on 15 April 2011
After 20 years of cooking Asian, especially southern Asian food, I have a pretty extensive collection of recipe books of all types and like to think I am pretty experienced in the cuisine. One of my biggest issues is finding new recipes rather than repeats of those often found in Indian restaurant menus. This one is quite different though! Yes, there are a few recipes that you can find in just about every book published, however the majority look very authentic to me. Certainly they remind me of the sorts of dishes I have eaten around India and Sri Lanka.
I haven't had a chance to create a lot of dishes, but those I have done have been pretty easy to do and the aromatic results have had a thumbs up by all diners. Many recipes require few additional ingredients that most curry enthusiasts won't already have - and with the advent of on-line specialist grocery stores many can be easily purchased or just omitted. Out of the UK supermarkets Tescos is a good resource for reasonably priced spices and exotic vegetables.
Any minuses? Well, maybe there are some errors in the instructions on sterilising equipment and few are likely to create the pastes and masalas in the quantities suggested. Some of the recipes also ask for huge amounts of oils and fats: reducing them might take away some of the overall intended result, but would be far healthier. For the sheer number of recipes for the price, it I think it is a good investment.
on 10 October 2010
This is a beautifully presented book, as all the Phaidon ones tend to be and the recipes are really enticing. Unfortunately I have tried three recipes so far and each and none can be followed as described as key ingredients are missing (yeast, I would assume, in the naan breads where it asks you to leave the dough for two hours to rise in a warm place) or it asks you to prepare ingredients for pastes which it then never refers to again (Imperial Chicken) or where it imagines you can make 12 portions of lentil filled puffed bread with only 1 tablespoon of self raising flour (which is going to form a dough to encircle 120g of lentils).
Beautiful but utterly worthless. I will be writing to Phaidon to complain and ask them to send me a corrected edition.
on 1 February 2011
Whilst I truly like this cookbook and have only made 2 dishes from it I was dissapointed by the proof reader as in both cases either the some of the ingredients or method were missing, if not in whole then at least in part. As I have some experience of Indian coooking this did not present any real problem but I wonder how a less experienced home cook would manage.
Having said that the book does present well and is easy to use. The receipes are varied and appear interesting so I look forward to finding some more errors!
on 11 December 2011
I bought this cookbook having read all the reviews, including those which complained of bad proof-reading, incomplete recipes and missing or misprinted ingredients. Sounded very comprehensive though, so decided to risk it anyway. Glad I did, as I have not experienced these problems myself, and this is the largest, most comprehensive and most complete Indian cookbook I have ever come across, and I have yet to find a recipe which was incomplete or had ingredients or steps missing.
Part of this could be down to skill or knowledge, I suppose. I've been cooking for myself, from scratch, pretty much every single day for the past 30 years. I use cookbook recipes quite often, but I also know a great many techniques and basics off by heart. That is one side of it; on the other, I learned all my basic cooking skills from my mother, other skills from books, and I've never had any formal training. I'd last about 30 seconds in a professional kitchen! So I'd class myself as a practised home cook, nothing more. But this does mean that when asked to saute something, or to cook something until done, I know what to do and do not need exact timings or the details of the technique spelled out. Also, I can throw basic ingredients together if required eg. when confronted with a recipe requiring paneer I'm more likely to go buy a couple of litres of milk (yes, you do have to use whole milk!) and make my own rather than get it from a supermarket, and if I have no garam masala in the cupboard I'll grind my own rather than going to a shop. Given all that, I probably have more practice as a cook than some who have been baffled or put off by some of the recipes and that may account for some of the problems.
Not true of the professionals who've also had trouble with this book of course - perhaps I've just used a different set of recipes.
