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Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors Hardcover – May 1, 2014
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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" . . . beautifully combines the time-tested traditions of the Indian kitchen with a practical, modern approach . . ." --SUVIR SARAN, author of Masala Farm and Indian Home Cooking
"Spices & Seasons awakened my sleepy palate the moment I opened it! What gorgeous, beguiling recipes and such wise words about so much, especially about children and vegetables. I am off to my kitchen, book in tow and with great anticipation of many wonderful meals." --DEBORAH MADISON, author of Vegetable Literacy and The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Rinku stresses local and seasonal... She simplifies an essential spice kit down to just seven ingredients that form the base of many of the recipes in her book: cilantro, coriander, cumin, red cayenne, garlic, ginger, and turmeric.... Throughout the book, her recipes come alive with bright vegetables and intriguing combinations: Creamy Mint Chicken Curry, Shrimp in a Mango Basil Sauce, Super Simple Fish Curry, with but ten minutes of prep time. In all, she offers 150 inspired recipes, each accompanied by superb color photographs and warm paragraph-long introductions.
Spices and Seasons - simple, sustainable Indian flavours is a beautifully presented volume with a picture accompanying every recipe. Ok, so that's not an essential for a good cookbook but it does give a bit of support to the novice and some inspiration to the confident. But the most important element of the book is that the recipes are uncomplicated and practical. There are lots of classic Indian dishes here but Rinku interprets even these with flair and personal nuance.
Rinku takes the intimidation factor out of Indian cooking. Her recipes and techniques are practical and simple. Rinku writes beautifully. You'll read about her grandmother's kitchen, how to create an essential spice kit and getting children to make healthy dining choices among other things. For the most part, the recipes make use of ingredients that are easy to find in U.S. grocery stores.
From the Back Cover
WINNER LIVING NOW 2014 GOLD AWARDS
WINNER INDIEFAB BOOK OF THE YEAR 2015
WINNER READERS FAVORITE SILVER AWARD 2015
WINNER USA BOOK AWARDS 2015
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Spices and Seasons is excellent because I find it very approachable. Some Indian cookbooks are intimidating, or give ingredients, like various types of Masalas, which aren't always readily available. One of my favorite aspects of Spices ans Seasons is its approachability and friendliness to someone not familiar with the cuisine.
This cookbook doesn't assume one has an Indian grocer down the street, towards the back of the book are recipes for various Masalas that the recipes call for. The spices are mostly ones found anywhere.
The indexes are divided by recipe, gluten free, and vegan/vegetarian, making it very easy to navigate and find recipes suited to exactly what the cook is looking for, Each recipe is also marked, if it's gluten free it will read GF at the top.
The layout is very good, there is a mouthwatering picture accompanying each recipe. The ingredients list is easy to follow and the directions are clear, essential for success. The first chapter, Learning the essentials, talks about ingredients, what oils to use in recipes, the equipment and tools needed.
Last night I made an Indian feast for four people, myself, husband, and two adult sons.
**Soup- Sweet potato soup with saffron, sage and nutmeg.
Some cookbooks give an ingredient like 3 sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes range in size from little cuties to almost the size of a squash, so I appreciate that the recipe is not just 3 sweet potatoes, but gives a weight.
The soup was easy to put together, smooth with a nice rich creamy consistency and the warmth of a spice kick at the end. I made this ahead and reheated it for supper.
My tip- only crumble the fried sage in the soup your eating at that moment. As it sits in the fridge it gets an umpleasant chewy texture. Crumble the sage and store it in an airtight container separately, then add to your bowl of soup each time.
**Tandoori Spice Roasted Baby Potatoes with Mint:
Another easy to throw together dish, parboil the potatoes, drain and cool, peel, toss together the rest of the ingredients, and then bake, stirring occasionally
Peeling parboiled baby potatoes is a sticky starchy mess, putting them under lightly running water sloughs the peels right off and then I just blotted them dry. Again, the spices were tandoori masala, with a reference to the page with that recipe for convenience. The potatoes baked away while I made the rest of the meal, and turned out delicious. They were pronounced:
make these again
the potatoes were wonderful
I would tell you how they do as leftovers but there wasn't one potato crumb left after supper.
hint, I used stainless steel and the yogurt tossed potatoes left a bit of a sticky mess at the bottom, even with stirring. I would use nonstick for this one when making it again.
**Stir Fired Asparagus with Garlic and Sesame seed
While I have often make asparagus with garlic, I have never used maple syrup. Yes, you read that right, maple syrup. Zach doesn't like maple syrup, maple flavored anything, so i was a bit concerned. However, the tablespoon of maple syrup disappears into the recipe, but mellows out the garlic, ginger, and slight bitterness of the asparagus. In fact, Zach said this was his favorite way he's ever had asparagus! This was a huge hit with the three of us who like asparagus.
The asparagus is again, easy to prepare. I had the garlic minced, the ginger grated, and then it was simply a matter of putting them in a bit of oil, add the asparagus, put in a tbl of soy sauce, over and simmer for a few minutes, add the maple syrup, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and you have a delicious fast healthy dish.
