Gurpareet Bains shot to fame with international press coverage in September of 2009 when he unveiled ‘The World’s Healthiest Meal’. Now he has turned his attention to the ingredients that could promote good health – Superfood.
Indian Superfood is based on the unique but time-honoured Indian concept of using foods to maintain good health. It considers the medicinal properties of spices and even the everyday foods we eat, or should eat.
The book focuses on these superfoods and superspices to present dishes that are original, comforting, familiar and exotic. There are recipes for your favourite Indian meals, for childhood staples, and for some truly delightful desserts. No, this isn’t a diet book in the conventional sense. It’s more a healthy lifestyle cookbook with none of the over-worthy, off-putting self-sacrifice of many. There is no hint of “Eat this, it’s good for you” but more, “It’s delicious and it just happens to be good for you.”
This attractive book uses, amongst other things, mushrooms that are prized for their anti-viral and anti-cancer properties, and goji berries for enhancing the immune system function. Seems also that many spices have benefits and they are probably already filling your pantry shelves, or at least they will be if you have ever made Indian food at home.
I have a passion for cardamom and it’s good to know that this particular addiction is one to encourage. It’s antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and is beneficial for everything from gums to lungs. Cardamom is also the world’s third most expensive spice but it’s worth the price, I’d say. Less costly spices are equally healthful, like your regular garlic which has many of the properties of cardamom with the addition of the possibility that it could combat Alzheimer’s.
It’s unlikely that you’ll want to chomp down on raw spices so you’ll need to avail yourself of those aforementioned Indian Superfoods recipes. The properties of the spices are listed for each dish so you can choose the foods which will have the most positive impact on your health. They are not complicated recipes and most of them have only a short list of ingredients.
We British have long had a love affair with the humble baked bean. We have enjoyed them on toast for breakfast. With egg and chips for lunch. Sausage and mash with baked beans is a love triangle made in heaven, and what could be better than eating them straight from the can when it’s late and you are alone. Gurpareet offers us an alternative to the unadulterated bean. He adds a few spices which transform them into something exotic but comforting. Cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry powder will enhance the dish with antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory qualities. A lovely start to a cold winter morning.
There is a recipe here which I can almost guarantee will be made by the purchasers of this volume. Best-ever Chicken Tikka Masala might even be the reason that many will have sought out the book in the first place. OK, Chicken Tikka Masala is honestly a British invention but let’s not be food snobs. It’s a flavourful yet mild dish and it’s popular. Now we find that it’s actively good for us, or at least it would be if we use this particular recipe to make it at home.
Chocolate has been elevated to the status of a health food, so these days high-end dark chocolate is a no-guilt pleasure. Indian Devils Chocolate Pot combines luscious bitter chocolate with coffee, eggs, milk and spices to create a decadent and rich dessert. It might not be an everyday indulgence but it’s an impressive end to a smart dinner.
Indian Superfood will appeal to Asian readers as well as Europeans who love Indian food. It’s not a classic recipe book but it has tasty food, easily and quickly prepared but without the “fast food” connotations. This is sensible eating. I am off to start supper: Red Lentil Kedgeree with eggs followed by some Carrot Lamingtons. A fusion meal from Anglo-India to Sydney Harbour, but the trip will do me good.
Author: Gurpareet Bains
Published by: Absolute Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018