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Indian Cookbooks


rajsuman
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I’d recommend anything by Madhur Jaffery, she’s my all time favourite. 
I just did a quick count and found 27 in my various shelves, I’m sure there’s more lurking around.

Another favourite is by Meena Pathak (of the famous chutney and paste maker Pataks).

oops, just found 6 more :)

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3 minutes ago, sartoric said:

I’d recommend anything by Madhur Jaffery, she’s my all time favourite. 
I just did a quick count and found 27 in my various shelves, I’m sure there’s more lurking around.

 

I'll second that.

 

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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Back in the late 1960s, in Scotland, although there were a few "Indian" restaurants around, most of the required ingredients were not available to the home cook. Nor were there many, if any, cookbooks aimed at home cooks. Then around 1970, an "Indian" market opened in Glasgow near where I was living. On the same street as me.

I investigated but could hardly recognise anything and everything was labelled in Hindi, sometimes with romanised tranliterations. What the hell was "methi", "dhaniya", "jeera", "haldi" etc⁈. And why didn't they have any curry powder? I gave up.

 

As I was leaving, I spotted a pile of little yellow books on a shelf. More like booklets. Who knows why, but I picked one up. It was a badly typeset recipe book apparently written in what the author thought was English. I bought one. It cost almost nothing.

I went home and forgot about it until weeks later when I came across it while looking for something else. I began to read it. Seemed a bit strange but I could understand it. I got to the last page and there found a list of all those unknown Hindi names with English equivalents.

So, I tried some of the more promising recipes, meticulously following the instructions.The results were awful. Over watery, bland and barely edible. I checked the recipes over and over to see if I had overlooked anything, but it seemed not.

 

A couple of years later, I went to India for just over a year. There, I found that a lot of the food I was served in small restaurants was just like those awful recipes. I have to say the worst Indian food I have ever eaten was in India!

Roll on ten years and I returned to India for a shorter visit. I braced myself for culinary hell, but things had improved immensely. I still got a few bum deals, but they were now the exception.

And back home, more and more "Indian" restaurants and markets appeared. Then a trickle of proper recipe books turned into a flood. The first I bought after the yellow disaster was Madhur Jaffrey's 1973 debut publication, An Invitation to Indian Cooking (eG-friendly Amazon.com link). I still have it. First edition. It's in London, though.

 

No idea what happened to the yellow peril, though.

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

So, I tried some of the more promising recipes, meticulously following the instructions.The results were awful. Over watery, bland and barely edible. I checked the recipes over and over to see if I had overlooked anything, but it seemed not.

 

A couple of years later, I went to India for just over a year. There, I found that a lot of the food I was served in small restaurants was just like those awful recipes. I have to say the worst Indian food I have ever eaten was in India!

 

 

This made me chuckle. My only Indian cookbook is Vij's Indian Cuisine. As beloved and well-used as it is (I even have it signed), the recipes all call for cups and cups of water to be added, an instruction which I have always been perplexed by and omitted to great effect

 

Quote

I'll also add that last one is a Phaidon book and I've found many of their cookbooks to be beautiful to look at but poorly edited from a cook's perspective. 

 

 I have been looking for someone to say this for ages. Thought it was just me but I got so upset by their recipes that I gave away all my Phaidon books (although looking at what Noma sells for nowadays I deeply regret that one....)

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@KennethT do you have an NYPL library card? Because I'm looking right now at their portal (via the Libby app) on my iPad, and they have what appears to be over 100 Indian cookbooks to borrow on line. You get them for 2 weeks, and they are renewable. No less than 4 of Madhur Jaffrey's (and one of Suvir's!, which I've actually read).

 

I find this free (!), easy-to-use tool to be a great resource. One can read the book and/or use the recipes and then decide if you want/need a hard copy (or, I guess, an eBook (though I personally don't buy eBooks)) to own. Many of the older books are available for pennies on the dollar thru Alibris, eBay, and other usual suspects.

