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Easy Indian Cooking

Easy Indian Cooking Invites Us to India

Easy Indian Cooking [1]

Easy Indian Cooking, second edition, by Suneeta Vaswani

Ever since I was a college student in New Jersey, I’ve loved Indian food. In the 1970s, I’ve appreciated the variety of flavors and textures that make up a single Indian meal, and now I love the many vegetarian options offered in cuisines from the subcontinent.

DIY Indian isn’t easy

My friend Joan and I spent much of one summer trying to recreate the wonder that is kulfi, or Indian ice cream. Experimenting with condensed milk, sugar, and pistachios, we came up with some delicious confections, but we never could get it quite as good as in the restaurants on 6th Street in Manhattan (where there are a dozen or more Indian eateries within a few blocks – reportedly all owned by a few families!). Now, with Easy Indian Cooking [1], I’ve got a solid, simple recipe.

Some years back I took a cooking class from an Indian woman who was new to this country. She was a fantastic cook, but she made, measured, and timed everything by intuition and impulse, so the “recipes” she gave us were, uh, pretty abstract.

Functional and flexible recipes and guides

But the recipes given by Suneeta Vaswani [1] are both functional and flexible. This being the second edition of the book, all recipes have been well tested, and 30 new recipes added, including a whole new section on “Chat” (street foods). The “Chat” chapter includes another recipe that I’ve wanted for a long time, this one for spiced tea. The Masala Chai recipe not only makes a soothing, stimulating drink but also gives me a way (finally!) to use the lemongrass growing so abundantly in my garden.

In this 240-page paperback, Vaswani not only provides recipes with tips and commentary, but also she shares her personal history and some traditions that relate to the food. The Easy Indian Cooking [1] opens with about 15 pages of guides to ingredients and spices both familiar (yogurt, oil) and exotic (jaggery! asafetida! amchur!), and another 4 on cooking hints and techniques (braising, tempering, and toasting spices). I love it that I can dip into this section as I need, getting extra help for the recipes that follow.

A good index plus cross-referencing all the way through make using the book easy, and even new techniques or ingredients seem approachable. Also, for cooks who don’t live near an Indian grocery, the “Sources” list at the back gives a list of mail-order and online suppliers of Indian ingredients and supplies.

The full-page color photos, of course, make the food seem irresistible! The beautiful photography goes way beyond just “food styling” to include an overview of food culture: images of fruit stands and street vendors, architecture and even jewelry give a colorful, bright impression of what this cuisine is all about.

Reviews of Easy Indian Cooking

This Easy Indian Cooking [1] edition just came out in March 2013, so Amazon.com doesn’t yet have user reviews, but the description’s a good introduction:

The delicious recipes in this book range from snacks and appetizers to poultry, fish and vegetarian meals. There are also chapters dedicated to accompaniments like chutneys, sweets and beverages which truly make for an authentic Indian dining experience. Here are just some of the delights:
• Chicken Tikka Masala, Pork Vindaloo, South Indian Lentil and Vegetable Stew
• Curried Spinach and Cheese (Saag Panir), Basmati Rice Layered with Fragrant Chicken
• Coconut Chutney-Coated Fish Parcels, Masala-Coated Baked Chicken, Sindhi Fritters
• Tomato Raita, Hot Pineapple Chutney, Caramelized Carrot Pudding.
In keeping with traditional Indian cooking, there are 75 vegetarian dishes. Vaswani shares her wealth of Indian cooking experience and knowledge by providing insightful cooking tips and techniques throughout the book. She has even provided information on where ingredients can be sourced and, if necessary, how to make substitutions. This is the perfect place for home cooks to begin creating great Indian dishes.

Here are some raves for the first edition of Easy Indian Cooking:

[Review of previous edition:] A nice introduction… The best thing about the book is that the dishes — at least the ones I tried — are indeed easy to make. (Marialisa Calta Newspaper Enterprise Association 20040414)

[Review of previous edition:] Impressively thorough. Vaswani displays a depth of knowledge about regional foods. (Tara Duggan San Francisco Chronicle 20080312)

[Review of previous edition:] I enjoy Indian food… but usually, preparing it at home is just too much work. Until I discovered Easy Indian Cooking… couldn’t be easier. (Deborah S. Hartz South Florida Sun-Sentinel 20040708)

Reviews of Easy Indian Cooking, First Edition

If you click on the link Easy Indian Cooking [2], you will find reviews for Easy Indian Cooking, first Edition.

Where to Purchase Easy Indian Cooking

While you’re on Amazon [1], I suggest you get a copy of this Easy Indian Cooking [1]: it’s already discounted from its full price, and it’s eligible for free shipping, too:

It’s rare that a new cookbook not only interests me but also makes me excited about cooking. But Easy Indian Cooking keeps me up at night, as I’m reading and learning about ingredients, thinking about meals, and planning parties. Best of all, I’m looking forward to sharing a lot of real kulfi with my friends!

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