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Favorite Recipes from 660 Curries?

r
Rick Aug 16, 2011 02:34 PM

Just got this cook book and don't even know where to start. Made one dish so far and it was excellent. Any favorite recipes in this book?

  1. jpr54_1 Sep 21, 2012 05:09 AM

    waiting for my copy of book to arrive

    1. a
      AlkieGourmand Apr 22, 2012 07:53 PM

      The diversity of the recipes is what makes this the best cookbook I have. I constantly learn new things from this cookbook.

      Today I made the minty red lentils with cilantro and raw onion. In this recipe, minced mint, cilantro, garlic, and chiles are sauteed along with some cumin seeds before being added to the lentils. I can't remember sauteeing mint and cilantro before. Sauteeing gives the herbs a smoky, less herbal flavor. I made my own Punjabi garam masala, which came to understand as a finishing spice. It adds a final layer of complex flavor; the base flavors are from the saute.

      This book would be worth buying simply for the several dozen legume dishes, none of which is a simple modification of another.

      1 Reply
      1. re: AlkieGourmand
        r
        Rella Apr 23, 2012 06:45 AM

        I can't seem to find in the index the recipe that you refer to. Can you give me the exact title or page number?

        When you say you made your own Punjabi garam masala, do you mean that you had a recipe of your own, or that you used the "Punjabi Garam Masala" receipe p. 25.

        I love this book, too.

      2. b
        blinknoodle Apr 22, 2012 05:46 PM

        I recently made Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango with the Sesame-Flavoured Blend with Peanuts and Coconut (Maharashtrian Garam Masala) and it was fantastic. The garam masala is important since it is so different (coconut, peanut, sesame). I also really liked the Plantains and Cabbage with Pigeon Peas. The Toasted Split Green Lentils with Spinach was also quite different (in a good way) with fennel and cloves.

        __
        http://tastespace.wordpress.com

        1. a
          AlkieGourmand Mar 27, 2012 09:13 PM

          I love this cookbook and have had success with dozens of recipes. Most frequently, I cook one of the large number of legume recipes along with basmati rice. This makes an easy, healthy, satisfying dinner. I try to keep several different kinds of legumes on hand to accommodate the recipes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: AlkieGourmand
            r
            Rella Mar 28, 2012 07:26 PM

            I, too, keep lots of legumes and am anxious to try them all. One thing I notice is the tremendous amount of potatoes recipes. I don't eat potatoes anymore, but do eat yams and sweet potatoes. I notice that he sometimes uses sweet potatoes in conjunction with regular potatoes. I'd like to find a source of organic potatoes, but so far have found only one - our local supermarket, and then it is only one type of potato, a boring light skinned one that doesn't inspire.

            I'm recalling that he has a recipe that calls for using yuca that I'd like to try. He says to use either the frozen kind or fresh kind. I've seen the frozen in a big bag at the FoodMaxx which I bought; then I had to throw it away. Have you ever used the frozen yucas - one still has to boil them for use.

            1. re: Rella
              a
              AlkieGourmand Mar 29, 2012 07:49 PM

              I've eaten frozen yuca before (though not in a long time). I think yuca freezes well--and it's nice that you don't have to deal with removing the hard skin.

          2. t
            TxnInMtl Mar 14, 2012 04:15 PM

            I thought I'd bump this given the current COTM discussion. These have been some of my favorites so far:
            Shrimp with basil-peanut pesto p. 670
            Buttery basmati rice with spinach and onion p. 713
            Spinach and mustard greens with cheese (saag paneer) p. 295
            Lamb-almond dumpings in a tomato cream sauce p. 217
            Cashew chicken with a cilantro sauce p. 155
            Marinated chicken with an onion-pepper-almond sauce (tikka masala) p. 147

            I was also quite pleased with these:
            Ground lamb meatballs with a saffron sauce p. 216
            Pork ribs with a sweet-sour glaze p. 663
            Bengali squash in coconut milk p. 600
            Potatoes and mustard greens with ginger and garlic p. 572
            Cabbage and cucumber "slaw" with roasted peanuts
            Stewed beets with beet greens and ginger p. 464
            Chicken thighs with a peanut sauce p. 159
            Cardamom-scented chicken with ginger and garlic p. 157

            7 Replies
            1. re: TxnInMtl
              r
              Rella Mar 27, 2012 06:30 PM

              660 Curries - p. 153 Breast of Chicken in an Onion-Tumeric Sauce.

              The author says that you also can use the "bone-in" skinless chicken pieces for this same recipe; but allow an extra 10-15 minutes of simmering time.

