JULY 2016
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Cookbook Review

By nitish s. Rele

Vegetarian India: A Journey through the best of Indian home cooking

“Vegetarian India: A Journey through the best of Indian home cooking,” by Madhur Jaffrey; 422 pages; $35; published by Alfred A. Knopf. (www.aaknopf.com)

The last time we spoke to the celebrated cookbook author and actor was on the eve of “Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India.” Then, Madhur Jaffrey went down nostalgia lane with a lesson in the history of Delhi, eight-year stay in Kanpur, summer holidays in Shimla, family picnics in the capital, pains of partition and the aftermath. In her latest cookbook, the 16th we believe, Jaffrey once again takes the reader on an adventurous ride, this time all over India. It’s in the privacy of homes, cafes and temples, parties, wedding banquets and religious festivals that one can find the real vegetarian dishes, she notes. And rightly so.

In Bombay, she visits two vegetarian jewelers to watch what they ate for lunch and how they ate it. Where? The Taj Mahal Palace! The end result is a Simple Toovar Dal recipe from the home of Ravi Gandhi, owner of the jewelry shop Gazdar. The recipe, Soya Granules with Potatoes, is courtesy of Dell’ Arte Inde, another jewelry shop in the same hotel. Then we are off to the Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi for Cauliflower with Ajowan and Ginger. In the same city, Jaffrey drops in at the Chinmaya Mission to taste their Spicy Paneer Slices. In Andhra Pradesh, she picks up cooking tips from Nizams, chili auctions, Kayasta women who are vegetarian weavers, and the Potatoes in a Marwari Style recipe from a clothing designer in Hyderabad! In the neighboring state of Karnataka, Jaffrey was inspired by women from different communities who conducted cooking sessions. They were from the Madhwa community specializing in foods from the Udupi Temple; Kodava women from Coorg forests; and women cooking foods of the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins and Palghat Iyers.

In all, there are more than 200 recipes with illustrations throughout as well as photos the seven-time James Beard Award-winning author has taken during her travels. The easy-to-follow recipes are separated by chapters such as Soups, Appetizers, and Snacks; Vegetables; Dals: Dried Bean and Legumes; Grains: Rice, Semolina, and Quinoa; Grains: Breads, Pancakes, Savories, and Noodles; Eggs and Dairy; Chutneys, Relishes, and Salads; Drinks, Sweets, and Desserts. There also is a short note on different ingredients used in Indian cooking such as red and green chilies, curry leaves, cumin seeds and tarka.

Here are just two of the recipes reproduced with permission from the publisher:

green lentil curry kaleGREEN LENTIL CURRY WITH KALE

Haray Lentils Aur Kale

This is almost a meal in itself, nutritionally complete if you add some whole-grain pita bread (or rice) and yogurt on the side. You could also convert it into a soup by adding a mugful of water or stock toward the end of the cooking time.

Serves 4-6


  1. Put the lentils, turmeric, and 2 pints water into a medium pan and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the cayenne, beans, kale, cilantro, carrots, and salt. Stir and bring to a boil again. Cover partially and cook gently for another 20 minutes.

  1. Meanwhile, make the curry paste: combine the ginger, garlic, ground cumin, and coriander in a small bowl, then mix in 2 fl oz water.

  1. Pour the oil into a medium frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the whole cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for 5 seconds, then add the shallots. Stir and fry until lightly browned. Add the curry paste and fry until you can see the oil along the edges, about 1 ½ minutes. Add the tomato puree and fry for about another minute, until you see the oil along the edges.

  1. When the lentils have finished cooking, add the contents of the frying pan. Stir and cook gently for another 5 minutes.

moong dal pancakesMOONG DAL PANCAKES

Cheela, Pooras

Made all over India, this savory pancake is exceedingly popular in the north as a breakfast dish. My mother often made it for us on Sundays. It is eaten with chutneys, pickles, and yogurt relishes (see page 303). You could also have it instead of a chapatti at lunch or dinner, with a cauliflower or potato dish and a raita.

The batter can be made a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated. It can also be frozen.

Makes about 9

  1. Drain the dal and place in a blender. Add the chilies, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cilantro, salt, and ¾ cup water. Blend thoroughly, then empty into a bowl. Add the shallots, then stir in 3 tablespoons of water.

  2. Put the oil in a small bowl and stick a teaspoon in it. Have two plates nearby to hold the pancakes as they are made. Measure 1/3 cup water into a ladle and mentally note the level to get an idea of how much batter you will need each time.

  3. Set a medium nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat and add a teaspoon of the oil. When hot, stir the batter from the bottom and pour a ladleful into the center of the pan. Let it sit for a second or so, then lightly use the ladle or the back of a spoon to spread it outward in a continuous spiral motion. When it is about 5 inches in diameter, use a spatula to spread the batter outward from the center. Use a light touch so you do not disturb the bottom layer and spread evenly. Aim for a diameter of 7-8 inches. Dribble a teaspoon of oil on the top and just outside the rim of the pancake, cover, and cook for about 2 minutes or until the underside has turned golden red. Flip the pancake over and cook the second side, uncovered, for 1 minute, transfer it to a plate and cover with an upside-down plate.

  4. Stir the batter from the bottom each time you make a new one.

homeeventsbiz directorysubscribecontact uscontent newseditor's notehealthimmigration
financeayurveda/NUTRITIONmoviesfashionmusic/art/dancebooks/getawaysUS-Indo businessbeat
IIFA 2014astrologyyouthcuisinemotoringplaces of worshipclassifiedsarchivesBLOGFACEBOOK
Read the Editor's Blog. By Nitish Rele Classifieds Motoring Cuisine Astrology Art/Youth Books Fashion Movies Finance Immigration Health Editorial News Content Find us on Facebook!