- Paperback: 213 pages
- Publisher: Vakils, Feffer, Simons (January 1, 2007)
- Language: English
Six months ago, bored with my repertoire of recipes I decided to visit the library hoping to find a book that would breathe some life into my old, tired menu. As most of you well know, the library has a stack of recipe books making it rather hard to pick one, but the ingenious subtitle, "The Khaana Sutra of Indian cuisine" on Geeta Maini's book titled, "An Affair With Indian Cooking", caught my eye and made me pull it off the shelf. I was rewarded with such an aesthetically- pleasing book....its quality soft cover makes it easy to hold and the pages inside are dripping with eye-popping food photography and recipes which are very easy to read.
I carried it home excitedly and although the aim was to start cooking from it immediately I was drawn to Geeta's introduction of how she grew up in Kenya in an extended (Punjabi) family where her mom and aunts did most of the cooking. When she moved to Canada as a young bride she realized she was now the prime nourisher for her family, forcing her to hone her skills as chief cook, a job that she has perfected over the years.
The recipes in Geeta's sumptious book are arranged in organized sections with tantalizing subtitles that made me smile. Ofcourse, this being the "Khaana Sutra" (you might have heard of the Kama Sutra?) a referring to appetizers as "seduction of the palate"; Meat and Seafood as "Succulent,Saucy Somethings" and Desserts as "the final embrace" seems very fit. Some of the recipes have accompanying pictures but all include a brief introduction, giving you the history of the dish or why Geeta chose to include it in the book. The recipes are well laid out and many are garnished with additional cooking tips and laced with suggestions on how to change the dish around so as to give it a different flavor the next time you make it( I found the suggestion box to be incredibly helpful!) .
The book closes with a chapter on Menus (Planning the Affair) - another wickedly delicious subtitle - where Geeta, using the recipes provided in the book, creates menus for a complete meal. You can find menus for a "Spiced-up Christmas Brunch", "Formal Dinner Parties", 'A Sunday Brunch" and much,much more. I made my sampler meal from the"Meals in Less Than an Hour" menu which included:
"Green Beans and Potatoes"
"Green Coriander and Tamarind Shrimp",
"Cumin Rice" and
"Yoghurt with Cucumber".
I had made the "Yoghurt with Cucumber" and "Cumin Rice" before (and she's right, both dishes take around 15 mins to prepare). This was my first time making the shrimp with coriander and Tamarind and what a treat that turned out to be! Not only is it terribly simple to prepare but the combination of the sweet and sour flavors with the aroma and taste of the roasted spices is guaranteed to make your tastebuds dance!
Know someone that enjoys Indian food but is intimidated by how long it can take to prepare? Give them Geeta Maini's book. Her recipes are truly simple and easy to follow without compromising on taste or authenticity. Not just that, in "An Affair with Indian Cooking" Geeta also shares, through her recipes, her culinary heritage and recipes enjoyed by generations of her own family. In my opinion, this book is the perfect introduction to Indian cuisine.
Now, just before I sign off, here's a the recipe for "Green Coriander and Tamarind Shrimp" or like they say in Hindi, "Hare Dhaniya Aur Imbli ka Jhinga" Enjoy!
2 lbs shrimp, shell on, deveined
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
fresh roasted 1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
1 tsp green chillies, fresh minced
2 tsp coriander seeds, dry roasted and crushed coarsely
1 onion, large, sliced thinly
1/4 cup tamarind paste
1 1/2 tsp garlic minced
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
`Wash shrimp under cold running water and set aside to drain
`In a shallow saute pan heat the oil and butter on med. high heat
`Temper with the cumin and coriander seeds. Once they start to sizzle, add the onions and garlic `Reduce heat to medium and saute until onions are soft and slightly pink
`Add the fresh coriander, salt, cumin powder and green chillies. Stir until well mixed.
`Add the tamarind paste and stir until all te spices and ingredients are now well blended.
`Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp turn pink and are well coated with sauce (8-10 mins) `Adjust seasonings - if desired add the brown sugar for a sweet and sour flavor.
`Serve over a bed of couscous pilaf or with a crisp naan and mango salsa
(serves 6-8 people)