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4.3 out of 5 stars169
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 28 May 1999
I am an enormous fan of cooking and I am an even greater fan of eastern cuisine. Especially curries. This is unfortunate for me as the majority of curry books that I either have or have seen are pathetic. The recipes often look nice on reading; but on cooking are far from impressive. This book, however, is the exception. I have cooked all but a couple of them and have loved all but a few. And, what's more, the ones I didn't love were loved by others.
In a sense, this should be reason enough to buy this book - there are few others who try out a whole book before recommending it... I'm not basing my opinion on how nice the words look. And neither am I basing my opinion on the beautiful and tempting full-page photographs that accompany every curry; though, having said that, this fact does separate this book from other less or less-well illustrated books that often fail to tempt one to attempt what turns out to be a beautiful dish.
All the dishes are full of flavour. Not like so many others I have tried. How it happens I don't know because Camellia does not use more spice than others. Maybe just more know-how.
And this is a large factor indeed. As anyone who knows anything about curries will know, you cannot just fling the spices in the pan at any old time you fancy (or you can, but not for best results). There is order to it all. Many books have the spices bunged in the pot in a one-er, or, worse, thrown in after the liquid has been added, often leaving the spices tasting raw and like a cheap, cheap can of curry. Camellia does not do this. Her cooking is the art-form that is required to make good curry.
And, in addition to the curries themselves you will find an assortment of other dishes like pickles, chutneys, rices, dals and, for those brave enough to try them, Indian deserts made almost wholly from oil and flour
Excellent food. Excellent book.
Tell me of other genuinely great books if you know of any.
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on 12 July 2007
There are some great recipes in this book; there are several that aren't to my tastes admittedly, but many have become firm favourites that I use again and again. However, the reasons this book has stayed a favourite are the introductory chapters; the first 54 pages of the book (earlier version) cover topics from: an introduction to the philosophy of Indian food; how to use and prepare individual spices, and their purpose within a recipe; to how to rescue a curry that hasn't turned out quite how you expected.

I find a lot of curry recipes can be a little variable in terms of results, due to natural variance in the ingredients and the number of ingredients you have to use, so knowing how to safely deviate from a recipe when necessary is very valuable (and has since helped salvage more than one meal in our household!).

I haven't seen the DVD a previous reviewer has referred to, but was surprised to read it had nothing on breads, as I found the chapter on Indian breads (Roti) within the book to be very instructive, and I gave me the confidence to start cooking chapati at home. I've had a lot of success with many recipes from the book; they have variable levels of heat, but this has generally been described adequately in the descriptions, and they do range from very hot indeed, to mild and fragrant.

I also liked the section on vegetable and potato side-dishes, as this is an area that often seems not to be covered enough in other curry books; these two chapters alone mean this book sees use every time I cook Indian food.
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on 21 September 2001
I don't understand the reviewer who claimed this is a 'vanity book'. It explains which spices have to be cooked for what time to maximise their efficiency. The recipes work (I have yet to make a duff one) and the food comes out better than I can buy at my local Indian restaurant. This book has rekindled by love of Indian food.
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on 7 July 2005
this book is simply fantastic for beginers! as an indian girl. im expected to have edge on indian cuisine, but honestly i never had the time to learn living in london, this book is excellent for anyone from any culture, it starts on the very basics, the diffeent types of spices etc, the different recipies for meat, vegetarian, and deserts and finally how to construct your own indian menu! its simply superb for anyone trying for the first time!
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I've been taking the art of cooking south Asian food quite seriously for some years now, collecting a considerable number of books on the subject. This book by Camellia Panjabi is undoubtedly the best all round (balancing results with ease of recipes) Indian curry recipe book on the market right now.

The recipes are preceded by 60 pages of information on the history and social aspects of Indian food and the ingredients and techniques used.

Highlights of the recipes for me include:

- 'lamb korma pulao' from Lucknow, a fragrant combination of lamb and rice slow cooked in a casserole
- 'kaalee mirch cha mutton' (lamb with herbs and black pepper) from the Konkan coast, with a sauce containing loads of coriander and mint colouring it green
- 'nalli korma' (lamb shank korma) from Lucknow, fragrant slow cooked lamb shanks falling off the bone
- 'aachar gosht' from Bhopal, lamb cooked in pickling spices
- lamb curry Madras style from Tamil Nadu, hot but a flavoursome combination of spices
- 'safed murgh korma' from Agra, a white chicken korma
- 'chicken rizzala' from Bhopal, a green chicken korma with coriander and mint
- 'pista chicken' from Delhi, a chicken pistachio korma, with a green pistachio sauce which is a bit of an effort to prepare but is worth it
- 'kaju chicken in kaala masala' from Mumbai, chicken and cashew nuts in 'black spices'
- Parsee red chicken curry from Mumbai

The are plenty of other recipes not only with lamb or chicken but also using fish, shellfish, eggs, vegetables and fruit, including some more unusual ones like watermelon curry, mixed dried fruit curry and pineapple curry.

