The India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant is advertised on the cover as being the only book on Indian food you’ll ever need. It is an enormous book containing 1000 recipes and 816 pages.
It starts with a brief but fascinating history of Indian food going through India’s regions and traditions. There is an extensive chapter on spices, mixtures and pastes.
Pushpesh Pant is an Indian academic and teacher born in 1947. His India Cookbook was named by The New York Times as one of the best cookbooks of the year 2011.
The book goes through all possible foods and drink, starting with nibbles, mains, “pulses” or legumes, breads, rice, desserts and drinks.
It is definitely a very complete book which has its place in your cookbook collection. Its recipes are easy to follow even if they contain many ingredients and sometimes many steps. This makes me think that they are very authentic. I have never been to India but I have been in many Indian restaurants, including unforgettable ones in London. I have just started using this book and have only made 5 recipes so far, some of them several times, and all of them were marvellous.
This is not only a cookbook, it’s an atmosphere, a “voyage”.
First you plunge into India’s culinary history and then inspired by the pictures (in separate sections) you will start to smell the wonderful spices under the weight of your pestle.
In this book you will see the most beautiful and simples pictures of dishes. There is not much styling there but this simple presentation makes things look doable. You feel like you will succeed and it is always a good start. There are many cookbooks in our shelves which present dishes which look so extraordinary that you feel you would need a team of 10 people to achieve them. Here the texts are simple, concise (unlike mine ;) with a clear list of ingredients, in the right order. The recipes contain clear steps.
The rice recipes look delicious…
See the lovely texts explaining the evolution of cooking in India through history.
Look at those stuff chillies…
There are many, many sorts of curries using all sorts of meats, fish and vegetables.
A lot of them are not like the usual restaurant very thick and fatty curries. You will see many very fragrant stew-looking dishes. I have tried two of those, they turned out really delicious.
This Murg ke Mokul from Rajasthan or Mildly Spiced Chicken is my favourite recipe so far. I had to cook it longer than indicated but probably because I do not have a gas stove but induction and probably not the classic Indian pan.
It has an ingredient list long like a baby’s arm… and takes a bit of time to make but it is a great week-end project and it is delicious the next days.
Learn how to thicken yoghurt in muslin, make it sour or smooth, soft or firm.
The glossary is big and very interesting. I advise you to read it completely before starting, as well as the “Notes on the recipes” at the beginning of the book. The author explains that you can skip ingredients or substitute them.
After you master one recipe as it should be executed, you can then vary things such as the chilli amount, or how much ghee you put (I put a lot less).
Vegetarian will find in this book a great source of inspiration. There are so many vegetable and legume recipes.
I was really impressed by the didactic aspect of this book. Each recipe contains ingredients which are explained at the end as well as the region of origin of each dish.
Fish recipes look delicious. I haven’t tried them yet.
This is my favourite curry recipe so far. I still have a few dozens to try :)
I have to experiment which yoghurt I should use as most “modern” yoghurt curdle. There seem to be, according to Mr Google, a few ways of avoiding commercial yoghurt to curdle but I haven’t tried yet.
Look at this creamy cardamom sauce.
I still have to experiment a lot with this book but what I have cooked so far was incredibly fragrant, very special and very exotic. The whole family loved it. I will probably keep on cooking with it all my life.
NOTE: this post is not sponsored