**Pork in a tangy spicy sauce
This recipe requires a six hour, or overnight marinade. I mixed the ingredients in my trusty vitamix and ground them, marinaded the cut up pork chunks, that took maybe 10 minutes.l For supper it's simply a matter of heating oil, frying the onions a bit, putting in the pork, adding a little bit of coconut milk and then covering and let simmer. The pork is super flavorful. We all liked this one a lot, my husband took off with some for his lunch today and they guys are eating the rest.
this book is already splattered a bit, as all my best loved and well used cookbooks are. Many of the recipes, like the potatoes or the asparagus, don't have to be relegated to "Indian" night. They would be perfectly happy next to pork chops or roast chicken. My book is full of yellow stickies marking recipes I want to try, or the family wants me to try.
Before last night two of the four of us would have told you, seriously, they were not fans of Indian food. And I would have told you I found the idea of cooking it intimidating. Now my family can't wait for me to try more recipes, and I have found a friendly easy book to make delicious Indian food from.
I can tell you right now this book is going to be a mess- tattered, splattered, and well used, as all my favorite cookbooks are.
There are recipes for the slow cooker and for the pressure cooker. Before this book I considered Indian cooking super intricate, very complex, hard, to do at home, but this books makes it friendly, easy to use and with helpful recipes for the pressure cooker and slow cooker it's even easier.
Highly recommended, even if you, like me, have tried other Indian cookbooks and found them a little overwhelming, or labor intensive, give Spices and Seasons a try. It's very doable with excellent results, and you're house will smell amazing!
Book provided to sample. Review opinion is strictly mine.
*ETA Made the crispy turnips with caramelized onions and paired it with a fried egg, it is my new favorite lunch. I have to tell you, those crispy bites of turnip with kale and the little burst of mustard seed! I can't wait to see what else I'm going to love out of this book.
"Spices and Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors" by Rinku Bhattacharya (The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles) introduces readers to the cooking of today's India - a cuisine that is innovative, inspired, and full of possibilities. Many of us are only familiar with the heavy, cream-laced dishes in Indian restaurants, but Rinku's goal is to show that Indian cooking is more about flavors, freshness and love. Her emphasis on fresh, local ingredients (preferably from your own backyard, farmer's market, or CSA) and sustainability pair beautifully with Indian spices and simple, nourishing preparations that will delight family and friends.
Beautifully photographed and printed in the USA, the book begins with several short primers to sustainability in the Indian kitchen and learning the essentials (spices, oils, tools). Unlike some Indian cookbooks, "Spices and Seasons" does not require a long list of exotic imported cookware, and many of the ingredients should be readily available at larger grocery stores. Each recipe has a vibrant, full-color photo illustrating it.
Beginning with appetizers, you will find many great ideas that come together quickly. Some standouts include the mango and goat cheese mini crisps, shortcut vegetable samosas, chicken tikka and almond and saffron salmon kabobs. The remainder of the recipes are grouped by season; not surprisingly, there is a whole chapter of lentil and bean-based recipes, several of which are prepared in the slow cooker. I loved the comforting slow-cooked chickpeas with tomatoes and ginger (I used chipotles in adobo since that was what I had on hand) and the egg curries as I am always looking for new ideas to incorporate hard-boiled eggs.
Each recipe is prefaced with a brief introduction to its region, family history, and handy tips that will ensure a great result every time. Simple, flavorful preparations make the most of seasonal ingredients. I loved the tandoori spice roasted baby potatoes with mint, broccoli with toasted cashew nuts, the autumn dishes for shrimp in a mango basil sauce and salmon with a blood orange and tamarind glaze, and rich coconut curries. Other meats are featured, but the seafood section really shines. One of my favorite discoveries was the Japanese-inspired wasabi ginger fish with fresh blackberries; the sweetness of the maple syrup and blackberries offsets the umami of the soy sauce and the pungency of the ginger.
Chapter nine features pilafs and grains, which oftentimes are a main meal for me. There is also a chapter featuring traditional breads and crepes like naan, puri, dosas, and oothapams that take the mystery out of homemade breads to accompany your Indian feasts. Desserts are on the lighter side, and many feature fruit or fruit ices.
Several basic wet and dry spice blends are also included (chaat masala, tandoori masala, garam masala, curry powder) that give a much different, more vibrant flavor to your finished dish than using bland premixed blends from a grocery store and it is well worth investing the extra time to make up these mixes in advance.
In addition to being very suitable for vegetarians and pescetarians (there are many meat-free options and appealing seafood recipes), there is a gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian index and all recipes are also marked as vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free.
This is one of those rare cookbooks that I am compelled to cook my way through cover to cover; I have not had the pleasure of reading / cooking from Rinku's first book "The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles," but based on my experience with "Spices and Seasons," it will be next on my list!
Verdict: "Spices and Seasons" is an absolute must-own for anyone who enjoys Indian food or is simply looking for simple, healthful ways to make the most of an abundance of garden vegetables or a CSA box.
Thank you to Rinku for the review copy!
Most recent customer reviews
1. It is beautiful! There are gorgeous pictures of the finished recipes and various spice mixes, the print font isn't fussy, and it...Read more
I cook a fair amount of Indian food and have nine or so Indian cookbooks, but her instructions...Read more
Spices, spices, and more spices!
First, it got me out of my comfort zone quite a bit.Read more