True story: a few weeks ago we ordered Indian takeaway and it was dire. My beloved, frustrated, announced “we must learn to cook good Indian!”
Two days later, Indian Made Easy appeared on our doorstep, courtesy of Murdoch Books (published July 2016, RRP $39.99).
It’s not like we’ve never cooked Indian food before. I love the cookbook Bowl Food and it has a few excellent curries in it, complete with long list of spices to make your own pastes etc. But it was exciting to to get an actual Indian cookbook when I’d been thinking about it for a while.
A paperback, but still A4 in size. I do wonder whether the cover will crack off the spine at some point – not that it shows any sign of doing so yet, but I’ve seen it happen before. It hasn’t shown any sign of the spine cracking yet, though, which is excellent. I like the cover art – although conflicted with rice being the universal signifier of Indian food, or something – and the fact that the inside cover has the proportion and position of rice/black background reversed.
One of the opening pages is a ‘Stars of India’ double spread, which lists famous people from India (from the modern Dalai Lama to Ravi Shnkar, Om Puri to Freddie Mercury, George Orwell to Mahatma Gandhi) with wee sketches of each. The pages shows where they’re from, and then “Famous dishes” – which initially I thought meant what dish each of those people was famous for, which surprised me no end (George Orwell could cook??). But I think it means what the region is famous for. It’s a very pretty spread and a nice way to show the diversity of Indian food, if you know what the dishes are.
Like The Saffron Tales, this has an explanation of what ingredients are important for the pantry, from spices such as nigella seeds (YUM) and coriander seeds, to essences and flavourings, beans and lentils. It also has a ’15 Must-Have Spices’ page, with some of the recipes they’re needed for (#1 is turmeric; #15 is tamarind pulp).
Every recipe has a picture, which are generally very pretty, and the recipes themselves are fairly well laid-out. One thing that I’m ambivalent about, though, is the way the ingredients are listed. Rather than being in order of inclusion, they’re listed under Fresh, Spices, and Pantry/Larder. Which I guess is a good way to think through what you already have in the house, but it does make checking of proportions a bit trickier than with other recipes. Overall the recipes are easy to follow, although I have found at least three examples with instructions that don’t make sense: the paneer recipe, for instance, says to turn off the heat at the end of step 1 and at the end of step 2, but with no instruction to turn it on in between. There’s also a recipe for a classic lamb curry that tells you to “cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring constantly” (100)….
Stay tuned tomorrow for a discussion of some of the recipes. It’s available from Fishpond.