The curries contained herein are inspired by the cooking of a wide geographical region - the Indian subcontinent, South-East Asia, the Caribbean and so on. They encompass starters/snacks, fish & shellfish, meat, poultry & eggs, vegetables and rice/lentil/grains dishes. Some are more involved than others - some are suitable for knocking up as a weekday evening after-work meal, others may need a bit more time with making up blends of multiple spices or marinading, or slow cooking.
As with all of these Hamlyn books, the 200 recipes are 100 recipes plus variations or sometimes an accompaniment to the main recipe, and it's a well presented book with recipe on the left hand page and photograph on the right. Ingredients should all be easy enough to obtain, and recipes are relatively simple to make.
The downsides are that this small book will not remain open flat, and if you are targetting this at people controlling their calorie intake (the word "healthy" in the title may attract the attention of such), there is no calories per portion information supplied.
Another day another Hamlyn 200 recipe book, I'm slowly building a personal library of these and they've become near indispensable in my kitchen. You could more accurately rename this one 'Healthy Spicy Dishes' since its definition of curries is quite broad - including spicy salads and soups alongside a great range of main-courses. It's not all Indian curries either with lots of South East Asian flavours and dishes in here too - including favourites from Thai cuisine. The book starts out with a quick glossary of the spices and more esoteric ingredients you might need, most of which are available in larger supermarkets, as well as a couple of recipes for home-made curry powder and Thai red and green curry pastes.
I'm not sure that the recipes are that authentic, if that really matters. For example Thai Massaman Curry is one of my all-time favourites (once voted as the most delicious food in the world by CNN Travel!) and I was taught how to make it by a Thai friend to a fairly traditional recipe (actually his Mum's recipe!) but the version in this book makes it with no peanuts or potatoes, both staple ingredients (I was told). However it does still sound pretty good made with just aubergines and chicken - I'll let you know. There are recipes for most of the familiar favourites, like vindaloo, balti and korma, but this is a book for a curry lover with a sense of adventure too with lots of less-familiar but very tempting dishes. For once there's a good selection of vegetarian dishes too, Thai cuisine in particular isn't always very accommodating to veggies, so these are welcome - and I'm looking forward to trying Dry Bitter Melon Curry, since before this book I'd never heard of Bitter Melons, surely they have to be more appetising than they sound?
As always with Hamlyn's, this pocket-sized book is beautifully laid out with a full-page colour picture for every recipe. Ingredients & concise instructions are clearly presented, along with suggested variations for virtually every dish. The recipes are also relatively straightforward to make - and effective!
In terms of the curries being 'healthy', no breakdown of calories, fat, etc, is provided but most of the ingredients seem pretty healthy. So it may not be ideal for anyone following a weight-loss plan but is great if you're just generally looking for some healthy-yet-tasty recipes to try. Given that there's so many recipes, as you may expect they've cheekily sneaked some which aren't technically curries or curry accompaniments. There's a couple of Caribbean lamb dishes, for example, which are spicy but not really curries. But it's nice to be presented with something I wouldn't have thought of otherwise for when I'm feeling adventurous!
Overall it feels a bit more exotic than the other Hamlyn's books I own. This is partly due to my lack of experience making anything but the most basic, standard curries but even so, I wasn't expecting to see 'goat and vegetable curry' or 'thai jungle curry with pigeon' as an alternative to the standard duck version. So there were fewer staples than I was expecting but then I usually only regularly use a couple of recipes from each book I buy anyway. And there's some tempting ideas, too - I regularly eat salmon & usually just steam it, so 'sweet & sour salmon curry' & 'yellow salmon curry' will be a nice change.
I doubt I'll be using this book as often as I use the other Hamlyn ones I own but being interesting & affordable, it's still a welcome addition to my growing cookery library.
I have the 'ordinary' curry recipe book in this series by the same author. It has been a very useful little book. This one aims to produce a more healthy dish, forsaking or seriously reducing the use of butter, ghee, etc and replacing them with lower-fat ingredients. That having been said, the 'healthier' alternatives are groundnut or sunflower oil in place of ghee and reduced-fat coconut milk so it is still not exactly low-cal stuff. It is difficult to compare anyway as no nutritional information or calorie count is provided. Furthermore, you can always substitute these in virtually any curry recipe anyway. On that basis I can only really judge the book on the quality of the recipes.
The recipes are drawn from a wide area - the Indian sub-continent & all around south east Asia. Here are a few examples: spinach & mung bean dhal; lime leaf & cashew nut curry (nice but cashews are never going to produce a really low-cal, low-fat dish); creamy fragrant chicken; more unusually a beetroot curry; spicy Goan aubergine curry (this light version doesn't seem that different to the usual version but uses reduced-fat coconut milk); Indonesian chicken drumstick curry; tamarind and red lentil curry; nonya meat ball curry; cauliflower & turkey biriani; curried oxtail & chick pea stew. There is a good selection of fish curries too and plenty of choice for vegetarians.
Ingredient lists can look worryingly long but this is down to the spices. Preparation times vary from a few minutes for some of the accompaniments to several hours for some of the meat dishes which require long, slow cooking. Preparation time is rarely if ever more than half an hour, so you won't have to stand over the stove for hours although some dishes do require additional ingredients or extra processes during the course of the cooking period. That said, there are enough recipes that could be on the table within 45 minutes to provide inspiration for week day evening meals. There are few ingredients which would be difficult to source although some recipes require agave syrup in place of sugar and that might not be available everywhere (I know that some branches of Waitrose stock it and if you use Ocado they have half a dozen different types to choose from).
