Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes
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Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes

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by Suvir Saran, Stephanie Lyness

With its exotic aromas and complex flavors, Indian cuisine is one of the world's best. It's no wonder that so many people adore it—and also no surprise that it could seem daunting to cook Indian food at home. Now, acclaimed chef and cooking teacher Suvir Saran cuts out the fuss, sharing casual, home-style Indian dishes that are perfect for everyday cooking.

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With its exotic aromas and complex flavors, Indian cuisine is one of the world's best. It's no wonder that so many people adore it—and also no surprise that it could seem daunting to cook Indian food at home. Now, acclaimed chef and cooking teacher Suvir Saran cuts out the fuss, sharing casual, home-style Indian dishes that are perfect for everyday cooking.

Indian Home Cooking is a celebration of the food Indians cook in American kitchens today, using ingredients found in most supermarkets. With streamlined techniques and intense, authentic flavors, Indian Home Cooking heralds a new generation of Indian cookbooks. From slow-simmered curries with layered flavors to quickly sautéed dishes, these approachable recipes explore the wide world of Indian cuisine, including:

*Irresistible snacks and appetizers, such as Puff Pastry Samosas with Green Peas, and Spinach-Potato Patties
*Seductively spiced lentil dals, from the North Indian classic flavored with whole cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves to a Southern Indian version with dried red chilies, mustard seeds, and curry leaves
*Aromatic meat and seafood curries, like Coconut Chicken with Cashews and spicy Goan Shrimp Balchao
*An incredible range of vegetable dishes, including Stir-Fried Green Beans with Cumin, and Cauliflower with Sautéed Green Peppers, Tomato, and Yogurt
*Easy, colorful chutneys and pickles to fill your pantry

Filled with gorgeous photographs, fresh flavors, and practical advice, Indian Home Cooking is an illuminating guide to real Indian food.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There's much to like in this informative cookbook, which offers an accessible take (if, inevitably, not a comprehensive one) on one of the world's most vast and complex regional cuisines. It's a natural development for Saran, who teaches Indian cooking classes and opened the New York restaurant Amma last year. Such expertise is welcome in a book that cherry-picks freely from Moghul meat dishes, Gujerati dals, Hyderabadi greens and Punjabi tandoor dishes. That said, many of the curries are familiar, like Chicken Tikka Masala and Simple Lamb Curry with Coriander and Garam Masala. Surprisingly straightforward vegetable dishes include Smoked Spiced Eggplant, and Crisp Whole Okra with Fennel and Coriander. Rice dishes range from simple (Cumin-Scented Rice Pilaf) to elaborate (Sweet Saffron Pilaf with Nuts and Currants). Lassis, raitas, breads and some unexpectedly Western-sounding desserts (e.g., Blueberry-Lemon Pie and Gingersnap Pudding) complete the volume. Unfortunately, the book's minuscule print poses a nuisance for home cooks, who may be called upon to dash back and forth, adding spices to the pan every 30 seconds. Just taking the time to find one's place on the page can result in smoke and burnt seasonings. Still, Saran and Lyness fill a crucial niche in the cookbook market; their work should be avidly welcomed. 75 color photos. (On sale Aug. 31) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Saran is a talented cooking teacher and caterer in New York City. With coauthor Lyness, he provides an engaging introduction to contemporary Indian cooking. He was born in New Delhi, but his cooking has been influenced by the distinctly individual regional cuisines of his country. Readers will recognize many dishes, though in some cases Saran has streamlined them or introduced a twist; other recipes will be new. Saran's experience as a teacher is evident in his approachable recipes: in many cases, the more "exotic" ingredients are optional, and in others, the heat has been toned down so as not to intimidate hesitant cooks. Still, the characteristic use of spices and layering of flavors remain true to the spirit of Indian cooking. Striking color photographs add to the book's appeal. For most collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony
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First Edition
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7.70(w) x 10.32(h) x 0.82(d)

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Read an Excerpt


A rasam is different from a western-style soup. The closest thing in spirit is a consommé-both consommés and rasams are thin soups that taste of the essence of their ingredients. That said, practically speaking, they are quite different: consommés are made with stock while rasams are made with water and are much easier and quicker to make.

