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on 27 May 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm a big fan of Indian food, and the thought of recreating some of the gorgeous meals at home (which up until now have all been in the form of takeaways) is something which has appealed to me for quite a while. I've come close in the past, but have always been put off by the plethora of herbs and spices needed to make even the most basic of dishes (half of which I'd never heard of, and pretty sure my local supermarket wouldn't stock).

So, upon reading just the first few pages, it was clear that the recipes were indeed aimed at those people who don't have the time to track down obscure ingredients, or a kitchen the size of an airplane hanger to store them all in. The approach to keep it simple and use easily accessible ingredients is just what I needed, and not only that, but the style in which it's written makes it easy to follow, and (shock horror) fun!

The book looks more like a hardback novel that a cookery book, and is interspersed with interesting blog like articles, which makes it something to read even when you're not actually cooking.

If you've ever wanted to give Indian cooking a try, then this is a very good introduction to help you on your way. Highly recommended
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VINE VOICEon 15 June 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I can say with certainty that I have never before used a recipe book before as bedtime reading material! 'Miss Masala', however, is a highly entertaining read which portrays the very true to life rituals of succeeding in the Indian kitchen! I found Mallika Basu's tips of spotting authentic Indian restaurants and debunking of British Indian curry terms particularly amusing. Bucket (balti) chicken anyone?

Having grown up in India myself, I found myself yelping in delight as I recognised several authentic recipe names from back home. The book also comes with plenty of little tips and hints that even a newbie cook could easily use. The recipes are varied, from several quick weekday meals to elaborate party pieces. I have already tried several recipes and have enjoyed the results.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone, not just as a recipe book but also as a delightful novel in its own right.
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Another book from a blog - and a very good one indeed. Mallika Basu is an engaging and witty guide to recreating classic Indian cuisine in your own home. With lots of helpful tips for both novice and experienced cook this really is worth the money. It reminded me a little of Daisy Garnett's Cooking Lessons, but is much better than that book in that the characters that people the book are so interesting. With some unfamiliar ingredients included recipes need to be clear and unambiguous and thankfully they are. Mallika is an unashamed high-flyer - something which normally makes me wince when paraded in print - but she is also splendidly self - deprecating at times. Her tale of what happened when she decided to go back to her roots with Indian street food really made me smile.
The book is almost too pretty for the kitchen - this won't join the ranks of food-stained, falling-apart paperbacks on my kitchen shelves, but it's actually a super dip - in book to have to hand, one to read as the mood takes you.
Finally, this is a cookbook that steers clear of unnecessarily expensive ingredients - which, given "Miss Masala's" yuppy background, was a pleasant surprise.
A winner, and so beautifully presented that it would make a lovely gift.
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VINE VOICEon 17 June 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Miss Masala is a cute well written book about Indian cookery, with explanations about some of the more unusual ingredients required for cooking, detailed recipes and chat in between. However it has one rather serious flaw in my opinion in that there are no photos of the finished dishes which is something I find essential, as I generally choose what I'm cooking based on the images of what I'm going to end up eating.
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VINE VOICEon 17 June 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is not a recipe book, or rather not just a recipe book. The space between the various recipes is filled by snippets of the authors lifestyle: this comes across as a successful yuppie of the kind Del Boy aspired to, with a touch of Ab Fab thrown in by the "PR" work. Something about the life presented seems false, as if the author is ticking the boxes to show she is living the correct way, watching the right programmes and drinking the fashionable things: I'm not entirely sure what libefraumilch has to do with Indian cooking but Miss Masala lets you know she doesn't like it. There is a parade of TV cliches and cynical comments about alcohol, PR, blondes, boyfriends and, it seems, everything else. Even the aunties appear to be lifted straight from Goodness Gracious Me. At first I found this patronising, slightly arrogant and conversational conversational style of writing annoying, but after a few pages (and more importantly after reading a few recipes) I found myself warming to the book.

The book itself is a rather pretty and compact hardback in a variety of bright colours, with rough, hand drawn illustrations and a notebook-esq design give it a similar feel to Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie at Home.' The whingeing about men and the colour scheme suggest this book is aimed at women; as a man I still found it a readable book, if somewhat sexist in places. While it looks the part this Chinese printed book isn't that well put together; a drop of water fell on one page and immediately the text underneath began to disintegrate so, if you're planning on following the recipes keep this book well away from the actual cooking. The style also makes this book interesting to navigate: the chapters and sections are not divided up in the way I expected them to be (i.e. fish, poultry, rice dishes each with their own area) but instead by what the author believes each one to be good for. This can be tricky when you're looking for inspiration but it does work, once you get used to it.

