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Madhur Jaffrey's "Indian Cooking" is lacking as a great Indian cookbook// Recommend me a different one!

So yea it's not a bad book or anything, and I've definitely made great tasting food out of it, but I feel it is lacking as a thorough and adept-skilled Indian cookbook. Many of the recipes seem like the same cookie cutter design with a couple changes. For example, most recipes use the same spices and at the same ratio (mainly cumin, coriander, tumeric, cayenne). Wouldn't it be better to use whole chilies to build a flavor base as opposed to cayenne pepper powder? Also, there aren't that many exciting vegetable dishes. Overall, it just seems to be lacking in some detail and depth. I want to see more variety in spices/flavorings used. One of my favorite Indian flavors, tamarind, isn't even mentioned in this book once, which I find a bit odd, since its such a pervasive Indian flavoring. So with that said, can somebody recommend an Indian cookbook more suited to my tastes. I'm looking for something like Thompson's "Thai Food" but obviously for Indian cuisine. I'm also not opposed to fusion. Thanks!

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  1. Indian cooking varies by region. Whole chillies aren't used as much up north, nor is tamarind. Both are commonly used further south. I'd suggest looking for a South Indian cookbook if those are the flavors you are looking for.

    1. I have the food of India (food of the world series). If I recall if does have recipes calling for tamarind paste and grinding your own spices

      1. You might check out 660 curries. It was a COTM last year. I use it frequently and like it. It is a huge, fairly comprehensive book.


        1 Reply
        1. re: sedimental

          +1 on the 660 Curries, I've made lots of delicious recipes from that book.

        2. As pointed out there is no one cookbook ..each area has a differening cuisine ...


          is for example a reasonably good book for food from Kerala


          You may try this as well

          1. I really like her Curry Bible book. There are a few recipes that use tamarind paste in it. I know what you mean about the same spices being used, but what I find really amazing is how even using basically the same spices, each dish does taste different.

            It is a very informative book, and each recipe has an indication of the region it is from. Well worth the purchase and probably one of my most used cookbooks

            1. Mridula Baljekar's vegetarian Indian cookbook is a favorite of mine. I've found the recipes interesting and easy to add to.

              1. Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni. I used to depend on Madhur Jaffrey but this is now my favourite for Indian cooking.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Nyleve

                  + 1 for Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking. It's been on my shelf for over 20 years, and its' dog-eared & stained pages attest to the many wonderful meals that I've made from them.

                  1. re: hungryjoanne

                    My various books of Jaffrey and Sahni are both a mess--pages falling out, stained pages, and I wouldn't buy new ones for the world--those are memories! (There's even a note from the new-hubs Mr. Pine, in the 70s, in Hindi, saying "quit making this!" under gulab jamons. I kinda went on a binge.)

                    One other of my classic ones is "The Art of Indian Cuisine" by Pranati Sen Gupta, from Bengal, so also more northern, though.

                    If you'd like Parsi food, I like "My Bombay Kitchen" by Niloufer Ichaporia King--it has some great recipes and lots of cooking tips (altho' 2 of my least favorite Indian foods, mora dal chaval and akuri, are Parsi. At least hub's family versions). There are some good tamarind recipes in it, too.

                2. Hi vonshu,
                  I love Indian food a lot. In fact Punjabi is the best cuisine. Just try it out. google it. Have you ever tried Gujarati cuisine? It is so tasty. It includes all different types of spices. so you must try it out.

                  1. Sounds like you're interested in South Indian cooking. I have Maya Kaimal's Curried Favors, which is primarily Kerala style recipes. I haven't cooked a lot from it, but what I have has been good.


                    1. I have India: The Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant. Can't recommend it enough.

                      1. I have several Indian cookbooks and though I like 660 Curries my favourite is Madhur Jaffrey's A Taste of India. It is a regional cookbook with great recipes from many regions of India. Since you seem to lean towards southern flavours, check out The Pondicherry Kitchen from Lourdes Tirouvanziam-Louis. It does not the beautiful photography of Jaffrey's book, just solid fiery recipes. The third one is Indian Vegetarian Feast by Anjum Anand. This one is definitely geared towards western cook. The recipes are simplified, even include not very Indian dishes (soufflé) but are still interesting.

