Indian for Beginners
I think I've explained before, my parents have everything they could ever want so for holidays and such instead of buying them a 'gift', I make them a very special dinner.
This year, I'd love to make Indian Food for Mom. I already have a wonderful curried cauliflower dish I can make her and TJs sells frozen Naan. I can also buy some stuff for pani puris for appetizers. All I need is a main course. I was thinking some kind of lenil stew or 'saucy' dish to go with basmati rice. I'd perfer to make it from scratch (Not simmer sauce type stuff) and I have access to a wonderful Indian Market.
I just picked up The Dance of Spices by Laxmi Hiremath at the library today and it is quite interesting. She is very thorough in her explanations and instructions. You might want to take a look at it. I will probably add it to my acquisitions list.
She suggests baking naan at home on your pizza stone or quarry tiles in a very hot oven. We have tried it on our grill and liked it that way too.
Hey Dommy! One of the easiest and best cookbooks I've tried recently is Suvi Saran's book (I think that is his name). He is well worth looking for, his pictures are fantastic and everything I've made is great especially the smoked eggplant. So good in fact that when I shared what I had made, my friend used her husband's Barnes and Noble gift card to buy herself the book...now I can borrow hers whenever I need to.
p.s. If you are interested and need the exact name I will look it up for you.
I was also going to suggest Suvir Saran for a beginner. To be honest, I wasn't that impressed w/ the book based on a perusal from the library, but to be fair, I didn't make anything from it.
He actually has a website for the cookbook, including a few sample recipes (see link). Dommy, the chicken or lamb curry look good and easy. The chicken dish is also posted at Leite's Culinaria and has received 2 very positive reviews.
About the naan, I would try making it at home, if you have the time and interest. I think all of TJ's "ethnic" breads suck. I've made naan at home on a hot cast iron skillet (which I know you don't have) and it was pretty easy and so wonderful fresh! The Indian flatbread that I actually prefer at home is chapati. My college friend's nani/grandmother made the best! Wish more restaurants would serve it.
I bought that book and it is going in my discard pile for the Red Cross book sale. What a disapointment. I bought it after taking it out of the library and trying a couple of dishes. Subsequent efforts have been very disappointing. Bland and boring. Just not very interesting at all no matter how well the recipes read.
i'd check out madhur jaffrey's invitation to indian cooking (or almost any of her books). she's got some good, simple recipes in there. many of them require a food processor, but that's about the most complicated thing about them.
THE classic lentil and meat dish is the parsi dhansak.
follow the link below to parsi recipes, click on dhansak and follow the detailed (and very good) instructions.
your folks will be in heaven - guaranteed. but it does take a little work.
I'd go for a xacutti. I asked about a recipe for this on Cooking for Engineers a few months ago, and someone volunteered one. Haven't tried it, but the lamb version I've had at a local curry shop was sinful.
You can make a nice naan at home if you have a grill, not quite what a tandoor will do, but quite nice.
Chana dal is good basic beginner cooking.
You should have time enough to practice a couple of times and pick what works best for you.
Must serve mango lassi with the meal. Chai as well if you can find a masala that isn't too peppery.