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Mostly Food & Travel Journal

Aah! Chocolate

Cooking with Olive Oil

Dal and Kadhi

Khazana of Indian Recipes

Low Calorie Vegetarian Cookbook

Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking

No-Oil Cooking

Royal Hyderabadi Cooking (with Harpal Singh Sokhi)

The Yellow Chilli Cookbook

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Cookbook Collection:
Sanjeev Kapoor

On this page:

Aah! Chocolate

Cooking with Olive Oil

Dal and Kadhi

Khazana of Indian Recipes

Low Calorie Vegetarian Cookbook

Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking

No-Oil Cooking

Royal Hyderabadi Cooking (with Harpal Singh Sokhi)

The Yellow Chilli Cookbook

Aah! Chocolate

Sanjeev Kapoor is perhaps the most recognised face in India. He isn’t a Bollywood star although he probably has just as many supporters. No, he is a chef with impeccable culinary credentials and his own food TV network called Food Food. But this book appeals to lovers of chocolate across the globe.

asian cookbook review Aah! Chocolate has its focus on that universal sweet delight. Good food in general crosses national boundaries and chocolate does just that in delicious fashion. Sanjeev presents simple recipes that will inspire even those who thought they had a collection of every choccy recipe ever penned. This chef draws from his Indian food background to introduce the reader to some Asian departures from standard European recipes.

We have all made chocolate cakes for birthdays, and chocolate brownies will never go out of fashion, but this book has some other simple sweets that have taste, beauty and impact. Chocolate has always been a classy ingredient and, let us not be a cocoa snob, we can admit to enjoying the less sophisticated milk chocolate and white chocolate, which technically isn’t chocolate at all. Sanjeev has garnished these pages with classics and innovation, using every shade of chocolate and hints of Indian je ne sais quoi (or whatever that is in Hindi).

Hot Chocolate Nut Sundae is a dish, or more accurately a suitable glass, that the kids will love to assemble. It’s ice cream with nuts and chocolate sauce as one would expect, but then add grapes and oranges and you have a dinner party dessert; but it’s the pomegranate that makes this exotic …and rather adult.

An afternoon drink for those hot London summers (one can dream) is Chocolate Lassi. This is pure fusion with chocolate being a European staple and lassi putting in a regular appearance at Indian restaurants across the world. This is quick to prepare, silky and decadent.

For those with a veritable addiction Aah! Chocolate has a triple-layer chocolate mousse. It’s easy to prepare but the end result of those labours will be a memorable, restaurant-quality finale for the smartest of gatherings or a romantic interlude. Sanjeev suggests a scattering of white chocolate chips as decoration, and I have used edible gold glitter to great effect.

Mithai are Indian sweets and Aah! Chocolate has a selection with chocolate as their key ingredient. They are distinctly Indian but that chocolate makes them an appropriate inclusion in a thoroughly English Afternoon Tea spread, or with a cup of coffee at the end of any dinner of whatever culinary hue.

Chocolate Burfi is a mithai for which to die. The only truly Indian ingredient is mawa (also called khoya) but this is found in all Indian supermarkets. It’s a set milk product used extensively for sweets from the Subcontinent. This particular preparation is a two-layer confection of white and brown burfi. A box of this would make a striking gift for any food lover although it’s doubtful you will want to give any away. Make a double recipe and have a clear conscience.

Aah! Chocolate is a book that will gladden the heart of any home cook and particularly those with a sweet tooth. Chocolate is romantic so consider giving this book to your special chocoholic in the hopes of a sample of the resulting treats in exchange. Sanjeev Kapoor is celebrated for his food style and imagination – Aah! Chocolate is a fine addition to his portfolio.

Aah! Chocolate
Author: Sanjeev Kapoor
Published by: Popular Prakashan
Price: Rs 595

food and travel reviews Sanjeev Kapoor

Cooking with Olive Oil

An acquaintance gave me this book, Cooking with Olive Oil. I was rather surprised. No, in truth I was shocked.

The title ‘Cooking with Olive Oil’ explains just what this book is about. Europeans, and especially those fortunate enough to live an olive-pit’s throw from the Mediterranean have used this “green gold” for millennia. It has been widely promoted as a healthy food, natural and delicious. Yes, olive oil and I have been on nodding terms for several decades.

asian cookbook review So, OK, it was not the olive oil that stunned me but rather my acquaintance. Sanjeev Kapoor is perhaps the most celebrated and recognised face in India. He can hardly walk a few yards even in England without being recognised, his hand pumped, a snap for the album taken, and even his feet touched by those who admire the most-viewed chef on the planet. Sanjeev Kapoor has penned a book on, obviously, cooking with olive oil, but this is Indian food cooked with olive oil and that is tantamount to a revolution!

