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October 2009 COTM: M. Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and J. Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking.

The run-off was close (Sahni 'won'), but let's do both books! Hopefully yamalam won't want to shoot me when she has to come up with the threads - and hopefully it won't be as complicated as the Vietnamese month was to do so. Yamalam, I promise to help if you want it!

The month we did Vietnamese - with two excellent books by two authors was one of the most successful months, if I recall correctly, so October should be just as great.

I think it's wonderful that we're finally doing Indian cuisine after three years of COTM. Both books seem to be readily available used on-line.

MMR

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  1. Great - I have the Sahni book since it came out and have not used it very much so it's an incentive to crack it again (she has a quick and easy book that I have used more recently - also v. good).

    1. Many thanks for your help with the selection, MMR. We're looking forward to another great COTM month!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Yes, thank you so much MMRuth for stepping in! I am back in the US, after quite a harrowing trip to Manila. I apologize to all if my absence confused things, but it seems everything turned out well, and I can't wait for the cooking to begin!

        1. re: yamalam

          So glad you're home safe and sound, yamalam! Now, Let the cooking begin....

          1. re: Gio

            You bet! I'm jumping into things headfirst tonight with Sahni's Tandoori Chicken on the grill.
            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            1. re: yamalam

              Yamalam: I hope you got out before the deluge! In any case, welcome back.

      2. Shocking: my normally well-stocked library has several books by both of these authors, but neither of these exact titles in particular (I was so certain they'd have at least one or both of these books, that I didn't even bother to check during the nomination and voting.) Hmmmm...will have to decide which one to get.

        Thanks again, MMRuth. I'm sure yamalam will be grateful for your efforts, as are the rest of us.

        ~TDQ

        30 Replies
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          My well stocked library system only had two to three copies of each book in the entire system. But, the system does seem to have almost all of the authors' books. Quick request in for me, but I suspect us minuteman library users may be duking it out.... ;-)

          1. re: beetlebug

            In the same state my NOBLE system (North of Boston Library Exchange):
            No Jaffery
            5 Sahni, Classic Indian Cooking.
            I'm astonished.....

              1. re: buttertart

                Hmmmm.... allofasudden there are now SIX copies of IC in the system. Wonder how that happened so fast.
                Bye now. Gonna take typing classes.

                1. re: Gio

                  Not to worry ... I had a similar problem with Sanhi/Sahni. My library went from having nothing to ... bingo! having her book.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Ohoh, checking spellings right now. BRB.

                    EDIT: nope!

                    ~TDQ

                  2. re: Gio

                    Gio: It's capitalism at work! Find a need and fill it! ;+)

              2. re: beetlebug

                I broke down and ordered both books so I will not be competing with you in the Middlesex system this month. I love Indian food and own one Indian cookbook that isn't good enough. Worst thing that can happen is that I don't use one of the two COTM's and I donate it to the library.

                1. re: smtucker

                  Betcha if you donate one it will be the Sahni...

                1. re: clepro

                  No, but good idea. Better start that soon, as it takes several weeks, even coming from Minneapolis. You know, the long journey from one side of the river to the other.

                  ~TDQ

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Well, if we wait too much longer, the river will freeze and they can just walk across!

                      I'm reserving a copy of Jaffrey's memoir "Climbing the Mango Trees" while I'm at in. Anybody read that one?

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        But of course. If you like the cookbook you'll enjoy it. My MIL and SIL liked it a lot it as well. (Incidentally I went to a Jaffrey cookbook signing way back when and have to say she was not as charming and warm as she would appear to be in the books. Still love the books.)

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I also am reserving "Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India," along with "Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking." I recall seeing her memoir recommended here on CH in the past, but it had drifted from my mind.

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Yeah, being a Jaffreymaniac, I bought and have read it. It's a fascinating look at her childhood in India. She was obviously raised in a wealthy household.

                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Well, it's one of the biggest in the world, no? Last time I was in St. Paul, however, they seemed to have put in a bridge over it! Ah, the wonders of modern technology.

                          Maybe the library system still uses pole-driven ferries.

                          1. re: oakjoan

                            They do (use pole-driven ferries). Causes an awful mess when the river freezes up while one's in the middle. Last time that happened we had to tie a rope around one of the library assistants and send her out there skittering on her belly to retrieve the books. She refused to go again after the fifth cast. They just don't make library assistants like they used to.

                            1. re: clepro

                              Well, I've ordered both books vian interlibrary loan, each from a different library system. It will be a test of the library assitants and their preferred methods of travel. In the meantime, someone in St. Paul has already put my copy of Jaffrey's memoir on the hold shelf for me to pick up!

                              And, my copy of Sahni's Moghul Microwave should arrive from Amazon any day. WOOHOO! All set for Indian month.

                              While we're waiting, how shall we stock our spice cabinets?

                              Oh, and someone in my house has an aversion to cardamom, which has dampened our enthusiasm for Indian cooking.

