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Not only is this the best Indian cookery book I own, it was also the first I owned from Anjum. It's so good that i went on to get more books written by her because they are just so darn good!
I watched the 'Indian food made easy' series on the BBC and loved Anjum's style of cooking and the accompanying book did not let me down. Full of basic but delicious recipes, for a relative beginner to Indian cooking like me it was just what I needed.
There are a fair few chapters to this book which are as follows -
Light meals and snacks
fish and seafood
lentils and beans
bread and rice
raitas and chutneys
drinks and desserts
The staple foods of Indian cooking are all here and are so easy to achieve. The spices are all quite easy to find these days and supermarkets are getting better and better world food sections, there may be a few things that are a little harder to come by but they can be substituted or left out in most cases.
There aren't photos for all the recipes sadly for people who like those sorts of cookery books. However the recipes are so well laid out and clearly written that I do think that its not too hard to follow and make something that will stun everyone.
The title of the book certainly isn't a lie, Anjum really has made these recipes easy and uncomplicated and many of these recipes have become staple recipes of mine now. The north Indian lamb curry page is the most well used and the classic northern chicken curry is also great.
For me the star of this book is the recipes Anjum includes for all the side dishes, raitas,breads and lentil dishes. I'd never have thought I could make Indian cheese so easily (it really is!) and apart from a naan i'd never have considered making flat breads or roti's - but I do now!
You could easily do a 3 course dinner party from this book from starter to desserts with Indian drinks too, and you could find something to satisfy everyone. If you want to try Indian cooking i'd really suggest getting this book first.
Indian Food Made Easy - Anjum Anand
I am not a great cook, so books to make cooking anything easier is always a plus in our house, and this book in particular is one I really love as Indian food is a firm favourite of mine, though before getting this book and a couple other Indian cookbooks, my attempts at preparing and cooking an Indian dish was something to be desired. Now, though, my Indian dishes do not come out too badly and I think a lot of that is to do with this book.
This book came out as a supplement to the BBC 2 series back in 2007, though I admit that I did not see this. I actually found this book for a mere 50p at a carboot sale which was a real bargain!
There are nine different sections in this book;
1. Light Meals and Snacks - This great section has been well used by me and covers a lot of different meals and snacks which I had never even heard of, and many mix the usual lunch and breakfast time meals with an Indian twist to give it that something different. One of my favourites is the Masala Scrambled Eggs which I have attempted and enjoyed a number of times now.
2. Chicken - A lot about spices is included in this section alongside a number of ways to prepare and cook chicken dishes.
3. Lamb - This section covers a few different meals as the chicken section, though this time with Lamb.
4. Fish and Seafood - This is a section in which I avoid as I really do not like fish, though by glancing through it, I can see that many different fish and seafood is used in recipes here so a good section for those who love food.
5. Vegetables - A great section for both vegetables as a side dish and also as a main meal. I have used a few of these in other non-Indian meals too as they are so versatile.
6. Lentils and Beans - This again, is perhaps not a favourite section of mine, though I have tried a few bits from here and was happy with the end result.
7. Bread and Rice - Another great section which can also be used in non-Indian dishes, including the well known Naan bread which I love!
8. Raitas and Chutneys - This is possibly the shortest part of the book though still very useful.
9. Drinks and Desserts - This section is a fun one and I am quite pleased with some of the results I have had. There is everything from yogurts to tea with an Indian twist.
This recipe book is jammed packed full of different meal ideas alongside drinks and sides, with a lot of dishes I had never heard of before. They are well laid out and easy to follow for beginners like me.
"Indian Food Made Easy" is the accompaniment to the first of Anand's series of the same name that was shown on BBC 2 in half-hour slots on BBC 2 in 2007. There was also a second series which was accompanied by the book "Anjum's New Indian". The success of these two series led the BBC to expand on the "Made Easy" franchise with series that followed as introductions in Caribbean and Chinese food.
The book itself is well presented and photographed with a glossy cover. The pages themselves are quite glossy and although I have splashed them with various ingredients over the course of cooking from them, but compared to a lot of my books they have come out of it fairly unscathed apart from a little warping, but if you catch a spillage early enough it is easy to wipe clean with very little damage. It is also well spined so that the pages stay open and remain open really easily even when it is laid flat.
