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October 09 COTM: "Indian" M. Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and J. Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking

Welcome to the October 2009 Chow Cookbook of the Month featuring:

Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni
Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking

We will use this thread for general commentary, recipe planning, links, and any other issues related to this COTM. You may wish to bookmark this thread for future reference, as it contains links to all the other threads for this month.

If you're new to Cookbook of the Month, the COTM archive thread explains how it all works:

I am titling the threads based on Jaffrey's chapter list, as they seem more straightforward than Sahni's. Let me know if I've omitted something and I can always add on.








Relishes, Chutneys and Pickles

Soups, Salads, Savouries and Sweets

Here are a few links to online recipes for those without each book:

Happy Cooking!

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  1. Can I just say, I'm stoked for my first CotM? : )

    2 Replies
    1. re: padkimao

      Well Welcome! This is going to be a terrific month!

      1. re: Gio

        Thanks! Looking forward to it. : )

    2. Tonight I made the cocktail koftas from the Jaffrey book. The ingredient list includes the amount of ground cumin and coriander, but not how much of the seed to start with to end up with the correct amount.

      For others that want to grind fresh, I kept track of the equivilents:

      1 tablespoon cumin seeds = 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
      1 tablespoon coriander seed = 2 tsp ground coriander

      Hope this helps!

      2 Replies
      1. re: smtucker

        thats helpful. most sources advise buying these spices ground to get a less gritty texture. Ive done it both ways (you have to strain the ground stuff) but agree that even with my Indian mixie I dont get as fine and silky a ground texture as if a buy a small pack of ground spice. Its really cheap in indian stores and if you cant use it up in 6 months you can throw it away and buy another.

        1. re: jen kalb

          That is interesting Jen. The reason I ground fresh is that both of this month's author's recommend it.

          On page 15, Jaffrey writes "Ideally speaking, it is best to buy all dry spices in their whole form. They will stay fresh for long periods if stored in cool, dry, dark places in tightly covered jars. This way you can grind the spices as you need them. [cut] The more freshly ground the spices, the better their flavor."

          Sahni also states, on page 9, "Spices should be purchased whole, to be powdered as needed, because freshly ground spices are always more aromatic. Also, whole spices retain their potency and aroma much longer."

          I have four Indian markets within an 1/4 mile radius, so this isn't about convenience. I just find that freshly ground cumin is more aromatic than any powder I have found in one of these stores.

          My goal in creating an equivalency chart [whole :: ground ] is to allow me to measure all the spices added at one time and then grind them together.

      2. Some time back I wrote a tiny review of the Sahni book on my food blog. The focus of my blog is foreigner married to Pakistani (or Indian) who learns to cook Pakistani/N. Indian foods, so that is the slant of the review. Since many hounds are also foreigners learning Indo-Pak from the book, I thought it may be relevant to post here:


        "This book will teach you all of the basics. Sahni tells you the secrets of achieving separated kernals of fluffy, aromatic basmati rice. She explains how to properly caramelize onions, an essential technique in North Indian-Pakistani cooking. She tells you the ins and outs of South Asian vegetables, and offers good substitutions and tips for preparing these in the North American context. She also lets you know which recipes freeze well. This book will arm you with great basic recipes. However, for those looking to cook authentic North Indian Muslim / Pakistani dishes, Sahni does not offer useful recipes. Sahni's "Mughlai" recipes (recipes brought to India by the Muslim invasions and refined in India) are what would be served at Punjabi / Mughlai restaurants ... you've had this cuisine at your local Star of India or India Palace. The recipes are tasty. But these dishes with cream and almonds and so forth are not what your desi Muslim in-laws eat at home. Once you have mastered the basics, know how to "bhuna the pyaaz," how to get tamarind water from the dried clumps in the package, know how to make a "baghaar" or "tarka" from Sahni's book, you can get your authentic Indian Muslim / Pakistani recipes online or from a Pakistani cookbook. See some of the sites in my side bar. However, the veg, daal and snack dishes eaten by North Indians like Sahni and eaten by Pakistanis from a Hindustani or Punjabi background will be similar, so you can use all of those recipes to impress."

        I am searching for a copy of the Classic Jaffrey book because I would like to participate...but I will also try out (again after several years) a couple of Sahni's "restaurantish" type Mughlai dishes like the badaami chicken and the whole masala qorma in the chicken section.