So many people in the UK complain that Indian food in restaurants is too heavy and oily. That has changed over the last years, and now we have many fine Indian restaurants which replicate traditional home cooking and authentic fare. Those gloopy and oil-drenched “curries” are still with us but they are fewer these days. The best Indian food is often found in homes and the insertion of olive oil into the kitchen larder adds to the appeal of this great and classic cuisine.

So is this still “classic” Indian food? Well, yes indeed. A cuisine must live and evolve. We think of Indian dishes as being chilli-hot with good use being made of potatoes and tomatoes. But those ingredients are not indigenous to the Subcontinent – they arrived with the discovery of the New World. Amazing food should never be limited by anything other than good taste and imagination. Olive oil is a natural and healthful addition to the regular battery of Indian ingredients.

Part of the inspiration for this book came from Sanjeev's own home cook, a lady of fairly advanced years who used some bottles of olive oil just because they were there. Her endorsement must be taken seriously as she is, after all, the chef to a chef. The family had been unaware that they had been enjoying olive oil in place of the regular choice for a while. I guess that was the most convincing of blind tastings.

This book is full of tempting Indian dishes that have been adapted take advantage of the positive qualities of olive oil. Several recipes also include the olives themselves, to offer an intriguing and unique fusion. Carrot, Raisin and Black Olive Salad is reminiscent of those North African side dishes found along the southern coast of the Mediterranean. Corn Bhel with Tomato and Olives has its origins in the snack culture of India.

My pick of the book is Punjabi Kadhi. These are spicy and aromatic pakoras dressed with a yoghurt-based sauce. The dumplings are deep-fried in olive oil but, cooked at the right temperature, these will absorb hardly any oil, making this a delicious and guilt-free meal. That’s dinner this evening, chez nous.

Cooking with Olive Oil by Sanjeev Kapoor will appeal to all of us, and particularly to those who have health or weight issues. A simple replacement of olive oil for your habitual medium is a 21st century departure, but it’s a healthy choice rather than a trendy fad. No flavour is diminished and the olive oil will not be noticed, even by the purists, in those hearty and flavourful dishes.

Cooking with Olive Oil
Author: Sanjeev Kapoor
Published by: Popular Prakashan Ltd
ISBN 978-81-7991-497-7

food and travel reviews Sanjeev Kapoor

Dal and Kadhi

cookbook reviews Dal and Kadhi Sanjeev Kapoor is the Indian chef with the golden touch. His acclaimed TV series, Khana Khazana, has enjoyed a 15-year run, has won the Indian Television Academy “Best Cookery Show” and the “Indian Telly” awards year after year, such is the popularity of this man.

Dal and Kadhi presents regional comfort food at its best and the book is as delightful as the food. Each recipe is accompanied by a photograph by Bharat Bhirangi who has a talent for showing these dishes in a mouth-watering fashion. You’ll be planning your next meal before you leave the bookshop.

What could be better than a flavourful dal or kadhi to eat with rice or roti? Your meal might be humble or you could add a dal to an array of other dishes to make a sumptuous and satisfying spread. They range in texture from the rich and substantial to the light and refreshing to suit the season or the occasion. These are the dishes that people miss when they leave home and crave when they are in far-off countries.

This book offers 45 recipes that you will want to add to your culinary repertoire no matter what your home region. They are a broad-based selection of recipes so there is sure to be something to please every palate. Dal Makhni is perhaps the most celebrated both in India and overseas where it has become a restaurant speciality, although seldom cooked in an authentic style. Maharashtrian Kadhi is a traditional dish and represents India’s culinary diversity in a most delicious way.

All these dals and kadhis are tempting but as with life in general there are firsts among equals and I have picked a few that are particularly tempting. Rajasthani Baati ki Dal is made with split green gram (dhuli moong dal) and Bengal gram (chana dal) and the resulting dal is served with traditional baked balls of dough.

Bhindi ni Kadhi is bound to be on my list as I love ladies’ fingers (bhinda/ bhindi). This is a soupy combination of yogurt and gram flour (besan) flavoured with spices. The vegetables remain a little crisp giving the kadhi an interesting texture.

