Cookbook Confidential reviews “An Invitation to Indian Cooking” by Madhur Jaffrey

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Hi there,

It is good to be back with my cookbook club after our summer break. As autumn sets in and the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving preparations fill the air, I thought it would be a refreshing change of pace to explore a new array of spices and cooking methods, taking a break from the usual pumpkin and turkey fare. And as a happy happenstance, the celebration of the Indian Festival of Diwali, a religious festival of lights will be marked this week. So, why not join the celebration and make a recipe from our posts to celebrate this beautiful feast of Diwali?

During the summer break, I read an exquisite novel, “The Covenant of Water” by Abraham Verghese. It completely captivated me with its vivid descriptions of delectable, mouthwatering dishes savored by the characters. Intrigued by the culinary delights of India, I ventured to the library in search of cooking inspiration and discovered Madhur Jaffrey’s remarkable cookbook. As I leafed through its pages, I knew I had found the perfect starting point to explore Indian cuisine.

I am so happy that I chose this book. The recipes in the book are very approachable, easy to follow, and moderately challenging to prepare. The difficulty lay with the fact that I wasn’t familiar with the techniques and the ingredients. Speaking of ingredients, some of the spices may be a little difficult to find, but Madhur discusses what to use if a particular spice is unavailable in your area.

Now, the question arises: will this cookbook earn a permanent place on my treasured shelf? While I thoroughly enjoyed delving into its pages and trying some tempting recipes, I’ll continue searching for another Indian cookbook to add to my ever-growing collection. My goal is to find one that offers simplified, time-saving recipes that are easier to prepare, ensuring I can enjoy the flavors of India without compromising on time or convenience.

The first recipe I decided to prepare was a chutney named Tomato Tamarind Chutney. Madhur writes that it is a sour chutney used as a condiment for fish and vegetables. We used this condiment on leftover cold roast pork to make sandwiches with Naan for dinner.

Time to put on your apron!

Tomato Tamarind Chutney

4tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
A generous pinch of ground asafetida 1⁄2teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1⁄2teaspoonwhole black mustard seeds

1 medium-sized onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 and 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1⁄2 cup tamarind pulp

1 1⁄4to 1 1⁄2teaspoons salt
1⁄2teaspoon garam masala
3⁄8teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2teaspoonfreshlyground black pepper
1⁄8 to 1⁄4teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon granulated sugar (add a bit more if you want to)

Heat the oil in a 2-quart pot over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the asafetida, and seconds later, add the cumin and mustard seeds. The cumin seeds will darken in the hot oil within a few seconds. Put in the chopped onions and minced garlic, and fry, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until the onions darken at the edges.
Now, pour the tomato sauce and tamarind pulp. Also add the salt, garam masala, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

The other recipe that caught my eye was for chicken cutlets. Chicken cutlets are a favorite dinner in our home, and I was intrigued about making them with Indian spices. They were a delicious success and a recipe I will make again.

Chicken Cutlets by way of Delhi

Tune in tomorrow for another review and two delicious recipes provided by Michiel and Jeen from Cook and Drink.

20 responses to “Cookbook Confidential reviews “An Invitation to Indian Cooking” by Madhur Jaffrey”

  1. Darlene – British Columbia, Canada – Writer of children's stories, short stories and travel articles.!/supermegawoman!/pages/Darlene-Foster-Writer/362236842733
    Darlene says:

    The Chutney looks good. Thanks for sharing it. I look forward to seeing what others decided to try.

    • You Confidential Reviewers outdid yourselves. Everyone posted something different. So, there are a lot of choices for readers. Have a wonderful week and thank you for always participating.

  2. johnrieber – I love great food, interesting books, fascinating travel, outrageous movies, and bacon, especially when it sits on top of a great cheeseburger! I work in entertainment – and I have been lucky enough to interview some really talented Artists – that guides my posts: interesting and provocative movies, music, social media and of course, food, since I believe strongly in the maxim, "everyone eats!"
    johnrieber says:

    Great way to begin the next challenge – shared the recipe!

  3. Hi Bernadette, I also found these recipes fiddly to prepare. I just did the dishes my way. I don’t own a blender 🤣

  4. This is a great review. I think I’ll check it out from my library and give it a try. I too love Indian food but sometimes the ingredient lists are too daunting. Thanks Bernadette!

  5. Awakening Wonders – Everyday life is filled with wondrous things and embraceable moments, but only if we allow ourselves to be fully awakened. I invite you to join me as I share passionate life adventures and ramblings that awaken my spirit. I look forward to awakening your senses to the simple, joyous wonders that are all around us. I feel that we are destined to become soulful adventurers!
    Awakening Wonders says:

    Thanks for the great cookbook review as Indian recipes are so full of spices and interesting flavors!

  6. Retirement Reflections – Vancouver Island, BC – Prior to retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing China for fourteen years (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director at The Western Academy of Beijing). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope that you enjoy reading these reflections, and will be willing to share your own.
    Retirement Reflections says:

    Hi, Bernadette – I greatly enjoy Indian food but have never (yet) mastered Indian cooking. That you for this candid review and for sharing these tasty looking dishes!

  7. Your cutlets look so appetizing and that chutney! Wow, the ingredients list alone has my mouth watering. I have been craving the flavors of India myself lately. I did a very spur-of-the-moment chicken curry dish the other night and those spices are so comforting!

    • The curry was delicious and we really liked the cutlets. If you are craving Indian foods, don’t read Abraham Vergase’s book. It will drive your taste buds crazy with desire,

  8. Donna Reidland – I'm a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, and Biblical counselor. I love sharing God's truth, hopefully in ways that will help you in your walk with God. I'm certified through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, but mostly I'm just a sister in Christ. To read more about me visit my "about me" page. My story may surprise you.
    Donna Reidland says:

    The chicken cutlets look delicious!

  9. This chutney would have gone well with the curry puffs I made with the leftover mince … and I usually have all these ingredients in the house … except for the asafetida.

    • Jo, from reading a couple of Indian cookbooks, I have learned that most Indian Cooks indicate asafetida can be eliminated from a recipe without changing much of the taste.

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