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Chris Hennes

Cooking with Madhur Jaffrey's Vegetarian India

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A few weeks ago I checked out a copy of Madhur Jaffrey's Vegetarian India from the library, and it is well on its way to earning a permanent place in my collection. I've really enjoyed the recipes I've cooked from it so far, and thought I'd share a few of them here. Of course, if anyone else has cooked anything from the book please share your favorites here, too.

 

To kick things off, something that appears in nearly every meal I've cooked this month... a yogurt dish such as

 

Simple Seasoned Yogurt, South Indian-Style (p. 324)

 

Simple Seasoned Yogurt, South Indian-style.jpg

 

 

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Indian vegetarian food has been a favorite  cuisine in our house ever since I bought Yamuna Devi's doorstop of a book, The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. I have put the Madhur Jaffrey book on my list to buy in the US the next time we drive north. It's a little tricky to get the necessary ingredients but I have a lot of the special seasonings already and I can always stock up when I find myself in the right kind of grocery store. There are many fine cuisines in the world, but I think Indian vegetarian food should be on that list. In my mind one of the great cuisines of the world. So cook away and share with us your favorites. My  mouth is watering already.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

 

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Hooray for you, Chris Hennes, and I look forward to reading about your Indian cooking experiences.  DH and I both love Indian food...but I don't cook it.  And I don't really know why.  And living in Ontario Canada, even outside a small city, we have access to several decent Indian food restaurants and all the ingredients we could need.  So why don't I cook Indian food?  ????

 

So, I am going to be inspired by your delving deeply into the subject and will no doubt start to cook this wonderful and so varied cuisine.  My thanks to you, good sir.

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@Nancy in Pátzcuaro  Devi's book is amazing.  Had it since 1989.  I don't think I have cooked a bad dish from that book.  The only thing I miss are the onions.  No onions whatsoever in the recipes. http://www.krishna.com/why-no-garlic-or-onions

 


Edited by Okanagancook (log)

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 For those who are interested in learning more about her recipes but don’t have the book,  there are quite a number on-line.  Many are from reviews of the book by very reliable sources. 


Edited by Anna N (log)
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12 hours ago, Okanagancook said:

@Nancy in Pátzcuaro  Devi's book is amazing.  Had it since 1989.  I don't think I have cooked a bad dish from that book.  The only think I miss are the onions.  No onions whatsoever in the recipes. http://www.krishna.com/why-no-garlic-or-onions

 

The subtitle of Devi's book is "Lord Krishna's Cuisine." In that cuisine onion and garlic flavor, though not the texture, is supplied by asafetida. This seems to be a case of mixing spiritual practice with food, much as other faiths have restrictions on what they don't consume and why. It's fine by me,  though I agree that onion and garlic are two of the essential ingredients. Does all Indian vegetarian food avoid onion and garlic or is Lord Krishna's Cuisine the only one? I admit to being ignorant of other styles. This book has always satisfied my craving for Indian food.

 

Yeah, my copy of the book is heavily annotated and some pages are badly stained. The book falls open at favorite recipes. I have a friend who's vegan, and Indian food is one of his faves. It's a great choice for vegetarians and vegans.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro (where there is no Indian food if I don't cook it)

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13 hours ago, Nancy in Pátzcuaro said:

Does all Indian vegetarian food avoid onion and garlic or is Lord Krishna's Cuisine the only one?

 Definitely not. Onions are very prominent in many vegetarian dishes. One must remember that India is a very large  continent and I believe that even Madhur Jaffrey  pointed out that there is not an Indian cuisine but many, many Indian cuisines. 


Edited by Anna N Fix the spelling of last name (log)
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9 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Onions are very prominent

 

Indeed. I remember that two or three years ago there was great social unrest and near riots in India when the onion harvest failed.

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

 Definitely not. Onions are very prominent in many vegetarian dishes. One must remember that India is a very large  continent and I believe that even Madhur Jaffery  pointed out that there is not an Indian cuisine but many, many Indian cuisines. 

There are some specific religions and sub-cultures that avoid onions and garlic. The Jains spring to mind, and I know there are more. Nation-wide, though, onions are a commonly used ingredient and in fact onions taken past the caramelized stage to dry/crisp are a common garnish on many dishes. Indian stores often sell them prepared in a bag so you can just sprinkle them and save the tedious watching and stirring. 

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Indeed, most of the recipes in this book have either onions or shallots in them. Garlic is less common, but not omitted entirely. These recipes are home cooking that she encountered in her travels throughout the country and represent a great diversity of cuisines from various parts of India. 