              The only difference I made in this recipe is that I did not make my own Punjabi garam masala. I used a Laxmi bought garam masala which was handy. I recently threw out a Garam Masala which had been bought at a national spice company, which I believe was Punjabi; the reason was that it tasted overwhelmingly of black peppercorns. When I looked at the 660 Curries recipe page 25, it does have peppercorns, so I decided not to make it; also for another reason which I will state below.

              The organic skinless chicken breasts which I used to make this recipe are the ones from Costco which I really like to use - thawed to a point where they are easy to cut into 1" bits.

              The recipe called for 2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves. I thawed a couple of organic cilantro leaves chopped in the food processor which I combined with water and froze into ice cubes. Since they were used in the simmering, this was quite satisfactory.

              Re making a Punjabi Garam Masala which uses 3 cinnamon sticks 3" long, broken into smaller pieces. My experience has been that I have NEVER been satisfied with grinding my own cinnamon sticks in a coffee grinder or spice grinder. I have had 4 grinders, none of which I wish to submit to such abuse. All of the grinders are name brand and good coffee grinders. I would like to hear if anyone else has a grinder that they use that they feel will take the grinding of cinamon sticks without worry about destroying their grinder. As well, I don't feel that the grinding is fine enough either even when it is finished.

              I'd like to try this recipe again with the Punjabi spice blend.

              1. re: Rella
                t
                TxnInMtl Mar 28, 2012 07:09 AM

                I hope you'll try making the Punjabi GM. It's a great blend and I don't think the black peppercorns are overwhelming. A lot of his spice blends do call for the cinnamon sticks which are problematic. I don't have a good grinder, so I end up making most of my blends in a mortar and pestle. It's certainly more work and the grind is never as fine as I would like, but I've decided that I don't mind too much. I have been tempted to try substituting pre-ground cinnamon for the cinnamon sticks to save myself some frustration, but haven't yet. Maybe that would be a good compromise for you as well?

                1. re: TxnInMtl
                  r
                  Rella Mar 28, 2012 08:57 AM

                  I'm thinking that the substitution of ground cinnamon might be a reasonable way to get around this. However, since I keep about 3 different ground cinnamons, I wonder what I would substitute and how much per what length of stick. Gets pretty tough to decide.

                  Actually I thought that the use of sticks were more favorable for using whole into a dish that would be stewed or even braised. I just wonder how many Middle Eastern cooks do grind cinnamon sticks. I've read that many buy their spices, and I do wonder if the spice retailers actually grind those sticks. Call me sceptic about the whole process. Hoping someone will address this further.

                2. re: Rella
                  a
                  AlkieGourmand Mar 28, 2012 05:07 PM

                  I have a $20 Krups spice grinder and it does a good job with cinnamon sticks. Certainly I have no fear about destroying the grinder. The only issues are breaking the sticks down to the right size to fit the grinder and stirring or shaking it to make sure no big pieces of cinnamon get stuck on the bottom. As I test, I just ground a 5 inch piece of Ceylon cinnamon to a fine powder in about 30 seconds.

                  1. re: AlkieGourmand
                    r
                    Rella Mar 28, 2012 07:20 PM

                    OK, I'll try it again - I have a $20 Krups probably just like yours. I'll grind it 30 seconds, too. I've always felt that it is not powdery/fine enough, as well.

                    Tomorrow.
                    Thanks so much.

