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.