        3 Replies
        1. re: luckyfatima

          luckyfatima, very interesting perspective. Thank you for sharing it. Have you used the Jaffrey book before?


          1. re: luckyfatima

            I agree, v. interesting.

            For British-Indian home cooking, I really like Cooking Like Mummyji by Vicky Bhoran.

            1. re: luckyfatima

              oops I linked the wrong page, it should be


              for the book reviews. I mention Cooking Like Mummyji there, too.

              I have perused the Classic Jaffrey book but never owned it. I wish I could find a copy now since it is one of the COTM.

            2. (This is my first COTM so I hope I do this right!)

              Julie Sahni's Velvet Butter Chicken is one of my favourite all-time recipes to cook and consume. It is a terrific show-off dish for guests. Neither the heat nor spicing will scare off those that THINK they don't like Indian food. Best of all, it actually makes use of leftovers in that the base is cold Tandoori chicken.

              We used to cheat and use restaurant takeaway tandoor chicken: now we make our own (double batch) from scatch, consume what we want hot and then save the rest for this dish.

              If you have never tried to cook Indian food at home from scratch, this recipe is a wonderful way to start.

              I should just add that I never would have purchased this cookbook and eaten my way through it, if I hadn't started with Sahni's other great text The Moghul Microwave (where I learned to do Saag Ghosh at home and roast and grind my own garam masala).

              Madhur Jaffery does not speak to me with the immediacy and passion that Sahni does, thought I confess that the recipes themselves are very well organized in Jaffery's book and Sahni's is more of a wander through techniques and ingredients. But what a great journey!

              9 Replies
              1. re: LJS

                LJS, thank you so much for this info. I am very interested in hearing any of your favorites (or the losers, so I can avoid them) form Moghul Microwave. I have been dying to get into it for about a year. I keep dipping my toe in, but just never seem to know how to jump in the pool.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Wish I had my copy of Sahni's MM in front of me but that won't happen until next week. So from memory, definitely do try the lamb dish with tomato and coriander that I believe is known as Saag Ghosh. In fact, the lamb dishes in general and the fish dishes do wonderfully in the microwave...JS contention is that this kitchen appliance replicates in many ways the treatment that ingredients are subjected to in the traditional in-ground ovens of her native cookery. I am not about to disagree.

                  1. re: LJS

                    Sweet! Thanks. If more occur to you after you have your book, please do let me know. In the meantime, I'll check out the lamb and fish dishes. I'd previously heard fish was very 'wave friendly, so, it's nice to have a confirmation of that from a fellow 'hound.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Somebody else mentioned onions and that prompted my memory: JS advice on microwaved-fried onions was fantastic...I still use this technique frequently and not just for Indian dishes.

                      1. re: LJS

                        Oohhh! I think I'm going to try that tonight on pizza!


                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I'm going to jump in here - I heard about MM from these boards - took it from the library and loved so many recipes had to buy it. Here is a long, but tried and true list of our favorites:
                    Steamed fish in ginger-thyme essence
                    Bengal-style spicy mustard-rubbed tuna
                    Malabar Salmon in delicate coconut sauce
                    ***Zesty Lemon Coriander Chicken
                    Parsi Braised Chicken - Dhansak
                    Savory Keema Cake
                    Mushrooms in Curry Sauce - so easy!
                    Eggplant slices smothered w/coconut-spice paste
                    Crisp Fried Okra - unbelievably good - she serves it on rice
                    New Delhi Spicy Potatoes
                    Thyme-laced...Black-eyed pea salad
                    Malabar Shrimp and Rice Cakes

                    I guess I'll stop here - we have loved everything from this book.
                    I wouldn't even have a microwave in my home for years til my husband brought one home from a friend who had upgraded his...I still can't believe I make rice in it to perfection!

                    1. re: Judon

                      Thank you so much! These all sound great. Did you find you had to buy a lot of new microwave safe equipment for this, or, were you able to get by with what you had on hand?


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        all that equipment is a waste of money. As long as you have glass, corelle or other microwave safe (i.e. doesnt get hot) dishes or casseroles and some plastic cling wrap, you are good to go.

