I am a big big fan of curries and to my shame have only ever home cooked curries from sauces produced by the likes of Sharwoods, so it was nice to see such an accessible and economic cookbook. This volume in the excellent Hamlyn '200' series features recipes for side dishes, starters and curries arranged in sections based on the main ingredient i.e. poultry, pork, beef, lamb, fish and seafood, and vegetarian. This is my first bone of contention as I would have much prefered to see a book arranged by geography i.e. India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malayasia etc. which aligns itself more with my experiences dining out - in some cases I am unsure where the curry originates from in the absence of any introductory text. I'm not asking for a Rough Guide, just a clue! I will note that some curries are described as Vietnemese or Carribean but the reader cannot assume where no such description occurs that they are Indian (the - perhaps debatable- spiritual home of the curry?). I said 'first bone of contention' only because I liked the sound of it, in fact there is very little else to fault with this compact collection given the price tag. If I was clutching at straws I would suggest that perhaps some of the ingredients might be hard to find and that using thai pastes is a bit of a cop-out - I know how complicated some of these pastes can get but you would expect a cookbook to be showing how to make the base pastes from scratch just for the record (even if you then rely on pastes). Yes that is hypocritical of me I guess, given my opening sentence, but my whole excitement of owning a curry cookbook was slightly dampened when I saw pastes were being used in some of the recipes.
on 2 October 2009
Two hundred tasty curry recipes in a handy compact book. Great for both beginners and more experienced cooks. I love the wipe clean cover because I am a messy cook! It also includes an excellent vegetarian section. All the recipes I have tried so far have been delicious. Favourites in this house are the Creamy Tandoori Chicken Kebabs and the Chicken & Baby Spinach Curry.
I have an ever-expanding collection of these Hamlyn books which I find very useful for quick after-work meals. That is perhaps less true of this book as the cooking times for some dishes can be lengthy. Recipes are drawn from around Asia.
After a brief but good introduction which describes the various ingredients including spices, aromatics & pastes, the book begins with a small selection of starters, including light salad-type dishes as well as samosas, etc.. There is a lovely recipe for spiced courgette fritters which can be prepared quickly, or pea & potato tikkis which will take about 50 minutes to prepare & cook, or very quick tandoori chicken kebabs (though they won't have the proper flavour as they are grilled).
For main courses, one chapter covers chicken, many of the recipes being for commonplace dishes although there is an interesting Swahili recipe (total cooking & prep time about 2 hours although this is mainly oven-cooked so you aren't standing over the pan all the while). Another recipe which takes a while is the aromatic pork belly curry but this again is mainly slow cooked in a low oven. Another chapter covers lamb, again including commonplace dishes like rogan josh but also a Caribbean lamb dish and Malaysian rendang lamb using a butterflied leg of lamb.
Fish & seafood are covered too with offerings such as spiced mussel curry, spiced halibut curry or Keralan prawns. Vegetarians will find plenty of recipes, for example, okra & coconut curry, baby aubergines with chilli, creamy spiced mushrooms, curried tofu with vegetables or Thai pumpkin curry. There is also a range of accompaniments including probably eight or ten rice dishes, a few noodle recipes and several breads such as naan and paratha, finishing off with a few chutneys & pickles.
As with other books in the series, at the end of most recipes is a suggestion for an alternative version of the dish (which is what brings the totals up to 200). Instructions are clear and generally not complicated but it is important to check prep and cooking times. Also, using the book can be a bit of a pain because its compact size means it is difficult to keep the pages open without putting something heavy on them and, of course, obscuring the recipe in the process. I wish they would produce these in a larger format.
on 4 February 2009
I very simple to follow cookery book. Brilliant explanations, the curries always turn out how they look in the book.
The only thing I would say is that make sure you read the preperation details first as I have been caught out by some ingrediants needing to be marinated for quite a few hours. All in all very good.
I have a whole series of Hamlyn cookery books and I think they're excellent value for money. They're packed with useful information and ideas with no wasted space. I'm particularly impressed with the amount of colour photographs, one for each recipe, and that's vital for me. I have to have an idea of how the final dish will look and I enjoy seeing how the food should be properly presented.
The book is broken up into 7 sections:-
pork & beef
fish & seafood
plus; a useful introduction into the more obscure ingredients, for example:- white poppy seeds, kecap and amchoor.
There's something here for everyone, whether you're an experienced cook or a beginner. There's a huge mix of recipes from simple (spicy pork patties) to complex (coconut clam curry). The recipes, ingredients and methods are set out in a way that's incredibly easy to follow but; some of the ingredients aren't available in the usual supermarkets and it's a good idea to source them before you decide to cook (palm sugar, Burmese fish paste, black mustard seeds, Thai basil, banana leaf, nigella seeds, white poppy seeds, fishballs, kecap asin, pea aubergines, brown mustard seeds, belacan, asafoetida). You don't need to rush out and buy them all, they only feature in some of the recipes, but just be aware that you they do crop up from time to time.
