Cookbook Review

About the Author
    Monica Bhide, author of The Spice is Right: Easy Indian Cooking for Today as well as this new book, was born in India and moved to the United States in 1991. She is an established home chef and successful caterer who has been cooking Indian cuisine for over twenty years. She currently resides in the Washington, DC area with her husband, Sameer, and young son, Jai.
About the Cookbook
    When my husband recently returned from a business trip to India, instead of running to the first burger joint he could find (like many of his colleagues have done), he came home craving more Indian food! I was fortunate enough to have several good cookbooks to use as references and The Everything Indian Cookbook was the newest in my collection. Part of the "Everything Series", this recently-published cookbook follows a tried and true format that has been used throughout the series. Of course, what mattered most to me were the recipes!

    Having just returned from Hyderabad, I was a bit apprehensive about preparing Indian dishes for my husband. After all, he'd just been enjoying the "real thing" for a couple of weeks! I was thrilled, though, when I put together dishes like Bengali Jhal Muri (Puffed Rice Mix), Murgh Tikka Masala (Chicken Tikka Masala), Nimbu Wale Chawal (Lemon Rice) and Aloo Ka Parathas (Stuffed Bread with Potato Filling) and both my husband and I swooned! The recipes were easy to follow and additional tips and hints allowed me to tweak recipes when I felt more adventurous. I even tackled Aamraas (Mango Cream) when I decided that I needn't rely on our nearby Indian restaurants when the craving for this dreamy dessert hit again. It's a truly delicious treat that I've enjoyed over slightly softened vanilla ice cream or on its own. I think I shall soon be making the Aam Ki Kulfi (Mango Ice Cream) as the natural successor to the Mango Cream I've become addicted to!

    Here is a list of the chapters in the Table of Contents to give you some ideas about the type of themes included in The Everything Indian Cookbook:

    1. Basics of Indian Cooking
    2. Basic Recipes (Mool Vidhi)
    3. Starters and Snacks (Shurat)
    4. Drinks, Teas, and Soups (Sharbats, Chai, Aur Shorbas)
    5. Salads (Salaads)
    6. From the Vegetable Market (Subzi Mandi Se)
    7. Chicken and Egg (Murgh Aur Ande)
    8. Meat Dishes (Gosht)
    9. From the Gisherman's Net (Machwari Ke Jal Se)
    10. Rice Dishes (Chawal)
    11. Lentil and Yogurt Dishes (Dal Aur Kadhi)
    12. Bread Basket (Roti Ki Tori)
    13. Chutney, Pickles, and Papads (Kuch Saath Me)
    14. Sweet Talk (Meeti Meeti Batien)
    15. A Royal Feast (Raj Khana)

    While the 300 recipes are easy to follow and use techniques that will be familiar to most, there are some unusual ingredients called for and putting together a traditional Indian menu can be challenging to those unfamiliar with the cuisine. Therefore, the author - Monica Bhide - provides a glossary that explains unique items, an extensive list of resources for providing those items, and a suggested list of ten appropriate menus for different occasions that a great many cooks using the cookbook will be grateful for!

    To give you a taste of the kinds of recipes you can find in The Everything Indian Cookbook, here are a few choice examples for you to try out.

    Potato Curry

    Potato Curry (Assami Ril Do)
    • 10 small baby potatoes, peeled
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 2 teaspoons Ginger-Garlic Paste*
    • 1 dried chili, roughly pounded
    • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
    • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
    • 1/2 cup water
    • Table salt, to taste
    1. Boil the potatoes in water to cover until just fork-tender; drain. Lightly prick the potatoes with a fork. Set aside.
    2. In a large skillet, heat the oil on high. Add the Ginger-Garlic Paste and sauté for about 10 seconds. Add the dried red chili and tumeric; mix well. Add the tomatoes and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes.
    3. Add the yogurt and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the water and lower the heat. Cover, and cook for about 20 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve hot.
    * Recipe for Ginger-Garlic Paste provided in the cookbook. You may also use a jarred variety that is widely available at Asian grocery stores.
    • Yields: 4 servings
    • Preparation Time: 50 minutes

    Shrimp in Coconut Milk

    Shrimp in Coconut Milk (Chingri Maacher Malai Curry)
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
    • 2 cloves
    • 4 black peppercorns
    • 1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and sliced
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • Water, as needed
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 large red onion, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
    • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
    • Table salt, to taste
    1. In a spice grinder, roughly grind the bay leaf, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, ginger, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of water if needed.
    2. In a medium-sized skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the ground spice mixture and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the onions and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions are well browned.
    3. Add the tumeric and mix well. Add the shrimp and sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes, until no longer pink.
    4. Add the coconut milk and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the gravy starts to thicken. Remove from heat and serve hot.
    • Yields: 4 servings
    • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

    Creamy Red Lentils

    Creamy Red Lentils (Masoor Ki Dal)
    • Water, as needed
    • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
    • 1 teaspoon (or to taste) salt
    • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 cup red split red lentils (masoor dal), well rinsed
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
    1. In a deep pot, combine 4 cups of water, tumeric powder, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Bring to a boil. Add all the lentils and mix well. Bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are soft. If the water begins to dry out, add up to 1/2 cup more. (The consistency should be like a creamy soup.) Remove from heat.
    2. Using a spoon, mash the cooked lentils to a creamy consistency. Set aside.
    3. In a medium pan, heat the remaining vegetable oil. Add the cumin seeds. When they begin to sizzle, add the garlic and red chili powder; sauté for about 20 seconds.
    4. Remove from heat and pour over the lentils. Mix well and serve hot.
    • Yields: 4 servings
    • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

    For those familiar with Indian cuisine, The Everything Indian Cookbook provides a wide array of your favorite dishes with a simple recipe format that you'll appreciate. For those just dipping their toes in the vast ocean of Indian cooking, it offers to hold your hand and show you the way. If this describes you, I highly recommend carefully reading the first chapter, which provides an excellent guide to the basics of Indian cooking, and follow that up with a look through the glossary and the suggested menus (both near the end of the book) before tackling the recipes. These will give you the background necessary to feel more comfortable with the terms, techniques and tips used throughout the recipes. With that bit of advice given, I wish you many successes as you enjoy the delightful tastes that can be yours with The Everything Indian Cookbook!

Where to Buy
    If you are interested in purchasing the The Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide, you can buy it online right now for 30% off the list price by clicking here. The publisher's list price for the cookbook is $14.95.