                        We think moghol microwave has some promise but after many years of owning it still havent used it. I really appreciate the positive report.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Thanks for that. I have the book in my hot little hands at this very moment (okay, not this very moment, as I'm typing), and I am determined to cook from it tonight. Tired. Friday. Fish day. I'm going for it!

                          And, P.S. I do have my share of microwave safe Pyrex dishes and cling wrap, so I'm relieved that you think that's all I'll need!


                2. I have both books from the library (yeah!). After doing really quick skims, Sahni's book reminds me of Marcella Hazan's book, Classics of Italian Cooking. Meaning that Sahni's seems to have a wide range of dishes and explicit instructions as to what to look for as the dish progresses. I'm looking forward to cooking out of both but have already ordered Sahni's book to own so that I can make notes as well.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: beetlebug

                    Jaffrey's Invitiation to Indian Cooking would have been more of an analog to Sahni's book, since it intended to be a basic primer. The book we chose is more a a collection or recipes, presented on TV but I find that if you follow the recipes accurately you will have fine results.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Will be cooking from Sahni tonight. Still waiting for my LINK copy of the Jaffrey book to arrive at the Berk. Lib.

                      Because I couldn't wait I made potato fritters again (mashed spuds made into balls, indentation made and filled with fried onions and cilantro, then balls flattened and fried) and cream of tomato soup from my ancient and gigantic (almost 900 pages!) double Jaffrey book from the 70's. I've made this three times in the past month. Mmmmmmmm.

                      Will have to check Sahni to see if she has similar recipes. Anybody who has the Jaffrey book - will you check to see if it contains anything like those recipes?

                      1. re: oakjoan

                        Checking on this for you made me realize how very bad the index in Jaffery's Indian Cooking is.

                        No, no potato fritters, and only three soups, none of them tomato.

                        1. re: clepro

                          Since I don't have it yet, I can't comment. ;+)

                          I do love my gigantic Jaffrey combo veg and non-veg Indian cookbooks, though.

                  2. I'd love some menu help for a small dinner I'm having tomorrow night.

                    I'm definitely making (all from Sahni):

                    Lamb Braised in Aromatic Cream Sauce (Rogani Gosht), p. 164
                    Saffron Rice with Peaches (Zaffrani Pullao), p. 371

                    I'm thinking of also making:

                    Broccoli Smothered in Garlic Oil (Hare Gobhi Ki Sabzi), p. 296
                    Smoked Eggplant with Fresh Herbs (Bharta), p. 305
                    Hot Hyderabad Tomato Relish (Hyderabadi Tamatar Chutney), p. 441

                    So, any thoughts on this? Things to add or subtract? Thanks!

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I think overall the menu looks really lovely.

                      For a dinner party, I might be tempted to add a raw relish, such as the Grated Cucumber Relish on page 434. Quick and easy to make, with a fresh flavor to offset the intensity of the other chosen dishes.

                      I know that I would add one of the subtle [i.e. not spicy] everyday dals using an orange lentil so that the plates have another color. And finally, now that I know where to buy really good quality naan nearby, I would probably add that, heating with some garlic.

                      Why the naan and dal? Cause I love them. And left over dal is one of life's great lunches when spooned over rice.

                      1. re: smtucker

                        I like the idea of the cucumber relish - I'd been eying it before. There are actually only going to be three of us, and I am going to cut down the recipes a bit. I've made naan before, from another book, and might try Sahni's recipe - is it typical to have both naan and a pilaf? Thank you for your thoughts.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Ah. Dinner for three..... that does change it a bit. Still love the relish idea, but naan is a bit over the top.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            MMR, raita is a wonderful relishesque dish that gives a freshness and a bit of sourness to the very rich main dish.

                        2. re: MMRuth

                          MM, I hope you have better luck with the Broccoli in Garlic Oil than I did. For some reason I thought my result was too salty even though I cut the salt by half, and the broccoli seemed bitter. I've sautéed broccoli with garlic and EVOO a million times, but this time I just didn't like it.

                          1. re: Gio

                            Thanks - I'll go take a look at your report - I missed it.