Anyway: If you are a beginner as a cook, or even if you've never tried making Indian food before, I can quite see that this book might be a little offputting. What some other reviewers say is perfectly true: the recipes are very concise, contain no details of specialised techniques (you're expected to know how to produce perfect crispy fried onions, for instance - which I know only thanks to Madhur Jaffrey, with this book alone I'd have no idea!) and provides no hand-holding whatsoever. It is also quite true, as one reviewer has mentioned, that the ingredients glossary is incomplete (so what exactly are matar dal bori? No wiser after checking the glossary. I suppose that is what the internet is for ...). It's also just so BIG, with so many unfamiliar sounding recipes, the like of which have never appeared on a British curry-house menu; to some this could be a big plus (especially fascinating are the numerous recipes from tribal north-east India, ie. the border with Burma/Myanmar, which are more Far Eastern than Indian, featuring ingredients such as bamboo shoots and pork which are seldom used elsewhere in India) while to others it may be just baffling, or over the top.
One more potential pratfall - Unless you notice the provenance of the individual recipes (India is a vast continent with many many cuisines, not one monolithic style of cooking) it is not easy to put together a set of dishes which actually belong together - and the provenance, while given, is not exactly emphasised. If you go by main ingredients alone (this book is arranged by main ingredient!) you could easily end up with a culture-clash meal from, say, Goa, Punjab and Rajasthan all mixed up together, rather than an authentic Indian style feast.
Recommended with caution. If you are a practised cook or a curry conoisseur who has basic knowledge and skills in the kitchen, by all means go for it. If you are new to Indian food, or (especially) if you have little or no experience in the kitchen, I'd advise looking elsewhere for a more beginner-friendly introduction to curry - I've already mentioned one well known writer whose books might fit the bill. Other cookery writers are available of course :)
on 4 November 2010
I have been waiting for this book with anticipation. I have not come across any mistakes or incomplete recipes yet - as mentioned by some of the other reviewers - but there are a whole lot of recipes to go through.
This is by far the most complete Indian cookery book I have ever seen. This book + Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Bible are probably the only Indian cookery books you will ever need.
It is true that this book seems to be written for experienced cooks. The recipes are very brief so you do need to be confident in technique - confident enough to improvise a little to make the dishes to your own taste.
The photos in the book are beautiful, but it could have done with some more.
I read the comments from other reviewers about the quality of the paper. The quality is fine. The paper is a coloured uncoated stock and is probably chosen as a design feature more than anything else.
one warning - and a downside - read carefully for how many portions the recipes are, as this is not consistent throughout the book. i ended up cooking a huge pan of curry for 6 people!
on 16 September 2012
This is the perfect book for a confident cook who needs some inspiration. I've tried a good number of recipes and haven't found one that didn't come out well. I've not noticed any missing ingredients, but as any good cook should expect, there is a certain amount of "season to taste" involved in getting the best out of this book.
The reason I said "beginners beware" is that the style of the book is very much no-nonsense and assumes that when it says you need to do something, you are confident enough to make it happen. This is definitely not for people looking to make the first step up from opening a jar of Patak's curry sauce and who are hoping for a bit of hand holding. Personally, I'd recommend something like "I (heart) curry" by Anjun Anand which explains how the common Indian spices interact and the basic "curry method" for a real beginner, at least until you are confident enough to tweak recipes.
This will live on my kitchen shelf for years, slowly gaining annotations and greasy marks :)
on 20 February 2013
I am Indian myself , so I am familiar with the basics of Indian cooking. When I saw this book at the local book store , I wanted to buy it immediately, but the price made me leave it for another day. Then somebody gifted my husband this book & I was thrilled to finally get my hands on it. The book is presented beautifully and comes in a little colourful cloth bag just like back home in India! Even the pictures are typically Indian & I wished for more of those, though I suppose it's simply not feasible for such a thickly bound recipe book.
The problem with the book are the recipes itself .There's such a vast array of recipes , most of which are incomplete! Being a huge biryani fan , I leafed through the recipes & realised that the most of the ingredients were not listed. You need the essential chilly powder, turmeric powder & coriander powder ( unless you use green chilly /coriander leaf / mint leaf paste) in all the various regional biryani recipes for the meat. In this book ,most of the biriyani/pulav recipes use only meat , ginger garlic & onions...something I do for making my South Indian soups! There's no way you can cook anything using only these ingredients & expect it to taste Indian. If you are someone who is used to Indian food and you buy this hoping to recreate the same ....then it's the wrong book for you!