One of my favourite recipes is marinated lamb chops, not very original, but this particular marinade in gorgeous. We also enjoy chicken and baby spinach curry and chicken makhani which is hot, spicy and rich. Fabulous little book and it just goes to show you don't always need a celebrity chef to endorse a product.
I am loving this series of little Hamlyn cookery books.
Any quibbles (and there aren't many) are blown out of the water by the fact that they are just such good value for money. As I write this book is offered by Amazon at just three pounds! Because its so cheap this book is even a good buy for complete vegetarians despite the fact there are carnivorous curries too.
This was the way cook books used to be before the rise of the celebrity chef. Written by some anonymous home economist or domestic scientist rather than a culinary celeb off the telly.
So its not connected to a TV show, a personality, or their travels. Its just full of practical well-explained recipes that work for the home cook. Its about cookery rather than the cook, and all the better for it.
I love the tarka dhal, and dhal makhani is a restaurant favourite I have never quite been able to pull off at home. The recipe here is the closest I have got.
It has a nice wipeable cover. Fancy cook books not built to stand the rigors of the kitchen are a particular complaint of mine.
The main negative is that as this is a small book (the front is the size of slightly elongated CD case), its quite hard to keep it open at the page you are working from, without really crunching the spine. But this is about the biggest moan I can muster. I'd knock a star off if this were an expensive book.
But I will say it again. Three quid! Less than the price of a takeaway. Fantastic.
on 12 January 2010
arrived today, was really pleased, contains starters, chicken, pork, lamb, seafood, vegetarian curries. cant believe they managed to squeeze 200 recipe ideas in such a small size book. the recipes are really good, as an indian cook myself i like to search for new recipe ideas and this book is a great start. it contains the basics of curry style ingredients and gives the best of both thai and indian curries. it would have been better if all the recipes were for 'curries' as it contains starters, and also side - 'salad' type recipes which i think is cheating to say all are curries, but on whole a good book, highly recommended.
I do like this series of cookbooks. OK - they are never going to turn you into a gourmet chef. If you want that then you need to look elsewhere. What they do very well is provide lots of ideas for simple, fairly cheap to make and yet mostly tasty recipies. I have a young son and a husband who is a picky eater, so I am always looking for ideas for nutritious, tasty meals which both of them will eat. I can usually rely on this series of books to provide me with inspiration for this. Each book is split into sections e.g. soups, fish/seafood, meat/poultry, desserts and so on, and there are plenty of recipe ideas in each section which means you can usually find something to suit all tastes.
The layout of the books is good - each recipe has a double page allocation with a good colour image of the finished meal, a full ingredient list and easy to follow step by step instructions. My only criticism, and the reason I have given 4 stars instead of 5, is that the spine of the book is quite stiff and as a result it is hard to get the book to stay open at any given page without weighing the pages down. When just flicking through the book for ideas this is not a problem, but if you want to follow a recipe step by step in the kitchen as you are working then it is awkward.
Curry recipe books have little in common with buses - possibly the only shared ground is their propensity at appearing in gangs after a long period of non appearance. Many will question whether the market really needs another addition to the book mountain but in the case of Hamlyn's keenly priced collection of both tradititional and contemporary recipes then it appears it does.
The old school of Indian cookery is ably represented by the likes of vegetable samosas, pork vindaloo and creamy lamb korma while the new kitchen offers such delights as crispy spiced egg salad, Swahili chicken, pomfret in banana leaf and coconut clam curry. Starters and side dishes thoughtfully get their own chapters while mains are chaptered according to dominant ingredient. Most of the recipes are tastefully illustrated, ingredient lists, generally, don't stretch the length of the page and the instructions are designed to be followed by even the most amateur of cooks. One criticism - I would have liked to have seen more recipes based on pulses as well as the standard tarka dhal. This aside though, even the most choosy of curry buffs will find something here to please them thus making it an essential addition to anyone's cookery library.
I've been a fan of Hamlyn cookery books since I was given their "All Colour Cook Book" as a wedding present umpteen years ago (still in use). The recipes in that book as well as the current '200' series are nearly always quick and simple while generally reliable and often original.
A basic knowledge of cookery tends to be assumed but there's rarely anything to present great difficulty for beginners. Text is kept to a minimum and experienced cooks will be pleased not to be treated as novices. As someone else mentioned, though, it really would be helpful if they warned you up-front when a recipe required an element of advance preparation such as marinating.
This particular book is wide-ranging and well-illustrated. Don't expect big, glossy, mouth-watering images, but you'll always get a good idea of what you're aiming for. If your efforts don't match the photo, blame yourself, not the photo! The layout, with a full-page photo on every right-hand page, lends itself to flicking through for inspiration.
There are some terrific recipes here and, at the price, the book represents great value for curry lovers.