HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
What's your latest food quest?

Good Indian Cookbooks?

heathermb Dec 3, 2006 10:42 PM

I'm looking to expand my home cooking library to include some books on Indian cooking, which I have never tried at home but love to eat. I'd love books that specialize in South Indian cooking but will happily consider anything recommend as authentic, well-written, and informative. Thanks in advance for your help!

  1. missclaudy Dec 7, 2006 06:15 PM

    Best Indian cookbook I know is called Lord Krishna's Cuisine. It was written by a British woman who was a devotee and became the chef for some guru or other. It is a huge book, exhaustive and all vegetarian. I have used it for years, the recipes are splendid, my cooking school teacher (who could cook ANYTHING and was a meat fanatic) said it was one of her all time favorites, up there with Wolfert,Child, Beard etc. You can find it on ebay or amazon very cheaply.

    1. ballulah Dec 7, 2006 05:31 PM

      I have Julie Sahni's Introduction to Indian Cooking, and have enjoyed using it. She makes very helpful substitution suggestions, and keeps things simple and unintimidating. It can be a daunting task to load your pantry with the essentials of Indian cooking, and she smooths the path very nicely.

      1. MikeG Dec 6, 2006 06:12 PM

        "What is the exact name of the Time Life Indian book? I'm having a hard time finding it."

        It's "The Cooking of India" in the "Foods of the World" series.

        For the books Carswell mentions, Amazon (UK) is a good option for Brit published books not available here through normal channels, they're often cheaper than other options.

        1. opinionatedchef Dec 5, 2006 11:58 PM

          my most- used indian cookbooks are the 2 by Julie Sahni(they DO include lots of so. indian recipes), and the Time Life book and accompanying spiral recipe booklet( the photos are terrific for showing you everything in context.)

          1. t
            tikka Dec 5, 2006 07:15 AM

            Anything by Kurma Dada

            1. r
              roxie Dec 5, 2006 07:11 AM

              Vij's cookbook from his fabulous place in Vancouver,BC. We found it at Barnes and Noble. We have cooked from it and the dish was easy and divine.

              1. z
                zebcook Dec 5, 2006 05:38 AM

                "Lord Krishna's Cusine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking" by Yamuna Devi. 700+ pages, clearly presented. Ranges all over India, but has much of what you will find on a South Indian menu.

                The random opening test (open to a page and see what you get) reveals recipes for banana and pomegrante salad, pea-stuffed parathas, currant and date chutney, and pan-fried baby eggplant stuffed with ground almonds. (I think I'll make the salad for breakfast tomorrow.)

                1. p
                  Procrastibaker Dec 4, 2006 09:37 PM

                  Madhur Jaffrey all the way. So easy, and great on method. We cook from her books both during the week (quick) and on the weekend for company.

                  1. arifa Dec 4, 2006 08:38 PM

                    i like the book by time life written in the early 70's. i found it online on ebay. it's a yellow cover... 70's yellow. i think i recommended it on here before with a picture.

                    i really like yamuna devi's essential indian vegetarian cookbook not so much for the recipes, which i find to be overly complicated, but for the techniques. it's very informative on how to go about cooking indian food.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: arifa
                      MichaelB Dec 5, 2006 02:23 AM

                      I was just going to recommend that Time-Life cookbook as well! It's from their wonderful Foods of the World series - the cover has that saffron-yellow background as you describe, with little dishes of spices in the foreground. I haven't cooked from it that much so I can't really comment on the recipes -- I think of it as more of an in-depth guide to food throughout India's various cultures, very well-written and beautifully photographed.

                      Note that there is also a small spiral-bound companion recipe book, with more recipes than the hardbound edition, but with none of the text or illustrations.

                      1. re: MichaelB
                        celeste Dec 6, 2006 05:20 PM

                        What is the exact name of the Time Life Indian book? I'm having a hard time finding it.

                        I have the little spiral notebooks for various other cuisines and the recipes are fantastic.

                        1. re: celeste
                          celeste Dec 6, 2006 05:57 PM

                          never mind, i found it.

                      2. re: arifa
                        arifa Dec 6, 2006 07:09 PM

                        clarification - the yamuna devi book i'm referring to is the one recommended by zebcook below. i couldn't remember the name! its "Lord Krishna's Cusine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking"

                      3. plum Dec 4, 2006 04:27 PM

                        Take a look at Maya Kaimal's cookbooks, which focus on Kerala. I have her second book, "Savoring the Spice Coast of India: Fresh Flavors from Kerala", and have enjoyed making many recipes from her book. Her recipes are relatively easy, turn out consistently, and the balance of spices is very subtle.

                        Atul Kochhar's book has a few recipes from Tamil Nadu and a Chettinad recipe for curry chicken. A pretty book to look at but due to laziness on my part I haven't made anything from it yet.

                        Caveat: You will need a source of curry leaves to make most of the recipes in Maya Kaimal's books. You should be able to find them in the produce or refrigerator section of your local Indian shop.

                        I also like Bharti Kirchner's "The Healthy Cuisine of India", which focuses on Bengali food. It has a number of very tasty recipes that are not heavy on oil and don't take too long to assemble.

                        Suggestion: this was brought up in a cooking shortcuts thread recently, but when confronting recipes that seem to have an endless list of ingredients, particularly spices and herbs, prepare everything first! Get a series of small bowls, and divide up the spices and things into groups. Chop the onions/ginger/garlic/chilies, toast and grind the cumin/coriander/coconut, whatever else, and have everything neatly lined up when you start. It takes an extra twenty minutes at the start but really makes the cooking process so much nicer.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: plum
                          Smokey Dec 4, 2006 05:04 PM

                          >>>I also like Bharti Kirchner's "The Healthy Cuisine of India", which focuses on Bengali food. It has a number of very tasty recipes that are not heavy on oil and don't take too long to assemble.

