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Betty Crocker Indian Home Cooking -- don't laugh!!

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I received this book, written by Raghavan Iyer, a few years ago as a gift when I was just starting to know Indian food. It is very good and calls for no convenience products, in spite of what the title might lead you to think. I often make the pakoras, and my friend whose parents are Indian says they are better than his mom's (!!!). I often make the mulligatawny and bring it to work for lunch, where a lady I work with who immigrated from India says the soup is perfect. And don't get me started in the recipe for saag paneer.

Has anyone else tried this book? What do you think?

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  1. I like Raghavan Iyer, so I'm sure the book is good! I have 660 Curries and sometimes am overwhelmed by the number of recipes, so I should check it out,

    1 Reply
    1. re: sarahcooks

      + 1! the main reason not to laugh at bc"s indian home cooking is raghavan iyer!

      that said, i do not have it :) i have 660 curries though, and rec it highly to the op.

    2. i have not tried that book, but i do recall that when it was released, it was praised as pretty good as far as authenticity goes (as was the chinese betty crocker cookbook, iirc http://www.amazon.com/Betty-Crockers-... ). i read at that time that betty crocker cookbooks wanted to get the "real deal" cookbook authors with credibility in those cuisine areas. i recall this because i saved the little clipping, thinking that one day i'd pick it up.

      i found the saag paneer recipe:

      http://shazaminthekitchen.blogspot.co...

      1. I have the 600 Curries too; I bought it because I liked the BC one so much. Truth be told, I reach for the Betty Crocker one more often!

        4 Replies
        1. re: CanadaGirl

          Since it sounds like you have used this book a lot, I am hoping you can help me regarding the rice pilaf recipes. When the pilaf recipes call for dal, which you are instructed to stir-fry, can I assume they are meaning already cooked dal, and not the hard, dried lentils or split peas in their uncooked form?

          1. re: Sally53

            I don't know what the book intends, but I always cook the dried dal (presoaked, but not precooked) along with the rice.

            1. re: The Professor

              It seems like they'd still be pretty hard--to pre-soak, then stir-fry (the recipes call for stir-frying them with cashews for 1 to 2 minutes).

            2. re: Sally53

              The uncooked kind. As long as they're relatively fresh they will be soft enough.

          2. Never heard of the Betty Crocker one, but I'll go on a search for it. And Saag Paneer--I eat it almost daily every time we're in India. Frankly, I wasn't as impressed with 660 Curries--much tweaking of basic recipes over and over, but he's certainly a bona fide great chef.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pine time

              The recipe for saag paneer in the book is quite different from what I've had in restaurants, in a good way. Rather than a purée with bits of paneer, the spinach (which I know is just one type of saag) is just chopped and you can see bits of spices, ginger, etc. Yum.

            2. No I have not tried this book. I am only learning about Indian cooking. The title of the book is hilarious regardless.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                what? you want ajay crocker?

                1. re: alkapal

                  Anything with Betty Crocker is funny to me. Although Ajay Crocker is funny as heck as well.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    <what? you want ajay crocker?>

                    Nope. Betty Patel.

                2. I have this book, and haven't tried any of the recipes, but you've inspired me to pull the book out of the kitchen's third-tier bookshelf (the shelves of shame in the back of the kitchen, in which the titles can't be read unless one squats and rotates their head completely to the side), and I'm glad you've inspired me to page through it. The plantain curry, the lentil dumplings, and the fenugreek griddle breads caught my eye right away. If I get a chance to make anything from the book in the near future, I'll let you know. Thanks for making me reassess.

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: onceadaylily

                    you might be surprised by fenugreek + griddle cake. i don't know if it uses the leaves or the seed, but the seeds are used to make fake maple syrup, they smell so much like it.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      It calls for leaves (a full cup), and also has a little heat (cayenne), and tart (lemon or lime peel), to offset the sweet, I suppose. That's interesting about the fenugreek seeds, though, and why I like chowhound. I wish Trivial Pursuit would put out a food trivia game. :)

                      1. re: onceadaylily

                        In 2005 and again in 2009 a sweet, caramelly, maple-y scent wafted over the metro NYC area and was the cause of consternation and concern. Turned out to be fenugreek seeds being roasted in a factory in North Bergen, NJ.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          I heard that same story, but the city was San Francisco and the product being roasted was chiles. Guaymas Restaurant in Tiburon.