                          2. re: MMRuth

                            I've just realized that I can make a lot of this ahead of time - the lamb is on the stove, as is the tomato relish, and I'm about to get started on the eggplant. Also prepped some of the ingredients for the rice.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              That sounds like a wonderful meal -- and plenty of food for 3 people! I haven't tried Sahni's Shredded Carrot and Mustard Seed Relish (page 435), but it sounds tasty and would brighten the plate. If naans are out, popadoms are good, and can be cooked in advance. Or mini-popadoms -- as an Indian bruschetta with your relishes. Kingfisher beer!

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                looks like good contrast in texture and taste. I agree that a fresh chutney might be nice, ditto naan. Id recommend a nice cooling raita as well - a good contrast to the other dishes..

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  Ah, jen kalb, great minds, etc. etc. See above.

                                  I made a carrot and onion salad tonight from Jaffrey. Wonderful Will report in appropriate thread.

                              2. I was about to start a thread on the wine board about what wine to have with my dinner tonight, but found this one, that I'll add to instead:


                                1. I finally got around to reading Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking, will be hitting the Indian market, and start cooking this week.

                                  I have a question - Today I'm going to start with some items out of the "Basic Ingredients" chapter. I'm planning on making ghee, paneer, both Garam Masala blends, and meat broth (yakhni). There's not really a section for this. Suggestions on where to post? Thanks!

                                  1. There was talk at one time about possibly having a separate thread for dishes we made from Jaffrey or Sahni books other than the two COTMs. Did that ever happen? (I've been out of the loop so long I'm afraid I may have missed something.) Tonight I made a potato dish from the Sahni Classic book that I'll post about tomorrow and served it with a Jaffrey fish recipe from "A Taste of India." Any thoughts on whether/where I should post about the fish dish? TDQ: where are you posting about your experiences with MM?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      JoanN, I don't think we ever started another thread, though, I think it's still a great idea.

                                      I've haven't cooked anything from MM yet. Tragic, I know, but I'm going to start soon. I figure I'd just start another thread. Should we start an "other Sahni and Jaffrey" thread and put a link in here for posterity? Feel free to beat me to it, since I'm the eternal flake lately...


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Here's a link to JoanN's thread "October COTM Adjunct: Reports on Recipes from Other Julie Sahni and Madhur Jaffrey Books"



                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Thank you, thank you, thank you both TDQ and JoanN for starting this other thread. I have actually posted several reports of the stuff I cooked before the Jaffrey book came to me. Good to know that there will be a home for comments on the other books.

                                    2. I'm so glad my copy of the Jaffrey book finally came in (library). I had been only looking at the Sahni book and have to say that I wasn't entirely thrilled.

                                      The Jaffrey book has, yes indeed, a *conversion chart* YAY. If both books are supposed to be sort of introductory style, I can't believe Sahni expects every cook to have a kitchen scale. No, I don't know how many grams/oz a cup of flour or split peas makes. I know, many of you will say a cook ought to have a kitchen scale. But this was my big peeve with Sahni's book, constantly having to search out conversions or fixing the ingredient list because water wasn't listed or trying to guess what kind of potatoes/etc. were appropriate for a recipe.

                                      I can't wait to dig into the Jaffrey book. The pictures alone make the book seem more enticing.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: LNG212

                                        That's interesting about your Sahni book. I haven't had that problem at all and I don't have a kitchen scale. The few recipes I've made all have cups and other measurements. Personally, I like the Sahni book a bit better than Jaffrey's book. The thing that drives me crazy about Jaffrey's book is that she is off on her cooking times which throws off my dinner planning, especially if I have multiple dishes going on. Sahni seems to be more accurate.

                                        Of course, I've also been planning my meals with the ingredients at hand. So, any recipes with cardoman pods, hing, lentils are not even up for consideration. But, I finally made it to the indian spice store so maybe my Sahni v. Jaffrey outlook will change.

                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                          Hmm..the recipes in my book also don't call for a scale. I wonder if LNG212 has a different version? In fact, one of the things like about it is how thorough it is - for example diagrams of what is considered large, medium, and small garlic cloves.

                                          I just looked through it again. On p. 88, Sahni says "In order to be consistent , the recipes in this book are worked out in American measurements, in cups and spoons". She even has a handy conversion chart with measurements; for example that 1 medium onion = 2/3 cup finely chopped, 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root = 1 x 1x 1 piece ginger root.