 

Regarding the Foods of the World series, I don't find myself cooking from them (though years ago before my cookbook collection expanded, the little spiral bounds were good to have). With some wonderful writers and editors (and there were MANY who contributed), they can be quite an enjoyable read. Authenticity is often not their strongest point, as they were written for an American audience, and back then ingredient procurement was a bit more of an issue than it is today. But some the pictures: WOW;  especially if one grew up with Life Magazine!

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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

@KennethT do you have an NYPL library card? Because I'm looking right now at their portal (via the Libby app) on my iPad, and they have what appears to be over 100 Indian cookbooks to borrow on line. You get them for 2 weeks, and they are renewable. No less than 4 of Madhur Jaffrey's (and one of Suvir's!, which I've actually read).

 

I find this free (!), easy-to-use tool to be a great resource. One can read the book and/or use the recipes and then decide if you want/need a hard copy (or, I guess, an eBook (though I personally don't buy eBooks)) to own. Many of the older books are available for pennies on the dollar thru Alibris, eBay, and other usual suspects.

 

Regarding the Foods of the World series, I don't find myself cooking from them (though years ago before my cookbook collection expanded, the little spiral bounds were good to have). With some wonderful writers and editors (and there were MANY who contributed), they can be quite an enjoyable read. Authenticity is often not their strongest point, as they were written for an American audience, and back then ingredient procurement was a bit more of an issue than it is today. But some the pictures: WOW;  especially if one grew up with Life Magazine!

Yes, and I looked at their selection - I just go online to their website nypl.org and log in - then I can search, put stuff on hold, etc.  My first entry into Singaporean Nyonya cooking was a book that I borrowed from the library.  I have a couple things on hold right now, waiting for them to bring to my local - who knows how long that will take nowadays.  I have Suvir's book and one Jaffrey book on hold....

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34 minutes ago, KennethT said:

I have a couple things on hold right now, waiting for them to bring to my local - who knows how long that will take nowadays.  I have Suvir's book and one Jaffrey book on hold....

I wonder if it's the same selection?  That is, do they offer more books available to borrow on line vs. actual hard copies, which you then go pick up?

 

My wife loves to hold the books in her hand, so she does what you mention - and what's great for her is that the library is right next door! It really doesn't take that long for her to get the books she requests; that is, if every other copy isn't already out on loan.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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9 minutes ago, weinoo said:

I wonder if it's the same selection?  That is, do they offer more books available to borrow on line vs. actual hard copies, which you then go pick up?

 

My wife loves to hold the books in her hand, so she does what you mention - and what's great for her is that the library is right next door! It really doesn't take that long for her to get the books she requests; that is, if every other copy isn't already out on loan.

Through their website, I can do both - I can actually search their complete catalog, including physical books that they don't loan - like in the research section.  If I remember correctly, that Nyonya cook book was not on loan - I had to go to the main branch on 42nd St. and read it in one of their reading areas - I could take notes or make photocopies, but then had to return it before I left the building.  I can also "borrow" what they have in their electronic catalog and either download it, or read it through a web browser.

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1 hour ago, KennethT said:

Dishoom?  Can you be a bit more specific?

 

Dishoom: The first ever cookbook from the much-loved Indian restaurant (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) by Shamil Thakrar, his cousin Kavi Thakrar and chef Naved Nasir

 

It's quite a wonderful book. It's full of photos and stories (and even a fold-out map) that paint a picture of the cafés, restaurants and vibrant cosmopolitan life of south Bombay.  It's written as a day long tour beginning with breakfast and going through multiple dinners, snacks, sweets and cocktails.   All the recipes are from the Dishoom restaurants in the UK and many tend to be on the rich side - their signature house black daal is finished with a healthy dollop of double cream! 

It's a wonderful read.  I just started cooking from the book and prepped some ingredients yesterday: 

IMG_4440.thumb.jpeg.c7825fdacbbf4bf64b20ae95cd7102f9.jpeg

 

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2 hours ago, KennethT said:

Dishoom?  Can you be a bit more specific?

 

Last year, there was a good interview with Dishoom author Shamil Thakrar hosted by LA cookbook shop Now Serving.  It's worth a listen, both about the book and their restaurants.