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I have a friend who comes from a family where eating onions and garlic was forbidden for religious reasons.  As @chromedome mentioned the Jains also do not eat onions and garlic but my friend said the reasons were different:  the Jains abstain in order to avoid the chance of eating small creatures.  Her family's religion abstains because of the negative spiritual effect of alliums.

 

My friend married into a family who do eat alliums.  Her practice now is to fast from garlic and onions one day a week.

 

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Many ingredients have health related beliefs behind them....a very old cuisine.

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Green Lentil Curry with Kale (p. 140)

 

This one's got garlic and shallots in it (both in small amounts), as well as cumin, coriander and of course, turmeric. 

 

Green Lentil Curry with Kale.jpg

 

 

Peas and Potatoes Cooked in a Bihari Style (p. 103)

 

Onion, but no garlic. Cumin, ginger, turmeric, green chiles. I have a lot of frozen peas at the moment, so I'm using this opportunity to use up some of them.

 

Peas and Potatoes Cooked in a Bihari Style.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Chapatis (p. 219)

 

These are basically a whole-wheat tortilla, so I was in familiar territory here. Here's one cooking:

Chapati - Cooking.jpg

 

They puff up just like tortillas do. And the finished product:

Chapati - Finished.jpg

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Chickpeas in a Simple Northern Style (p. 132)

 

The recipe calls for canned chickpeas, but I used dried and just cooked them as I usually do. This is one of the few dishes that didn't need curry leaves, so I made it early on before I had a chance to go to my Indian grocer: all the ingredients are readily available at a normal US supermarket. I found that this recipe comes out a bit saucier than her photo shows, the text calls for quite a bit of liquid. I added less than was called for, but still had more liquid than appears on p. 133.

 

Chickpeas in a Simple Northern Style.jpg

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Potatoes Cooked in a Banarasi Style (p. 107)

 

No onions or garlic here: asafetida, mustard, cumin, ginger, coriander, turmeric, fresh chilies, chili powder, amchoor, and garam masala.

Potatoes Cooked in a Banarasi Style.jpg

 

 

Simple Marwari-Style Peas (p. 101)

 

Cumin, ginger, black pepper, and fresh chilies.

Simple Marwari-Style Peas.jpg

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On 1/29/2018 at 7:07 PM, Chris Hennes said:

Chapatis (p. 219)

 

These are basically a whole-wheat tortilla, so I was in familiar territory here. Here's one cooking:

Chapati - Cooking.jpg

 

They puff up just like tortillas do. And the finished product:

Chapati - Finished.jpg

I love making chapatis--it's great fun watching them puff up in the oven. Turns out you can make up a big batch of the dough and store it in the fridge for when you want a few for your dal. In my experience the dough is improved, both in taste and puff-ability, by resting for a day or two in the fridge.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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Bread Upma (p. 208)

 

This was an unexpected dish for me, I've never had anything quite like it. In texture it reminded me a bit of bread stuffing, but of course with India flavors. I made it with the Modernist Bread Compleat Wheat bread, which is terrific.

Bread Upma.jpg

 

 

Rice with Dill and Peas (p. 174)

 

Rice with Dill and Peas.jpg

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Spinach Raita (p. 330)

 

I'm trying to branch out here and not always make the same raita -- she has several in the book, of course, and I've never met I raita I didn't like. No exception here...

 

Spinach Raita p330.jpg

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Spicy Paneer Slices (p. 9)

 

Coated with turmeric, chili powder, and flour, then fried.

 

Spicy Paneer Slices.jpg

 

 

Goan Potatoes (p. 110)

 

Only whole spices in this one (except for the asafetida). Urad dal, mustard, cumin, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, fresh chilies, and onion.

 

Goan Potatoes.jpg

 

 

Vegetable Biryani with Cauliflower, Carrots, and Peas (p. 193)

 

You don't really get a sense of it from the photo, but there is actually quite a lot of cauliflower in this biryani. She makes it in an unconventional way in an attempt to simplify the process, basically cooking the vegetables completely separately from the rice and only combining them when serving.

 

Vegetable Biryani with Cauliflower, Carrots and Peas.jpg

 

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I've been eyeing the spicy paneer. I have a gallon of milk sitting in the fridge that's about to go bad.

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Eggs in a Mustard Sauce (p. 284)

 

This is a very mustardy dish, with three tablespoons of dry mustard to four eggs. It's got other spices in it of course, but the mustard dominates.

 

Eggs in a Mustard Sauce.jpg

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Thin Rice Noodles with Lemon and Peas (p. 270)

 

This was a pretty different flavor combination from the others in the book: quite heavy on the lemon, which was delicious. I added a bit of water at the end to make it a bit saucier, hers was too dry for my tastes.

 

Thin Rice Noodles with Lemon and Peas.jpg

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