                                          Haven't gotten around to reporting yet on some of the things I've made (ghee, garam masala, etc), but this week planning on the Shrimp Fritters, and the Mughalai Korma.

                                          1. re: Rubee

                                            Yes, my edition is different. The only one at the library is one published in the UK. That explains it. I still find it hard to believe that everyone in the UK is cooking with a kitchen scale (but that's a whole other discussion, I guess).

                                            It's been very frustrating without a conversion chart for oz=cups and oz=tsps. Most especially when it comes to flours and peas/lentils. Now that I finally got Jaffrey's book with the chart in it, maybe I'll feel better about using Sahni. (I did very much like the saag recipe I made from Sahni already but then I also kinda winged the amounts of ingredients.)

                                            1. re: LNG212

                                              I usually wing my amounts as well. Especially since I'm still using CSA veggies. I hold it and think, hmmm, this feels like a lb (or not). Or, this hunk of meat is probably about 2 lbs. It's worked out fine so far.

                                              I love that saag recipe from Sahni's book. I'm already thinking about making it again. But, this time, I want to fry up some paneer to add to it as well.

                                              1. re: LNG212

                                                We pretty much do all have scales, acksherly. Much better than the cup system, imho, but I suppose it's what you're used to. :-)

                                              2. re: Rubee

                                                I'm waiting for Jaffrey's book from the library, so I'm using her delightful book -- Quick & Easy Indian Cookery. I love small cookbooks! She gives weights for most ingredients, but she often measures chopped coriander in teacups. It's rather charming, but I'd prefer to see a weight.

                                          2. Hey there, I'm sorry if this has been asked and answered before, but I am way behind all of you. I hope to cook at least SOMETHING before we hit the halfway point.

                                            I have been reading Jaffrey's section on grinding your own garam masala. I don't know why I find this so intimidating, but do you seriously put a cinnamon stick in your coffee grinder? It doesn't cause any mechanical problems? Seems like such a bad idea...


                                            33 Replies
                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              er....TDQ, AKA Hawkeye, you Could break up the cin. stick before you put into the Dedicated (for spices) coffee grinder. Or use the same grinder for coffee after having cleaned it out. I used to use a clean sable-hair watercolor brush for that...but really anything will do.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                OK then, I guess I'll go for it!

                                                Thankfully, I actually have a dedicated grinder (I bought it for Thai cookery), but the sable-hair watercolor brush is still a great idea. Currently, I just wipe my grinder out with a papertowel, with which I never feel quite satisfied.


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Try putting a piece of bread broken up into little pieces in it (or a few saltines ditto) and let it whir a bit - I find it gets rid of most of the residue. I have a dedicated one for spices but clean this way it between grinding up different mixtures.

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    A couple tablespoons of white rice does the trick, too, though I love my KitchenAid coffee grinder with the stainless steel cup that comes out for washing (can even go in the dishwasher).

                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                      Must...buy...KA...coffee...grinder....(sounds great, I didn't know such a thing existed). I use rice sometimes too but the bread is less appallingly noisy when it's grinding.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        Ditto. I just broke down and bought a scale. I've thought about buying a scale for about 3 years now and finally ordered one. The main reason is because I have a ton of hot peppers and want to re-make Dunlop's salted chilies. For some reason, I do think I need to be precise in the weight of the peppers.

                                                        As for the spice grinder, I am getting sick of using the mortar and pestle. I actually got tendonitis of the elbow, toasting, grinding and sifting spices (again, Dunlop for the sichuan peppercorns).

                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                          I've very seldom used the mortar and pestle, it simply takes too long and is very tiring. As for the hot peppers, I think as long as salt and peppers in reasonable proportion per the recipe you'd be ok. You might want to slice soem thin and put in white or rice vinegar to cover, also v tasty!

                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                            I've had about four mortars and pestles in the past ten or fifteen years, including a molcajete I bought in Mexico that I could never season properly. One was too small to be practical; one had too slick a surface and the spices kept "jumping" out of it. Hated all of them. Finally bought this one: http://www.shopfosters.com/GRANITE-Mo... upstairs at Zabar's for less than half the price listed here. I LOVE it. It's deep enough, so no more jumping spices, and the pestle's bottom circumference is wide enough in proportion to the bowl to be able to contact more of the spices making the grinding a lot faster and less tiring. It's heavy as hell and has a pretty big footprint, but I had the perfect spot for it in my small apartment kitchen. And it's gorgeous as all get-out. After years of shying away from any recipe calling for a mortar and pestle, this one is such a pleasure to use I now seek them out.