                    1. re: Rella
                      r
                      Rella Mar 29, 2012 02:38 PM

                      The photo shows the results of a powder from my cupboard (Saigon cinnamon powder) compared to cinnamon sticks ground using the Krups. Is this the Krups grinder shown in my photo that you use?

                      I called Penzey's and asked them about the ceylon cinnamon sticks they carry. They are called ceylon "softstick'' cinnamon sticks. She said there were no additives to make them soft, but that they were from a certain part of the tree. That I understand, but what neither one of us understands or knows is whether all ceylon cinnamon sticks are 'soft' and there are Ceylon cinnamon sticks that are not 'soft.'

                      The sticks I used to grind are probably Indonesian sticks. They are not Penzy's Indonesian sticks. I ground in the Krups for 30 seconds, and then again the same ground content for another minute.

                      I started over with a same amount of sticks, broken into 2 parts each, and put them in the Vita-mix for 1 minute 30 seconds and got powder. (No powder after 30 seconds, no powder after 1 minute.)

                      Do you recall if you used Penzy's ceylon softstick.
                      http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                       
                       
                      1. re: Rella
                        a
                        AlkieGourmand Mar 29, 2012 07:45 PM

                        Yes, I do use Ceylon softsticks. They come out less grainy than what I see in your picture, but nowhere near as powdery as the powdered cinnamon in your picture. To get the cinnamon from the grinder powdery, you can run it through a very fine mesh strainer.

              2. SilverlakeGirl Aug 25, 2011 07:19 PM

                It might be interesting to note the distain [by some, not all] of the author, Mr, Iyer, as he wrote the Betty Crocker Indian Cookbook.

                I love this book.

                1 Reply
                1. re: SilverlakeGirl
                  r
                  Rick Aug 25, 2011 07:27 PM

                  I never heard of that sentiment. All I know is I'm now making Indian food at home that is as good of not better than I get here locally at Indian restaurants.

                2. r
                  Rick Aug 25, 2011 06:23 PM

                  So I've always cooked basmati rice as per the package instruction. I just discovered the books instructions on how to make the rice and I can say his instructions seem to turn out a better finished product. Amazing how something as simple as rice can be turn out better or worse just by switching a few simple steps.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Rick
                    a
                    AlkieGourmand Mar 27, 2012 09:02 PM

                    Agreed.

                    1. re: AlkieGourmand
                      r
                      Rella Mar 29, 2012 02:57 PM

                      Looking at p. 706 in the paperback book, I see "cooking rice" and am wondering if you have tried both methods. I think I would prefer the "absorption/steeping method" as that is the style that I am most used to cooking.

                      I am not keen on using the "open-pot pasta method" (the second method on this page) in which he calls for draining into a colander and running cold water through it...."

                      Now, if we are speaking of 'specific' instructions for making rice is what makes a better rice, the only problem I find in the absorption method is that the instruction is to let it sit on the same burner for 10 minutes, whether a gas or electric burner.

                      My thoughts are that a gas burner's residual heat is different from an electric burner - both ceramic or coil.
                      My choice in making rice in the "absorption" fashion here would be to make it on induction. I'm not sure whether it is closer to the residual heat of a gas, electric coil, or electric ceramic cooktop, so I'm thinking: how much difference can it make in such a specific instruction.

                      1. re: Rella
                        a
                        AlkieGourmand Mar 29, 2012 04:30 PM

                        I use the absorption/steeping method. My version of 660 Curries has different instructions for gas versus electric--8 minutes for gas; 10 minutes for electric. But what I usually do on my electric is have a burner ready on low, to which I switch the pot and cook for 8 minutes--simulating a gas stove.

                        1. re: AlkieGourmand
                          r
                          Rella Mar 29, 2012 06:47 PM

                          My last paragraph, begininng with "My thoughts..." was addressing the instructions 'after' turning off the heat; i.e., "THEN TURN OFF THE HEAT," not the actual cooking instructions which you refer to..

