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India’s Vegetarian Cooking

The Indian Kitchen

Stylish Indian in Minutes


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Cookbook Collection:
Monisha Bharadwaj

On this page:

India’s Vegetarian Cooking

The Indian Kitchen

Stylish Indian in Minutes


The Indian Kitchen

The Indian Kitchen by Monisha Bharadwaj is, for me at least, a must-have Indian cookbook. To call it just a “cookbook” somehow diminishes its value. It’s a lush, rich encyclopaedia of ingredients common to kitchens on the subcontinent.

Monisha Bharadwaj I am a fairly well practised preparer of Indian food but there were even a few surprises for me. I began by just flicking through the pages and have finished by reading it from cover to cover in almost one sitting. It’s a book that is difficult to put down once opened.

The introduction is poetic: “...the kitchen can be the most fascinating room in an Indian home. Here, iridescent spices sparkle alongside huge boxes of Himalayan snow-washed rice, earthy lentils accentuate plump, dry fruits and rich, musky nuts sit next to jars of pearly sago and subja seeds.” You will love this book even if you had never tasted curry and didn’t intend to!

Each ingredient is listed by type. We start with From the Spice Box and continue to From the Grinding Stone and there are several other chapters all with equally evocative names.

The individual spices, seeds, nuts, grains etc. each have a general description and have paragraphs called Appearance and Taste, Buying and Storing, Culinary Uses, and then the recipes. Some items even have Medical Uses which will be of particular interest to anyone who prefers the natural approach to health care.

The photography is wonderful and the recipes are clear. It’s written in such a way as to hold your hand and give a bit of confidence, not only to the inexperienced cook but also to those of us with a few Biryanis under our belts who are trying something different.

Take an ordinary ingredient like an onion. Well, it’s several different types of fresh onions and powdered and flaked onions. There is a paragraph on how it grows, lots of lovely photographs and a couple of recipes. Onion Bhaji is a popular starter in Indian restaurants but they are easy to make at home and this recipe is particularly interesting as it has a different seasoning from my usual recipe. I am sure Monisha’s is an authentic version and my mouth is already watering at the prospect.

Indian bean dishes are comforting and delicious but seldom seen at the local “Calcutta Curry House”. Lobhia Ki Subzi (Spicy Black-eyed Beans) is gorgeous and I would have mine with some Indian bread. It’s simple to make and only has 3 tablespoons of oil for a dish for four people.

I can’t praise this book highly enough. I could say more but the best idea would be to go and buy a copy. Don’t even think of asking if you can borrow mine!

The Indian Kitchen
Author: Monisha Bharadwaj
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £14.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-659-8

food and travel reviews Monisha Bharadwaj

Stylish Indian in Minutes

Monisha Bharadwaj has a talent (in fact she has many, she is also a classical Indian dancer and an educator) for writing books that are little works of art. There are over 140 recipes in Stylish Indian in Minutes and all of them are mouth-watering and yet simple to make.

Stylish Indian in Minutes This volume just oozes class. Gus Filgate is one of the best photographers around and his stunning pictures are contrasted marvellously by black and white shots of striking Indian ladies and gentlemen at cocktail parties and dinners.

Monisha had found the preparation of authentic Indian food in the UK to be something of a challenge for her British friends. Her professional training had equipped her to produce classic dishes which were popular with everyone, but she wanted to develop recipes that gave the sense of smart home cooking to the British audience. The Indian cookbooks Monisha found in the UK presented Indian food as complicated, over-exotic and only to be tackled by those with endless time and the support of several assistants!

Her skill allowed Monisha to ditch the European-targeted Indian cookbooks and devise her own techniques to provide truly authentic dishes, the sort that are made by truly authentic Indians! All of the ingredients used in Stylish Indian in Minutes are true to the traditional concept but they are all readily available in the UK.

Obviously there are dishes from all over India that have lists of ingredients as long as your arm, but Stylish Indian offers delicious recipes that will not fill you with terror. You won’t need to attend culinary school in Mumbai to achieve lovely results.

The recipes are, as ever, superb and easy to follow and it’s difficult to pick my favourites. There is so much here that would be ideal for both vegetarians and certified carnivores. Kali Mirch Murg (Chicken Curry with Black Pepper) uses spices that you will already have in your larder to produce a succulent and flavourful dish in no time at all (don’t you just love that?). Maach Paturi (Bengali Fish in Mustard Sauce) is equally simple and would be a smashing dinner party dish or even, in my case, a nice little meal on Wednesday!

Stylish Indian in Minutes is well up to the standard of Monisha’s other books. The food is exceptional but accessible with fresh healthy flavours. It’s an ideal book for entertaining but you won’t want to wait for your friends to pay a visit, you’ll buy the ingredients on the way home from the bookshop!

Stylish Indian in Minutes
Author: Monisha Bharadwaj
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £14.99
ISBN 1-85626-458-0

food and travel reviews Monisha Bharadwaj

India’s Vegetarian Cooking

Indias vegetarian Cooking How does this woman do it? Monisha Bharadwaj presents us with the most gorgeous books, each one more sumptuous than the last. The photography of India by Jenner Zimmermann is stunning and the food photography by Will Heap is almost edible.

India’s Vegetarian Cooking is a regional guide to some of the most traditional and delectable recipes from every corner of the subcontinent. You will recognise some of them that have become popular restaurant fare but there are many more that will be new to most of us. There are, in fact, over 130 dishes which typify so much that is fine about Indian vegetarian cuisine.

India’s Vegetarian Cooking isn’t just a cookbook but it is liberally laced with Monisha’s poetic prose which will add so much to your understanding of the religious context, historic evolution and ayurvedic perspective of food in India. The author has been lucky in her choice of parents who encouraged their young daughter to try new foods and to appreciate them in their unique regional setting.

Monisha Bharadwaj writes with passion and evident pride about her love of all things culinary: “... my love of food and cooking developed. It was almost like a bud opening into a flower, the myriad taste sensations gradually becoming more and more distinct as I grew up.” Not only is this lady a fabulous cook but her writing is rich, colourful and evocative.... I think she models herself on me!

You’ll want to know a bit more about the food and I can tell you it’s scrumptious. Whilst not being a fully certified vegetarian, I don’t eat much meat and seldom eat red meat. These recipes would, however, entice even the most committed meat-eater with their flavourful ingredients and comforting textures. Each one is easy to follow and not expensive to produce.

I am a big fan of lentils of all types and Tangy Lentils with Crisp Bread (Dal Pakwan) is exceptional. But one of my all time favourites is Potato and Garlic Balls Encased in Batter (Batata Vada). It’s typical Mumbai street food with a lovely crisp outside and a soft tasty interior. There are so many recipes here that deserve a mention...well, probably 130 of them!

India’s Vegetarian Cooking is a “must have” for any lover of India and her food but also for the discerning collector of cookbooks. This is a classy book from a classy writer.

India’s Vegetarian Cooking
Author: Monisha Bharadwaj
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £14.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-792-2


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