Book Review: New Indian Kitchen

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Indian cuisine is a favourite of many expats, and why not? The seductive aromas and time-tested combinations of exotic spices like cumin, fenugreek, coriander seeds, nutmeg, cloves, fennel seeds, cardamom, anise, and cinnamon – as well as pepper, the “spice that launched a thousand ships” – have earned Indian food a permanent seat at the table for the world’s great cuisines. Dry roasted, smoked, or heated in oil, these spices didn’t just put Southeast Asia on the map for Europeans, they gave the cuisines of the region an unmistakable and inimitable character, and few places can be as readily identified with certain spices as India.

Born and raised in Goa, cooking instructor Sapna Anand ended up going places, much like the traders and colonists that left their mark on her homeland. Her travels and experiences changed the way she saw and cooked the food she grew up with and encountered on her journeys. She eventually came to Malaysia, where she currently teaches at Hellen Fong’s At 19 Culinary Studio.

Sapna’s New Indian Kitchen, a MPH Masterclass Kitchen-series cookbook, features a variety of dishes that are primarily from the Indian regions of Kerala, Goa, and northern India. Each recipe is a milestone in her life’s journey, vividly coloured and flavoured by the dishes, sweets and snacks made by family, friends, and neighbours.

The book starts out with the basics – the common ingredients of Indian cuisine, techniques, methods, how to make those essential Indian spice blends, even a quick primer on making your own paneer cheese.

The recipes are divided into four categories: Brunch & Bites, Meals Best Shared with Family & Friends, Quick & Easy Meals, and Something Sweet, to help you decide what to cook and serve for which occasion. “I have used my education in French pastry and familiarity with Western cooking to add an interesting twist to the traditional recipes,” says the author. Many of the recipes are quite simple, yet yield delectable results. Try the Mango Avocado Salad, a very basic salad with romaine and ripe mango, with a dressing made with avocado, fresh coriander leaves, honey, cumin seeds, olive oil, and lemon juice. This is something you can whip up in 10 minutes, and improvise on, as the author suggests, adding leftover grilled chicken, for example, or dried cranberries.

Alongside such traditional and familiar fare as Chicken Biryani, Raita, and Kebabs are Edamame Upma, a beautiful Achari Chicken Tart, and an East-meets-West fusion Keema Lasagna, among others – examples of how she uses the cooking techniques she picked up to breathe new life into the time-tested flavours of her homeland. Be sure to try the mouthwatering Lamb and Chicken Kebabs, a ubiquitous offering in India, from street vendors to fine dining venues. If you’re a die-hard foodie or just want to expand your own culinary repertoire in the kitchen to include the delicious flavours and traditional techniques of Indian cooking, this is one book that needs to be in your home.

Sapna Anand’s New Indian Kitchen is part of the MPH Masterclass Kitchen series published by MPH Group Publishing. It is available at all major bookstores at RM39.90 per copy.

Source: The Expat Magazine August 2014

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