It is the year of the Indian Cookbook! They are mushrooming on the shelves of all major book stores . To make a choice is quite difficult . Many of them promise Indian food in minutes, speedy ways to produce a notoriously fiddly cuisine with roasted, toasted ,whole and ground spices added at the start, middle and end of cooking.
Quick and Easy Indian Cookbook is another one in the same genre. Large droolworthy photographs to inspire you and a range of dishes arranged in a structure that suggests a western meal: Starters and Appetizers, Mutton, Chicken , Fish, Vegetables, and Desserts with the addition of Lentils and Chutneys .
The interesting thing is that the book is an accompaniment to the Three Sisters main dish….a masala dabba! And that is what makes the recipes really quick and easy. They market a spice box of their own with seventeen key spices and the recipes in the book use ONLY those spices. No more scrabbling around in the larder for little used masalas or running out to the grocery store to buy yet another spice.
You can make up your own masala box as the spices are listed in the beginning of the book.
The authors have managed to create a range of flavours with the seventeen spices in their dishes .They have tried to give a taste of several regional foods with an emphasis on South Indian food and the tang of street food . Most of the recipes do not require too much preparation. As the Sisters say “ We promise our readers….. keeping cooking to a minimum time limit without any loss of food value…”
The introduction helps to keep things simple and there is a short chapter on time saving tips, your Indian food larder and how to store foods. A few essential recipes are given at the outset, a ginger garlic paste, how to make paneer, a chaat masala spice mix, and tamarind, mint and coriander chutneys, the staple of street food vendors.
The Kashmiri origins of the sisters is revealed in the Kashmir Lamb Rogan Josh, Safed Gajar ka Shorba and Haak amongst others, but there is a genuine attempt to cross borders . These recipes that could be replicated in most countries .
I have enjoyed cooking several of the recipes in the last month and liked their take on a popular North Indian style mushroom and tomato vegetable: Kadahi Gucchi Aur Tamatar
3 tbs oil
1 dried red chilli, left whole
1 onion chopped
1 tbs Ginger garlic paste
300 gm (10 oz) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
450 gms (14 ½ oz) button mushrooms, washed and halved
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 green chilli, left whole
2 tbs freshly chopped coriander leaves
From the spice box:
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp chilli
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp garam masala
Dry roast the coriander seeds from the whole spices in a hot frying pan over medium heat for 30 seconds or until light brown. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based shallow frying pan over high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add the dreid red chilli, followed by the onion.
Stir for 1 minute and then add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the mixture is soft and translucent.
Add the gorund spices, except the garam masala, and some salt followed by the tomatoes. Stir to combine the mixture and to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Add the mushrooms and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes> Stir , cover and boil for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid and thicken the sauce.
Stir in the black pepper, roasted coriander seeds and the green chilli and stir a few times. Stir in the garam masala and then finish with a sprinkling of the coriander leaves.