INDIAN EVERY DAY
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 3 December 2020
Now the weather is cooling, it is time to cook warming wholesome foods, not just boring (in my opinion) stews with dumplings and the like, something more exciting and adventurous.
I adore Indian food and have decided that my wholesome fare would be based on this cuisine. I have never cooked any Indian fare in my life and so a book or books able to teach/inspire me were the order of the day. I opted for Fresh India just because I liked the look of it Ü
Comprising of 302 pages in hardcover, with vibrant coloured front and backboards in orange, green and white, measuring H25.75cmx W20.25cmx D2.5cm.
Meera’s introduction is a mere two pages long followed by a photo of her with, I presume, her mother and father (there is no reference to indicate who the companions are) her ‘mother’ has a wonderful homely smile that is so endearing!
There are helpful Weights & Measures and How to Use This Book pages.
10 Ways to Raise Your Game in the Kitchen gives tips and reassurance regarding the certain aspects involved. The chapters are headed: Starters & Snacks, Roots, Squashes, Tubers & other things, Gloriously Green, Aubergines, Salads, Egg & Cheese, Pulses, Rice, Breads, Pickles, Chutneys & Raitas, Puddings and finally Drinks. Each chapter begins with a full page narrative pertaining to what is about to follow. This of course can be skipped if you’re ‘not interested in the back ground chat of the writer’ as one reviewer put it. Each recipe begins with an introductory note detailing the origin of the recipe, how it was developed and what other recipe(s) will compliment the dish. Again this can also be skipped to view the recipe immediately below. After the recipes there is a page dedicated to Indian Health Remedies, which is intriguing. The Recommended Suppliers page that follows gives details of online retailers. Then there is a Thanks page followed by the index.
Another reviewer commented that ‘The recipes seemed tailored to the UK palate and some are at times odd combinations of ingredients. Certainly not authentic Indian vegetarian cooking’.
I concur that some are not authentic; they are either Meera’s inspiration or her interpretation of familiar recipes. There is also the use of canned chickpeas, frozen peas and rapeseed oil. Whilst I may not advocate their use, the majority of people these days do not have the time to soak and boil dried beans, nor shell fresh peas. Rapeseed oil has a high smoke point and has less saturated fat than ghee. That stated, there is no reason why one can’t modify the ingredients for the more time consuming and possible cholesterol inducing versions (!)
For example, I am vegan so for the Grand Vegetable Biryani I substituted the paneer cheese for firm tofu. Nothing is written in stone so there is nothing to stop the imagination and personal preferences from taking over. Substitution isn’t a crime, whether by an author or the person reading.
Looking at the recipes, there is too much salt being used (my opinion). Consequently, I have refrained from adding any salt at all and let the combination of spices and produce do the talking; so far it has worked. However, in the 10 Ways to Raise Your Game section, N°1 states Taste as You Go; if salt is an issue for you, ignore the quantity specified and TAYG!
So far I have cooked, Sweet Potato Vindaloo**, Pumpkin, Black Eyed Bean & Coconut Curry and Grand Vegetable Biryani. Each one has tasted sublime.
Vindaloo doesn’t have to blow your brains out with heat, it has to be flavoursome with a kick and this recipe fits the bill. The Pumpkin and Black Eyed Bean I kept going back for more and the Grand Vegetable Biryani is so colourful with an explosion of tastes.
There are enough photographs for those who like pictorial narrative and viewing the end result, although not all recipes are represented.
Bearing in mind that I have never cooked Indian food before, you could say therefore, I am easily impressed by this book. That is not the case.
My mother, born and bred in Italy, I was used to Mediterranean flavours and having travelled to many foreign lands over the years have tasted a multitude of wonderful foods, I am not easily impressed and know what I like and don’t and I like this book very much. The recipes I’ve tried were excellent and there are a plethora of wonderful treats in store waiting for me to try and I am looking forward to the experience.
An excellent, straightforward book, written with love and enthusiasm.
**please note there is a typo in the recipe which calls for ¾ tablespoon of chilli powder, the bracketed narrative which follows states (or to taste). Therefore I have interpreted (this) as originally calling for ¾ teaspoon (or to taste), which is what I used and it worked perfectly.
Of course, feel free to add ¾ tablespoon if steam pressure forcing its way out of your eardrums is your thing Ü
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