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Indian Recipe Books

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Cooking Indian Food at Home

The other weekend Fred and I invited eleven friends to our house for a housewarming dinner. Although I had cooked Indian food for many of them before, they all love it so much I knew they wouldn't mind if I repeated myself.

The only recipe book I currently have for cooking Indian food is called Healthy Indian Cooking by Shehzad Husain and Manisha Kanani. It is a really great book. Not only does every recipe have a large colour photograph, there are also smaller pictures illustrating each step of the recipe too.

There are over 150 recipes, including a variety of meat, seafood and vegetable curries and other spiced dishes. The reason I am particular fan is that each dish tastes markedly different. A lot of care has been taken to make each recipe unique. Although the book sells itself on being healthy, you wouldn't necessarily notice. If you prefer something richer you can easily adapt the recipes by using butter and cream instead of the oil and low fat yoghurt suggested.

This book also shows you how to blend your own curry powders, garam masala, curry and tikka pastes. Making, instead of buying, these essentials will ensure your curries are wonderfully fragrant with optimum flavour.

There are recipes in this book I have made over and over again. Spicy Spring Lamb Roast, Tarka Dhal and Basmati Rice with Peas & Curry Leaves are my three absolute favourites. Others I really love and keep returning to include Chicken Tikka Masala, Prawn Curry and Stuffed Baby Vegetables.

You have to be organised when you cook Indian food. First make sure you have all the spices you'll need. This means carefully going through recipes in advance and writing down how much of each spice is necessary for all of the recipes you will be making. Tot up the totals and make sure you have enough of everything in stock. If not, visit your local Indian Market for cheap supplies of all the dry goods you'll need.

For our recent dinner I made at least nine different dishes from this recipe book. To ensure success and make my life easier I knew I had to plan ahead. The day before cooking I measured all of the spices for each of the dishes into bowls which I wrapped up and labeled with the matching recipe. This task took well over an hour, but it certainly made the cooking procedure less stressful the following day.

All this talk of curry made me hungry for another Indian recipe book. So, without any recommendations whatsoever, I brashly bounded over to Amazon and ordered one that took my fancy. Do you have an Indian recipe book you know and love? If you will, please share you particular favourite and the reason you cherish it so much. Thank you!

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  1. I like Madhur Jaffrey's world vegetarian. Not striclty Indian but terrific nonetheless.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JB

      Madhur has SO many, it's difficult to work out which might be the right one and why, or at least the most useful, because you obviously dont want to buy them all

      1. re: Sixy Beast

        I like her "A Taste of India" it divides the recipes regionally and the book is an intresting read too.

      2. re: JB

        What would you recommend out of this book? I was given it as a gift but haven't really used it yet. thanks.

        1. re: kbl

          I made the Chickpeas w/ Garlic, Tomatoes, & Green Chilies from this book and it was fabulous. I've made it a few times and it's always a hit.

      3. An Invitation to Indian Cooking - Mathur Jaffrey. Excellent basic Indian recipes - I have never made anything from that book that wasn't excellent. She gives lots of details, but is also pretty practical.

        1. I used to live in L.A. and loved the restaurant Bombay Cafe owned by Neela Paniz. She has a cookbook out by the same name which I use all the time. I'm sure amazon has it. Last Sunday I created an Indian feast for some friends: Mini Potato Pancakes with Lemon & Cilantro served with a yogurt mint chutney, makni paneer (a creamy saffron tomato sauce that is heavenly) rice pullao with cumin and peas (perfection), a peach, cherry & ginger chutney, chicken kabobs in green spices, samosas & nan (I purchased those). Everything was outstanding and I highly recommend all the recipes I've tried. I'm fortunate to have a fantastic Indian market nearby which makes it easier (I live in Tempe, AZ). Good luck.

          1. I have one by Madhur Jaffrey called Indian Cooking which I bought because it looked like it had alot of basic info for my first attempt at Indian cooking. I really like this book. Everything I've made has been great. I have no other Indian cook book to compare this one to, but I'm happy with it as I continue to cook my way through it. I was forced to clear out additional space in my cabinet to accomodate the array of new spices I had to get, but that's not a bad thing. I especially like the aromatic rice dishes and many of the vegetable dishes.

            1. You may have heard of Suvir Saran (head chef of Devi in NY) who co-wrote a book w/ Stephanie Lyness called "Indian Home Cooking" which seems to be getting a lot of buzz lately. Another hound recently recommended the book, and I'm def. interested in it. Linked the book's website below w/ sample recipes that sound very good.

              While I think Madhur Jaffrey's stuff is great and really respect her, something about this book seems more accessible to me. Traditionalists may not like it, but I think the recipes reflect Indian-American home cooking that can happen any night of the week!

              Link: http://www.indianhomecooking.com/

              1. I don't do as much Indain cooking as I used to. It seems to be one of those things I go in binges on, but I have about a dozen Indian cookbooks. The ones with the most bookmarks and notes sticking out are the old Time-Life Foods of the World Cooking of India, probably published in the 70's. Maybe because it is the first one I had, and because I learned to cook and love ethnic food through that series, it is the one I return to as a base every time I plan a meal. The other is Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking. Her chapter on Principles and the glossary are wonderful, the directions for cooking very complete, and the recipes work and taste great. A new book I have that I haven't cooked from much is The Food India published by Murdoch Books. The photos are beautiful and they give you the idea where you are going with the dish and inspire you to try different things. The ingredient lists are between 12 and 25 items but once you have the spices, the ghee, etc they aren't too daunting. In fact, just looking at it now I feel a binge coming on...

                2 Replies
                1. re: suzannapilaf

                  i was also going to recommend the time-life book. iwas able to find a cheap copy on ebay last year. i do notice that they recommend too much coriander and garam masala for my taste, but maybe that's because i have homemade garam masala that's much stronger than the kind you get in stores.

                  1. re: arifa

                    Yes, my recipe booklet is full of margin notes of modifications I've made over the years but it is still the first place I go for basics. It seems I prize that whole series more the older they get since they reflect the cultures as they were before Western influences became so great. There was an interesting article yesterday in the NYTimes food section about the convenience foods young Indian cooks are able to get now and how the older generation disapproves, wanting to not lose the traditions.

                2. "Indian Essence" by Atul Kochhar is excellent. It's not a huge book(only 140 or so recipes), but what is in it is consistently delicious. Recipes range all over India.

                  Link: http://benaresrestaurant.com/atul-koc...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chimayo Joe

                    Yes - this is the one I brashly ordered. There is package waiting for me in the mailroom right now so I am hoping this is it.
                    I am so pleased it was recommended. Can't wait to try it out!

                  2. Prashad - Inger Singh Kalra

                    No time to explain, but it is the best!!!