Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking Reviews
May 18, 2011 by admin
Filed under Indian food cookbooks
Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking
- ISBN13: 9780688049959
- Condition: New
- Notes: BRAND NEW FROM PUBLISHER! 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Tracking provided on most orders. Buy with Confidence! Millions of books sold!
Julie Sahni’s remarkable ability to make authentic Indian cooking accessible to American cooks continues to make her first book, Classic Indian Cooking, the definitive work of its kind.This is her long-awaited second book. To prepare it, Julie Sahni traveled extensively throughout the regions of her native India, to assemble a splendid second volume of Indian culinary delights. Whereas her first book explored the riches of Moghul cuisine, this totally new collection systematically reveals the n
List Price: $ 30.00
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A great start toward Indian cooking,
My wife and I received this book a month ago, for Christmas 2002, and have been cooking our way through it ever since. We are both vegetarians and, while not Indian, have had authentic Indian cooked food.
The recipes are fairly well done, easy to follow, and obviously well tested. Unlike some cook books, the times are correct, the food tastes “right,” and the descriptions are accurate. It is well worth having this book as a good introduction to Indian style cooking. Try the Eggplant and Potato side dish (as a main course) over rice, it’s wonderful!
There are a few minor annoyances that cause me to only give four stars rather than five. First, the index is horrible. Looking up dishes by the Indian names is tedious as the book has been almost over Americanized. Second, with a title with the word “classic,” I am disappointed in the number of items that tell me to “buy this at the store/nobody makes these from scratch anymore/this is too complex, here is a simplified version” in this book. I appreciate the information, but I don’t want the variation, at least not without the true recipe too. Third, even most of the side dishes will feed an army. Not being Indian, I would like even more information on meal planning than is given. If I made all the things suggested, we would be eating the same meal for a week straight!
Finally, the book doesn’t go into much detail about the different regions and I would prefer to have things divided into regions as well. Again, these are minor, and I recommend this book as a good first book, but the recipes are good, so give it a shot! Oh, there are some typos in the book too, and considering how long it has been in print, they should have been fixed long ago!
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I’m Not a Vegetarian,
I can imagine becoming a vegetarian for reasons of social conscience, but it hasn’t happened yet. I do, however, have vegetarian friends who tolerate my lack of enlightenment, and I do sometimes cook for them. On such occasions, if I feel like challenging myself, this is the cookbook to which I turn for inspiration.
Julie Sahni offers clear enough descriptions of the tasks involved in classic Indian cooking so that anyone who’s a halfway good cook in any other style can easily produce something delicious from her recipes. I never follow recipes exactly except when I use this book; I’ve learned from trial and error that whatever Julie says is right. The lessons she offers in nutrition – balancing grains with lentils and other pulses; using spices to AID digestion; conserving nutrients in the cooking process – are invariably worth learning.
The cookbook begins with eighty pages of descriptions of the basic ingredients of Indian vegetarian cooking, especially the spices and spice blends. Julie tells us which spices can be ground or purchased ground in advance without sacrificing flavor, and which cannot. Lots of recipes in the newspapers, for instance, call for “garam masala” as if there were only one blend of spices under that name. Julie offers five quite different blends of aromatic and piquant spices, all regional garam masalas, and tells us when each is appropriate.
Some of the best recipes in the book are for pilafs and hearty stews. Then there are clear instrutions for making two dozen sorts of Indian breads and dumplings. Home-made chutneys, I can tell you, are way tastier than gunk from jars. Cauliflower stuffed with nuts and greens is one of my favorite showy dishes for company. How about ‘tiny new potatoes smothered in fenugreek leaves?’ She includes instructions for growing a pot of fenugreek from seeds. Cardamom ice cream and rose petal rice pudding are always show-stopper desserts. There are also ideas for whole menus – combinations of dishes both for aesthetic and nutritioal balance.
I have half a dozen Indian cookbooks – gifts from friends mostly – but Julie Sahni’s is the only one that’s speckled with food stains and oil smudges. Honorable decorations for a cookbook, indicating frequent use.
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publishers, please correct the errors!,
This book has been in print since 1985 – proof enough that it’s not just another vegetarian book or indian cookbook, but a particularly good one. The recipes are excellent – some of them intriguing; the introduction is thorough; the index is good; recipes sometimes include ingredients that can’t be found outside India, for authenticity’s sake, but alternatives are also suggested in most cases; and the writing style is clear.
But I won’t give it 5 stars. To me, a book is the responsibility not only of the author, but also the publisher. It’s just not acceptable to leave errors in a 20-year-old book, such as the dish from Mysore that turns out to be from Bangalore, or a reference to Tanjore as the site of the Meenakshi temple (that left me wondering – did they get the temple wrong, or is the recipe from Madurai?). Also, if I’m going to pay for a hardcover edition, I expect it to be durable, not start falling apart at the (glued-together) seams the minute I start using it.
Also, I agree with another reviewer that this book should have had a lot more on other grains, especially millet and sorghum which are very popular in India but almost never available in restaurants.
And I might as well mention my pet peeve with both Sahni’s books: why the distinction between side dishes and main dishes? I find it meaningless – it would have made more sense to put veg with veg, dal with dal, etc.
Still, if you like Indian cooking and don’t want to limit yourself to what your corner curry house can offer, and if you want to learn about a vegetarian tradition which is far and away the richest in the world, you will find this book very enjoyable.
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