Given how cheap these books are, and the variety of recipes on offer, I can't imagine anyone feeling that they wouldn't get value for money.
Had a few of these little Hamlyn books and not been terribly impressed up until now, with uninspiring recipes and brown-hued photography. This curry volume is a fab addition to the range though and has raised the bar considerably. Full of gorgeous-looking pictures - a whole crab swimming in a coconutty sea, huge beef meatballs nestling on a mound of ribbon-like noodles garnished with ruby red chilli rings, and hearty curried oxtail next to a creamy pile of mash. I'd probably start with something fairly easy, like the simple fish and potato curry with it's sweet hit of palm sugar and cinnamon, or maybe the spicy courgette fritters with mango salsa. Or even the elegant Singaporean scallops, cooked in rice wine and garnished with ginger and spring onion matchsticks. In fact, I'd spend so long drooling I'd probably never get round to cooking at all. Which is a shame because I'd happily devour about 90% of the dishes in this book - and it's rare to find a cookbook were so many of the recipes appeal. One last thing - these are (relatively) healthy curries, making use of reduced fat yoghurt and coconut milk, and dry rubs for some of the meat and fish, as well as suggesting virtuous sides of shredded veg, tamarind rice and red lentils. You'd never know it though, so mouthwatering are all the pics. 240 pages of guilt free troughing. What are you waiting for?
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.
This is a wide ranging and worthy addition to the Hamlyn 200 series. It is certainly not restricted to curries, and even in the first few pages we have recipes for spicy salads, kebabs and samosas. Nor is it restricted geographically as Indian, Thai, Chinese, Lebanese and other spicy dishes can be found here.
There is a wide selection of Meat, Fish and Vegetarian dishes and it would be surprising if any reader did not find a fair selection to their taste. I would say that the degree of difficulty does vary considerably from the very simple to quite demanding, the latter being more suitable for experienced chefs. Generally the ingredients are a little on the exotic side, unsurprisingly given the subject matter, but are relatively easily obtainable. However, there are some such as agave syrup and fenugreek seeds which may have you searching your local ethnic shops.
One thing which is clearly missing is a calorie count on each dish since anyone buying a book on healthy curries is probably going to be calorie conscious, especially given that generally spicy dishes are not the most slimming of meals. However, there are many tempting recipes here and the ones which we have tried so far have certainly lived up to their promise.
Great little book, great recipes, easy to follow, and the recipes we have tried have all been nice and tasty.
But the most frustrating thing is the book just won't stay open. Covered in spices and oil, you keep having to force the book open and try to shove something weighty on it. What a shame that Hamlyn didn't research different printing and book techniques before creating this range of cookbooks. I'd happily pay a little extra for a book that was actually usable in practice!
Also, it's not really 200 curries - more like 35 curries, 35 starters, 30 other spicy dishes, and then a second variation on all of those to double up the size of the book.
on 30 June 2013
These recipes cut down on some of the ingredients such as oil, cream and butter that the authors say often feature in curries by replacing some or all of the amount with healthier options such as groundnut oil, fat-free yoghurt and reduced-fat coconut milk. I must admit I cannot remember ever using cream in cooking a curry but I have always used vegetable oil, ghee and yoghurt so I can see how this approach would make a difference.
The recipes are interesting and, as in other books I have seen in the series, there are variations on the same page as a main recipe. For example, slow-cooked aromatic pork curry and slow-cooked aromatic lamb curry are shown together. The cooking method is broadly the same but they have subtle differences in the spice mixture. It's intriguing. Others have a recipe for a suggested accompaniment on the same page, which I find very handy. It does mean that there is no separate section for pastes, breads or accompaniments such as raita or breads as they are dotted through the book but the index is very good.
Where these books win for me is the clarity of the layout although it might not suit everyone. The ingredients and instructions are on all on one page, on the left hand side, with any extras or variations in lighter print on the same page. The lighter print means you need a good light to read by! There is a good picture of the finished dish on the right. The format does mean that the steps are in shortish paragraphs and not lines for each part of the instruction and the first word is in bold to show that you are moving on to a new stage.
The dishes I have tried have had a light and bright taste and were easy to make. There are also instructions for cooking perfect rice and making your own curry powders and pastes.
I have a growing collection of books from this Hamlyn series of 200 recipes. All the books in the series share some common pros and cons:
+ picture of every recipe
+ practical size that doesn't use up the whole kitchen and could be brought with you as a shopping list.
+ layout is very clear with bold headline-instructions and ingredient list
+ very good value as there's no `celebrity endorsement' or TV series spin-off to cash in on.
- The books won't stay flat without being pinned down which can be irritating when trying to follow them in the kitchen.
In addition, the 200 Healthy Curries book contains sensible ingredient lists (curries can often become overly elaborate in other books), each recipe comes with some alternative variations, the curries are truly international and are likely to give even the most avid curry lover something new to try and there are some very creative recipes including the lime leaf and cashew nut curry.
What isn't so well considered is the `healthy' aspect of the recipes. Although I'm not too concerned about calorie count (low fat doesn't necessarily equate to healthy in my opinion) there really is no guidance as to the nutritional content of the recipes or the health benefits of their ingredients. It's fair to say that this is better than many curry books but they could have done better on this count.
Overall the book makes a strong addition to the series and comes recommended.