Tired of eating out? This trio of cookbooks will kickstart your curry career and transform you into an expert spicemaker.
The New Tastes of India Das Sreedharan, Dhs78 Das Sreedharan is a native of Kerala, the owner of a chain of wildly successful restaurants and the current darling of the UK food press. His Rasa eatery was twice named Best Vegetarian Restaurant by Time Out London and his collection of 100 southern Indian veg recipes has a foreword by Jamie Oliver, who describes it as ‘a really wicked book’. Dubious celebrity endorsements aside, this sleek tome is an essential for vegetarian chilli aficionados, stuffed as it is with stunningly colourful food shots and gratifyingly simple recipes. In a matter of minutes Sreedharan will have you whipping up mushroom and cashew nut samosas, onion chapattis and aubergines stuffed with mustard and chilli. Kookier hits include yam in yoghurt sauce, snake gourd with dal, and a Veluthulli curry made almost entirely of garlic.
Floyd’s India Keith Floyd, Dhs96 The world’s favourite alcoholic chef sets off on a culinary trip around India. He spends two and a half months pitching up in obscure towns dressed in outslandish kurtas, erecting a makeshift kitchen in the middle of the main street and cooking elaborate curries to the bafflement of the locals. The fruits of his tour are captured in this witty travelogue/ recipe book, a knowing romp through Goa, Rajasthan, Bengal and the Punjab. The chef pleads with readers not to follow the recipes too slavishly, as he’s not sure he’s got the quantities correct – you’re also excused for not cooking your allepey fish, lamb dhansak and tomato bhajis over dried cow dung à la Floyd. A cheerily slapdash, eccentrically upbeat work which should give your dinner party routine a shot to the arm.
The Dance of Spices Laxmi Hiremath The authentic Indian feel of Laxmi’s 450-page opus is somewhat diminished when you read the chapter entitled ‘handy hints from my American kitchen’. She haemorrhages further credibility with the crowbarred-in family references – ‘Grandma’s tamarind-laced potato’, ‘My mother’s heirloom spice blend’ etc. The book is photo-free, which makes it heavy going at times. However, if you’re in the market for a serious introduction to Indian food then this is for you – you’ll learn to make everything from your own poppadoms to Indian breath mints. Once you’ve absorbed lessons about spice preparation, you should quickly graduate to such impressive delights as Malvan halibut simmered in green sauce, tandoori Cornish game hen stuffed with mango and Kerala mussel chowder.