There are three parts to a rasam, as you can see by looking at the recipes. There is a ground spice mixture that is traditionally made very, very hot with black pepper or red chiles. Then there is the broth that is made with water, flavored with sweet, sour, pungent, and/or tart ingredients such as lemon, tomato, tamarind, pineapple, fresh ginger, and garlic, as well as with the ground spice mixture. Then often, but not always, the soup is flavored at the end with a combination of whole or ground spices cooked briefly in a little hot oil, called a tarka or tempering oil. The tempering oil gives the soup a burst of fresh flavor and adds complexity to the layering of spices. Adding a fresh tempering oil is a good way to give new life to a reheated, day-old soup or any other Indian dish. It's important that the spices in the tempering oil not burn; when I smell that the spices are cooked, I splash in a little water to stop the cooking before adding to the soup. This also helps wash all of the oil and spices out of the pan. Start tarkas with longer-cooking whole spices; add ground spices after, so that they don't burn.

You can buy a traditional blend of southern Indian spices called a rasam powder in Indian grocery stores. Two of the recipes in this chapter call for rasam powder; you can buy it or make your own from the recipe I've given in the Glossary. (If you like, substitute a commercial or homemade rasam powder for any of the spice mixtures in the recipes.) In general, I like to vary the spices rather than use a prepared powder; that way each rasam has a unique taste. But all of the soups will taste just fine with the prepared mixture.

Some rasams use the cooking water from boiled lentils in place of water as the broth. (The cooked lentils can be used to make another dish; I've given some recipes for cooked lentils in the Dal chapter.) Some of these rasams also use black gram beans for flavoring, like an additional spice. You'll need to shop at an Indian grocery store or online for these.

black pepper rasam with tamarind
Serves 4 to 6

I remember drinking this rasam as a child at the home of a school friend whose family had recently moved to Delhi from South India. I had tasted rasams before, but in her home I fell in love anew with the wonderfully exotic flavors of South India. I especially like this soup because the black pepper gives the broth such a rich taste and lasting liveliness. The taste of the pepper comes through as a spice-like cumin or coriander-with both flavor and heat.

While this rasam is traditionally made with tamarind as a souring agent, you can use lemon juice instead. Add the lemon at the end; unlike tamarind, lemon loses its souring properties as it cooks.


2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow split peas
4 whole dried red chiles
1/8 teaspoon asafetida (optional)


2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate or the juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup warm water (if using tamarind concentrate)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the spice mixture, combine the oil and all of the spices in a small frying pan or saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover (mustard seeds splatter and pop) and cook until the cumin and urad dal, if using, turn a light golden brown and the mixture is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the spice mixture cool to room temperature. Then grind to a powder in a spice grinder. Set this powder aside.

For the broth, if using tamarind, measure the warm water into a small bowl or measuring cup. Add the tamarind concentrate and stir to dissolve. Rinse the measuring spoon and your fingers in the water to dissolve all of the sticky tamarind. Set this tamarind water aside.

Combine the oil and the mustard seeds in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until you hear the seeds crackle, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the tamarind water, if using, the 3 1/2 cups water, the spice mixture, and the salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice if using and cilantro, and serve hot.

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Meet the Author

SUVIR SARAN has received accolades from the New York Times and The New Yorker for his regional Indian cooking. His new restaurant, Devi, opens in September. He is a contributing editor to Food Arts magazine and teaches Indian cooking classes that have been featured in the New York Times. He lives in New York. Please visit

STEPHANIE LYNESS is a regional food critic for the New York Times who has collaborated on several cookbooks, including Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe. She lives in Connecticut.

