“ Author: Camellia Panjabi / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 29 October 2004 / Genre: National & Regional Cuisine / Publisher: Kyle Books / Title: 50 Great Curries of India / ISBN 13: 9781856265461 / ISBN 10: 1856265461 „
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For the curry lover looking to expand their repertoire, this book is a must have. Not only is it a well proportioned, attractively designed book but the content is also well thought out and a delight to read. To set the scene, the book begins with an extensive introduction to the author and the philosophy of Indian cookery. It then goes on to provide an explanation of the curry making process itself with an indispensable guide to the various components involved according to their function, for example thickening agents, colours and spices. This section of the book is beautifully written and offers a concise and invaluable introduction to Indian cookery enabling the reader to learn and understand the science behind the art.
Moving on to the recipes, a picture accompanies each description. There is a wonderful selection of meat, fish, poultry and vegetarian dishes from all over India as well as a wonderful sample of daals, raitas, chutneys and desserts. The more adventurous may like to try making their own papadoms, chapattis and naan breads.
I am gradually working my way though the recipes and must admit that whilst everything that I have made has been absolutely delicious, I have found the directions a bit hit-and-miss. For example, if you are preparing the parsee red chicken curry, which is truly delicious, don't forget to add the red chillis. The recipe doesn't tell you to do so. Yet in the moong dal, the directions mysteriously include the addition of cloves which are not listed! Finally watch out if you are attempting the chicken dopiaza. You will need to prepare 9 onions in three different ways, including juicing four of them! It took ages and my kitchen smelled of onions for days but it was worth it!
Despite these minor quirks, I'd thoroughly recommend the book for those who want to learn more about Indian cookery.
Camellia Panjabi, the popular restaurateur , is responsible for popularizing both regional Indian cooking in the the UK has had a long career in the food industry.
This cook book of hers certainly delights , educates and inspires anyone who longs to make authentic curries at home...Over the last many years the author has traveled all over India collecting recipes from various sources .She has traveled to some exotic locations and rural areas of India and come up with her own version of the local recipes
Camelia Panjabi's first London restaurant, the popular Bombay Brasserie, has been open since 1982; one of her five other London restaurants, Amaya, has received a Michelin Star. She has authored several cook books , has been host to several TV cookery shows and has popularised Indian food all over UK and Europe
A little background on the book
Camilia Panjabi's cookbook 50 Great Curries of India, first published in 1995, has sold its millionth copy and continues to be a bestseller to this day.
According to Camellia Panjabi it is important to know the philosophy of the cuisine , one is planning to cook.. But again trying to explain the philosophy of an ancient and complex cuisine in simple terms is no easy task, because, one cannot attempt to describe the significance of one set of factors without outlining how it connects the other.....
The strongest influence on Indian cuisine is the Ayurveda, an ancient body of knowledge on health. Ayurveda is not confined to medicine only, it covers the whole subject of life in its various ramifications. It discusses the purpose of life, the importance of mental as well as physical health.
To quote its philosophy " He alone can remain healthy, who regulates his diet, exercise and recreation, controls his sensual pleasures, who is generous , just...."
Coming to Camilia Punjabi's book '50 Great curries of India', she goes on to add a rather long 64 page introductory note explaining the philosophy of Indian cuisine, Indian meal, curry and some hints and short cuts, all of which are very helpful to those interested in dishing up good Indian recipes.
For someone not very familiar with the use of spices, she has given tips on the various combination of spices that work best for certain preparations. She has also given some explanatory notes about the regions from where the dishes originate. Her recipes are authentic Indian dishes as prepared at Indian homes .
The recipes that have been listed out are varied from Naan, Paratha and various Rotis to Rice dishes to vegetarian dishes and Yogurt based curries to meat dishes and finally Indian desserts....
I personally liked the Andhra style recipes that are given with their very spicy Masala base , and the Lamb slow cooked in onion and Yogurt gravy....yummy! The lamb having absorbed all the flavors and from the spices and herbs used in the recipe.