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              The way I get around the spices jumping out part - I put my one hand over it, making a hole for the pestle. Then I use my other hand to just pound through the hole. I'm so done with this method.

                                                              The only thing I haven't worked out, is where will my scale go.

                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                The scale I have - digital - is flat, and I can just slip it in vertically next to my cookbooks.

                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  Mine - same type - lives on top of my microwave.

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    ooooh. Top of the microwave is perfect. No go next to the cookbooks. Limited cookbook space to begin with, COTM isn't helping between me buying and the library books ;-)

                                                                    Thanks HC hounds.

                                                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                                                    I used to store my flat, digital scale vertically too, as a space saver, and have never had any problems. A while back, though, I read that scales should be stored upright as their mechanisms can be damaged if they are stored turned on their sides. Mine currently lives atop my microwave, like buttertart's. (I know you don't have a microwave, MMRuth, or any spare room in your kitchen, but I thought I'd pass along this tidbit to you and others.)

                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                      My sale is flat enough to fit into a drawer. I have exactly two drawers in my kitchen, and they are each 8 inches wide, but very deep. So it slips behind the thermometer, scissors, and a few stirring devices. Not sure I could live without this essential tool.

                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                  That is a beautiful object. Will have a look next time in Zabar's. Thanks for the tip!

                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                    JoanN: Is this one of those beautiful black and gray things that look as if they were carved out of a big piece of granite? Sounds wonderful.

                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                      Yes, it is. I love working with it. Hell, I love just looking at it! Wish I had one of those big designer kitchens where I could display it in a charming still life. Instead, it sits on top of my microwave right next to my kitchen scale.

                                                                  2. re: buttertart

                                                                    Thanks for the tip about the vinegar. A few years ago, I canned a ton of peppers and made one jar of hot sauce. Have I eaten them? Nope. They just sit there, looking all pretty. I have to figure out a use for them.

                                                                  3. re: beetlebug

                                                                    I bought an electronic kitchen scale when I was on weight watchers. I really resisted buying yet another kitchen gadget, but I love it. I use it all the time for all kinds of things.


                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      I'm really excited for the scale. I belong to a meat CSA, a veggie CSA and a winter CSA. For years, I've been guesstimating the weights of everything. It will be interesting to see how close my estimates are.

                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                        Yes, that's a perfect use for a scale!


                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                          I own a scale, but (looking down at feet while shuffling them) I have a hard time figuring out how to use it. And since this causes my husband to roll his eyes each time I ask for help, I've pretty much given up on the whole thing.

                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                            I had bought kitchen scale when Ottolenghi was COTM, and I use it a lot. Through the years I had been guessestimating too and it had worked for me. But now I like to double check myself, by first guessing and then weighing to confirm it. I am having fun with my new scale.

                                                                            1. re: cpw

                                                                              I use mine to portion out cookie and bread dough for uniformity. Never give a new obsession to an obsessive!

                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                This is the kind of thing I use mine for, too. That way, when something goes wrong, I don't have to wonder if it's because my "guestimate" about portioning was off. I know that it has to be something else.


                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  I'm pretty good at the "walnut-sized" portioning but I like the way scaling makes them come out really evenly sized.

                                                                                2. re: buttertart

                                                                                  I did the same thing past weekend. I was making poori for Indian lunch, and all my dough balls were perfect 12 gm each!

                                                                                  1. re: cpw

                                                                                    It is fun, isn't it. I especially like being able to use metric measurements.

                                                                        2. re: buttertart

                                                                          Unfortunately, the KA coffee grinder I have seems to have been discontinued. Too bad, as its design really is great when you want to use it as a spice/grain/etc. grinder that needs cleaning between uses so you're not mixing flavors.

                                                                3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  I have an inexpensive coffee grinder that is spice-dedicated; I've been using it for years and putting in those cinnamon sticks. The little baby pulverizes them every time. And making your own garam masala is so soul-satisfying.

