Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Hit Or Miss Masala
on 31 May 2011
I ordered this because my girlfriend and I both like curries. Though my personal repetoire is mostly limited to Pataks sauces, she likes to experiment with making curries from scratch, so I thought that this book would be useful for both of us.
Unlike many cookbooks, it's not simply a collection of recipes, but contains autobiographical interludes from 'Miss Masala' - though they generally leave me with the impression that it's easier to be a curry goddess if you happen to have had the right Indian upbringing in the first place. To be honest, most of the recipes look like too much effort to me, so I've not really bothered trying them personally. I have, however, had the benefit not only of learning more about Indian cuisine, but also of my girlfriend's experimentation.
She's not really followed any of the recipes to the letter - being vegan, that would be difficult, since most involve dairy if not meat - but has used it to inspire various dishes. She says that she also enjoyed Basu's stories about how she became interested in cooking, where the various dishes originate and the occasions on which each has been served. Moreover, while the recipes themselves haven't been suitable for us, she says she found the various tips and techniques Basu describes for getting the best out of ingredients helpful, for instance which spices need to go into the pan first (clue: generally seeds) and which are added in the final stages of the process (any powdered spices or dried herbs). So, even without following the instructions to the letter, this book's expanded and improved the range of curries she now cooks.
Only 3* from us because we couldn't really use the recipes as they stand. Otherwise, recommended for any (non-vegan) aspiring curry cooks out there, but be warned - while Basu tries to strike a balance between a modern working lifestyle and authentic cooking - this isn't always quick or easy (not to mention the problems of a house smelling of curry for days). That's where the jar of Patak's (or local takeaway) still seems a good option...