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4.3 out of 5 stars
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 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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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 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 7 April 2001
This book is an absolute must for anyone who likes to put a bit into the kitchen and get a lot out. The food is so much nicer than the usual "stuff" served at Indian restaurants. If you like curries buy the book and educate yourself starting with the absolutely superb "Kebab Curry".
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on 8 January 2006
This book is exactly what the title says: honestly good and authentic home-style curries and side dishes - no page fillers which are great in a restaurant but which one would rarely make at home e.g. samoosas.
My housemate and I have worked our way through about a dozen of the recipes in this book since I brought it home and it's proved itself one of those rare regional cookery books which can be trusted blindly - Richard Olney's 'Simply French Food' and Anna del Conte's 'Classic Food of Northern Italy' falling into this category in my small libary.
The introduction on ingredients is great, the short background on each recie insightful, the instructions clear and the results breathtaking... every time. The side dishes listed are practical and the cauliflour with shredded ginger and the stuffed baby aubergines I've subsequently served with regular 'Western' roasts.
I've bought and recommended this book as gifts many times and will continue to do so.
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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 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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2010
I would really like to give this book five stars. I have owned it for about a year and cooked a good number of recipes from it, all of which have been wonderful. Why not five stars then?

As some readers have commented, there are some problems with quantities of liquid athough in fairness these are pretty easy to remedy. It is probably best to reduce the liquid initially and then add more as necessary. One other problem I have noticed is that sometimes the method 'loses' some ingredients. Last night I cooked the Parsee red chicken curry and noticed two problems. First, the recipe listed dried kashmiri chillies and the first line of the instructions said that the should be soaked but thereafter the chillies weren't mentioned at all so it was not clear when to add them. After consulting other recipes I figured out the best place to add the chillies in but you really shouldn't have to do this. The other difficulty was a confusion in the amount specified for the quantity of coconut milk (you make this yourself using grated coconut rather than using tinned coconut milk). I went with the first mentioned amount. The recipe turned out fine despite these issues and I have now annotated the recipe for future reference. I remember another recipe I tried which included dried chillies but in that one there was no mention of soaking them first. It was obvious to me that for the recipe soaking was required but this might not have been apparent to all.

If you are looking for a quick and easy Indian cook book then this isn't it - try Anjum Anand or Atul Kochar's "Simple Indian" instead. However, despite the occasional lapses, the recipes do produce great dishes which reward the time required to make them.
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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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