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'100 of my favourite Indian recipes'...
on 6 May 2010
...the subtitle adequately sums up GR's chunky new book, published to coincide with the TV programme of the same name:
Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape.
But, in reality, it is far more.
With raised lettering to the D/J's main title, a relaxed and still rugged GR adorns the front cover, sharing his enthusiasm for India - its food and its life.
'...My own love affair with Indian food started when my mother made me my first curry as a child.
Granted, Mum's inauthentic curries were nothing like what we're used to today - hers were mostly flavoured with curry powder with the occasional handful of sultanas thrown in - but to us the flavours seemed exotic and mesmerising and I was hooked. Since I left home and started working, Friday night curries have become a ritual. Like most people, I have had favourite dishes, which I would order time and time again, but overall I felt pretty comfortable with the food and thought that I knew quite a bit about Indian cuisine.
How wrong I was!..........
...When the opportunity came for a culinary adventure in India, the choice was simple. This was the chance of a lifetime to escape from the grind of daily life and discover the truth about Indian cuisine....'
From the d/j inner flap:
'.......to experience for himself the stunning diversity of this extraordinary country's culinary traditions......Gordon immersed himself in all that India has to offer, tasting his way from region to region.....
Throughout this epic trip, GR cooked with some of India's most accomplished chefs, acquiring and refining new cooking techniques with a staggering variety of ingredients.........'
The use of the adjective 'staggering' is certainly not understated!
The glossary contains the various ingredients with descriptions, essentially a useful guide to what needs to be in the store-cupboard if new to Indian cooking. So if you are not sure about 'Asafoetida', or 'Jaggery', fear not....GR explains, as he does throughout the book - giving his usual basic definition of anything mildly 'different', e.g.:
From 'Galouti Kebabs'
'Galouti means 'melt in the mouth', and these delicious lamb patties come from Uttar Pradesh, a region renowned for its kebabs.......'
along with the odd pre-warning about (perhaps) a harder-to-source ingredient, depending on what one has access to, e.g.:
From 'Aloo dhai puri:
'You will need to make a trip to your nearest Indian grocer to secure a box of ready-made mini 'pani puri' shells and a bag of 'sev mamra' (crispy snacks consisting of a mixture of puffed rice, fried yellow gram noodles and spiced peanuts). Thereafter, it will only take minutes to assemble these delicious bite-sized treats.'
And to justify the recipe selection we are reminded that this publication is based on personal experience and does not aim to be an Indian Cooking 'bible':
'I may not have covered every classic dish of every region during my relatively short culinary tour (indeed this book contains some recipes that were simply inspired by my travels and some of these classic dishes)..........'
Overall, this is a well-produced chunky tome.
The durable board covers carry the same picture as the d/j and open to 273 high quality pages, split over chapters:
1. Starters & snacks (pg 31 - 61) 14 recipes
2. Fish (pg 64 - 97) 14 recipes
3. Poultry & meat (pg 100 - 129) 14 recipes
4. Vegetarian (pg 132 - 159) 13 recipes
5. Breads & rice (pg162- 195) 15 recipes
6. Chutneys & accompaniments (pg 198- 227) 14 recipes
7. Sweets & drinks (pg 230 -267) 16 recipes
along with a 15-page introduction - basically a potted summary of the tour - the aforementioned glossary, a concise index, winding up with GR's acknowledgements and finishing with a dedication to the late Alex Robinson.
Each chapter opens with a double-page spread, with an on-location shot on the left hand page and the list of the following recipes on the other.
Each easy-to-follow recipe follows the same layout and colour distribution - with the title, an opening paragraph and the method, in the main part. The number of servings and the list(s) of ingredients appear in the 'grey area', making it easy to find, refer to and compile a shopping list. A pink 'flash' reminds you what of the chapter. A few recipes spill onto another page.
Generally, there is a good balance of photography throughout, full credit to Emma Lee and Jonathan Gregson - arguably a little light on the number of finished dishes - and, GR does feature - as is the norm!
A small taste of the other recipes contained within:
* Malia chicken kebabs
* Spicy vegetable and paneer wraps
* Bengali prawn curry
* Baked whole sea bass with green masala paste
* Chilli beef fry
* Lamb korma
* Black-eyed bean curry
* Saag aloo
* Coconut rice
* Pilau rice with meatballs
* Tadka dal
* Green mango chutney
* Ginger fruit punch
* Masala chai
* Rosewater kulfi
My favourite to date, tried and tasted:
'Cauliflower Tandoori, with Fried Onion Rings', which I made for some vegetarian friends, although I did make use of a rather large cauliflower rather than investing in the four baby ones the recipe uses. As the method requires cutting into large florets, and blanching, I don't think we lost too much and due to the beautiful warm weather we were able to grill the marinated cauli on the BBQ (first airing this year) - rather than using the oven - and did manage to achieve that 'mild smoky element' GR enthuses about, if a 'tandoor' isn't available:
'Many Indian villages have community ovens where families take their marinated meats, fish and vegetables to cook in blazing hot tandoors........'