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Any "French Laundry"-style Indian books?


phan1
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Well, I love the ideas of Indian food. I almost see them as the opposite of new French cuisine, with lots of ingredients, spices, and complex flavors. But from my limited experience, the food also lacks finesse. All the Indian cooking I've been experienced to (books, TV shows ect.) have always been about big overpowering flavors. LOTS of garlic, LOTS of chiles ect.

I was wondering if there was a French-Laundry-ish type of book out there that involves Indian cuisine. I remember a Micheline-starred Indian restaurant say that philosophically, "We add spices to food the same way you would add salt and pepper to steak." That's the type of Indian food I'd like to cook!

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I don't believe such a thing exists.

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. ‐ Salvador Dali

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You might want to take a look at Vij's: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine. I have not seen the book but I have read that their restaurant in Vancouver is noted for its elegant approach to Indian food. I doubt it is on a par with The French Laundry since this is a unique vision of Thomas Keller.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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To the best of my knowledge, one doesn't exist. The most contemporary ones I can think of, however, are "One Spice, Two Spice" from Tabla's chef Floyd Cardooz, "American Masala" from Devi's Suvir Saran, "Raji Cuisine" from Raji Jallepalli, and one a friend brought back from an Indian restaurant in England, "Le Porte des Indes Cookbook" from Mehernosh Mody. I also just saw this book on Amazon UK, "Indian Essence: The Fresh Tastes of India's New Cuisine (Hardcover)

by Atul Kochhar (Author)." That is probably the best place to search for cutting edge Indian cookbooks, as their Indian food has been more revolutionary than the US's since they've been doing it longer, and I'm guessing their books would be the same.

Ryan Jaronik

Executive Chef

Monkey Town

NYC

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There are five (!) Indian resturants in London that have Michelin stars. That might be a starting point for research on modern "haute cusine" Indian food.

Here is the list:

http://www.urbanpath.com/members/alpsboy/l...ants-in-london/

Edit: "Indian Essence" by Atul Kochhar listed above by ryanj is from a chef that has two Michelin starred Indian resturants.

Edited by TheSwede (log)
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There's some recipes on the BBC site that I've eaten at Benares that are as they are served in the restaurant. Worth a look...

(Here's one I've had..It was fantastic....)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database...bcr_82061.shtml

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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There are five (!) Indian resturants in London that have Michelin stars. That might be a starting point for research on modern "haute cusine" Indian food.

Here is the list:

http://www.urbanpath.com/members/alpsboy/l...ants-in-london/

Edit: "Indian Essence" by Atul Kochhar listed above by ryanj is from a chef that has two Michelin starred Indian resturants.

shows how ignorant I am!

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. ‐ Salvador Dali

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But from my limited experience, the food also lacks finesse. All the Indian cooking I've been experienced to (books, TV shows ect.) have always been about big overpowering flavors. LOTS of garlic, LOTS of chiles ect.

I'm wondering what you mean by Indian food and the lack of finesse. Is this assessment by appearance (watching shows, reading books, etc.)? Is it by taste of food that you've made or seen made? To me, the methods of bringing together of so many different spices and components into cohesive, nuanced dishes is what continually amazes me about Indian cooking.

I don't mean to say that my opinion is definitive- I think I simply may be missing something in your perspective. Better understanding might help with providing a good book recommendation. What also might be helpful is if you describe Indian dishes that you enjoy and would like to make.....

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But from my limited experience, the food also lacks finesse. All the Indian cooking I've been experienced to (books, TV shows ect.) have always been about big overpowering flavors. LOTS of garlic, LOTS of chiles ect.

I'm wondering what you mean by Indian food and the lack of finesse. Is this assessment by appearance (watching shows, reading books, etc.)? Is it by taste of food that you've made or seen made? To me, the methods of bringing together of so many different spices and components into cohesive, nuanced dishes is what continually amazes me about Indian cooking.

I don't mean to say that my opinion is definitive- I think I simply may be missing something in your perspective. Better understanding might help with providing a good book recommendation. What also might be helpful is if you describe Indian dishes that you enjoy and would like to make.....

Well for example, I watched an Indian Cooking show with Gary Rhodes. There was a top Indian Chef there and he just kept adding huge amounts of garlic and chile to everything. Even Rhodes was like, "Are you serious?" And this chef was holding back from how he normally cooks too! From my experience, the spices and aromatics are what play the main role, not the meat. Heck, it's like meat is used as a thickener more than anything else. The Indian cuisine I've been exposed to is just too rustic and out-dated for me. We don't need heavy spices to preserved meat anymore. But I absolutely fell in love with the Indian food at a fine, contemporary restaurant I went to once. Conversely, the Indian food I've had at cheaper, rustic places would make you grow hair on your feet and cause you to smell for days...

But this is only what I've been exposed to. I do know that Indian cooking can be very elegant without being terribly over-powering. The problem is, I just haven't been exposed to enough of it, especially here in the USA. I decided to purchase one of Atul Kochhar's books and "The Cinnamon Club". The type of Indian food I'm looking for is in Britain, hehe. Thanks for the advice guys!

Edited by phan1 (log)
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If you do decide to come over to the UK, remember that many of our great Indian restaurants are in the provincial cities. I've eaten at the starred places in London and definitely worth going to. But I've had as good or better meals in Birmingham, Manchester & Glasgow.

