Contemporary Indian Cuisine by Anil Ashokan – review

This is a stunner! Contemporary Indian Cuisine has the light, airy, modern feel of a French Nouvelle Cuisine cookbook but still manages to convey the richness of sub-continental food. Photographer Greg Elms has presented Anil’s food in a clean-cut, crisp manner which is sometimes almost clinical but always attractive. Yes, it’s modern but it’s not fusion, which in my humble opinion seldom works.

Contemporary Indian Cuisine I confess that I had not heard of the author Anil Ashokan but that should not be considered as a reflection of the man’s skill. My only excuse is that he exercises those aforementioned skills in Sydney, Australia and that is about as far from London as you can get. Anil trained at the much celebrated Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai and has worked in several 5-star restaurants around India. He has found further success with his latest venture, Qmin in Sydney.

Anil Ashokan isn’t an Asian Naked Chef but you might say he is stripped down to the essentials. His recipes are authentic but he is mindful of the time constraints of working folks. He gives you permission to use garlic and ginger pastes from the store, and he doesn’t demand that you crush whole spices with a stone; a coffee grinder will do.

There are 120 or so recipes which will inspire you. They are comfortingly simple to prepare and are ideal for those who are new to preparing Indian food. Anil even offers advice on menus so you’ll have an idea of what to serve with your Eggplant Lucknow Style. Equally a well-practised home cook will find some unfamiliar dishes and some innovations.

A winning combination

Lamb is a popular meat in India and it’s shown to good advantage with Daalcha (Lentils with Lamb). It’s a winning combination and a good choice for these days of cost cutting. Any lamb suitable for slow cooking will work well in this recipe. If you want to push the boat out then Raan-e-Khyber (Braised Whole Leg of Lamb) is always impressive for a special meal for guests.

Do Kism Ke Murg Ki Seekh (Tandoori Chicken Two Ways) will appeal to the lovers of familiar restaurant-style Chicken Tikka Masala. This recipe is a definite improvement on that “Calcutta Curry House” standard of luminous, over-sauced poultry. This dish is of succulent chunks of moist chicken with two separately served sauces. Tandoori Salad and an Indian bread are all you’ll need to complete this light meal or starter.

Contemporary Indian Cuisine offers one of the largest chapters on Indian desserts that I have come across. Anil’s recipe for a fruit-filled samosa is so simple that it wins a medal for “Why Didn’t I Think of That First”. Anjeer Aur Akhrot Ki Kulfi is traditional Indian ice cream with figs and walnuts. Anil gives two versions so even those of us without an ice cream maker can still enjoy this frozen treat.

Contemporary Indian Cuisine deserves to be popular. Anil Ashokan has penned a book that is a marvellous showcase for Qmin and is also a remarkable volume for anyone with a love of fine Indian food. A delight!

Contemporary Indian Cuisine
Author: Anil Ashokan
Publisher: Apple Press
Price: 14.99
ISBN 978-1-84543-262-1


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018


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