Book: Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni, will help you master a seemingly complex cuisine
The New York-based former executive chef makes Indian cooking sound easy, calling it “the easiest of all international cuisines”. Besides recipes, she covers everything from ingredients to equipments; the only downside is the lack of photographs
Indian cooking – or to be precise, good Indian cooking – is a wonderfully complex blend of spices and flavours. Much of what the average restaurant serves is not good Indian cooking: all the dishes taste the same, as if the cooks have three sauces simmering in pots, to which they add paneer, chicken, vegetables or fish, according to what the customer orders.
In Classic Indian Cooking, Julie Sahni tries to make preparing Indian food sound easy. She writes: “There is no mystical secret behind Indian cooking. It is, in fact, the easiest of all international cuisines; the utensils needed are few and simple and the cooking techniques, except for several that are exclusively Indian, are similar to those familiar to Americans and Europeans.”
But then she continues: “Knowledge of how to use spices and herbs is the key that will unlock the secrets of the seductive flavors and tantalizing aromas in Indian cooking. Knowing the quantities required is only the first step. As you start preparing Indian dishes, you will begin to develop a sense of how the spices and herbs behave with the other ingredients in the dish. Some herbs and spices are used as aromatics, some lend coloring, while others function as souring agents. There are spices that give a hot taste to the food and others that thicken or tenderize a dish. Once you understand the different proportions of the various spices and herbs, gain a sense of how they interact, and master the techniques in using them, the classic dishes of India will neither seem a mystery nor be difficult to create.”
Doesn’t sound very easy to me.