                        1. As Boogiebaby pointed out, there is a distinct regional aspect to Indian cuisine. I'd also add that if you live in the U.S. and your exposure to Indian food is primarily through restaurants, then there's a cross cultural aspect as well. Indian American restaurant food shares some similarities to the food you find in India (far more than Chinese American restaurants share with Chinese food), but there are considerable differences- and, to date, these differences are not laid out in any cookbook. Restauranteurs will frequently add ingredients like MSG, sugar and extra fat- ingredients that cookbook authors usually wouldn't dream of adding- and it is frequently these extra ingredients that create a lot more 'excitement' and depth of flavor.

                            1. re: rasputina

                              yo rasputina, how do you begin to choose something outta that huge tome?

                              1. re: escargot3

                                I know it's massive, but the table of contents is very useful because she separates dishes by type not just ingredient. So you can look up dry chicken dishes, chicken curries, chicken dishes with greens ect.

                                I basically started with looking at the recipes of my favorite dishes, and also what veg and proteins I wanted to cook.

                                Her steamed turmeric and red peppercorn basmati rice has become a staple at our house.

                                The minty pot -roasted potato curry is great, we really like the tamarind chicken and the ginger chicken with citrus juices.

                                I love her section of spices and seasoning blends, and the one on chutneys and pickles ( that's how I figured out the recipe for a green chutney I got in a restaurant ).

                                I've had the book for at least 5 years and I did a decent amount of cooking from it but I haven't been cooking Indian lately. I love that it's not just curries and rice dishes but everything from chaat to drinks to desserts.

                            2. Hi,
                              You can try out Tarla Dalal's cookbook. I think it is nice solution as per your requirement..

                              1. http://www.indianfoodforever.com

                                If you're open to a online collection of recipes, I've been working my way through this website.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: HillJ


                                  It was this fun section sent to me by a friend's son that got me hooked on the recipe site. I thought the sentiment was kinda adorable.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    Question. I clicked over and was immediately drawn to the chilli cheese toast recipe (http://www.indianfoodforever.com/indi...).

                                    But what is the unit nos.? As in 8 nos. bread slices in the ingredient list.

                                    I have a feeling the answer is going to be something embarrassingly obvious...

                                    1. re: tcamp

                                      I was told that it refers to number of: green onions and the number of bulbs; ie: 4 bulbs of green onions, 8 slices of bread.

                                      1. re: tcamp

                                        That is 8 slices of bread with 2 green chilies per sandwich.

                                        1. re: JungMann

                                          oops missed the green chilies ingredients, thanks JungMann.

                                    1. Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran & Stephanie Lyness

                                      I found this by searching for a tamarind chutney recipe - how difficult that was to find. The recipe in this one is spot on.

                                      1. I have been using Julie Sahni's Savoring India (from the library) and so far I've really liked it. The various dals from different regions have been great to try. The photography is also gorgeous.

                                        The Mangalore egg curry I made last night was good but it did include cayenne pepper and I had the same question of whether that was typical. My family is from Goa and usually we would add actual chilies to make things spicy... but everyone has lived out of India for so long whose to say that is typical?

                                        My issue was that cayenne adds such a one-dimensional punch of heat. Is that normal in Southern Indian cooking? Or would is that a substitute for what's more commonly available in the west?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: heypielady

                                          That's a very interesting question! I have small southen indian cookbook that a niece of a friend wrote around 2000. Not too old. I'll check to see if she is using chilies or cayenne or whatever. Will post what I find out.

                                          1. re: herby

                                            OK, I flipped through many recipes - there is no mention of cayenne; sometimes chilli powder is used but more often fresh and dried chillies. Tamarind is used a lot and so are dals as ingredients and as a part of spice mixture. I need to cook from this book - many recipes sound great.

                                          2. re: heypielady

                                            Fresh green chillies add a completely different flavor than cayenne powder or indian red chilli powder. I make some items with both fresh green chillies and chilli powder, because of the flavor.