Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cooking Indian Food at Home

photograph picture Healthy Indian Cooking Recipe book by shehzad husain and Manisha Kanani

The other weekend Fred and I invited eleven friends to our house for a housewarming dinner. Although I had cooked Indian food for many of them before, they all love it so much I knew they wouldn't mind if I repeated myself.

The only recipe book I currently have for cooking Indian food is called Healthy Indian Cooking by Shehzad Husain and Manisha Kanani. It is a really great book. Not only does every recipe have a large colour photograph, there are also smaller pictures illustrating each step of the recipe too.

There are over 150 recipes, including a variety of meat, seafood and vegetable curries and other spiced dishes. The reason I am particular fan is that each dish tastes markedly different. A lot of care has been taken to make each recipe unique. Although the book sells itself on being healthy, you wouldn't necessarily notice. If you prefer something richer you can easily adapt the recipes by using butter and cream instead of the oil and low fat yoghurt suggested.

This book also shows you how to blend your own curry powders, garam masala, curry and tikka pastes. Making, instead of buying, these essentials will ensure your curries are wonderfully fragrant with optimum flavour.

There are recipes in this book I have made over and over again. Spicy Spring Lamb Roast, Tarka Dhal and Basmati Rice with Peas & Curry Leaves are my three absolute favourites. Others I really love and keep returning to include Chicken Tikka Masala, Prawn Curry and Stuffed Baby Vegetables.

photograph picture organising your spices before making a curry recipe

You have to be organised when you cook Indian food. First make sure you have all the spices you'll need. This means carefully going through recipes in advance and writing down how much of each spice is necessary for all of the recipes you will be making. Tot up the totals and make sure you have enough of everything in stock. If not, visit your local Indian Market for cheap supplies of all the dry goods you'll need.

For our recent dinner I made at least nine different dishes from this recipe book. To ensure success and make my life easier I knew I had to plan ahead. The day before cooking I measured all of the spices for each of the dishes into bowls which I wrapped up and labeled with the matching recipe. This task took well over an hour, but it certainly made the cooking procedure less stressful the following day.

photograph picture of peace and serenity and organisation in the kitchen

All this talk of curry made me hungry for another Indian recipe book. So, without any recommendations whatsoever, I brashly bounded over to Amazon and ordered one that took my fancy. I am sure I will share it with you all when it arrives, but in the meantime, what about you? Do you have an Indian recipe book you know and love? If you will, let us know about your own particular favourite and the reason you cherish it so much. Thank you for your comments.

Indian Curry and Spice Week logo

posted in and and and and and
Cooking Indian Food at Home


  • At 21/4/05 09:19, Blogger Stephanie said…

    I checked with Matt to be sure, and at first he said he'd recommend Julie Sahni and Madhur Jaffrey. Then he realized he wasn't really that happy with either, and we need new/better Indian cookbooks!

  • At 21/4/05 10:36, Blogger Owen said…

    I like Madhur Jaffrey but her books are a bit hit and miss. The best by far is Quick and Easy Indian Cooking - it is relatively low cost and has tips about how to substitute when you can't get slightly esoteric ingredients. I've made about twelve dishes from it (that's a lot for me - I don't tend to follow recipes very well - well at all really) and they have all been very good. I just got a new book and will post what it is here later. The girls got it in London after a walking tour of Southall with the author and I must say it LOOKS to be fantastic...

  • At 21/4/05 11:32, Blogger Rachael Narins said…

    I have the insanely comprehensive Lord Krishna's Cuisine, The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. Obviously, its veggie, but since something like 85 of Indians are too, its a great place to start. Every recipe I have tried has been a winner. Of course, what I have that is even better is an Indian friend who's mother is always thrilled to have me help out in her kitchen. It is, hands down the BEST way to learn the cuisine.

  • At 21/4/05 18:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have to say that you cannot go wrong with any Madhur book. Being married to a Brit, I often make Indian. I have also made it for friends and I had to laugh when I saw your photo as that is *exactly* what I do. Tiny little bowls labelled with each spice mixture. Prep pays back in spades with Indian. I treasure my dani masala spice tin purchased in Manchester on one of our expeditions.
    I have at least three or four of Madhur's books as well s the one by Ismail merchant (which is also good) and they have never let me down. Even her latest, which covers Indonesia and Thailand as well, had very authentic recipes as I have made Thai from several other books before purchasing hers.
    I'm sure you have chosen wisely and I can't wait to see what they are.

  • At 23/4/05 20:24, Blogger Sam said…

    Thanks for all the tips everone, here are some more recipe book tips gathered on chowhound.

    My new book arrived. I will tell you all about it soon.

  • At 25/4/05 13:29, Blogger Nick Hawes said…

    I was given The New Curry Bible by Pat Chapman about a year ago, and it's a really interesting book. Pat provides 2 at least recipes for each dish: an "authentic" one, and a "restaurant" one. I've not had much of a chance to compare the results, but what I have cooked from it (Tarka Dahl and Vegetable Biriani) was great. It's quite fatty (we bought a huge tin of Ghee to keep up!), but the resulting flavour is awesome. The book is also full of gorgeous glossy pics of the dishes, and lots of small recipes for various spice combinations, sundries and side dishes. I'd recommend giving it a go, because it looks great on the shelf even if it doesn't get used all that often!

  • At 27/4/05 08:56, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam! You know, I have a few great Indian cookery books but find myself reaching for Julie Sahni's Savouring India more often than any other. Pat Chapman's books--sent to me from the UK--Tandoori Curry Cookbook and Balti Curry Cookbook and Shehzad Husein Complete Book of Indian Cooking are also great as are most Madhur Jaffrey books and Ismail Merchant's Passionate Meals.

  • At 19/6/05 01:20, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery (1982) has some gorgeous chicken dishes (try Goan-style Chicken with Roasted Coconut) and I find everything consistently good, wonderfully spiced. Indian Home Cooking by Jan Purser and Ajoy Joshi has a recipe for chai, Creamy lentil and split-pea dal, and great pictures.

  • At 30/3/06 05:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    though i'am a indian food fan, this book is new to me. Is this book available in India?

  • At 30/3/06 07:30, Blogger Sam said…

    I think it might be a British book, although it was given to me in the US. I do not actually know if it is available in India You might be able to buy it internationally over the internet, but I think it is a most probably a wersternised version of preparing Indian food.

  • At 1/1/07 23:05, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You have a very lovely post. Keep it tcoming

  • At 27/3/08 09:39, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fantastic blog. I've found some really useful tips and recipes on here. Thank you


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