An Invitation to Indian Cookingby Madhur Jaffrey
This seminal book, originally published in 1973, introduced the richly fascinating cuisine of India to America—and changed the face of American cooking. Now, as Indian food enjoys an upsurge of popularity in the United States, a whole new generation of readers and cooks will find all they need to know about Indian cooking in Madhur… See more details below
This seminal book, originally published in 1973, introduced the richly fascinating cuisine of India to America—and changed the face of American cooking. Now, as Indian food enjoys an upsurge of popularity in the United States, a whole new generation of readers and cooks will find all they need to know about Indian cooking in Madhur Jaffrey’s wonderful book.
Jaffrey was prompted to become a cook by her nostalgia for the tastes of her Delhi childhood, but she learned to cook on her own, in a Western kitchen. So she is particularly skillful at conveying the techniques of Indian cooking, at describing the exact taste and texture of a dish. The many readers who have discovered her inspiring book over the years have found it deeply rewarding, with recipes for appetizers, soups, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, chutneys, breads, desserts, even leftovers, all carefully worked out in American measurements and ingredients for American kitchens.
This landmark of cookery makes clear just how extraordinarily subtle, varied, and exciting Indian food can be, and how you can produce authentic dishes in your own kitchen. From formal recipes for parties to the leisurely projects of making dals, pickles, and relishes, this “invitation” to Indian cooking has proved completely irresistible.
In 2006, the James Beard Foundation ushered this book into its Cookbook Hall of Fame.
Read an Excerpt
Sweet Tomato Chutney
Makes 2 1/2 cups
I make this chutney with canned tomatoes. You could, if you like, use fresh tomatoes when they are in season and really tasty. To peel them, you will need to drop them in boiling vinegar. When the skin crinkles, life them out and peel. Then proceed with the recipe. When cooked, this chutney is sweet and sour, thick and garlicky.
1 whole head of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
A piece of fresh ginger, about 2 inches long, 1 inch thick, and 1 inch wide, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups wine vinegar
1-pound 12-ounce can whole tomatoes (or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes prepared as suggested above)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8–1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons blanched slivered almonds
Put the chopped garlic, ginger, and 1/2 cup of the vinegar into the container of an electric blender and blend at high speed until smooth. In a 4-quart heavy-bottomed pot with nonmetallic finish, place the tomatoes and juice from the can, the rest of the vinegar, the sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper (or, if you prefer, add the cayenne at the end, a little at a time, stirring and tasting as you do so). Bring to a boil. Add purée from the blender. Lower heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until chutney becomes thick. (A film should cling to a spoon dipped in it.) Stir occasionally at first, and more frequently later as it thickens. You may need to lower the heat as the liquid diminishes. You should end up with about 2 1/2 cups of chutney, and it should be at least as thick as honey after it cools. If the canned tomatoes you use have a lot of liquid in them, a longer cooking time may be required, resulting in a little less chutney.
Add the almonds and raisins. Simmer, stirring, another 5 minutes. Turn heat off and allow to cool. Bottle. Keep refriderated.
To serve: Since this is one of my favorite sweet chutneys, I always spoon out a small bowl of it for all my dinner parties. It goes with almost all foods and is very popular. Store, bottled, in the refrigerator. It keeps for months.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Ms. Jaffrey's greatest gift to the novice of Indian cooking is her ability to adapt recipes to Western kitchens and Western ingredients. She offers reasonable and easily found substitutions for more obscure ingredients and cooking methods. I have given this book as a wedding gift, a house-warming gift, a birthday gift, even as an unbirthday gift. It is one of my most dog-eared and food-stained. She is also very clear that chili powder, dried chilis and green chilis should be added to taste, or may be omitted altogether. If you do not tolerate hot food, substitute paprika for chili powder or dried chilis, and some minced bell pepper for green chilis. That way you get the flavor and the veggie value without the heat. While the recipes may look long and overwhelming at first glance, most of them are one pot meals. This means that the long list of ingredients, once chopped, measured, or prepped, simply go into the same pot in a particular order with a particular amount of time between each. The end results are so very worth the prep time, which is, in fact, minimal. I withhold a star for oil and salt. I have found that in almost every case, the amount of oil she calls for can be reduced by half to two-thirds. I find that the amount of salt she suggests to overwhelm the entire dish. So, I leave salt out altogether in cooking, adding it to taste just before serving.
Madhur Jaffrey is an international authority on Indian food and the host of several tandoori-driven TV shows. She walks you through each step of the process. Just follow her detailed directions and you will end up with mouth-watering dishes. Recipedelights.com recommends this illustrated book with more than 200 recipes, to non-Indians.
Mine just arrived, but WHERE ARE THE PICTURES? How do I know if what I'm doing is right? If you are a visual person, like I am, then don't bother. This book is strictly text. I'm giving this boom 2-stars but not because of the recipes, because I haven't tried, but I'd rather look for a book with more visual cues.