Among the Desserts that I have tried the unusual Apple Halwa was really tasty and liked by all...My own favorite dishes would be the Nawabi kormas , a meat dish which has its source in Hyderabadi royal cuisine and the Mughalai dishes...spicy , yet so delicately balanced with their sweet, hot, and sour flavours. What I like about Camellia's recipes is her use of spices other than the usual Gharam Masala and the Curry powder, she uses freshly prepared Spice Masala which definitely makes the dish special..
It is an essential curry book and each recipe is accompanied by a full - color
photograph so that you can see the color, texture and appearance of the dish you want to cook !
There is an informative introduction comprehensively detailing the curry making technique, including how to add taste, aroma and color and there are also 50 recipes to accompany the curry, from rice and lentils to breads, vegetables, chutneys and desserts....
This book is much more than the usual collection of familiar 'Great' Indian dishes. It gives an extensive background on Indian cooking and the various ingredients...with many majestic recipes which makes it very interesting .
Some of the mouthwatering recipes included are...
Bori Curry , a spicy gravy dish with Meat and Potatoes that goes perfectly well with Naan or Jeera rice , my children have eaten this curry with bread and say it tastes great !
Prawns in sweet and hot curry , another great dish that was an instant hit with my family , Gujarati Mango and Yogurt curry , a typical traditional Gujarati dish that is a must at most weddings and during Summer when Mangoes are available in plenty. This dish is a very popular dish that is normally served at a Wedding Lunch !
Mangalorean Cauliflower and Potato curry , another mouth watering recipe, that is very spicy flavored with curry leaves and tomatoes goes extremely with Chapatis and rotis or as a side dish with Rice and Dhal. The popular dishes include Chicken Pistachio gravy, Cucumber Raitha , Malabar Prawn curry. Other than the curries there are some snacks and some lovely traditional Indian desserts listed too..There are some interesting recipes for Kheers and Halwas - quite tasty..
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Kyle Cathie; New edition edition (29 Oct 2004)
Table of Contents :
3. Culinary India
4. The Philosophy of Indian Cuisine
5. Why an Indian Meal?
6. What Exactly is a Curry ?
7. Making a Curry
8. The Use of Spices
9. Herbs and Fresh Spices
11. The Curry Picture
12. Hints and Short Cuts
13. Making a Simple Home style Curry
15. THE CURRIES
17. Indian Bread or Rotis
18. Side Vegetables
21. Yoghurt (Raitas)
24. Cachumbers or Relishes
26. Planning a Meal
27. Suggested Menus
28. What to Drink with Indian Food
**** About the author****
Camellia Punjabo, was born in Mumbai and read economics in Cambridge before being appointed Marketing director of Taj Hotels, which is claimed to be India's most prestigious hotel group. Despite her background Camellia's passion for Indian cuisine took over and in 2001 she left her marketing job to join her family's restaurant company, Masala World.
Published in 2005 by Silverdale Books 50 Great Curries of India (ISBN 978-1-84509-264-1) is in between a paperback and a hardback. All the information is printed on thick and very good quality paper. Whilst this makes it great value for money it does make the book too good to keep open on the worktop whilst you're actually making the curry as it would be sacrilege to spill anything on it. This means that any recipe I follow will be scribbled on a scrap piece of paper so it can be close to hand whilst I am cooking the dish.
This book does make a nice addition to any library though.
This book has greater depth than a 'standard' recipe book and contains much more than just a list of ingredients and what to do with them. There is a large section at the front of the book, i.e. before the recipes, that details the philosophy of Indian cuisine, explanations of what constitutes an authentic Indian meal, the true definition of a curry, the herbs and spices that are used and, probably more importantly, how and why they are used as well as a couple of somewhat useful hints and short cuts.