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Sorry you've had offensive experiences with Indian food, phan1. I do have to say that "huge amounts" of spices does not necessarily equal "overpowering" if the end result is to come up with a dish that is balanced in flavor and texture. While we often think about balancing hot, sour, salty, sweet and umami, Indian cooking often plays spices and aromatics like onions and garlic off of each other.

I think a lot comes down to the quality of ingredients (cheap, stale spices = blech) and, more importantly, personal taste. It sounds like you've been to places that didn't strike a good balance on your palate- which is unfortunate because Indian food can be so wonderful! I hope that in your hands, Indian food will be satisfying to cook and eat. :smile:

Maybe this book will be up your alley- I personally haven't tried anything from it but it appears to take a unique approach to Indian cooking:

Modern Indian Cooking by Hari Nayak and Vikas Khanna

Hope you enjoy The Cinnamon Club- let us know what you think!

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Well, I love the ideas of Indian food.  I almost see them as the opposite of new French cuisine, with lots of ingredients, spices, and complex flavors.  But from my limited experience, the food also lacks finesse.  All the Indian cooking I've been experienced to (books, TV shows ect.) have always been about big overpowering flavors.  LOTS of garlic, LOTS of chiles ect.

I was wondering if there was a French-Laundry-ish type of book out there that involves Indian cuisine.  ....

Generally the cooking of the Indian sub-continent IS about big flavours - but also about harmonising and tempering them.

Again, generalising widely, meat is a luxury in India, and not used in the same spirit as it is in the USA. Even among the wealthiest.

There is quite a difference between the different regions, and I'd advise seeking out restaurants and books that offer a regional, rather than a continental, outlook. Ever been to a restaurant that specialised in "European" cooking, rather than specifying French, Italian, Greek, Swedish or whatever? Would it likely be the pinnacle of achievement for anything?

There's a similarly big difference between the cooking of, for example, Kashmir, Bengal and Kerala - there is a lot of diversity in a big, crowded continent - before one begins super-imposing different religious cultures. Let alone seeking artistic refinement of those cuisines.

I wonder if you might be interested in the luxurious (and approachable - its for real, not some artificial "fusion") cooking style found in the tiny former French possessions in India? If so, this might be the book for you...

http://www.blueelephant.com/pi/london/cook_book.html

its the book of the fairly 'fancy' Franco-Indian (London) restaurant called "La Porte des Indes"...

There are links at top left of that page to various menus, showing the 'house style' of dishes.

That book is on Amazon (US & others) http://www.amazon.com/Porte-Indes-Cookbook.../dp/1862056439/

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well Cinnamon Club and Simple Indian came in the other day! The Cinnamon Club was EXACTLY the type of Indian book I was looking for! You learn a good deal philosophically as well. We hear the author's love of the elegance, simplicity, and constant evolution of French cuisine and how he tries to apply it to Indian cuisine. A great book to learn from, which is the most important thing that I want from a cookbook. Simple Indian from Kochhar is good as well, but it's mostly a recipe book. The pictures are gorgeous though, and it's a nice buy.

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There is no definitive cookbook on Indian Cuisine. Why? It would be like a definitive cookbook on American Cuisine, or Chinese Cuisine. It's too broad a subject. You can grab several books and get a good approximation of the subtle varieties of the different regions. Nothing is all chilies and garlic, although they are used.

I am not phrasing things right here, I have four little guys and three are sick, so it's not my best effort, sorry.

I love some of the collections above. I'm going to be buying some this week.

This is what is in my collection. I make Indian food about twice a week. I rarely repeat in one year.

I love anything by Mudhar Jaffrey. She's accessible, informative and interesting. She's also well trained and seeks out good flavor with balance. Indian Cooking is the one I would have on my shelf if I could have only one of her books, but honestly, I would save them all in a fire.

I love, Lord Krishna's Cuisine. LOVE IT. It really covers a broad range of cooking and the flavor of the dishes is distinct. This is a vegetarian cookbook, but many Indians are vegetarian, although that is a broad brush statement that tends to define a country that cannot be defined and therefor slightly unfair.

Cooking at Home with Pedatha is a Gourmand winner for best vegetarian cookbook in the world winner, and focuses on South Indian Flavors. Nice for Thalis.

Samayal: The Pleasures of South Indian Vegetarian Cooking, is another award winner. One of the wags on Amazon was complaining that the book uses too many Indian Terms. For example the words, "Hing Powder" really bothered them. So, if you're a baby Indian foodie, this book my bug you, but if you know that Hing powder is asafoetida powder, then you should be set. Honestly, it takes me all of thirty seconds to Google the unfamiliar and if I want dumbed down for the scared cause they can't buy it in Walmart types, then I would use the Betty Crocker Indian Cookbook. Shudder.

Not putting WalMart down. If that's all you got that's all you got, and you make due, but it's not my first choice for authenticity in ingredients.

Edited by nliedel (log)

Blog.liedel.org

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You might want to take a look at Vij's: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine

I too have this book and have eaten at his restaurant several times. The book is a compendium of receipes from his 2 restaurants.

I can highly recommend the book. I have made several of the receipes and never had a disappointment. In fact I made a multiple dish Indian dinner about a month ago and used this book extensively. It is excellent.

Life is short, eat dessert first

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You might have a look at Prashad. There are restaurant chef contributors from different regions of India presenting their specialties. It takes into account the different methods (handi etc). and has several very good basic "gravy' recpices that can be used as a base for veg, fish or meat recipes. Its very informative and the recipes I have tried are delilcious. The pictures are good but some have somewhat lurid tones.

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