There is a brief introduction written by the author, then a section called "The Indian Kitchen Made Easy" which lists and provides some details on useful equipment and ingredients that are useful for progressing with Indian cookery. To Anand's credit, she has obviously considered this section carefully and does not overwhelm the reader with a shopping list of things to buy, instead coming up with ways to actively encourage engagement with this style of cookery.
The first section is "light meals and snacks", my favourite section in the whole book because the recipes here are just so accessible on a day-to-day basis. It includes wraps and ideas such as "masala scrambled eggs" and "chilli cheese toast" that I recommend for a really satisfying breakfast, particularly in winter, as long as you do not mind a bit of spice in the morning! This section also includes a recipe for "paneer" (unsalted white cheese) which I still have to get around to doing and I am really intrigued by. The recipe does not look as complicated as it could be and is well illustrated through photography on the opposite page which goes through some of the stages. There is also an excellent recipe for samosas which is both economic and relatively easy to follow (once you have got the hang of folding filo pastry correctly).
The next section is for chicken - it incorporates some spicy marinades with curries and burgers and also just alternative ways of spicing and cooking poultry.
Following this is the meat section - which is purely recipes prepared with lamb - mainly curries. (I do not feel qualified to comment any further on this section as I do not like lamb).
Following this is the "fish and seafood" chapter, which includes using monkfish, mackerel, crab, halibut, prawns and mussels - mainly in curries but also baked and marinated.
Then onto the "vegetable" section, which I also highly recommend, especially as it presents largely simple and exciting ways of presenting vegetables (I try to minimise the amount of meat dishes I cook in a week for financial and environmental purposes). A lot of these dishes require relatively short preparation and cooking times and not being too heavy are really good for mid-week evening meals. The high vegetable content must mean that they are nutritious as well. There are a lot of potatoes and spinach in this section and the vegetables not only form whole meals but side dishes which are versatile with main dishes, and not just those that are in this book.
The next part is the "lentil and bean" section which happens to contain my favourite recipe in the whole book and one which is now part of my mid-week evening meal repertoire - the "simple spinach and lentil curry". It is absolutely delicious and filling (even my husband loves it and he is a complete curry fiend and carnivore.) In fact all the recipes that I have tried in this section are far from bland and seemingly quite nutritious.
After this comes "bread and rice" which is a particularly useful section as it starts off with different and versatile preparations for rice which I have used so many times. It then moves into familiar Indian bread recipes such as roti and naan.
This is followed by the "raitas and chutneys" which is short but I think covers all the basics you would want at a simple level. However, I think that these are better saved for a special occasion or a meal when you want all of the trimmings, as I feel that they are probably the least essential part that you would need for an Indian meal/banquet.
The "drinks and desserts" section was a bit of a revelation for me as I have never experimented with Indian-style desserts. There are a lot of smoothie/yoghurt type dishes. There are a lot of smoothie/yoghurt type dishes. As a fan of chai, I have to say that I highly recommend "the ultimate Masala" tea which is lovely and warming anytime but also can be a bit of a comfort drink. It is not difficult to put together when you have the right ingredients, but takes a bit longer to prepare than your normal cuppa - but if you have the time it is worth it - trust me!
At the back of the book there is a glossary which goes into more detail about a lot of the ingredients, particularly spices.
All-in-all, this is a recipe book that I would highly recommend. It has a lot of very good, tasty, easy and nutritious recipes that can be done over and over again. I think that although it is a good introduction to Indian cookery it is quite moderated so if you wanted something more traditionally Indian, you should probably go for something like "50 great curries of India" or something by Madhur Jaffrey.
I loved the BBC2 series and I was really looking forward to the book, and I wasn't disappointed. The curries she makes are excellent, full of flavour but not necessarily hot. I have made most of the chicken and meat (lamb) curries in the book, pilau rice and even naan bread (which was really easy!)
Often you find that with most indian cookbooks you need a vast array of herbs and spices. Not so with this book. Most of the herbs and spices used are ones most cooks would already have in the store cupboard. (Garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander, tomatoes) So if you stuck for something to eat one night you can quickly make up a curry (only thing i don't often have is fresh coriander). This makes a curry a cheap meal which you could eat everyday, without too much impact on your wallet. Great in these credit crunch days.