Whilst this preamble isn't as useful as the actual recipes, nor is it likely to improve your curries it is quite interesting (that is if you want to know about the back ground behind curries) and is quite a good read. The section on herbs and spices is quite good and there are some useful bits but most of it is pure background reading.
As well as narrative there are many photos used to break the paragraphs up. Some cookery books go way over the top with photography of the finished dishes and appear to go for looks over functionality or usefulness. This book does not do that and there is no more emphasis on the photographs over the text or vice versa. The text/photograph mix is absolutely spot which makes the whole layout very attractive, easy to read and very easy to follow.
As the title suggests this book contains 50 curries of India that Camellia considers to be the best. The recipes are from all areas of India including Goa, Kashmir, Chettinad and Mumbai amongst many others. From the very hot, such as the Goa lamb vindaloo (my personal favourite), to the very mild, such as fish molee, and everything in between this book contains a recipe to suit all tastes of curry. In addition both meat eaters and vegetarians are catered for.
For each recipe there is a brief section on what the dish is, where it came from, the history of it, how it was traditionally cooked and any specific features. After the description there is a list of all the ingredients, and the quantity required, to make enough of the curry for 4 people and a step-by-step guide to produce the curry. On the opposite page there is a picture of curry showing 'how it should look'.
As well as the curries this book also has a section on rice that gives guidance on the different types of rice, instructions on how to cook rice and recipes for different sorts of rice, such as lemon rice, fried brown rice and dill rice amongst many others.
Following the rice section there is a section on Indian breads or rotis (and how to make and cook them), side dishes and how to make them (such as spinach with curd cheese, stuffed aubergines and moong dal amongst much more), chutneys and how to make them (including red chutney and groundnut chutney) and deserts (such as mango mousse and shahi tukra amongst others). As with the curries each recipe gives a list of al the required ingredients (that need to be scaled up or down accordingly) and a step-by-step guide on how to make them. However, unlike the curries there is not a photograph of each of the recipes so you are sometimes in the dark as to how the finished product should look.
****Price and availability****
This book is available from many offline and online retailers. According to the back of the book the recommended retail price is £9.99 although I managed to get my copy for the bargain price of £3.99. At the time of writing a quick online search has shown that this book can be bought for £6.49 (with free supersaver delivery) from Amazon.
As with most products I would recommend shopping around to ensure that you get it for the best price.
Overall this is a fantastic book that I would recommend to all curry lovers. The book is attractive, clear and concise with useful text and photographs. In my opinion it is far too good to have close to hand whilst cooking the dishes so I ensure the recipe is jotted down on a scrap of paper.
The recipes detail all the ingredients required along with step-by-step instructions on how to cook the dishes. The pictures make the book attractive and nice to read, but I think they have limited use as the finished product seldom looks like the picture in the book, but then I find this the case with most cookery books regardless of the cuisine.
I find that cooking curries from scratch is very time consuming, smelly and quite difficult to create that dish that tastes like you can buy from your local Indian restaurant. In addition, curries contain so many different varieties of herbs, spices and other 'special' items that to buy these is expensive. That said, once you have made the initial purchase there will be enough ingredients there to make several curries. For these reasons I often wonder why I bother when you can get a decent jar of curry sauce that you simply pour over cooked meat and then warm up. I do find making my own curries very rewarding when I do get them right, but also very frustrating when they don't taste right.
I find that the same type of curry will taste totally different from restaurant to restaurant. For example in my local area the lamb Vindaloo from Wroxham is so hot that it obliterates my taste buds. In total contrast the lamb vindaloo in the Spice Lounge in Norwich is more fragrant and not so fierce. It is these variations that make curries such a versatile dish as it can be tailored to suit specific tastes. All you need is the 'basic' recipe that you can change by adding the ingredients/herbs/spices in different ratios to suit your own specific taste, and this book will give you the basic recipe, that is so simple to follow, to experiment with.
