I love Indian food, and when I began to crave nothing else earlier this year, I decided it was time to learn how to cook it myself. After all, eating out several times a week is expensive, and the nearest decent Indian restaurant is an hour's drive from where I live. My copy of Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian came to the rescue and served me well, but soon I wanted - needed! - more recipes.
Then along comes this huge book of curries. Not only do the recipes sound mouthwatering, but the whole thing is written in a friendly, often downright impish manner, AND it includes a list of resources to help me find all the ingredients. Sold!
That was about four months ago. Since then, I have cooked exclusively from this book with excellent results. Rice with Yogurt and Mustard Seeds has become a staple, along with Chowli Nu Dal, Garlicky Gourd and several others. A friend who knows from Indian food gave high marks to the Adrak Lasson Waale Chana Masala I made for her. I have found an Indian grocery store and learned my way around it.
Some of the ingredient lists may be long and contain unfamiliar items, but don't let that scare you. The techniques are explained carefully and easy to learn. Sometimes I scale back a little on the amounts of oil and salt called for - that's just my personal preference. There is really no great trick to much of this stuff - heck, they cook it every day in India, right? Do follow Iyer's advice to have all the ingredients prepped before you start cooking, as some of the steps take only seconds to complete, and you won't have time for grinding and chopping while you cook. When you've got everything ready beforehand, the cooking is a happy experience.
Because I don't cook meat, I can't vouch for any of the meat dishes, but I don't doubt that they are just as good as the vegetable/paneer/legume recipes I've tried. Which leads me to the economic bonus that comes with this book: dried legumes (and just about everything else at the Indian store I shop at) are inexpensive. If you can find spices in bulk, that saves a lot of cash, too, as long as you're not using saffron. Since I got this book, I have been eating better than I ever have - and for less money. The vegetarians are nodding their heads in agreement; you omnivores who are looking to expand your gastronomic horizons without breaking the bank may want to take note.
Every week I choose another recipe or two to try, and each time I get excited about it. When you can have this kind of food whenever you want, it's like Christmas every day. Seriously, if you love Indian food you need this book.
One last word: You MUST make the Pineapple Chutney and have it warm, over vanilla ice cream. It is heaven.