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I like this book alot. BUT.....many of the recipes state mustard oil. It seems to be banned in the UK? If it's not banned i'd very much like to know where I can buy it. If it is banned then this is very careless from the Editorial team (and really annoying).
Have really enjoyed trying out these recipes during the lockdowns. I have made some slight adjustments to some of them, for example I might add more vegetables when non are included, or when I cannot get hold of all the ingredients.
4.0 out of 5 starsGreat book but be prepared to go shopping!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 February 2019
This is a great idea - everyone loves Indian food but they are, perhaps, not always the healthiest choice! This book has lots of ideas to keep things healthier but staying tasty at the same time. The recipes are clearly documented with lovely illustrations and there are some really nice things to try. My only (minor) complaint is that it claims what most books of this type do - that everything can made with store-cupboard stuff you are already going to have so it's simple to rustle something up whenever you feel like it. In reality most of the best recipes call for things you will probably need to go shopping for - chickpea flour, curry leaves etc - so you will need to plan and shop before you cook! However the results are very impressive!
4.0 out of 5 starsModernised Indian cooking - but some lack of attention to detail
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 December 2019
I was taught to cook some basic Indian recipes with the help of the classic Madhur Jaffrey 'Eastern Vegetarian Cooking' which takes some beating in its attention to detail, variety and explanation of ingredients.
This book is more modern, so scores well on several points. It is beautifully illustrated, so you know what the end result is supposed to look like. It has several recipes which you can cook once and then vary quickly for dinner or lunch during the course of a week, reflecting how short people are of time during the working week. Many of the ingredients it uses are readily accessible in UK towns and cities - so if you have a store cupboard of Indian spices you can buy fresh at a supermarket or street market to make the meal. It suggests menu combinations. There are some nice pickles to make.
It is however, as several of the most critical reviewers have complained, very bland. It also lacks attention to detail.
Last night, I tested the recipe for tadka dal - which I am used to eating at one of my friend's homes. I was immediately suspicious of the recipe, because it did not suggest soaking or washing the dal or pigeon peas, although apparently this is not compulsory. Loads of froth came up when I did. It then optimistically suggested that total cooking time would be twenty minutes plus twenty minutes with extra water. As I suspected, this was optimistic - a good thing I was not in a rush, and was cooking for the following day. Eventual cooking time was over an hour - I left it in a pot in the Aga for part of the time where it matured nicely. The recipe suggested I should cook the dal just with water, ground turmeric and lots of salt. This did not seem particularly healthy or tasty - I think the idea is that you add the flavours afterwards, but I was not convinced. So I added some curry leaves I had in the freezer and some slivers of ginger from the freezer. Others add onion and garlic. The result is fine. I just didn't feel very helped along the way.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 February 2019
Meera Sodha has been my go to for Indian inspired dishes for the past few years but this book will be usurping her place for now. There is a lot to like. The book is very unfussy. There is no breakfast section (hooray!) or endless pages about "essential" kitchen equipment and store cupboard ingredients that would cost a fortune. You can open it and get started. There are lots of vegetarian recipes and most, but by no means all, use ingredients and spices that are very easily available. A lot of the recipes I want to try have use fresh curry leaves, but despite living in a city with a few specialist shops they only stocked dried leaves. It would have been useful if Chetna indicated if fresh leaves were totally necessary or optional and that the dish would still taste good without them (as other authors often do in their books). Tumeric root is another ingredient in a simple potato and kale dish that I liked the look of, I can get that fairly locally but it is about £2.50 and I wouldn't be able to use such a large root up, I don't cook Asian food everyday, so could I use dried turmeric? or is the root really necessary to make the dish great? I cook on a tight budget so ordering online with eye watering delivery costs is not on for me.
There is a great chicken curry dish, Onion and whole spice chicken curry, which I've swapped out for the Meera Sodha Mum's chicken curry I usually cook every few weeks. I particularly like the vegetables and lentils and grains sections as we are largely vegetarian and the dishes such as Aubergine and coconut curry, stuffed peppers, masala cauliflower potatoes, black eyed peas with cavolo nero recipes that we have tried so far have been very tasty and easy to cook. I also have my eye on the rice section where there are rice dishes with mushrooms and onion or packed with green veg etc. and the chutneys which seem easy to make(but will leave those to a weekend).
I know that if I don't cook within two weeks of getting a new recipe book then I'm not going to use it but I've been inspired enough with this one to plan recipes and order the ingredients and put them in my meal plans for the week. I needed to change out my Indian recipe reportoire a bit but am also short of time do need simple and easy dishes and these have delivered.
I wouldn't have bought this book based on Chetna's experience as a Bake off contestant, that actually put me off, but I'm impressed.
The books contents are: a short introduction and a page of suggested meal plans. Then onto the recipes: Salads, Vegetables, Grains and lentils, fish, chicken, flatbreads and rice, chutneys and pickles, a small section of sweets
4.0 out of 5 starsExcellent healthy indian recipes with variations
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 February 2019
I like Chetna's recipe book. It has many dishes with multiple options which was very useful. Spicy chickpeas, Four Ways was particularly good. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. If you are used to cooking Indian food, then you will have many of the required ingredients, however I advise checking through the book to bring together a bunch of the most popular spices required. Asafoetida ( Devil's dung!) was an ingredient I found difficulty in sourcing and it would have been good if Chetna had offered an alternative, but it is minor quibble in what is a very good cookbook.
A review from the wife...This is a handy recipe book with a good range of delicious recipes. I love the fact that it has several different vegetarian options. Most of the recipes I have tried have been very quick to make which makes these recipes very viable for an evening after work meal. I wouldn't necessarily call all the recipes 'healthy' or diet foods necessarily however they offer a great balance of delicious, complementary tastes. I would particularly recommend the spicy chickpea and chicken curry bake, coconut chicken curry and red kidney bean curry. If you're looking for some delicious Indian food that can made in short time with little effort, then I would highly recommend this book.