When it comes to curries, I have to say that i'm a massive fan. That said, when I make a curry myself, it always ends up being the same type - a generic creamy and coconutty, mildly spiced Korma-like concoction. For that reason I decided to buy Camellia Panjabi's '50 Great Curries of India' in a hope to expand my culinary knowledge, and get more creative in my making of the popular dish.
The book, which is A5 in size, has a recommended retail price of £9.99, and can be purchased from most high street bookshops - on Amazon however, it can be bought for only £6.49.
The aim of the publication is to present fifty authentic Indian curry recipes, along with a full colour photograph, so you a) know how to make it, and b) can see what it should look like.
As well as the recipes, the book provides simple instructions about how to create a range of side dishes and extras, for example chutneys, papadams and naan. Not only that, there are also sections on the origins of curry, curry definitions, and guides to essential curry making spices - it really is a thorough book.
Each of the recipes are easy to understand and written in a clear and concise way. As a slight criticism, I would argue that some may find the text to be a little small to read comfortably, but then it really has to be that size as there is so much information crammed into the book.
The pictures, which are well shot, colourful, and of a high resolution, make the majority of the dishes look delicious, and also make me feel hungry when flicking through the pages! That said, some of the curries (like the 'Green Chicken Korma') look a little unappetising, which I'm not sure is a result of the photography, or whether the curry itself is of such a luminous green colour!
On the whole, if you have any interest in curry, then this is an essential book - well written, concise, and effectively providing you with the knowledge to make excellent food - what more could you ask for in a recipe book!
From the old 'British' favourites like Chicken Tikka, to more obscure creations like Watermelon Curry, I highly recommend this book as an excellent guide.
Camellia Panjabi leaves no stone unturned for Western lovers of her country's food in this little volume that is more than just a recipe book. Following an introduction there is a page with a map alongside on culinary India, and then a chapter on The Philosophy of Indian Cuisine. This is followed by Why an Indian Meal? I was pleasantly surprised on reading the last paragraph of this section to discover just how beneficial some spices are: turmeric is anti-inflammatory while curry leaves are anti-bacterial; cumin and clove aid digestion whereas black pepper dries mucus.
The preliminary section continues with What Exactly is a Curry? This section of the book explains that curry simply means gravy. Indian gravy uses no flour. Panjabi tells us that 'The origin of the word curry seems to be a meat or vegetable dish to be eaten with rice, which is considered to be the main dish of the meal.' The sub-section on making a curry gives details on thickening agents, souring agents and how to give colour to a curry. In the sub-section on the use of spices I learned that some spices are used mainly for taste, such as turmeric and chillies, and others, among them cardamom and nutmeg, mainly for aroma.
A section on Herbs and Fresh Spices introduces thirteen varieties, of which ginger and garlic are used in almost all recipes. Chillies can be either the fresh green variety or a dried red variety that imparts both colour and a hot taste. Panjabi notes that chillies are a good source of vitamin C.
The Curry Picture is a double-page table that tells you the name of a curry and its basic ingredients and accompaniments according to your stipulation, for example if you want to have lamb with sliced bread you go for Seyal Gosht.
Hints and Short Cuts includes advice on which curries and accompaniments can be cooked a day ahead or cooked further in advance and then frozen. There are also useful tips on what to do about mishaps such as burnt onions or a curry that is just too spicy. All is not lost if things go wrong.
The initial sections end with instructions for Making a Simple Homestyle Curry , whether chicken/lamb/fish/vegetable; Panjabi stipulates that you must try this simple one before attempting any of the others. I have to admit I didn't, but I think my first attempt at one of the more complicated curries was actually quite successful.
There are no recipes using beef or pork: just lamb, chicken, fish and various vegetarian options, including watermelon, mango and yogurt or mixed dried fruit curry. I prefer something a little more savoury myself.
