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Best Indian Cookbook?

I know, I know. There are probably a million different regional variations of Indian food but I'm just looking for a solid, basic book that will cover the bases. Any suggestions?

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  1. Madhur Jaffrey's "Indian Cooking" is an excellent introduction from a knowledgeable chef. It covers everything from biryanis to kormas to vindaloos. There's even a recipe for sautéing Italian sausages the way Indian immigrants would at home.

    1. Jaffrey and Julie Sahni are probably the two best authors of basic Indian cookbooks. Take a look at Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking." Good info on ingredients and techniques and lots of terrific recipes.

      1 Reply
      1. I do not know Indian cookbooks well enough to opine in terms of 'best' cookbook -- but I have really enjoyed working my way through 'Mangoes and Curry Leaves' -- a big, beautiful coffee table book that covers a breadth of regions and is as much arm-chair tourism as recipe book. Favorite recipes -- Bangla Dal with Hint of Lime, Date and Sweet onion chutney, Cumin flecked skillet breads, an Indian take on refried rice and a really yummy saffron yogurt dessert that I can't remember the name of off the to of my head.

        5 Replies
        1. re: bite bite

          The saffron yogurt dessert was very likely 'shreekhad' or 'shrikhand'. Drained yogurt with lots of sugar, right?

          1. re: sweetTooth

            Drained yogurt with jaggery (Indian sugar) - correct! The saffron kind has less sugar than the berry version and drained for a bit less time. V tasty.

          2. re: bite bite

            Me too - the only one I have is Mangoes and Curry Leaves. That Bangla Dal is wonderful - I served it once with the Classic Bengali Fish in Broth. The yogurt marinated chicken pieces is a favorite as well, which I like to serve with Tamarind Pulao with Curry Leaves.

            1. re: MMRuth

              Love the Tamarind Pulao! That's the Indian refried rice dish I was trying to remember. Generally serve it with a bit of yogurt on the side because I make it super spicy. How'd yu like the Bengali fish in Broth? Haven't tried that one yet...

              1. re: bite bite

                It was wonderful. I can't remember cooking anything from that book that we haven't liked.

          3. my favourite cookbooks at present are 50 great curries by camellia punjabi, everything indian by monica bhide and books by shahzad husain. i collect cookbooks on different indian cuisines and these have been very very good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: foodwich

              Have you tried the Sylheti-style chicken curry from 50 Great Curries? I love that recipe...

              1. re: adrienne156

                not familiar with the it but will look it up. slowly working my way through the book and have made various repeats too. parsi red chicken curry is one of my favs. it was the reason for buying the book.

            2. The Curry Secret by Kris Dhillon gives you restaurant food at home. Check out the reviews on Amazon. No point in owning any other book!

              1. A new Indian cookbook that I like is Modern Indian Cooking by Hari Nayak and Vikas Khanna. It's almost fusion -- Indian-American. Nice stuff.

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                1. I love Madhur Jaffrey. Her Classic Indian Cooking is very Uttar Pradesh---Delhi, and I love her Taste of India with the Indian regional recipes. Both books are must haves.

                  Julie Sahni's book (that big yellow one) is also great, I think it is better than Jaffrey's in terms of explaining techniques and so forth. But one warning about Sahni's book is that her "Mughlai" type recipes are restaurant style and not authentic home food, probably because those are Muslim type dishes (qorma. etc,).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: luckyfatima

                    Very strongly second Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey.

                  2. I would actually look into some cookbooks available in England. They love their Indian food over there, and the style is very modern and contemporary, which I really like. Go to amazon.co.uk to browse. I ordered "Cinnamon Club" and "Simple Indian", both are from acclaimed, michelin-starred chefs. I assume it's great for those seeking more elegant Indian food rather than the typical rustic fair that's loaded with spices and garlic. I haven't gotten them yet though, so I can't review.

                    1. phan1's comment about UK books reminds me of a simple and excellent cookbook called Cooking Like Mummyji by Vicky Bhogal. For authentic North Indian, and more specifically Punjabi style food, this is a GREAT book. The book is filled with home-cook tips that Asian mummyji actually uses that make S. Asian cooking very simple in the home kitchen.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: luckyfatima

                        I recall that the most popular dish in the UK is curry and chips. I recently found an Indian/UK cookbook in my local Costco, called 'Best Ever Indian Cookbook.' I think this is akin to a Betty Crocker American cookbook, with color photos, step by step, on every page, good index, and some basic prep and presentation guidance. Not high art but what I imagine young Indian families in the UK might actually be eating. At $5.99, a bargain. And it introduced me to a whole new category, Balti dishes, which 'may have originated in Kashmir, but perfected, developed and adapted for Western tastes in the British city of Birmingham.' These apparently are one dish meals, not side dishes. Think Tuna casserole versus salmon croquettes.

                        1. re: Leucadian

                          i thought balti would be more likened to wok cooking --- one dish, yes, but emphasis is on prep. in high heat stir fry. in contrast, while curries are "one dish" also (plus rice}, they usually take more time in layering the flavors. i could be wrong on my balti understanding. had it in edinburgh, scotland. ;-)

                      2. For starting out and being able to reliably produce delicious Indian (northern style) dishes, nothing beats Madhur Jaffrey. There are other good book but her Invitation to Indian Cooking will fill your need (her other books are good too). One good thing is that she presents series of recipes from simple to complex, for example for chicken curry and they all are good - you dont have to go for the most complicated versions to get excellent food.

                        1. I echo the votes for Jaffrey and Sahni. Used by Indians I know, as well!

                              1. re: Leucadian

                                Thanks for the link - am looking forward to trying some of her recipes!

                              2. While I have looked at most of the cookbooks on this thread and they are excellent, my new favorite is-- everything I have cooked from this cookbook is amazing--it is a good complement to Jaffrey or Sahni.

                                Cuisines of India: The Art and Tradition of Regional Indian Cooking (Hardcover)
                                by Smita Chandra (Author), Sanjeev Chandra (Author)

                                1. a lively discussion on indian food...
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/477109

                                  manjula, as i learned, is a jain, and thus does not use onion or garlic. take that into account when she makes recipes....