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Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a must have cookbook. I own hundreds of cookbooks and this is truly one that I use over and over again. The recipes are easy to follow and so delicious with the many layers of flavors each dish provides. I love the beautiful photographs of the recipes throughout the cookbook. I also enjoy the personal notes and bits of Indian culture that accompany most of the recipes. Due to this cookbook my entire family have become fans of Indian cuisine. As a Dietician I recognize the health benefits these recipes provide for my family. I was very fortunate to meet Suvir at a cooking class that I attended at SurLaTable in Richmond, Virginia. He is not only a talented chef but, very entertaining and a superb instructor. The recipes he prepared from his cookbook at the cooking class were raved about and enjoyed by all that attended the class. I sure look forward to another cookbook by this great chef.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband and I got this book as we had heard far too many mentions of this book in different publications and also on radio and television. Then we had friends who had dined at Saran's restaurant in NYC and come back raving about the absolute best Indian meal of their lifetime. They bought the book soon after and encouraged us to do the same. The book arrived and immediately had us turning its pages. The dishes were those we had grown up with and never find in restaurants or cookbooks. It was exciting that finally we were going to be able to replicate the simple treasures that we miss from India. We tried out the rice first. Even something as simple as cooking rice has been made into an experience that is simple, but practical and clear. We now cook rice like the version Saran's chef made for his father. We are happy having less starch in the rice and still keeping each grain separate. In fact the grains are so much happier for that. The Lamb Biryaani with orange is wonderful. The chapatis and parathas were so well explained, that I made my first chapatis after reading the book and getting courage from seeing the photographs that accompanied the recipe. Mine came out puffy like moms. And I used a mix of whole wheat flour and regular flour bought at the local grocery. No atta. The grape raita and the zucchini raita are terrific and actually outstanding. Raita which in many homes in India are treated as the step child, in this book become dishes that celebrate India's great way with spicing. I have to slowly cook my way through the other raitas. I am intrigued by all. The Dal recipes in Indian Home Cooking bring India back into my kitchen as nothing is more satisfying to my family than good tasty dal and chaawal (rice). The flavors of each of the dal recipes, since I have already made them all, are fresh, bold and authentic. They also are perfectly seasoned and as in all recipes, the amount of water and lentil, is so well tested that the dals have the consistency my family has always loved. Sour Chickpeas (cholas) were like what mom and grandma made in India and what my in-laws serve in their home. Sour, spiced correctly and delicious with rice and pooris. The lobia (black eyed peas) recipe was divine. My husband grew up with the exact recipe. He was amazed at how the recipe was actually identical to his own mothers. The sabzis (lentils), are delicious. A treasure trove that makes this book so unique. Whilst the recipes are known to us Indians, they are not the generic boring oily stuff that people outside of India have come to understand as Indian. In fact, these are the kind of vegetarian dishes that make Indian home cooking a cuisine leaps and bounds beyond any other. Suvir Saran has taken pains to include recipes from many varied regions of India and his headnotes are special, informative and good reading. They introduce the recipe, cultural subtleties and flavor variances that define the different dishes. The carrots, the saag paneer and matar paneer are so authentic and well tested, they will become the hallmark against which future recipes will be compared. I know cookbook authors will copy these recipes and use for their books in the future. The Rassams and the lentil soup in the soups chapter make my winter here in the US seem so much more fun. The rassams have the same flavor, intensity and aroma that I miss from homes of friends and family in the South of India. What is even better is that they are explained so easily and with such clarity that the mystery behind them is gone. It is not a surprise then that Arthur Paes (venerated reporter for India Abroad, who is Southern Indian) marvels at their taste and simplicity of recipe. The fish recipes make eating fish with Indian recipes become quick, easy and tasty. What I loved most about the t
Guest More than 1 year ago