                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                    I agree! I love making "curry powder" , za'atar, ras al hanout (sp) and garam masala.

                                                                    I also have a couple of old relic coffee grinders and use them for spice grinding. I clean them out with a brush I bought at an art supply store years ago that I also use to clean my coffee grinder. It's short and stubby with a big round bunch of bristles that are about an inch and a half long.

                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                      I have found that grinding some slightly stale european-style bread in the grinder between spices is helps clean it out as well.

                                                                4. Finally got my copy of the Sahni book through inter-library loan this morning, but have a sick kid here at home so not sure when I'll get the chance to look at it. It's surprisingly bigger than the Jaffrey. So far I'm getting the impression most are liking the Jaffrey better.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                    I am actually enjoying the Sahni book more. I like the precision of the recipes, the great introduction regarding ingredients and how her definitions of how big is a medium onion, for example.

                                                                    I admit that I have slacked off just a bit from cooking from either book since other aspects of my life seem to be out of control. But, I will get back to it soon enough.

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      I'm also enjoying Sahni a bit more than Jaffrey. Not only because of Sahni's preciseness but I find the flavors in Sahni's recipes to have a bit more depth and complexity.

                                                                    2. I had the good fortune and great pleasure of taking cooking lessons with Madhur Jaffrey and Julie Sahni.

                                                                      Madhur had that wonderful TV cooking show on the BBC, and is an excellent teacher. That comes through in her books. Madhur's food is like she is, elegant, authentic, refined and delicious

                                                                      Julie's food is more mundain.

                                                                      In terms of a cookbook experience, I much prefer Madhur's book. It is lyrical and personal, and dramatic. I always remember her in Shakespeare Wallah with James Mason, and A handful of Dust, with Julie Christie She was, and is still, one beautiful woman, and a fine actress.

                                                                      I found I used her recipes more than Julie Sahni, even though Julie's recipes are often quite good

                                                                      My husband doesn't like Indian food, so I never make it anymore.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Fleur

                                                                        Which M Jaffrey book are you talking about. I think it is Indian cooking, but would just like to confirm.

                                                                        1. re: cpw

                                                                          I was referring to her original book. I have enjoyed her other books as well.

                                                                      2. I've cooked a few dozen recipes from Jaffrey's book and have detailed COTM-style notes on how they turned out and what I would change next time. These notes are actually on the web, but it looks like my previous post in which I linked to them has been deleted.

                                                                        I can cut-and-paste and post each of these reviews under the appropriate thread if people think it would contribute, or should I not do it because the fact that I didn't cook them *this month* violate the principles of COTM? What do people think?

                                                                        [I hope this question about COTM principles is relevant enough that it won't get deleted like my last post.]

                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Mark P

                                                                          Mark, I think it would be valuable to read about your experiences. In reality, these COTM threads go on for years, with people adding in their experiences after "the month," so no harm in reporting your previous experiences, and in fact, I'm sure we'll gain from them.

                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            I certainly agree with what Catlin has posted... in fact I said as much before the posts were perfunctorily deleted.....

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              I sure hope you cut and paste your responses.

                                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                I certainly do, Jen. But at this point it's moot. Mark has posted his reports in the appropriate threads, Bless him. They are both helpful and insightful.

                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  Thank you for the compliment. :)

                                                                          2. re: Mark P

                                                                            Wow, Mark, thanks for making all of those posts! What great additions to the threads. Even though October is over, I certainly plan to continue cooking from these books and posting too. I look forward to reading about more of your experiences.

                                                                            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                              I will try to remember to post additional recipe reactions to the appropriate board here in additional to the blog. However, I've lost a bit of my momentum for this cookbook and am likely to switch to another soon, so I'm afraid you shouldn't expect new reports very often.

                                                                              1. re: Mark P

                                                                                I subscribe to your feed now so I'll be sure to look for your next cook-the-book report.

                                                                          3. I did not have much of a chance to cook Indian this month, unfortunately. I have the Jaffrey book from the library, and I have found many of the recipes appealing (a sense reinforced by reading everyone's reports), so I have ordered a used copy for m,yself, and also a copy of her Flavors of India, as I am interested in the regional recipes and it has been so praised by hounds. I look forward to cooking from both.