Reviewing this cookbook is very difficult for me. On one hand from the Table of Contents it seems- Wow someone finally made an Indian Cookbook for the Kindle I could recommend, AND it has nice pictures of the items, then I looked closer. While superficially most of the items seem Indian, the recipes aren't. This is not to say they are bad, just a little bit more fusional than I would expect in a book of this title. So to save you effort I can say that many of the recipes look interesting, if you are looking for a pure Indian cookbook give this a miss. If you like an almost kind of fusional recipe, this has some very interesting recipes as long as you understand the author hasn't a clue of what he is talking about. This reads like a good rough draft. Basics are there but now it needs a lot of polishing.
A second issue I have with this book is that it is all over the place. There is a mixture of Bengal, Goan, Punjabi etc food items, without a cohesive menu to be made with any of the food items. In other words I could not make a proper regional Indian Dinner from these items. It would be mix and match. Similar to serving New England Clam Chowder with grits and tacos. Each item in of itself is fine, but there is nothing holding them together.
A typical Indian dinner would begin with appetizers, usually finger food, main meal which would include a protein, at least one gravy dish, one or two dry vegetable dishes, raita, flat bread and/or rice. Indian kachumber salad (the Indian equivalent to the Mexican salsa), pickles (mango, mixed, etc), chutneys (cilantro chutney, however with the number of South Indian dishes I would have expected a recipe for coconut chutney as well). While many of the elements can be found in the book there is very little instruction on what should be paired.
One of the most jarring issues of this book are some of the food items themselves. One of them is Chicken Kiev...while this is served at several restaurants that had their beginning in the time of the Raj, they are not Indian. Another is the strawberry cake. Strawberries' have been readily available only for the past 10 years or so. Before that to get anything strawberry flavored a product called strawberry crush would be used. So to use a strawberry cake as an Indian Desert is in my opinion wrong.
Another jarring misuse of ingredients is the use of broccoli in several dishes. While broccoli in the last ten years has become a popular item, it is normally only used in Chinese and Continental cuisines, salads and soups. I have never seen broccoli prepared in any Indian style of vegetable, especially aloo maatar. Aloo Maatar is one of those pure combinations like the American version peas and carrots. You can experiment with seasoning, but leave the core of the dish alone. The aloo mattar in this book is closer to a mixed vegetable or jalfrazee than an aloo maatar. Olive Oil is another ingredient that while it is becoming popular in cities to use olive oil most use ghee, mustard oil, or the ever present refined oil. Olive oil is very strong and in my opinion doesn't lend itself to Indian cookery. Salads yes. Cookery no. Lima beans which are offered as an option in a recipe is a nonstarter. In 25 years I have never seen lima beans on any Indian table, even if the hostess is serving Continental food.
Aloo Maatar brings me to another issue. I am not sure the author is knowledgeable of pairing. One Indians very very rarely ever have a beef curry, lamb and goat are red meats of choice, but beef is not popular. In addition, Aloo Maatar is almost always eaten with bread. Potatoes and Rice really are not a popular combination in any cuisine.
The next issue I have is how the author keeps using the term Cilantro Powder. Cilantro refers to the leaves of the Coriander Plant. Indian heavily use Cilantro(dhunya) leaves fresh, when they cook with coriander powder it is from the coriander (dhunya) seeds. Though they come from the same plant the flavors are so diverse so they cannot be used interchangeably.
Other language problems is there is no glossary. Many of these ingredients would be best purchased at an Indian grocery store. Therefore knowing there are several yellow lentils (moong, channa ki dal, etc) Red lentil is masoor, etc..these should be mentioned. Spice ingredients would also be good to know i.e. fennel (saunf), coriander (dhunya), cumin (zeera), etc.
Going through the recipes a few thoughts popped up.. To make it easier I'l just list the issues.
1. Fruit Salad- most Indians I know do not like fruit and yogurt together. The desert should be Fruit Cream which is made of Fruit and Cream.
2. Maatar Paneer - what to serve the maatar paneer with is not mentioned. Paneer is Indian Cheese and can be made at home by boiling milk and adding vinegar or lemon juice and straining. This is not mentioned. The photo of maatar paneer is used with nonfried paneer, yet it is not mentioned that to save fat calories you can use the the paneer kuchcha (raw) or fried. Actually the raw paneer can be eaten plain with salt and pepper.
3 Dal Makhani - no channa ki dal is used and this is the dal that adds some creaminess to the "gravy". Ratio of kidney beans (rajma) is too high, it should just add a texture. A good Dal Makhani is like a good chili, a long simmer, makes a much better dal.
4. Chapati - saying to reach the right consistency is a cheat. it should be slightly soft without being sticky. The dough should rest minimum 30 minutes an hour or more is better.
5. brown Sugar Cardamom Rolls - Cream Cheese has just started coming to India. this recipe is in no way Indian.
6. Chai - steep tea and spices in water only. Only add the milk just before serving.
7. Tandoori Chicken. This is in regards to "Curd". First of all curd and yogurt as terms are interchangeable. One might need a dry curd where the yogurt is hung from a cheese cloth to remove extra "water". In addition if you take boiling milk and mix with curd starter (yogurt) vinegar or lemon juice you will get paneer, not "curd".
8. Red Velvet Cake, just doesn't belong here. The most popular cakes in India are the cream ones ie. Black Forest, Pineapple Cream
9. Ice Cream Brillianr Coffee.- This is known as cold coffee and is made in almost every house.. Milk of your choice (most houses use skim now), Ice, Instant Coffee powder, Icing (powdered) sugar, (vanilla extract optional). Put all items in a blender(preferably) or shaker if necessary. Blend until powders are mixed thoroughly. This will produce a foam of it's own and therefore whipped cream is not necessary. If blended just pour into glass. If shaken strain into a glass.
1, If you are going to have a multiregional Indian cookbook you need the following recipes.
a. Garam Masala, Paneer, Green Chutney, Coconut Chutney, Kachumber Salad. Raita (basic then show options), rice recipe (both plain and a pulao or biryani)
2. Separate the Book into chapters, either for course or region. somewhere have proper combinations for a full meal.
3. Add a Glossary
4. Have some real Indian deserts. Carrot Halwa is fantastic, Dal Halwa, Barfi (there are cheater versions made from sweetened condensed milk that work well). Or if you insist on a cake do the Pineapple cream or black forest which are two cakes that are found in every bakery here.