                              For those of you familiar with Indian cooking and ingredients, are there any secrets for finding recipes that don't call for cardamom? (Perhaps a particular region that uses them/ doesn't use them that I should avoid/be drawn to?)

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                From the cooking that I have done, there are many, many recipes that don't call for cardamom. I think Jen Kalb made a list of items, either on this thread or the run-off thread.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Interesting, mmruth. Most of the curry recipes I've encountered (in various Indian cookbooks, not the two at hand) seem to call for cardamom. Should I be focusing on non-curry recipes, perhaps?

                                  And, indeed, here's a link Jen Kalb's post about ingredients to stock (from the voting thread): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6521...

                                  (eek! I see cardamom on it! HAHAHA!

                                  )

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I just mentally reviewed the 5-6 recipes I most often make from the Jaffrey book, and none of them call for cardamom.

                                    I buy it mostly just for chai and baking. If memory serves, I think it's also a key element in garam masala, and in sauced dishes, like rogan josh and curries.

                                    1. re: clepro

                                      Thank you so much. Would you mind listing your favs? (when you have time...)

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Sure. These are from the 1983 first US edition.
                                        Spicy baked chicken (masaledar murghi)
                                        Cauliflower with potatoes (Phool gobi aur aloo ki bhaji)
                                        Spinach cooked with onions (Mughlai saag)
                                        Red split lentils with cabbage (Masoor dal aur band gobi)
                                        Deep-fried, puffy bread (Poori)
                                        Rice with peas (Tahiri)
                                        Gujerati carrot salad (Gajar ka salad)

                                        1. re: clepro

                                          Oh, those all sound fantastic, and (as you know), dishes that use produce that grow here in MN. I look forward to those! Thank you!

                                          I'm not a huge fan of lentils, but I get lots o'cabbage this time of year (have one in my fridge right now, in fact), so I'll probably try it anyway.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            DQ: Maybe not for Indian month -- where I expect we'll use dal or red lentils -- but have you tried puy (French) lentils? I like them better than regular green. I'll make a stew of them, or serve until grilled salmon. Yummy (really!) and healthy to boot!
                                            http://www.recipetips.com/glossary-te...

                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I think you should just sneak it in there, TDQ. The spices should be balanced so no flavour stands out - I'd be amazed if he could even tell it's in there. ;-)

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        If you want to avoid "curry recipes," then the Jaffrey book is for you. AFAIK the word "curry" never appears anywhere in its pages. That said, a fair number of the recipes do call for cardamom.

                                        One possibility for those who object to the flavor of cardamom is to use whole pods. For example, the rogan josh recipe on p. 51 calls for 10 cardamom pods, but they're removed and discarded. The flavor they impart is much more subtle than if the seeds were ground up and added to the dish.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          I love the tip about using whole cardamom pods!

                                          ~TDQ

                                    3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      TDQ:
                                      Here's a link to Julie Sahni's spice page on her web site:
                                      http://www.juliesahni.com/pantry.html

                                      Just something to peruse whilst we wait for books and 1 Oct.

                          2. With the Sahni book in the lead yesterday afternoon I went ahead and ordered it from an Amazon third-party seller (like new condition, autographed by the author - what's not to like?). Now I'll have both!

                            Thanks for taking the point on this, MMR.

                            1. I'm really starting to get excited about Indian month, even if I'm going to be the only person eating my cooking! Just ordered Sahni's book ($10 "Used-Very Good") from Amazon.

                              I'm not familiar with the range of Indian cuisine, so would love advice on dishes that I could get my husband to like. I have dragged him to a couple of Indian restaurants over the years. He will eat the creamy curries like korma and tikka masala. And of course anything fried, like samosas, as long as they don't have a lot of turmeric. He loves naan of course (which is the only way I could get him to go to an Indian restaurant in the first place). He's also not a big fan of rice dishes. He doesn't like cooked spinach so no saag paneer, etc., won't eat eggplant, squash, or okra (but does like cauliflower), and he doesn't like anything with turmeric in it or a spice blend with lots of ginger (doesn't like it fresh or dried). Sigh, typing that out, now I think I'm getting a little discouraged.

                              I know, Indian is going to be tough month (thank goodness leftovers heat up nicely and I'll be eating well for lunches), but I'd be thrilled if I could get him to change his mind, so appealing to the knowledgeable Chowhounds! I do have access to a couple very good Indian markets. Thanks for any recommendations.

                              19 Replies
                              1. re: Rubee

                                Hey Rubee, I know exactly what you're going through as I have a "no cooking with cardamom, please" preference in my household and I'm trying to avoid all cardamom recipes.

                                I forgot until you mentioned it, "no cooking with turmeric, either, please." I try to sneak it in in small amounts but the color betrays me every time!