This book is not suitable for children as there are a few of the more serious swearwords sprinkled around inside, along with some mention of dabbling in 'illegal substances' and other adult behavior. If you have anything against conspicuous consumption of alcohol then this is a book to avoid as over indulgence in vodka, cocktails and various kinds of wine are regularly name dropped.

The food here is not what I was expecting, there is a wider, most interesting range here than in any of my other `Indian' or curry cook books so even if you have a shelf full of cook books, you're likely to find something new to try. I cannot fault any of the recipes here, they are all well described so while there aren't many photographs you can still get a good idea of what you want to end up with. I enjoyed reading the stories behind the recipes like the Indian street vendors, father's favorites, disastrous first attempts and failed dinner parties all make imagining the food so much easier and, once you can imagine it, then you can cook it successfully. I love cooking things from this book, I've only tried a few thus far but they have all been wonderful and the outcome is very much down to the quality of the writing in this book as, the way the recipes are written and broken down into stages, very little in the way of skill is required for most things in here.

If you buy this book, you're going to have fun with it either when reading it and laughing at the snippets of life shown here or trying out the recipes.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I enjoy an Indian meal, but every time I have tried to copy the recipe, the list of ingredients needed and the time and method made it a non starter. This book makes the recipes easy to do. The ingredients are easily obtained and you do not need loads of them, and the method is straight forward.

The pages are cream with lines and a margin, making the look like a note book or diary. There are tips, notes and diagrams dotted throughout the book which made it interesting to read. Even when not cooking, it was nice just to sit down and read the book, it was that interesting.

I have learned a lot about the real Indian cuisine, especially that my favourite chicken jhalfrezi means chili fried, i.e. a stir fry, not a thick spicy sauce as in the local restaurant.

Not only are there recipes for many types of meals, but also naan and pick-me-up drinks and meals.

Overall a great book either for yourself or a present.
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on 1 August 2012
I have always been reluctant to cook Indian food: I'm not the world's greatest cook; I have had some pretty bad Indian meals that never compared to the real thing in India; and I just didn't know where to start. Miss Masala has changed that! Clearly-written recipes and the all important background information on key ingredients and methods. A lot of the dishes in the book are also really healthy, cost-effective to cook and can be made in a realistic time for those with busy lives. It would be great if there were more pictures for those of us who could do with a hand on their presentation, but I loved the running commentary - great to read while something nice is bubbling on the stove. Can't recommend this enough.
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VINE VOICEon 8 June 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book has lots of quick and easy Indian recipes, mixed with a blog detailing the author's experiences of life in Britain. It's printed on lined paper, which adds to the 'diary' or 'personal notebook' feel, but also has photographs (many with an intentionally garish 'Bollywoodesque' colour theme) and witty little scribbles and drawings to give it more coffee table appeal.

Recipes include staples such as fluffy Basmati and seekh kebabs, as well as slightly more unusual dishes, such as monkfish stewed in yoghurt, and saffron milk and pistachio squares. There are also some tipples, such as vodka chilli cocktails.

The real strength of the book is the plethora of tips (which ingredients need to be fresh, which can be used dried or frozen, how to tell when oil is really hot enough to cook in, etc). These are interspersed with the various dishes, and amusing tales of pub lunches, English weddings, and the sales!

I'm taking one star off because the mango fool (with green cardamoms and creme fraiche) I made was tasty, but a bit curdled, and also because the author doesn't manage to say anything very positive about British cuisine, whether it be the indigenous diet or home-grown versions of many Indian recipes, which I thought a bit mean-spirited. Still, it's a very well written book, and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
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on 30 November 2011
Easy to follow recipes with (so far) great results. Some reviewers seem irritated by the asides and stories which I think are mostly pretty funny but they are separate from the recipes so just ignore them. Life is too short to be irritated when you could be rustling up some paneer and spinach! Only slight gripe is Miss Masala and her mates must have bird like appetites - "feeds four" means only if you make four dishes at a time which of course may be the idea.
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on 27 September 2012
Miss MasalaGreat book, beautifully written and presented throughout, but why print the Ingredients in a size 8 font (at most), so Page 12 - Essential Gadgets should include Magnifying Glass.

The author gives easy stepped instructions on what to use, where to buy the ingredients, how to store them, as well as including anecdotes and stories which bring the book to life.
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