4. I love that she has vegetable recipes --- most slow cooker cookbooks don't cook veggies outside of root vegetables.
5. I also like that my boyfriend got really excited to see the book --- he wanted to borrow it the day it came and was really excited to make the vindaloo.
6. As with any Indian cookbook, most recipes are suitable for people with the most common food restrictions: few or no recipes use peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, shellfish, wheat, soy, corn, and most are vegetarian. Many are dairy-free and vegan. They use little sugar and starch, so are fairly low glycemic index.
1. Avoids some obvious short-cuts: Someone who is using their slow cooker will want other short cuts that don't compromise flavor, such as pre-ground spices, frozen spinach, and canned tomatoes. Is someone who is using a slow cooker also going to grind their own coriander or dip a single tomato in boiling water to peel off the skin before cutting it? I only grind my own spices when I'm making a huge batch of curry paste that will last me a year.
2. Logistics are off. She tells you to buy 8 spices, but so far I haven't found a single recipe that uses 2 of the spices with no other special ingredients. 1 lb of mustard greens filled my entire 6 qt crockpot leaving little room for the 1 lb of spinach and spices, onion, garlic, ginger that I was supposed to add afterwards. Thankfully I was using frozen spinach, but 1 lb of fresh spinach would not have fit.
3. She buys into the fat-free fallacy that it's better to make enormous quantities of fat-free food than moderate quantities of normal-fat food, so most of the dal/bean recipes are fat-free. On a flavor basis, that's a huge negative: flavor is less full, texture is more gummy, and the hot spices are harsher than if made traditionally in oil. (The only times I've ever seen people get chemical burns in their mouth from hot peppers were when they were in fat-free dishes, so I think there's a real change in the quality of peppers when cooked in oil versus not.) On a health basis, it's also a huge negative. Fat-free food has a higher glycemic index than traditional food, so many people overeat when they eat fat-free food, and certainly they do not save calories.
4. The recipes make enormous quantities. The keema recipe calls for 4 pounds of ground meat (vs. ones I found online use 1 lb at a time). Dal recipes use 3-4 cups of lentils. Why contribute to American epidemic of huge portions? She gives directions for halving the recipes, but it's distracting to do that for each of the dozen ingredients in a recipe.
5. It's mostly legumes, with only 7 meat recipes, ~12 vegetable recipes, and no fish. Of the 7 meat recipes, she says a few aren't traditional, and three include dairy in a central role (e.g., butter chicken) so a given person might not even be able to use all 7 recipes without tinkering if they have food restrictions. (A little known fact: people with food allergies often rely extensively on Asian cookbooks because they avoid most common allergens. Normal people buy Asian cookbooks because they want to try cooking something new. People with food allergies buy Asian cookbooks because they can't eat half the recipes in western cookbooks.)
6. She gives a single time for how long a dish takes to cook, but she doesn't explain how your choice of crockpot size affects that time. She gives 2 choices of crockpots (4 and 5 qt) for making the cauliflower, but gives only one cooking time (3 hours). I used a 4 qt crockpot and it was still crunchy after 3 hours; presumably the 3 hours was for a 5 qt crockpot. As I learned from "Not your mother's slow cooker", cooking time varies with how full a crockpot is, with fuller crockpots taking longer to cook. Similar experience with the dry dal.
7. The first two recipes that I made were disappointing. Besides taking different amounts of time to cook than expected, the Aloo gobi (cauliflower with potatoes) was gritty with spices. You actually feel the vast quantity of spices as you eat it because there are tablespoons and tablespoons full of different spices. It's not a smooth feeling that you have from aloo gobi that you make on the stove. My guess is that the spices don't get a chance to dissolve into the oil. I served the aloo gobi to guests, and some of them loved it, and others weren't so excited, so it's personal taste. My boyfriend made lamb vindaloo, and there was the same thick grittiness from undissolved spices. My suggestion for the future will be to make spice pastes ahead of putting them in the slow cooker. The dry dal I made with urad dal, and it tasted raw after even twice as long as it was supposed to cook, and I didn't like the taste. And so I added water and cooked it overnight, and it still did not taste good. So I ended up with cups and cups of this dal that is barely palatable --- I ate a couple of servings, but threw 3/4 of it out, which I virtually never do. Maybe I just don't like urad dal, though, or maybe mine was old.
Btw, one reviewer mentioned how expensive it was to buy the ingredients. If you can find an Indian grocery, they shouldn't be. I went to my local Indian grocery (Patel Brothers, which is a national chain), and bought the full set of suggested spices for my boyfriend, some extra spices for myself, 4 lbs black chickpeas, and some other groceries, and my total was 25 dollars. And this is 7 and 14 oz bags of spices, not the small bottles from supermarkets.