                          This is actually my favorite Indian cookbook. I hadn't replied to this thread with the rec because the OP seemed interested more in S. Indian recipes. But, I want to second the rec. It is out of print, but it's a really wonderful cookbook. Two of the dal recipes are absolutely staples of mine, and I've enjoyed everything I've made from this book.

                          1. re: plum
                            oakjoan Dec 7, 2006 05:22 PM

                            I don't need a South Indian cookbook as much as I need (and this is a desperate need)somebody to come to my house and make Masala Dhosa for me any time I want! Is this such an unreasonable request? Sheesh.

                            Btw, this is a GREAT thread and the recs. are magnif! Thanks to all.

                          2. whs Dec 4, 2006 04:13 PM

                            Another beautiful book is "La Porte des Indes" which examines the French influence on Indian cooking in places like Pondicherry. It contains an amazing biryani recipe.

                            1. c
                              cheryl_h Dec 4, 2006 01:40 PM

                              While I am a great fan of Sahni and Jaffrey, their books concentrate on Northern Indian cooking. The list Carswell suggests is more focussed on Southern India.

                              1. MMRuth Dec 4, 2006 11:38 AM

                                I've really enjoyed cooking from "Mangoes and Curry Leaves" but it is not specifically a Southern Indian cookbook.

                                1. carswell Dec 4, 2006 12:29 AM

                                  For nouvelle Indian cooking, check out Atul Kochhar's *Indian Essence: The Fresh Tastes of India's New Cuisine* and Vikram Vij's *Vij's*.

                                  Regional cookbooks are harder to come by. Penguin Books India has a whole series that's said to be excellent; I've only seen the curry book. If you can't find them in the States, you can probably order them online from the publisher. www.penguinbooksindia.com

                                  *The Essential Sindhi Cookbook* by Aroona Reejhsinghani (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sindhi_food
                                  *The Essential North-East Cookbook* by Hoihnu Hauzel (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura with Chinese, Thai, Burmese and Bengali influences)

                                  *The Essential Goa Cookbook* by Maria Teresa Menezes

                                  *The Essential Kodava Cookbook* by C B Muthamma, P. Gangamma Bopanna (southern heartland)

                                  *Essential Delhi Cookbook* by Priti Narain

                                  *Essential Andhra Cookbook* by Bilkees Latif (Hyderibad and environs)

                                  *The Calcutta Cookbook* by Jaya Chaliha, Bunny Gupta, Meenakshi Das Gupta

                                  *Flavours of the Spice Coast* by K M Mathew (southwestern coast)

                                  *Curry, Curry, Curry* by Ranjit Rai

                                  *Southern Spice: Delicious Vegetarian Recipes from South India* by Chandra Padmanabhan

                                  You also might find it worth your while to check out the food forum at Another Subcontinent www.anothersubcontinent.com

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: carswell
                                    heathermb Dec 4, 2006 04:09 PM

                                    Wow, this is incredible - thank-you!!

                                    1. re: carswell
                                      oakjoan Dec 7, 2006 05:18 PM

                                      Jaffrey has an Indian regional cookbook, but I need to look for the title when I get home.

                                      My fave Jaffrey book is one I got that has BOTH her Eastern vegetarian cookbook (recipes from all over Asia) and an Indian cookbook. It's almost as wide as it is tall and I got it a few years ago at, I think, the Strand in NYC. I'm sure Jaffrey's veggie cookbook (the one BEFORE her great in both size and content, World Vegetarian Cooking) is still available, but it's probable that all those recipes are in the newer, giant book as well.

                                      I loved the pan-Asian veggie book because that's where I first learned to make idlis, Korean mung bean pancakes, and Indian fritters, etc. This is important to me because they've become staple recipes I use all the time. A favorite meal is pakoras (with whatever vegs I have on hand) with a squash soup for dinner. Also Korean pancakes with bbq chicken thighs.

                                    2. s
                                      sportnoy1 Dec 3, 2006 11:48 PM

                                      I don't recall the name, but the author is Padma Lakshi - used to have a show on the food network, basic, easy and tasty

                                      1. yumyum Dec 3, 2006 11:46 PM

                                        Second Madhur Jaffrey's books -- I've got one given to me by my mother that was published only in the UK but the ones on Amazon look promising.

                                        The hardest thing about Indian cooking is assembling the spices you'll need. Luckily in Boston we have plenty of markets where you can stock up. In fact, you can *have* some of my coriander seed and kasoori methi I bought when I was learning how to cook Indian .... some spices you have to buy in bulk and I'm never gonna get rid of them. I'll shoot you a few of my favorite recipes off board. Indian cooking is fun!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: yumyum
                                          heathermb Dec 4, 2006 12:52 PM

                                          Thanks, you're a superstar yumyum!

                                        2. JoanN Dec 3, 2006 10:49 PM

                                          Anything by either Madhur Jaffrey or Julie Sahni. Although it has no photos, I think Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking is--well--a classic. It's simply loaded with information and an excellent place to start for an introduction to Indian cuisine.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: JoanN
                                            steinpilz Dec 7, 2006 12:58 AM

                                            Exactly what I'd recommend, Sahni's Classic Indian and Jaffrey's World of Vegetarian Cooking.

                                          Show Hidden Posts