I can understand why Tarla Dalal is such a very popular writer in India. She sells more books than any other author of any genre. Her recipes are loved for their ease of preparation, they are trusted because they work and adored because they present some of the most delicious food that will ever emanate from a domestic kitchen. My only surprise is that she is not better known outside her homeland.
One might fear that an Indian cookbook written by an Indian lady in India for an Indian audience might not have recipes that would be readily accessible to us in the West. Put those worries to one side. Everything is available to us in our local Asian supermarket or via the internet. If you are not sure what exactly might be that unfamiliar-sounding ingredient then make a note of it and trot along to your local store and ask the owner or his wife what that exotic spice might be. You will be sure of lots of advice.
Kebabs and Tikkis concerns itself with those delicious morsels which are ideal party finger-foods or might even make a main meal in greater quantity – perhaps with a side dish. These are vegetarian recipes but vibrant of flavour and of sufficiently robust texture to convince even meat-eaters of the wisdom of the vegetarian path.
One type of kebab can be grouped with others to create interesting platters of balanced and contrasting flavours. The author thoughtfully offers suggestions for these combinations to assure best results. There is a tantalising Nawabi Platter, and for those who are watching their diet there is a Low Cal Kebab Platter, as well as several other themed plates.
Paneer is readily available in most supermarkets and is used to great advantage in these recipes. Tandoori Paneer Tikki will be popular and you won’t need a tandoor to achieve great and tasty results. Serve any of the tikki or kebabs with homemade naan. Mrs. Dalal has a novel solution to the lack of a tandoor: she suggests using an upturned pressure cooker. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a grill in the kitchen can make use of that instead.
A simple and delicious tikki is Aloo Methi ki Tikki. The hint of aromatic fenugreek is the key to this memorable morsel. Anything coated in breadcrumbs and fried has my vote …but it must taste good as well as having that tempting texture, and this definitely does. Rajma Galouti Kebab is also a superb vegetarian interpretation of a classic meat-based kebab.
Kebabs and Tikkis is another recipe book that will entice the Western reader just as much as the Indian home cook. It’s a volume showcasing delicious food made from recipes that do work. Tarla Dalal writes the most popular cookbooks in India, for a mainly Indian audience. Those discerning cookbook buyers know more about this cuisine than I, and they buy this author’s books by the million. I am guided by them
Kebabs and Tikkis
Author: Tarla Dalal
Published by: Sanjay and Company
Asian cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018