Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review: Quick-Fix Indian

Summary: For too long, Indian cuisine has been perceived as complex and time-consuming to prepare. Quick-Fix Indian aims at making Indian cooking accessible to everybody—the beginner, the experienced cook, absolutely anyone wanting to try his or her hand at a new cuisine.

The 125 dishes in Quick-Fix Indian are modern and fresh, yet rooted in tradition. These recipes are identifiable as Indian, but that's where the familiarity ends—most of these recipes haven't been seen before, anywhere.

While the dishes are simple to make, they are by no means simplistic. They are bright, modern, and complex tasting, belying the fact that they only took 30 minutes or less to prepare. The recipes range from quick breakfasts and soups, to curries, snacks, and sweet drinks. Some of the recipes included are: Red Potato and Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Green Masala Lamb Curry, Beet Raita with Cilantro and Lemon, Sweet Rice with Saffron and Sultanas, Scrambled Eggs with Coconut and Curry Leaves, Pan Fried Eggplant with Ginger, Coriander Shrimp with Green Zucchini and Red Chiles, and kid favorite Banana Fritters.

While most of the recipes use easy-to-acquire ingredients, there are a few that will require a trip to a health-food or Indian store. As an added bonus, the book also lists 'exotic' substitutions for readers who'd like to try them. For example, mustard oil adds a special zing to the Sprouted Mung Bean Salad, but canola oil works just fine.

And finally, this cookbook is fun. Written in a lighthearted manner, Quick-Fix Indian amuses readers while also providing solid information. -- Andrews McMeel

Just over the past year or so, I've discovered Indian cuisine and I love it. My neighbors opened an Indian restaurant and I found myself "visiting" them on a pretty regular basis so I could sample the lunch buffet. As much as I enjoy the food, I haven't felt like I was ready to take the plunge and make my own Indian meals. It just seems like so much expense to have the ingredients on hand, and some of the recipes are a ton of work. And one more thing... no one in my family will eat the stuff. So I've just figured it's not worth the effort.

That was before QUICK-FIX INDIAN: EASY, EXOTIC DISHES IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS by Ruta Kahate arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago. My initial impression was that the cover was absolutely gorgeous and it looked like something I would actually eat. Then, I realized that the title said "quick fix" and I was giddy with excitement. I wondered if this cookbook might be the answer to my dilemma of cooking Indian dishes.

And I think QUICK-FIX INDIAN is a great cookbook for me especially given my resource constraints. The author really "gets" busy moms and she has tailored some traditional Indian dishes to fit a busy schedule. While Ms. Kahate used to do everything by scratch (even grind the spices), she learned that simple is better for some people; and as a result, she discovered shortcuts and quick-cooking ingredients that don't compromise taste.

I really like the way Ms. Kahate has presented her quick-fix concepts. She realizes that not everyone plans every meal, and she begins the book with a shopping list of ingredients that every Indian pantry should have on hand. Almost all of these ingredients are ones that are readily available at your local supermarket. The next section is pretty cool too. It's called Shopping List Demystified and she gives loads of information about many of the ingredients including where they come from and their health benefits.

The next chapter in QUICK-FIX INDIAN is called Shortcut Shelf and this section provides recipes for many of the basics of Indian cooking. For example, there are simple recipes for ghee, garlic and ginger paste, paneer, and various masalas. The author is also quick to point out that if you can purchase these ingredients as well to save even more time.

The remainder of the cookbook is full of traditional (and some not-so-traditional) Indian recipes. The chapters are as follows: Brisk Breakfasts, Lightning Lunches, Swift Soups, Speedy Salads and Raitas, Mains in Minutes, Express Veggies, Snappy Staples, Curries in a Hurry (Dals, too), Rapid Relishes, Zippy Snacks, Double-Quick Desserts, and Last-Minute Libations. As you can see, there are lots of recipes and  a little something for everyone.

I can honestly say that I want to make so many things from QUICK-FIX INDIAN including the Savory Coconut Rice, the Stir-Fried Beef with Peppers, and the Chicken and Cilantro-Lime Soup. The recipes are not intimidating in the least so that's a plus, and the ingredients are fairly easy to make and/or find. My only concern is that I will eat the entire meal since my family is not adventurous in their food choices.

I decided to make something very quick and simple from the Zippy Snack section called One-Minute Chana. (I wasn't kidding when I said quick and simple.) It's probably the easiest recipe in the entire cookbook, but I had my reasons. First of all, one of my very favorite Indian dishes is Chana Masala -- I love it. However, I tend to eat a lot of it along with a lot of rice and a lot of naan. I don't even want to know how many calories I consume from this meal. This One-Minute Chana is pretty much the opposite of the real deal since it has no oil or heavy spices. I just took a can of chickpeas with some fresh lemon juice, salt and Garam Masala and stirred. That's it! And I thought it was very good and very healthy... and perfect for my diet.

Overall, I think QUICK-FIX INDIAN is a great cookbook for people who want to try cooking Indian food but have been reluctant to do so... for whatever reason. Most definitely recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this cookbook.

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Marg said...

We like Indian food but yes, don't often cook from scratch because it seems to complicated. This could be the perfect cookbook for our house too!

bermudaonion said...

I've never had Indian food and think this sounds like a great way to give it a try.

Alex said...

I love Indian food, but have only made vindaloo. Maybe I should check out this cookbook and try some other dishes.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds great to me! I love Chana Masala also!!!

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I have not made much Indian food, but this book sounds like the perfect place to start; a wonderful review.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like the real deal, because she tells you how to get started by stocking your pantry. I like the sound of this book.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I LOVE Indian food, but it does take know-how to prepare so this cookbook sounds perfect for me!

Beth F said...

I can't wait to jump in a cook from this. I love Indian food.

Unknown said...

This sounds like a great cookbook. I love Indian food but I've never tried to cook any myself, aside from just using the jarred sauce at Trader Joes.

Rachel @chaosisafriendofmine