Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cookbook of the week #3: Charmaine Solomon's Indian Cookbook

I love Indian food, from the meat dishes of the north to the hot vegetable dishes of the south. My favourite ethnic restaurant in Reykjavík is an Indian/Pakistani place called Shalimar which serves authentic Indian food, both meat and vegetarian dishes.

Cardamom Chai (spiced milk tea), Lassi (buttermilk drink with flavouring), Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower dry curry), Rogan Josh (red lamb curry), and a spicy chick pea dry curry for which I don't know the Indian name, are part of my kitchen repertoire. I know how to cook chappatis, and I have cooked various other classic Indian dishes, such as Aloo Mattar Samosas (potato and pea-filled deep fried savoury pastries), Tandoori chicken, Koftas (meatballs in yogurt sauce), several different Dhal (lentil) dishes and Raitas (yogurt dip), the westernised Chicken Tikka Masala (possibly the world's most popular curry) and the Anglo-Indian Kedgeree, which I have never been able to stomach as a breakfast dish like the British, but will happily have for lunch.

On the other hand I have never made a Pilau or a Biriani (I'm not even sure what the difference is), Naan bread, Balti dishes, chutney of any kind, Indian kebabs (except a kebab version of Tandoori chicken), and the only Korma dish I have made is the abovementioned Koftas. I have never even tried Pakoras, Vindaloo dishes or an Indian fish or pork dish of any kind and I have only tried one kind of Indian sweet, which I had to eat for the sake of being polite while very sick, so I don't remember what they were like. (I do like halwah, but have never tried a specifically Indian kind).

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This book offers recipes from all over India, plus a handy guide to common ingredients and spices, a guide to cooking methods, and recipes for several common spice mixes used in the dishes. While my dream Indian cookbook is Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking, this one (and the two others I have) will do just fine until I get my hands on Sahni's book.

The possible recipe choices:

Pakoras (vegetable fritters). I don't know why, but I never tried these snacks while I was travelling in Pakistan and India, perhaps because I had developed quite an appetite for samosas. A strong contender for recipe of the week.
Thosai (South Indian lentil and rice pancakes).
Rajasthani Pilau (spicy rice).
Mattar Pilau (rice and peas, Uttar Pradesh style).
Moti Pilau (spiced rice with meatballs, Uttar Pradesh style).
Alu Mattar Rasa (Utter Pradesh-style potato and pea curry).
Cho Chori (Bengali spicy dry vegetables).
Dhal Mulegoo Thani (South Indian lentil soup (the basis for Mulligatawny?)).
Machchi Do Piaza (Bengali curried fish).
Jhinga Kari (Keralan hot prawn curry).
Chingri Kari (Bengali prawn mustard curry).
Tikka Kebab (North Indian chicken kebab, the basis for Chicken Tikka Masala).
Murgh Vindaloo (Goan chicken vinegar curry).
Shami Kebab (minced lamb and lentil patties, Uttar Pradesh style).
Seekh Kebab (North Indian minced meat on skewers). I first tasted minced meat kebab in Iran, where I didn't catch what it was called, but when I later tasted the Indian seekh kebab, I realised it was basically the same dish. Whatever its name or nationality, I love it but have never got round to trying to cook it, so this is a strong contender.
Kid Josh (Maharashtran Parsi-style curried lamb with cashews and coconut milk).
Tabak Maaz (Kashmiri spiced lamb ribs).
Badam Kheer (Utter Pradesh-style creamed almonds).

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