Dal Hari Bhari contains spinach and fenugreek leaves, onions and spices, and Sanjeev uses it to tempt those who would not normally enjoy green vegetables. This would be an easy meal when served just with rice.

Dal and Kadhi is an Aladdin’s cave of ideas for quick, tasty and healthy dishes. One expects lovely books from Sanjeev Kapoor and this is another in that collection that never disappoints. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy good food. This book will show you the way in fine flavourful fashion.

Cookbook review: Dal and Kadhi
Author: Sanjeev Kapoor
Published by: Popular Prakashan
Price: Rs.250.00
ISBN 978-81-7991-415-1

food and travel reviews Sanjeev Kapoor

Khazana of Indian Recipes

Khazana of Indian Recipes Sanjeev Kapoor is the popular and charismatic host of the Indian TV show Khana Khazana. He has been presenting this award-winning programme since its birth back in 1993 and it has been the vehicle that has made Sanjeev a household name in India. It has also allowed him to take centre-stage promoting Indian food worldwide and this book brings you, the international audience, a chance to try for yourself some recipes that have made Sanjeev Kapoor such an icon.

Khazana of Indian Recipes is a general cookbook rather than one with a focus on a particular type of cuisine, regional food or healthful ingredients. This gives the reader an overview of typical recipes that might even be familiar to those of us who live outside India. Such is the draw of Indian food that even those who steer clear of the kitchen will have already eaten some of these dishes in restaurants or at the homes of friends. Khazana of Indian Recipes will persuade even a novice that Indian food is easy to prepare, with ingredients found in almost every western supermarket. Those living in India will enjoy this book as a good representation of dishes you will honestly want to cook.

A general cookbook should have a bit of everything and Khazana of Indian Recipes does. Soups and Salads, Snacks, Chicken, Lamb, Seafood and Vegetables along with Accompaniments, Breads and Rice are all here, as well as a tempting selection of sweets.

A glance through the pages of this book will give you the impression that Indian food is quick and easy to prepare. The majority of dishes have only a few paragraphs of instructions. Don’t be put off if a couple of recipes sport a lengthy list of ingredients. Closer inspection will show that the majority of those items are spices that will doubtless be already gracing your shelves.

Yes, I have favourite recipes but there are a lot of them. Batata Vada, Kheema Potli, Murgh ke Shami must be near the top of the list because I love snack foods. Malai Kofta Curry would be my pick for a non-meat dish; Prawn Balchao for my favourite seafood choice and Chicken Makhani for that rich and decadent meal that we all need from time to time. None of these dishes is difficult and every one will be superior to those found in all but the best restaurants.

But let me just mention some of the sweets that I adore and would cheerfully have broken an arm for... well, before I found the recipes. Besan ke Laddoo – few ingredients but the result is worth more than the sum of its parts. Chocolate Burfi with only 4 ingredients should be made a national treasure.

Khazana of Indian Recipes might be the book for you, even if you have only space for one Indian cookbook. It’s clearly written and honestly shows that Indian meals take no time at all. Throw away the take-away menu, find the map to the kitchen and dust off the hob.

Asian cookbook review: Khazana of Indian Recipes
Author: Sanjeev Kapoor
Published by: Popular Prakashan
Price: RS 250.00, £12.99
ISBN 81-7154-872-5

food and travel reviews Sanjeev Kapoor

Low Calorie Vegetarian Cookbook

You should expect something special when you are presented with a Sanjeev Kapoor cookbook. Low Calorie Vegetarian really is something a bit different and this could start an exotic diet trend.

cookbook reviews Low Calorie Vegetarian Cookbook Sanjeev is probably the most celebrated of Indian chefs, presenting Khana Khazana on India’s Zee TV. It’s been airing since 1993 and its 600th episode is now just a memory. He has won several awards such as the Best Executive Chef of India Award and the Mercury Gold Award at Geneva, which has earned this man international as well as home-grown respect.

Low Calorie Vegetarian Cookbook is just one of many cookbooks from this charming, handsome and charismatic man. Each book is welcomed by an adoring audience who have been impressed by the author’s skill on the small screen. It’s said that Sanjeev never repeats a recipe and will not need to for several decades; such is his volume of work.

Low calorie carnivorous and low calorie vegetarian recipes have often seemed to fall into one of two categories: boring or boring with vegetables. But Sanjeev’s book will strike the right chord with many readers who want a low calorie diet that offers food with taste and texture. If you don’t enjoy the food that does you good then you will fall back into the same old unhealthy eating habits which got you into your chubby mess to start with.