I have tried the recipe for lamb slow-cooked in onions and yogurt which uses a mixture of stewing lamb and lamb chops. Having read through the recipe, I decided to start the preparations the night before, although this was partly because you need to use a blender right at the start and I didn't want to wake other members of the household early on a Sunday morning. So I kept pureed onions and tomatoes in the fridge overnight, as well the lamb marinating in pureed yogurt, coriander leaves and green chillies. Had I started the following morning, the meat would have had to be marinated for at least an hour. Then the onion would be cooked, followed by a bouquet garni and the spices. These would be combined, the pureed tomato would be added, and after cooling this mixture would be added to the meat and yogurt. There is then a further hour of marinating, so this is obviously a recipe that takes several hours. After adding salt and cooking for five minutes, the curry is cooked in the oven for an hour and a half. The time taken was well worth it, as there are beautiful flavours of cardamom seeds, mace, chopped ginger, coriander, cumin and cinnamon. Ground caraway seeds and cardamom powder are sprinkled over the curry just before serving. The recipe suggests two teaspoons of red chilli powder or paprika I used a teaspoon of each and the curry was not particularly hot, so I would suggest the chilli powder unless you like extremely mild curries.
The pureed onions give a very smooth texture to this curry, as well as to the chicken and cashew nuts in black spices that my son and his partner cooked for us one day. There is no marinating in this recipe, so you don't need to begin preparations too far in advance. It uses grated coconut as well as ginger, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chillies, cloves and cinnamon stick. The coconut adds to the smooth texture of the sauce and the cashew nuts complement this. Again, it wasn't particularly spicy, so some people might want to use extra chilli powder.
The last section of the book gives recipes for the following accompaniments to the curries:
rice - various kinds, and two cooking methods;
Indian bread or rotis chapatis, pooris, parathas;
side vegetables these include cabbage, aubergine, cauliflower and spinach;
potatoes the recipes all seem to involve frying;
lentils the four recipes all use several spices, and one has red pumpkin too;
yogurt raitas with cucumber, tomato, potato or spinach;
papadams they are believe to absorb fat in the body;
chutneys four recipes, but I confess I have not tried any of them;
cachumbers or relishes these are all based on chopped raw onion;
desserts a good variety, from halva to Indian icecream. I wouldn't indulge in this icecream as it is made with evaporated milk as well as double cream. I might instead try the apple halwa one day.
Planning a Meal gives suggestions for menus according to degree of spiciness of the curry and whether or not your guests are vegetarian. The final page before the index discusses drinking with a meal. I was unaware that cold water was thought to cause mucus in the stomach and for this reason Indians often sip tepid water during a meal.
I would recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone who has a love of Indian food and any interest in cooking. I used to use Lloyd Grossman or Sharwood's curry sauces to knock up a curry in twenty minutes or so and serve it with Uncle Ben's microwaved vegetable pilau rice on the pretence of being too busy to do anything more adventurous. If anything I was perhaps lacking in confidence. But the first time I tried making one of these curries I was surprised to find that it wasn't difficult so much as time consuming. I felt that it was creative and I loved adding so many individual herbs and spices that smelled wonderful and eventually tasted as good as I thought they ought to. It's something I can do on a Sunday to make a change from roast chicken.
Colour photographs of the curries and accompaniments appear alongside every recipe. Quite a few of the accompanying dishes are illustrated as well. The book is only A5 format but contains an absolute wealth of information on the way food is eaten in India as well as the recipes. The font is rather small, but the steps are numbered and well spaced, and the ingredients are listed in bold on the left-hand side of the page.
If you love curries but have relied on takeaways or bottles and packets, take courage in both hands and use a free half day to see what a feast you can prepare. I hope you will be as delighted as I was.
50 great curries of india by camellia panjabi (the cover of the book uses no capital letters) 224 pages published by Kyle Cathie Ltd
Paperback price £8.99
Amazon price £5.93, but delivery takes 4 to 6 weeks
Amazon also stock the book with an accompanying DVD (which I have not seen) at £10.19 (recommended retail price £14.99).