You should be able to access the recorded Zoom event here.  If that link doesn't work, go to Now Serving's Event Recordings Page and scroll down to 6/1/20

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  • 5 months later...

After reading through this thread, I'm buying Camellia Panjabi's 50 Great Curries of India and KM Mathew's Flavours of the Spice Coast. 

 

Dishoom is indeed a lovely book. It's more than half a travelogue for a Parsi Bombay that is fading away but will never die, and partly a cookbook. The nostalgia is evocative and well written. Very beautiful photography of crumbling bourgeois Parsi grandeur. As a boy who grew up with chipped Formica tables, exposed wiring, raw brass taps and limewashed walls, I can tell you these things are nicer through a tourist or NRI* lens.

The recipes work very well. I've made several dishes and each turned out delicious. I aim to make my way through most of this book.

 

I've been toying with buying Madhur Jaffrey's book, so I was excited when she popped up on Masterclass. I made her Goan prawn curry and was underwhelmed. It lacked complexity, intensity and depth. The show is probably not aimed at me. Perhaps her books are better.

 

*NRI is Non-resident Indian.

 

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Well look who I found lurking between Rick Stein and, uh, Jamie Oliver. IMG_20220322_210132.thumb.jpg.f82c68b94bbfd33699ce25dee9524c45.jpg

 

I knew I'd seen the name before! Wow this is pretty hardcore. No pretty photography, no stories introducing the recipes, and no substitutions for what you can find in Tesco, because it is intended for the young housewife in Kerala just starting out. To be honest I've always found it a bit intimidating, but I will gather my courage and find something to have a go at!

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8 hours ago, Kerala said:

 

I've been toying with buying Madhur Jaffrey's book, so I was excited when she popped up on Masterclass. I made her Goan prawn curry and was underwhelmed. It lacked complexity, intensity and depth. The show is probably not aimed at me. Perhaps her books are better.

 

I have 2 older books of hers - more Pan-Asian vegetarian and another overview of various cuisines.(titles unkniwn as in storage) Her stories and descriptions are lovely but I think she tries to make the cuisines accessible for "foreigners" Does not sound like you fit that demographic. 

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I got my copy of Dishoom in the post yesterday. Jumped right in making Chicken Berry Britannia from page 232.

It was delicious despite no cranberries. E38664BA-6660-4D08-9A82-770129F0C048.thumb.jpeg.a320320399d65134229feb988b2794be.jpeg

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I agree, @heidih

I make Rick Stein's Spanish dishes and Marcella Hazan's Italian recipes, and they taste mighty fine to me. Who knows what Spanish and Italian natives would think. I know Marcella goes off-piste, for example garlic in her carbonara. Both writers have brought a great deal of joy to non-Italian/Spanish cooks and their families. I know Madhur Jaffrey opened many eyes to the variety of Indian food. Let's get rid of metaphors, she opened mouths. But, as you say, I'm not her target demographic.

-------

Just want to clarify, there is no garlic in my carbonara any more.

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35 minutes ago, sartoric said:

I got my copy of Dishoom in the post yesterday. Jumped right in making Chicken Berry Britannia from page 232.

It was delicious despite no cranberries. E38664BA-6660-4D08-9A82-770129F0C048.thumb.jpeg.a320320399d65134229feb988b2794be.jpeg

Oh yes! Jump right in, everyone!

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5 hours ago, Kerala said:

Well look who I found lurking between Rick Stein and, uh, Jamie Oliver. IMG_20220322_210132.thumb.jpg.f82c68b94bbfd33699ce25dee9524c45.jpg

 

I knew I'd seen the name before! Wow this is pretty hardcore. No pretty photography, no stories introducing the recipes, and no substitutions for what you can find in Tesco, because it is intended for the young housewife in Kerala just starting out. To be honest I've always found it a bit intimidating, but I will gather my courage and find something to have a go at!

 

Amazon shows Kerala Cookery as out of stock.  How about (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) or http://B089CQNP8Z?

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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