                          The reason I call this to anyone's attention is that I thought that most modern day gas stoves have a gas burner rack that is not solid and doesn't hold residual heat, whereas a cooktop is solid and holds heat. I find a conflict in this instruction.

                          1. re: Rella
                            a
                            AlkieGourmand Mar 29, 2012 07:43 PM

                            Oh, I see. I pull the pot off the hot burner on my electric--again, simulating a gas stove.

                  2. s
                    sarahcooks Aug 21, 2011 10:15 AM

                    I love the Moghalai-style chicken, very easy and tasty. Also there's a fantastic halibut recipe, I think it's the Halibut fillets with a coconut milk-mustard seed sauce. I know there are some others I love but I don't have the book in front of me right now.

                    1. n
                      nonaggie Aug 19, 2011 10:01 AM

                      We really like the coconut-smothered black-eyed peas (Bina's Lobhia).

                      1. b
                        blinknoodle Aug 17, 2011 06:05 PM

                        So glad to see this thread because I was thinking the same thing recently.

                        The Tikka Masala was great, even though we subbed tempeh for the chicken.

                        Paneer was easy to make and tasted great. We used it in the Mutter paneer recipe, although I didn't find it as saucy as I was hoping.

                        1. k
                          kathleen440 Aug 17, 2011 11:14 AM

                          I've had this book for about a year and a half and I absolutely love it. I've reviewed a bunch of the recipes through Cookbooker:
                          http://www.cookbooker.com/title/1530/...

                          The ones I keep coming back to month after month are the chicken with onion, bell pepper, and mace; the pan-fried cheese with peas; the saucy eggplant with green tomato; and the spinach and mustard greens with cheese. Basically, any of the four- or five-star ones.

                          I've also given the spice mixtures as gifts and they've been big hits. The Bin Bhuna Hua Garam Masala is my favorite.

                          Oh, and I don't think I officially reviewed it, but the tomato rice in the biryani section is delicious.

                          1. bushwickgirl Aug 17, 2011 02:08 AM

                            Here's a link to an earlier Indian cuisine thread with a few posts and some very positive comments about what posters cooked from 660 Curries:

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7736...

                            I've wanted to buy this book for some time, but it always seems to take a back seat to something else. This book was on a list of possible nominations for the COTM last year but didn't make the cut. Possibly it'll be nominated in the future.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: bushwickgirl
                              GretchenS Aug 17, 2011 07:28 AM

                              I always figured that if I got my act together and started cooking from it and reporting on it, a few other people would too since it has gotten some play on COTM nomination threads, and then either we'd get a lively thread like the Radically Simple one or more support for a COTM with it. But I have been thinking that for nearly two years now and I haven't done it. Story of my life....

                              1. re: bushwickgirl
                                GretchenS Aug 17, 2011 07:53 AM

                                Back to say thanks so much for posting the link to that other completely amazing thread which I had somehow missed earlier. What a wealth of information about Indian cooking in general as well as specifics of 660 Curries.

                                1. re: GretchenS
                                  bushwickgirl Aug 21, 2011 09:02 AM

                                  You're welcome. I'm squarely in your corner, and I should 1) actually buy the book really soon and 2) hopefully participate in it's COTM, at some point in the future.

                                  Let's keep our fingers crossed.

                              2. GretchenS Aug 16, 2011 02:48 PM

                                I have the book and also did not know where to start. What was the one recipe you made and liked so much?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: GretchenS
                                  r
                                  Rick Aug 16, 2011 03:02 PM

                                  Sorry for leaving that part out! We made the lamb curry in a sweet onion-tomato sauce (page 190) and absolutely loved it. Tonight I'm trying One Pot Potatoes in a red lentil sauce with lime juice (p. 552). I've tried many Indian dished from recipes online and they never turned out nearly as good as something I get in a restaurant. That lamb curry was every bit as good if not better than anything I've had in a restaurant.

                                  1. re: Rick
                                    r
                                    Rick Aug 17, 2011 07:52 AM

                                    The One Pot Potatoes turned out great as well. Starting to get the feeling nothing in from this book will be bad.

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