Low Calorie Vegetarian Cookbook is about flavour, and Sanjeev has a collection of recipes that will tempt even those with no health or weight issues. This is good food with intriguing combinations of spices and fresh ingredients. There are Nutrition Information charts with each recipe to enable the home cook to make the best choices to achieve a balanced diet.

The recipes are broad-based and you don’t have to be a lover of traditional Indian food to appreciate the dishes. Sanjeev has French onion soup but his version raises the bar with French Onion and Garlic Soup. Spicy Pineapple Boat is light and refreshing but with a little kick from green chillies. For those who want a cool and summery salad then Minted Mushrooms should fit the bill. This is a dish of mushrooms, tomato, cucumber, mint leaves and a dressing of low fat yogurt, and the addition of lemon juice provides a tang.

However delicious the European-inspired dishes might be, most of us will be looking for that unmistakable taste of the subcontinent and it’s here in glorious profusion. Spinach and Cabbage Parantha is a flatbread with aromatic cardamom and spicy red chilli powder to complement the vegetables incorporated into the dough.

Desserts are not forgotten. Kesari Phirni is a lovely dessert of Pistachio nuts perfumed with saffron and cardamom. The sweetness comes from a sugar substitute such as Equal or Splenda so you can indulge with no guilt.

Do I have a favourite recipe? Well, you know I do and its Mushroom Dum Biryani. This is a rice dish made with the traditional method but have no fear, it’s not difficult and the results will impress both Western and Asian friends. I’ll make this dish often, not because I have a low calorie diet (although perhaps I should) but because it’s delicious and simple.

A Western cook will have no problem finding the spices in local supermarkets or from one of the many online Asian stores. The cooking techniques are not taxing and you don’t have to take a trip to Mumbai to kit out your new Asian kitchen. This is a fascinating book with recipes that will encourage you to make, eat and enjoy flavourful and healthful meals.

Low Calorie Vegetarian Cookbook is the first of Sanjeev Kapoor's books that I have had the pleasure to review, and there are more to follow. This volume is bound to be a success with readers from every continent.

Cookbook review: Low Calorie Vegetarian Cookbook
Author: Sanjeev Kapoor
Published by: Popular Prakashan
Price: Rs.250.00, £11.69, $25.00US
ISBN 978-81-7154-888-0

food and travel reviews Sanjeev Kapoor

Sanjeev Kapoor - Master of the Art of Indian Cooking

Talking on the radio a few months ago, I was musing on books I would take to a desert island. Those who know this city ‘girl’ will understand that the prospect of an isolated space would induce sweaty palms. Red buses and black taxis are my comfort zone.

My choice of essential reading matter was at that time the (mythical) Marine Carpentry for the Beginner, with chapters on “How to whittle a speedboat out of a log” and “Making an outboard motor from a coconut and two sardines.” Sanjeev Kapoor has swept that volume from my home-made fantasy island bookshelf, and replaced it with Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking.

sanjeev kapoor We met in a comfy corner of London’s celebrated Bombay Brasserie, a favourite restaurant with not only plenty of buses and taxis nearby but the security of Gloucester Road Underground on the doorstep. Sanjeev Kapoor is the least affected and most charming of celebrities I have ever met – a funny, warm character that truly is in life exactly as his TV persona. He has been voted one of the most trusted men in India.

Sanjeev Kapoor is perhaps the best-known chef in the world. If the name is not familiar then I could guess that you are not Indian or Asian of any description. This man stars in Khana Khazana (it is actually India’s longest-running TV show) which broadcasts to 120 countries and in 2010 was estimated to have more than 500 million viewers. He now has his own food-dedicated TV station aptly called Foodfood. He remembers that “Some said that 24-hour food TV would never work, but it does. We keep the content pertinent to the Asian market. We give viewers what they want – recipes that they really would like to cook themselves.” He was the first TV chef to become a culinary star. “Till that time chefs were not really appreciated. People were almost sympathetic when they saw me on TV. They hoped that I would get a proper job in the near future,” he joked. He has been recognised as giving the food industry and chefs in India respectability, and he himself has gained much personal cachet. Richard Quest selected Sanjeev Kapoor as one of the top celebrity chefs in the world, along with Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Wolfgang Puck, featuring them in his programme “Quest” on the CNN channel.