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  The tumeric thing is interesting to me, as I don't think of it has having much flavour. Maybe you could tell them it's some esoteric Indian ingredient.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    I know! I keep saying that, but, the response is, if it doesn't have any flavor, why do you need to add it?

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I actually think turmeric does have a flavor, though not very strong. It has a little bitterness/pepperiness to it. I wonder if it's that lingering bitterness E doesn't like. I just went and tasted the tumeric I have, and it's definitely there. When cooking with fresh turmeric root for "Cradle of Flavor" COTM, it had a pungency that I think would carry over to dried. However, I have McCormick's dried - I wonder if a quality turmeric (Penzey's for example) is more mellow.

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Turmeric isn't just for flavor and/or color. When cooked with legumes, it's supposed to decrease, um, gastrointestinal discomfort.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Now there's a reason that folks in my house just might buy!

                                          Rubee, I think it does have a subtle earthy taste, but I think it's pretty subtle. I fear I might be living with a supertaster, though. Super-smeller, for sure.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            turmeric also apparently contains significant anticancer substances. That might be a sell to a stick-in-the-mud!

                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            Yes, turmeric powder has a bitter, musty flavour when it's raw. But when lightly cooked in oil, it's flavour becomes mellow and lovely, with an almost toffee-like taste and smell. If it's old, it does tend to lose its taste. So if your turmeric powder isn't fresh, do please replace it before testing these recipes. You might be pleasantly surprised!

                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          <the color betrays me every time!>

                                          Ha! Yes, that's definitely not one you can sneak by!

                                          Thank goodness for Sortun's "Spice" cookbook - it helped win him over on cardamom (especially the cognac-cardamon-orange sangria!). I'm sure with Indian month, I'm going to find more spices he doesn't like.....

                                          1. re: Rubee

                                            HA! Well, what I'm trying to do is isolate the spices that people don't like. I hate to feel like an entire cuisine is off-limits to me cooking-wise, so, if I can just narrow it down to the spices that are objectionable, then I feel like that's something I can work with. The initial feedback was "I don't like Indian food." I was able to reduce that to, "I don't like curry." And now, by explaining that there are a bazillion different spices combinations called "curry", I have been able to reduce it to, "I dislike the flavor of cardamom." That I can work with! But, I think the yellow COLOR of turmeric signals this person's brain DANGER! there may be CARDAMOM LURKING SOMEWHERE!

                                            I'm glad that my primary food aversion is to raisins, which are so easy to see that I smite them upon view. :).

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              TDQ:

                                              Make him the potato fritters I made from a Jaffrey book last night. Mashed potatoes formed into balls. A hole is poked into the middle and fried onions, cilantro and chili are added. Then they're closed up and flattened like a patty. Fried and served with a yoghurt/cilantro/garlic dipping sauce.

                                              Verrrrrrrrrrry good.

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                If you think about standard curry powder, its main ingredients are chile powder, dried mustard and dried fenugreek, I think. Even coriander and cumin are lesser ingredients.

                                                Id start with some of the simpler recipes that dont have sauces and do have fresh herbs and see how it goes. He does like cilantro doesnt he?

                                                1. re: jen kalb

                                                  Good advice, thank you. Cilantro, chile powder mustard, are all no problem. I think I'll start simple and work up from there.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              Cardamom is lovely in tiny, tiny amounts. If you use it right,no one will know it's there.

                                            3. re: Rubee

                                              I ate at a one michelin starred Indian restaurant in London last year. I ordered the $17 set lunch... and it came on a round tray with lots of different foods. The chutneys were astonishing, there was a lentil dish, and this amazing grilled fish fillet. Some of the chutneys were raw and others were cooked. My overall impression was that this was light food, not bogged down with diary and seasoned delicately.

                                              These are the types of food that I am hoping to find during this month. The range of flavors I ate during this one lunch surpasses anything I have had in an Indian restaurant in Boston.

                                              EDITED: Here is their current lunch menu if this gives you some ideas of what inspires me. [And I love a good korma as well.]

                                              http://www.quilon.co.uk/Lunch.pdf

                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                Oh! You just reminded me that we enjoyed lunch a few years ago at Michelin-starred Tamarind in London, and he admitted that he liked almost everything. Now I have to try to find the menu and what I ordered; I'm pretty sure I kept it. Thanks for the idea!

                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                  quilon offers south indian cuisine - the featured books are more northern and ribsticking recipes, but Im sure you will find plenty of recipes with the lightness you prefer.

                                                2. re: Rubee

                                                  Jaffrey has an excellent cauliflower and potato dish we make so often that I don't even bother pulling the book off the shelf to check the recipe any more. I often serve it with naan and dahl (or hummus, if that's what I've got handy), or her spicy red chicken.

                                                  It calls for tumeric, but you could easily leave it out. Besides tumeric, it uses regular and roasted/ground cumin seeds, coriander, green chilis, and cayenne. And, it reheats well!