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            I live in the area and sniffed it with my very own honker - in fact the day I noticed it I thought it was from the chocolate chip dough/dulce de leche brownies I was taking to work! It really was quite nice, but this area having suffered so badly in 2001, the first thought at anything unusual is oh no!

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Ha! Those must have been some powerful brownies for you to think it could have been them!

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Elinor Klivans knows her way around recipe writing (the recipe was from her "Fearless Baker").

                          2. re: buttertart

                            The boyfriend has a soft spot for exactly the kinds of scents and flavors you've described. I think he's going to like this bread. The photograph pairs it with a red lentil and ginger dish that sounds appealing, and simple enough to make up for what he calls a 'laborious' process for the paranthas (it doesn't look that bad though).

                            (Smiling at the visual of NYers becoming alarmed by sweetened air, BT.)

                            1. re: onceadaylily

                              It seems ridiculous but it was slightly discomfiting (I was close to the WTC that day - and had worked on the 99th floor of one of the buildings for a year - and it was still a fairly fresh memory to a lot of NYers in 2005).

                              1. re: buttertart

                                Not ridiculous at all. I didn't even think about it like that. Sorry, BT.

                                1. re: onceadaylily

                                  Not to worry.

                          3. re: onceadaylily

                            neither the leaves nor the seeds are sweet. the seeds aroma smells maple-y.

                            does the cookbook have a recipe for stuffed naan, by chance?

                            1. re: alkapal

                              Yes, I believe it has the Naan recipe, p. 253, then on 254, it has the "Onion-Filled Tandoori Breads." It says that it is stuffed between two naans and baked to perfection to yield kulcha.

                              I love naan!

                              1. re: Rella

                                just had a great red onion kulcha the other day. delish!

                        2. re: onceadaylily

                          I'm going to try this one soon, p. 194. Green Bean - Yellow Split Pea Stew. Nice picture on p. 195. It uses yard-long green beans, 'used exensively in the southeastern region of India.

                          The recipe doesn't call for a long cooking time.

                          I've prepared the "Yogurt with Apples" previously and it's a welcome relief after preparing a stand-by cucumber raita.

                          I can never have too many Indian Cooking cookbooks.

                          1. re: Rella

                            I made the Green Bean - Yellow Split Pea Stew and served with white basmati rice, made in my new Miracle Stainless Steel Insert rice cooker. The rice was perfect.

                            I should have paid more attention to the picture, but didn't, as I am used to scanning the recipe, and print out for my prep area. It was silly not to put the scan on the laptop screen that included the picture, and cook from the laptop screen - I'm not used to doing it this way as my laptop is only a few months old, but I'll get used to thinking this way about my recipes for cooking.

                            Back to point: I would have know if I had looked at the picture that I needed much more water than was called for. My 'stew' was certainly a dry stew and would have been much better had there been moisture; however the good point was that the wonderful taste of the basmati was not compromised.

                          2. re: onceadaylily

                            I just made the fenugreek griddle breads. They were tasty.

                            1. re: CanadaGirl

                              The picture looks so delicious. I would never be able to find fresh - or even 1/2 cups crumbled dried fenugreek leaves (methi); perhaps later. Which did you use?

                              Did you use amchur or grated lemon-or-lime peel?

                              Darn, this book is heavy!

                              1. re: Rella

                                I used the dried methi leaves and the amchur powder, both of which are found at a few stores where I live (Halifax). I have actually seen the methi in my regular grocery store, and there is not a very large Indian population in my neighbourhood. I think you shouldn't omit the methi leaves; try mail order.

                                1. re: CanadaGirl

                                  I'm enamored enough by this recipe to find methi leaves. Thanks. I do keep amchur powder.

                          3. I'm not at all surprised at the quality of the book. Most of the BC cookbooks I have or have seen are very well done indeed. These cookbooks have helped facilitate many a good meal. I don't hesitate at all in recommending them to folks interested in ethnic cooking.