Considering the price , it's an extremely badly written book . I'd rather read Indian food blogs instead . At least those are better written , authentic & it comes free. Above all , if you have a query , the writer replies soon.
on 10 January 2011
this is a massive book with lots of recipes some of which take lots of preparation and time to do others can be done in minutes, definitely the best asian cusine book i have ever had,
all thats missing is that its not set out in any sort of order so you need to use the index a lot.
on 21 March 2011
The editors missed a few opportunities to do their job properly here and there, as other reviewers have noted, but that does not detract from the most comprehensively excellent set of recipies I've had the pleasure of reading - and cooking from.
If you like cooking and need inspiration then this is your source. Possibly it's a little unnerving if you like to follow detailed instructions to the letter, but if you are happy in your kitchen and like Indian cooking then this has got to be just about the most cost effective addition to your meal repertoire that you could ever make.
My gravest complaint is that the book only has two page-marking ribbons - it could do with six!
on 8 February 2016
This is just an amazing book, full of love for the recipes contained within it, and Pushpesh Pant must have spent a huge amount of time and effort in putting it together. The publisher has also gone to great effort to make the book characterful.
In a 30 page introduction, each region of India is explored, telling the reader a bit about its character, history, and distinctive cuisine. The main part of the book is the recipes, which are well-organised. The main sections are arranged as appetisers, main dishes, pulses, breads, and so on. Within each section, a lot of effort has been taken to group dishes by type, or by main ingredient, depending on what makes most sense. For example, all of the pakora recipes are grouped together into 10 pages. All of the main dishes where okra is the main ingredient are gathered together. This makes it really easy to browse, looking at a dry potato dish from Punjab, or a slightly different Delhi dish of potato and yoghurt, or a potato dish from Kerala involving coconut... you get the idea.
To give you an idea of the depth of the book, there are 54 recipes for pickles, chutneys and raita, which vary from requiring a few ingredients, to over 10, and from 10 minutes preparation, to hours. There's something in here for everyone. Want to make a quick half-hour lunch of potato curry with some plain parathas? It's in here. Want to make a pan-Indian thali of ancient and modern dishes? You can do that. Or maybe you'd like to plan an intimate meal centred on a particular region of India, to make it as authentic as possible?
I think that the main advantage of the book is that it gives you so many ideas, you aren't going to make the boring chicken curry you always make, you might decide instead to go to the supermarket and buy some taro roots and jackfruits!
The paper quality is obviously a conscious design decision to make it have a slightly rough feel, and it is not an indication of poor publishing. Each section is also printed on a different coloured paper, which is a nice touch. People have also commented that the photos should appear by the recipes. I disagree - the idea of having a photo of a bench containing 5 or 6 different plates of food is so you can see them with reference to other dishes. All pictures are labelled with the page numbers where you can find the recipes, and the recipes are labelled with a camera icon and a page number so you can find the photos. It's fine.
Finally, those reviews indicating the amount of errors, quite simply I don't believe in them. The errors are there, of course - but they are so infrequent and so obvious that it in no way detracts from the quality of the work as a whole. There are 1,000 recipes - the hit rate with flawless instructions is actually very high. Sure, if you want to go out and buy 10 cartons of yoghurt for the morsel of chicken you are cooking, be my guest. I'm exaggerating a bit - but there's some common sense needed here. Like the recipe that forgets to tell you to combine one main part of the dish with another main part of the dish. Please, this is not NASA, we are not making a moon buggy. We are making a pakora, just spend some time studying the WHOLE recipe before starting it!
It's a pleasure to just flick through the book - I've been spending all weekend just browsing the recipes (and cooking some, too), it's been great!