I'm glad that I have this book, but since I already have to tinker with the recipes such as by adding fat and halving the recipes, I think that I would have been better off with a good Indian cookbook and using the slow cooker whenever there's a long simmer time, as I've done in the past.
I am graduate student who loves to cook but who is often busy (or, at least, should be busy) studying and a slow cooker was a Christmas gift for me to allow me more time to study yet still prepare delicious, home cooked meals.
In my search for "healthy" slow cooker cookbooks, I ran across this book and ordered it instantly as I love Asian cuisine. I'll admit, I lean more towards sushi, Thai, and Chinese than I do Indian (so, I'm no expert) but I've liked every Indian dish I've had previously in restaurants.
Before writing a review, I decided to try a swatch of recipes from the book. Here they are (for what it's worth, in order that I made them):
Traditional Chicken Curry, page 108
Rice Pudding, page 127
Punjabi Curried Kidney Beans, page 74
Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes, page 91
Black Lentils, page 51
Many of the negative reviews stated the dishes were:
- "too spicy" -- I didn't find this to be the case, at all. I went with the low end on the chilies (i.e. many recipes state 4-6 serrano peppers, I'd go with 4), often seeding/stemming at least one of them to cut down on the heat. If you don't like foods too spicy, but still want the flavor, I'd recommend using fewer peppers, or seeding/stemming them before adding them to the dish.
- "too salty" -- the author *clearly* states upfront that she uses kosher/sea salt in all recipes. If you use table salt, she recommends cutting the amount by half. As someone who never uses much salt in the preparation of his food, I've yet to find any dish "too salty"
- "undercooked meat/veggies" -- I own a 6-quart crock pot, which is larger than the 5-quart crock pot the author uses in all recipes. As such, my cooking times had to be longer (though, not by much. maybe 30 minutes), as it takes longer for the heating unit and stoneware to get up to temperature. Nevertheless, I have *never* had an undercooked dish by simply following directions and adding a smidge more time. Again, the author clearly states in her introduction (as do *all* slow cooker cookbooks I've run across) that different units heat differently, and cooking times need to be adjusted accordingly.
- "not authentic" -- this is one issue I cannot address, as I am not Indian nor did I grow up eating "authentic" Indian cuisine. However, each dish I have tried is tasty (as I'll elaborate on below).
- "too many beans/lentils/non-meat recipes" -- while I bought this book on a whim, if you are purchasing books through Amazon.com, many of them allow you to view the Table of Contents before purchasing the book. I recommend doing that, should you be worried too many recipes won't suit your fancy.
- "all the spices are the same in each recipe" -- I'll admit, this had me highly skeptical, as well. With almost every recipe using the same spices (turmeric, red chilie powder, garam masala, cinnamon, ginger, serranos, cumin, coriander), I really thought the dishes would taste waaay too similar and I'd get sick of each recipe. Boy was I ever wrong! Each dish, while similar, has it's own unique, distinct flavor that is just wonderful! On top of that, as as graduate student, it's budget friendly, as I only need a few spices in the pantry to make a wide variety of dishes!
Now, on to my food reviews:
Traditional Chicken Curry: as this was the first dish I tried, I had high hopes (especially considering my apartment smelled fantastic for hours!). It came out very delicious and was easy to make. And much to my surprise, it tasted even better the next day!
Rice Pudding: my least favorite of the five dishes I've tried so far. I made it twice, as I messed it up the first time, and I did like it better the second time. Honestly, I think I'm just not a huge cardamom fan and it was "too much" the first time. The second time, I used ground cardamom, instead of seeds, hoping to tone down that particular flavor. It worked, and I enjoy it much more now.
Punjabi Curried Kidney Beans: let me state upfront I am not a vegetarian and almost every meal I typically make contains meat. Boy was I surprised how much I loved this...even more than the chicken curry! While I'm not a vegetarian, this cookbook may yet turn me into one! I was amazed how the spices and flavors created a wonderful dish that didn't even make me miss meat!
Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes: again, upfront, I hate cauliflower. Seriously! But, I was so pleased with the curried kidney beans, I decided to give this a whirl. Again, wonderful!
Black Lentils: I am eating this as I write, and having never had lentils before, it is again delicious and I don't even miss meat. Truly a compliment!
I've already gone to the grocery store to stock up ingredients for the next few dishes I want to try...I've been eating nothing but Indian food since this book arrived and I can't say I'm sick of it! I also love that she gives the history of each dish, along with personal anecdotes about each. For me, it really helped bring the book/food alive.
While everyone has a different palate, and different tastes, I can honestly say I have enjoyed every dish I have made. If you love flavorful, simple foods to make, I suggest you try this book.