Whilst concentrating mostly on main courses, there are also recipes in the end section for accompaniments - breads, rice dishes, vegetable side dishes and chutneys - and desserts.

One downside is that being a paperback of relatively small dimensions, you can't lay it open flat on the kitchen worktop (there was an earlier edition of this book with some different recipes which I also own, which had larger dimensions and did lie out flat). It needs a decent cookbook stand, or do what I do and photocopy a recipe so it doesn't matter if you manage to dribble spice pastes all over it.

If you get just one curry book, make it this one.
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This is more than just a book on how to cook curries. It tells of the history of Indian cuisine and explains some of the regional variations. It is beautifully presented and illustrates spices and herbs with reasons for their individual use. It even tells you what kind of spice combination to consider when attempting a style of dish, and to complete the picture an accompaniment is suggested too.
This is the kind of 'foodie' book that you can simply read and enjoy, but it is at its best when you use it to create a dish. And create you will. More than just a dish, a culinary experience. Of about 30 cookbooks in my possesion it is outstanding and one of, if not, THE best.
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on 18 March 2007
This is a nice little book which gets straight to the point.

The first 65 pages describe the ingredients, such as various types of chilli, herbs and spices. There quite a few pages on what ingredients to use for thickening, colouring, souring and to change the aroma.

The actual recipes are fairly simple. The text is generally on the left and a nice picture to the right. The recipes I have cooked so far didn't take too long and were very nice! There's a good balance of meat, fish and vegetables dishes.

The book is quite small, much smaller than A4 paper but bigger than A5. At 224 pages I think it's a little expensive. That's why I have given it 4 stars.
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on 17 November 2009
Part of me thinks this book is great - perhaps because I don't own another book on curries, perhaps because the recipes look so good, perhaps for all the info at the beginning about food culture and history, ideas about balancing flavours etc. Some of the recipes are delicious, like the red chutney - I had a look of horror on my face after piling up all the ingredients in the bowl (fresh coconut and ketchup?!!!) mixed all together and it was wonderful.

But I have had real difficulty with the quantities, like many of the other reviewers. I laughed in total understanding with the reviewer who said the author must have been making a book about soups at the same time. I simply can't understand how anybody (and so many people) could give it five stars. My only guess is that not all the recipes have problems with quantities, and that the four/five star reviewers simply haven't come across them. Basically most of the recipes I've made have specified way too much water, some two to three times more than what I'd say was needed. At least you can boil it down, but trust me, the time it takes to make curry, the last thing you want is to have to cook it til the water evaporates - it takes ages. What's more, it suggests to either lack of care in the editing process, or that the recipes haven't been tested.

Anyway, the book's got great things about it and not so great things. I'd suggest you give it a go, especially if you haven't got another book on curries. BUT be careful with the water quantities. Add it little by little - it's easy to add more, not so easy to take it away.
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on 31 October 2001
...beautiful photography, wonderful recipes, unique insight on how & why spices and ingredients are used. The first few curries I tried were duff but that's because the recipes are challenging and it takes practice and skill to get the best out of them, which , when done properly are divne...
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on 14 June 2013
A long time ago in my youth I was taught how to make curry by the mother of an Indian friend, I still remember how proud I was to recreate the first lesson at home and serve up Mattar paneer (after first making my own paneer) many curry books later and always disappointed by the results I came across this one that said "The 50 best Indian curries" I read the book and decided to make everything from front to back......still not finished after several years because the first one "simple homestyle curry" was so good it is difficult to resist, my next the most complex was the Parsi inspired dhansak, for which you have to make your own spice blends. OMFG was it good! the minced lamb curry the fish curry, all wonderful, I have had the book for years now and I still haven't made more than a dozen meals from it, every one I have tried looks like the photo and tastes like heaven, I have bought several copies now for friends who never fail to thank me, I have read the reviews and am saddened that the people that gave it low scores obviously haven't read the book which describes the ingredients, if it says yoghurt make your own thick indian/greek style yoghurt, if it says kashmiri chillies it means kashmiri chillies, no others will do. This is simply the best curry book I have ever owned and I delight my friends and partner with the meals from it all the time, My wife no longer asks for just curry, she says "can we have a curry from the book tonight?" But a will never enjoy a take away curry or a ready meal or a cook in sauce again......but it is so worth it.
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