Sanjeev started in the hospitality industry in 1984 with a Diploma in Hotel Management from the Indian Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) in Pusa. He was academically brilliant so his choice surprised some, who had expected him to become an engineer or a doctor. Many Indian chefs have come from families who have had a connection to restaurants, hotels or catering, but Sanjeev chose this path independently, not being associated with any foodie family firm. “My Dad used to cook wonderful meat dishes. In those days it was unusual for a man in India to cook at home.” Perhaps his father sowed the seed of Sanjeev’s future success.

sanjeev kapoor Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking is the latest in a steady stream of cookbooks penned by this Indian culinary worthy. All others, although eminently accessible to the Western audience, have been written for the Asian reader. This latest tome offers dishes selected for those outside the Subcontinent. The recipes are not ‘dumbed-down’ for the non-Indian palate, but they have been chosen to introduce an array of both classic and contemporary delights that can easily be prepared with the use of your regular high-street shops. For those folk who live in a lighthouse off the coast of Shetland then there is always the internet.

Sanjeev Kapoor is on a panel of India’s Ministry of Tourism set up specifically to document Indian cuisine and to present to the world an authentic view of these classic dishes. We are all very enthusiastic about French cuisine and it has indeed given us so much: remarkable patisserie, memorable sauces, refined plates; but the cuisine of India has been for too long overlooked. It should, in my humble opinion, stand proudly shoulder-to-shoulder with French cooking. Different but equal in every regard.

Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking would be my all-encompassing cookbook for my island adventure. Yes, this book is a considerable size. No, it is not garnished with photographs of exotic food shown tastefully balanced on the back of an elephant. Not a single lacy dosa silhouetted in front of the Taj Mahal. This is a straightforward book of recipes that you can and will make in your very own and not very exotic kitchen. There are more than 500 recipes listed here. Many will be familiar but there will be others that reflect Indian home cooking, and it’s unlikely you would have found them on any restaurant menu.

A quick flick through the pages will assure you that the majority of these recipes are simple. Note that the dishes that seem to require a lengthy list of ingredients are easy to prepare. That list will comprise spices that you will find in your supermarket. Once you have your battery of half a dozen or so common spices then you are set to make pretty much all the dishes collected here. Just add a couple of fresh ingredients, fish, flesh or veggies, and dinner is on the way. Not even home cooks in India want to spend too much time chained to the range.

Beans Poriyal represents the easy yet truly Indian dishes found in Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking. Few ingredients, which combine to make boring green beans a thing of the past. Ten minutes cooking time gives a delicious side dish for an Asian or European meal. The majority of Indians are full-time or part-time vegetarians so Indian cuisine offers a wealth of vibrant yet healthy dishes for those who prefer to stick to vegetables. The spices in Indian food compensate for the lack of animal, so even card-carrying carnivores will be wooed by these offerings.

I love Shrimp Balchao. I could consume this pickled Goan delicacy by the bucket-full. It’s eaten with rice or even with the Goan savoury coconut cakes called Sannas (included in this volume). This isn’t a seafood version of our English pickled onions. Shrimp Balchao is a sweet and sour preparation that is moreish. The vinegar is added early in the cooking and the sugar added near the end to produce a zesty and striking, well-balanced dish in less time than ordering a take-away.

Indian sweets are seldom found on restaurant menus. There are plenty of sweetshops in Indian neighbourhoods but unless you are lucky enough to live near one you’ll want a good recipe. Chocolate Walnut Burfy is a two-layered confection made with rich solid condensed milk (found in Asian supermarkets or on the internet for those in the lighthouse). It has a shelf life of only a day or so but it will be gone before the time’s up.

Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking is, like the author, trustworthy. No need to be an expert in the kitchen. The ingredients for the dishes are not expensive. In fact the most costly and indispensible ingredient will be the second copy of this book. You will want to keep that in the kitchen and at hand to use frequently. It will become stained and dog-eared over the years. It will naturally fall open at favourite pages after a decade or two. Mine is already a little creased around Shahi Paneer and a peppercorn is acting as a book-mark at Chettinadu Kozhi Sambhar.

Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking is a must-have for any serious cookbook collector or lover of real Indian food. It will, I feel sure, become the Indian equivalent in status of the French Larousse Gastronomique. Sanjeev Kapoor presents us with a delicious and practical masterwork that is entirely relevant to today’s lifestyle and tastes in both the East and West. Amazing value for money.

Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking
Author: Sanjeev Kapoor
Published by: Stewart Tabori and Chang (Abrams)
Price: £19.00, $27.28
ISBN: 978-1-58479-933-7 (UK)
ISBN-10: 1584799331 (US)
ISBN-13: 978-1584799337 (US)

food and travel reviews Sanjeev Kapoor

No-Oil Cooking

There are many of us now who are overweight and an increasing number who are clinically obese. In some European countries that figure has increased (no pun intended) to 25% of the population. That is a staggering statistic.

cookbook reviews No-Oil Cooking We have more overweight people and the weight by which they are “over” has also increased. The reasons for the rise in weight-related disease are simple: modern lifestyle and eating habits. We drive more and walk less. Our jobs often require little movement apart from fingers sprinting across computer keys. We don’t think we have time to cook healthy foods and we choose more and more fatty, pre-prepared foods or takeaways (takeouts).

Sanjeev Kapoor presents us with recipes that are both oil-free (that is to say no added oil) and are still delicious and satisfying. He is India’s most celebrated chef and food industry guru. Sanjeev is increasingly recognised by a discerning overseas audience as an authority on Indian food and his books and TV series Khana Khazana have long been popular. No-Oil Cooking has his touch of exotica and common sense which will be appealing to every nationality of reader.

Cooking with no added oil isn’t difficult... but it’s important to have recipes that have that taste and mouth-feel that at the end of the meal give us the sensation of having had “proper” food. It’s no good eating an oil-free meal and then tucking into a huge box of chocolates because you feel empty.

The chapters cover everything from drinks to main courses to sweets and everything in between. The recipes listed don’t read like worthy, noble and boring healthfood dishes. This is tasty food that just happens to be good for you. The whole family will enjoy these offerings so you won’t be confronted with the perennial problem of cooking one meal for the health-conscious folk and a different one for those who just live to eat. One meal fits all!

Garlic-Flavoured Rasam is my choice from the Beverages, Soups and Salads chapter. This is comfort food that is, thankfully, good for you. It is easy to prepare and that preparation only takes 10 minutes. The cooking time is just 30 minutes, without constant attention.

Corn Bhel couldn’t be simpler and is the ultimate healthy snack. Sanjeev uses Green Coriander Chutney and Date and Tamarind Chutney for this delight and he gives both recipes so you’ll have no excuse not to make it.

Vegetable Seekh Kebabs would be a great addition to any barbeque. They would be welcomed by vegetarians who are so often overlooked on these occasions but it’s also no-guilt munching for those who are looking for a healthy option. These are so tempting that you’ll need to make enough for the meat eaters as well.

No-Oil Cooking offers fast, no-fuss food that is full of flavour, colour and texture. Your body will thank you and so will your family.

Cookbook review: No-Oil Cooking
Author: Sanjeev Kapoor
Published by: Popular Prakashan
Price: Rs 295
ISBN 81-7991-279-5

food and travel reviews Sanjeev Kapoor

The Yellow Chilli Cookbook

It’s a cookbook by the celebrated Indian TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor, so it’s bound to be full of delicious innovation and temptation. But my dear reader will be thinking the master has overstepped the mark with this one: The Yellow Chilli Cookbook? How many recipes contain yellow chilli?

Sanjeev Kapoor Perhaps a timely word of culinary explanation is needed here. It isn’t the recipes that contain yellow chilli but more accurately Yellow Chilli that contains the recipes. Yellow Chilli is a chain of successful casual restaurants that are found in India and, increasingly, beyond. The book offers an insight into the bill of fare for those of us who, as yet, have not had the pleasure of visiting a Yellow Chilli.

This is undoubtedly an Indian cookbook but these days the ingredients are almost universally available. Tawa Aloo Jeera could likely be made with spices already in a Western store cupboard. These cumin-flavoured baby potatoes could constitute part of an Asian meal but would also work well in place of roast potatoes with your traditional Sunday joint.

Sanjeev Kapoor’s Chicken Chettinad is vibrant with those spices that make this cuisine so prized. Yes, there is a sizeable list of ingredients but those spices are inexpensive and easily available, and once you have them you will be able to turn your attention to many of the other recipes in this book. This is a perfect Northern winter warmer and chicken is still one of the most economic non-vegetarian options.

