I have reviewed Indian cookbooks written by Indians in India, by Indians living in England and those living in the USA. Ramola Parbhoo adds another thread to the Indian culinary diaspora. She is of Indian descent and was born and raised in South Africa.
I was wondering what to expect. Perhaps an eclectic mix of African wildebeast curry and zebra kebab? Not at all. Ramola has stayed faithful to her own culinary heritage but has penned a book of real traditional Indian recipes that are just a bit different from those found in UK-targeted cookbooks.
There is much in Traditional Indian Cooking that will be familiar to the collector of Indian recipe books. Plenty of breads to tempt with their delicate perfection, but there is lots more that has rarely been covered. Green and Red Masala Pastes will fire both the imagination and palette. These are used in several of the main dishes so would be worthwhile mastering. There are samosas here but with a variety of different fillings. Chicken and Mushroom, Peas, and Fish make a change from the regular spiced potato or meat. Moorkhoo are spiced maize flour noodles. They are a crisp and moreish snack and not to be missed. Khaman Dokri – steamed semolina savouries – are light and spongy and unlike any other Indian snack.
If your morning needs a bit of a kick start then look to Ramola’s recipe for spicy egg-fried bread. It’s the Indian version of French toast but this one has real flavour from Green Masala, cumin and coriander. Alternatively try Spicy Scrambled Eggs – Inda na Poora. Onions and spices perk up this breakfast staple.
There is plenty here to warm the heart of any fish lover. Fish Fillets in Batter – Machi Pakora – has the edge on more traditional fried fish. Once again it’s the addition of spices that helps this dish to shine. A healthy alternative would be the simple Grilled Fish with Garlic and Chilli or Paprika – Masala Machi. It’s easy to adjust the heat by using different ratios of paprika and chilli.
The sweet chapter has me glued to the back of the book. I am addicted to Indian sweetshops but I am equally enthusiastic about the prospect of making some of my favourite treats at home. Burfi is ubiquitous in those shops but there is a recipe here that will be worth practising. Another dessert I am drawn to in restaurants is Rasgoola – milk dumplings in syrup. They are truly teeth-achingly sweet but difficult to pass up on. Gool Goolas are similar but golden in colour and fried.
Traditional Indian Cooking should be an addition to your Indian cookbook collection. Yes, there will be a few duplications of recipes but there is enough here that is new to make this book worth considering. It’s coffee table quality but a practical book that you will use often.
Asian cookbook review: Traditional Indian Cooking
Author: Ramola Parbhoo
Published by: New Holland
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018