The other plus is most of these currys can be made quite quickly, within 30- 45 mins. A couple need to the meat to be marinated but can be done without.
I have learnt to make good pilau rice which doesn't stick together, and naan bread which is so quick, easy and cheap you wonder why it costs so much to buy in a supermarket.
The only disappointment was one of the fish dishes which was a complete disaster. So I haven't tried to do it again.
The pictures are great, and you get a brief introduction to each dish explaining where it's come from etc Nicely structured, and easy to find the recipe you want, or just to flick through for inspiration.
==About the Author Anjum Anand==
Anjum Anand , born in London , studied in Paris and Switzerland.She comes from a business background and herself holds a degree in European business administration.
Having weight problems in her teen years, she began experimenting with rich and high calorie Indian food and came up with her now famous light and healthy recipes.She became a regular guest on UKTV Food's Great Food Live and featured in the BBC Two series Indian Food Made Easy in the recent years .
She contributes regularly to the Times Online food pages and has been with the Birds Eye brand developing a range of healthy Indian food.
Her published works include:-
Indian Every Day: Light, Healthy Indian Food
Indian Food Made Easy (2007)
and the latest
Anjum's New Indian (2008)
==About the book==
This book has been adapted from Anjum's television series which was very popular.Most of those recipes have been included here.
Most of the recipes are her own and she has taken care not to include ingredients that are not available in the western market.Most of the ingredients mentioned are available easily in the super markets .
The book has these main chapters:-
-Light Meals and Snacks
-Fish and Seafood
-Lentils and Beans
-Bread and Rice
-Raitas and Chutneys
-Drinks and Desserts
She writes a brief introductory note about Indian food in general and her own experiences with regard to simplifying and making the food lighter and healthier..
There are some very interesting recipes listed here and they are all great tasting.I like the recipe that she has come up with - Green Fish curry, Masala scrambled eggs,Mussels with coconut,Spinach and lentil curry, Meat balls in curry, and a good selection of Green chutneys, lentil chutneys and Raitas.
There are a good number of rice preparations like the more common mixed vegetable and lamb pulao and Wild mushroom pulao which is an excellent recipe..some good and easy recipes for making naans and rotis too are included.
There are many recipes for starters and side dishes, mainly accompaniments with the usual rice and curry meal or the Roti and curry.They are all good recipes and come out well when tried out.
Her recipes are are not complicated and most of them can be made very quickly within a matter of minutes.She comes with a lot of practical suggestions too..
There are some nice Indian desserts like the yummy Coconut burfi, Mango and Yogurt smoothie, and the fruit jelly and Payasa, which is a jaggery based porridge made with lentils cooked in milk
with ghee ,nuts and cardomoms added for flavor and taste.
There are excellent photographs that cover almost all the dishes that are featured on the book.
Finally i would say that besides listing very easy to make recipes ,this is definitely not the usual Indian cook book that features the more popular Tandoories, Biriyanis and Kormas which are heavy and spicy.
Here there is a lot of thought and experimentation gone in to making the dishes healthy and tasty, yet light - a boon to diet watchers
Definitely a good cook book to have in ones collection.
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Quadrille Publishing Ltd (3 Aug 2007)
In her new BBC2 series, Anjum Anand travels around the UK creating delicious Indian food that is light and healthy and bursting with flavour. Beginning with easy finger food and light grills, perfect for TV snacks, Anjum then goes onto visit a country fair in Dorset where she cooks Indian street food, creates a tasty lamb curry for some hungry firemen, and cooks up a seafood feast on the beach for a group of Cornish surfers. All the recipes from the TV series are included with chapters on Light snacks, Seafood, Meat and Poultry, Vegetables, Lentils and Beans, Rice and Breads, Chutneys and Raitas, and Desserts and Drinks. Anjum is passionate about using fresh, local and seasonal produce with all the ingredients readily available in supermarkets. Throughout the book, there are tips and techniques as well as expert secrets from some of the country's top Indian chefs.