Another ingredient to spin-out the housekeeping money is minced lamb. In truth Sanjeev suggests minced mutton and that is available in some specialist butchers and Asian markets, but lamb is found everywhere. The flavour will not be so pronounced but it will still work in Keema Hari do Pyaaza. The main flavourings here are onions (that’s the pyaaza element) and chillies which offer both heat and remarkable taste.

My pick of the book and a truly outstanding entertaining dish is Chandi Korma. Its garnish of silver varq will reinforce the impression of rich extravagance and it is edible, but the dish will become a favourite even without the glittery bits. It’s not only the shimmer of silver, though, that is royal. It’s well-laced with mawa (a condensed dairy product), and cheese and nuts. A little goes along way and it will be a delicious talking-point.

Sanjeev Kapoor is perhaps the most recognised face in India and was even voted the Man Most Trusted. He is a trained chef rather than a TV presenter drafted for the job. His recipes are as trustworthy as he, and indeed his international audience is increasing with Yellow Chilli restaurants arriving outside India. This is real Indian food which is displayed with flair and good taste – a classic culinary jewel in a contemporary setting.

The Yellow Chilli Cookbook
Author: Sanjeev Kapoor
Published by: Popular Prakashan
Price: Rs 595/-
ISBN 978-81-7991-668-1

Visit Sanjeev Kapoor here
Visit Yellow Chilli here

food and travel reviews Sanjeev Kapoor

Royal Hyderabadi Cooking (with Harpal Singh Sokhi)

cookbook reviews Royal Hyderabadi Cooking This is a collaboration between two of India’s finest sons of the culinary arts. If you have not heard of Sanjeev Kapoor (Sanjeev is probably the most celebrated of Indian chefs, presenting Khana Khazana on India’s Zee TV) then you must have been living under a rock with no access either to cookbooks or the internet, for surely you would have read my previous review of his work! Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi is an expert on Hyderabadi cuisine, and Sanjeev's respected friend and colleague.

But what is Hyderabadi cooking? It will be a mystery to most Westerners, who are very unlikely to have encountered it, and it is revered by Indians, who might also have trouble tracking down authentic dishes. It’s truly courtly, special and grand but at least this volume makes those dishes more accessible to the home cook... and what home cooking that would be!

Royal Hyderabadi Cooking is an elegantly presented volume with stylish photography by Bharat Bhirangi illustrating every recipe. The book has a modern feel with the food being the rich focus in a minimalist setting. Although the ingredients look a lengthy list for some dishes, it’s mostly spices that are commonly found in the domestic larder.

Apart from being a striking cookbook, Royal Hyderabadi Cooking is also something of an archive for a style of food preparation that is disappearing. The authors have been lucky enough to recruit the indispensible aid of two national culinary treasures who have lifetimes of expertise. Begum Mumtaz Khan is considered a living legend and is a member of the Jagirdhar families of the last Nizam, and has actually tasted the food from the Royal kitchens. She has conducted cooking classes and hosted Hyderabadi food festivals.

Ustad Habib Pasha has a passion for Hyderabadi food and a wealth of experience. He has worked in Hyderabad’s most famous restaurants and has been generous to our authors with his knowledge, revealing the secrets of aromatic blends of herbs that help to give this cuisine its distinctive flavour.

There are so many striking recipes to discover here but I have a few favourites. Murtabuk is a layered stack of chapattis with a filling of minced chicken, eggs and spices and is served in wedges as you would a savoury birthday cake. It was Begum Mumtaz Khan who taught the authors how to cook this to perfection.

Thikri Ki Dal is a delicious and comforting dal which contains amongst the spices, onions and ghee... 2 three-inch pieces of earthenware! The thikri are heated till red hot and then plunged into the food. They are removed before serving to avoid damage to either guest or crockery. This method is said to impart a distinctive and earthy flavour. Truly unique.

Double Ka Meetha is a sweet and syrupy dessert that would be a fitting end to a Royal Hyderabadi meal. It’s a confection of bread, nuts, cream and saffron and simple to make. I wouldn’t reserve this for just Hyderabadi meals, this would be welcomed anytime by those with a sweet tooth.

The title suggests something sumptuous and rich and that is just what this food is all about. Royal Hyderabadi Cooking presents recipes that are regal and festive but accessible to the home cook. Amazing!

Cookbook review: Royal Hyderabadi Cooking
Author: Sanjeev Kapoor and Harpal Singh Sokhi
Published by: Popular Prakashan
Price: Rs.250.00
ISBN 978-81-7991-373-4

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