I discovered Suvir Saran's 'Indian Home Cooking' when I was listening to National Public Radio recently. My husband and I absolutely love this cookbook. The recipes we've tried so far are delicious. Our favorites include corn curry, Gael's tandoori lamb chops and our children love the Bombay chicken curry with coriander and coconut milk. I personally liked the various rasam recipes that were included in the soup section of the cookbook. So, thank you to Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness for creating such a beautiful cookbook. This cookbook is looked at and used quite often in our house.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Suvir Saran has great recipes in this book i tried every single 1 i loved everything i am waiting to go to the new restaurant Devi i am sure it will better than his recipes
Guest More than 1 year ago
Recieved my copy Wednesday. The cover made me expedite my travel plans for India and to confirm our tickets. The colors, photographs, anecdotes that precede each recipe and the easy instruction make this book a first of its kind. The introduction mentioned the authors mother loving fuss free cooking and this book delivers just that. I shall cook from it this weekend. Want to thank the library journal for their review. Helped me in so many ways.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Indian Home Cooking will fill a much vacuous niche in the world of Indian cookery. At once functional and beautiful, it does what few ethnic cookbooks have been able to. It has made Indian cooking familiar, easy and approachable. The recipes are clear, precise and most all easy to prepare with ingredients from our pantries. The photographs have taken Indian food into the same level as French and contemporary American. The photographs make you hungry even before you ever begin cooking.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Indian Home Cooking finally brings Indian cuisine into the world of the greater culinary traditions of the world. This book as also the latest book by Madhur Jaffrey, together set the stage for a Indian food revolution. Indian Home Cooking and its author have made the food world in India and the US come alive in a new way. I was amazed as an Indian living here in the US to see this book and the author Suvir Saran find noteworthy mention in both India Toady and Newsweek Magazine in the same week. Forbes Magazine has listed him as one of the top ten cooking teachers of the world. Times of India has called him Gautam Buddha and then the writer speaks about the tasty recipes she created from this Indian cookbook from America. What I was impressed as I opened my copy of the book was the honest, simple and homey list of recipes. They are not the usual fare found in Indian restaurants across the US. These are recipes that celebrate what is simple, tasty and special about our culture and country. The simple flavors that are at once earnest and also enticing and soothing. The photographs in the book are superb. The food stylist must love India and food. Few cookbooks can have such brilliant images. Especially when dealing with food such as Indian, Italian or Thai. The recipes never seem to frustrate you, they always have every little detail that can make a busy person happy. No detail is kept hidden. The author has used time and effort to make Indian food accessible to the people of this generation and time. Friends have cooked from this book and loved it. Another friend is seeing amazing food come to her table, even as it is prepared by an Eastern European nanny with no past knowledge of Indian cooking. I find myself enjoying making chapatis and parathas for the first time. The vegetable recipes (peas, cauliflower and butternut squash) are amazing and easy. The party cauliflower was a winner at my table this last Sunday. The Indian Fruit Punch was loved by all. The rice pudding was just as good as that made by mom and our chefs back home. The Lentil Soup from Lebanon and the mothers tomato soup are both very delicious and great for those with kids. Mine seem to love them. They are also both very easy to make. The simple dal recipe and those that follow it are just like the dals you grew up with, or perhaps better, since the tarka is so delicious. Again, the recipes are always simple, it is the flavor that is complex and a celebration and revelation for a cookbook to have. These are dishes that we ate in India and celebrated in India. if you want to learn how to cook real Indian HOME cooking, then Buy this book. Or as the back cover of the book quotes Rozanne Gold as saying 'With warmth, charm, and formidable expertise, Suvir and Stephanie beckon you into their kitchen and teach your taste buds to dance'. As a busy working mother with craving for good Indian cooking, I highly recommend this book for one and all. It will be called the bible for the novice, encouragement for the one with desire and finishing for those that are already in the know. The recipes are fresh, simple, authentic, easy and more importantly pragmatic. The book is totally accessible and in fact, once you but it, if you are as curious as me, you will find yourself reading it into the night, as a novel. The chapter introductions and the recipe stories bring India alive into your mind and you will not rest till you have cooked from this book.