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Indian cookbook recommendations ?

Was wondering if anybody had some advice on good Indian food cookbooks to get you started? Getting more interested in this cuisine.

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  1. I would recommend books by Mridula Baljekar.
    Her recipes are simple, yet the food is very flavorful. I think I have tried the 30 min cookbook. She has number of books out.


    2 Replies
    1. re: chowmeaow

      I love Ismail Merchant's cookbooks - he knew how to create Indian recipes for Americans using American ingredients.

      1. re: chowmeaow

        BTW I am of Indian origin, so I already know Indian style cooking.
        And I still refer to Indian cookbooks, as there are many regional varieties. And out of that this author stood out.

        There is another book I had tried for South Indian cooking ( dosa et al), but I don't recall the name right now.

        For some gourmet cooking, from the chef at Tabla, try "One Spice, Two Spice: American Food, Indian Flavors "

        It has interesting recipes. The chef is originally from Goa, so it would be good for seafood.

      2. I haven't used any of them myself, but the cookbooks of Madhur Jaffrey come highly recommended.

        1. 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer is a great cookbook. Don't be intimidated by the size of the book. There are simple recipes as well as intricate and he tells you how to make everything from homemade curry pastes to paneer to Indian fusion dishes. There is a great guide in the back that tells you all about ingredients you might need and where to get them.

          4 Replies
          1. re: curiouscook

            I've been using 660 Curries for about 6 months now. I like it, but it's a little much and some of the recipes aren't exactly what you might expect them to be.

            Don't get me wrong, I use it all the time, it just takes some perusing to figure out what you really want to make and not have expectations on how things are going to taste. One of the pork vindaloo recipes is awesome--he offers 3 or 4. I went with the one he said was the most authentic and have stuck with it...

            Madhur Jaffery's Invitation to Indian Cooking has a lot of good recipes too..

            1. re: hankstramm

              I agree that it's a little much and that it's hard to know beforehand how a dish will come out. But that's what makes 660 Curries great too. Underneath the simple directions and breezy language is an unusually eclectic set of palate-expanding recipes.

            2. re: curiouscook

              Im dubious about this book because I think Iyer is a tamil brahmin (a non-meat eating south indian group) and many of the recipes Americans are likely to want to start with (an over generalization I know) are the northern Punjabi or Moghul- oriented dishes that are cooked in the Indian restaurants here. The spicing of these dishes with the "garam masala" spices is what many folks may be looking for Jaffrey's books are a great starter (she is from Delhi) because they cover a very good range of simple to complex meat dishes, and her vegetable, rice and dal recipes are also very good.

              In general India is so regionalized that "Indian" compilation cookbooks often fail to adequately cover the range or implicitly (without telling you) reflect the spicing tastes and preferences of one region when representing another. I feel this a bit with Neelam Batra's big compilation, which by the way has some very good recipes. I believe she is Sindhi and many of her recipes contain dried methi leaves in a way I havent seen elsewhere.

              For South Indian, I agree with the recommendation of Chandra Padmanabhan's books, especially the first, Dakshin. I like the recipes very well but they do not cover the full range of southern cooking at all (mostly Tamil). I felt that Maya Kaimal's books are consciously dumbed down for an American audience. Id be interested in a separate discussion on the topic of south indian books or Indian regional books.

              1. re: jen kalb

                On of the nice things about Iyer's Betty Crocker cookbook is that offers a good cross section of the myriad regional cuisines, and even a few Indo-Persian and Indo-Chinese dishes. It is also a well constructed book that has stood up to my abuse and overuse.

              1. Although it's been a while since I used it (got out of my Indian cooking phase, but I'm starting to feel that pull again), but I liked Savoring the Spice Coast of India by Maya Kaimal. It's focused on Kerala. Some lovely recipes, as well as some beautiful photography, preceded by a short history of Kerala and a look at the varied religious communities within this state.

                1. Last fall the Cookbooks of the Month were by Madhur Jaffrey and Julie Sahni. Both books are great. Here's a ton of info by hounds who cooked from them:

                  1. I recommend 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer, Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks, Modern Spice by Monica Bhide. FOr more reginal recipes - South Indian for eg - Dakshin and Southern Spice by Chandra Padmanabhan and The Kerala Kitchen by Lathika George.

                    I had borrowed the book Savoring the Spice Coast by Maya Kaimal - didnt quite like it at all!!

                    1. I know it sounds crazy, but Betty Crocker's Indian Cookbook is excellent. I own several Indian cookbooks (including books by Jaffrey and Sahni) and the BC is best. Of course, it's written by Raghavan Iyer, so that probably explains why Betty Crocker is such an authority in Indian cuisine.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        Betty didn't write it herself? I'm shocked, SHOCKED!

                        1. re: nofunlatte

                          I own a very obscure Indian cookbook written by Fanny Farmer, and it is bloody marvelous. No foolin'.

                      2. It's a very simple book, but I've had very good luck with Suvir Saran's Indian Home Cooking, especially the dals and chicken/lamb curries. I learned the techniques for layering spices from this book (e.g. starting with whole spices in oil, adding others as you add ingredients, finishing with a tarka). I like his methods for making basmati rice also. I found that after cooking with this book for a while, I could take other Indian recipes (such as from blogs, etc.) that may not be so detailed as to technique, and follow them or adjust them to suit my taste. Previously I had difficulty doing this because I didn't have a good understanding of the fundamentals. This book also contains a number of simple recipes with few ingredients, which makes it easy to put together a simple weeknight meal. Once you stock up on spices and dals, you can make a quick Indian meal with pantry ingredients, a nice alternative to pasta.

                        1. Actually, just reviewed this thread and this book is pretty good to get started. In fact, I use it often for quite a few dishes (the everyday dal and black eyed peas are great. The lamb chops and raitas are great too).