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I found Slow Cooking, Curry and Spice dishes by Carolyn Humphries in a second hand book shop and I am so glad that I did. To say that it has changed my life would be an overstatement but to say it has changed the way I look at my slow cooker is true.
The book is a rather unassuming paperback with no pictures and written on what looks rather cheap paper, non of the glossy wipe able pages of more well known cookbooks...If you get a splash on this it will stain the page. It is written in no nonsense block style. Each page contains a few sentences about the recipe, Title, how many it serves, Ingredients in darker print, and a few straight forward simple instructions.
The Book starts with an Introduction about how using your slow cooker means that you can come home to the perfect dish waiting for you to serve with Rice or breads. Curries and Spice dishes from China to Thailand, Africa to South America with the odd British dish are all included in this book.
After six pages of tips on how to use/look after your slow cooker and tips on the recipes and timings, which I found really helpful comes the recipes.
The book is divided into sections, first up being poultry dishes. Includes recipes such as Simple Chinese curry, Tandoori Chicken, Thai rich duck curry, Spicy buffalo wings and a Non-grilled Chicken Tikka Masala. I have to say the simple Chinese Chicken curry is a hit in our house and uses mainly store cupboard ingredients, its great!
Next up is Beef dishes, which include Bangladeshi Beef curry, both a Mexican and traditional chilli con carne, Japanese Beef stew with shredded chillies and Cuban spicy beef which is very good served with rice and peas.
Next is Lamb dishes and this includes a Lamb and coconut biryani, Madras lamb curry, minted lamb tagine with prunes, a fabulous Jamaican curried goat or lamb and the delicious sounding Indian - style slow roast leg of lamb.
Pork dishes include amongst others the Pork Vindaloo, lovely English curried pork chops, Thai chilli ribs, Cajun-spiced pork loin and Szechuan twice cooked pork which really is as good as it sounds.
Fish is next and includes Caribbean prawn curry,squid in chilli sauce, salt cod and pineapple curry and an East African fish stew.
next up are Vegetables and pulses and rice based dishes which I love and include a mixed vegetable curry, Bombay potatoes, mild spinach and potato curry with green pepper, red lentil curry, tofu and egg curry, chilli beans and vegetables and Mexican rice with cheese and crushed guacamole.
I love this book as even though some of the recipes sound like they will be difficult the instructions are really simple and easy to follow. The smell from the slow cooker throughout the day whilst the dishes are cooking is amazing.
One thing I will say is that some of the recipes do require several spices, which can make some of the meals seem really expensive, but once I have bought the spices/herbs once it means they are in the cupboard for next time or another recipe.
A fab little book from which I have made some great dinners.
Buying a slow cooker was a perfect opportunity to invest in some more cookbooks. I had a friend who recommended that slow cookers were particularly good for curries and so I set about looking for a book that would help me do that. I am a big fan of cooking curry from scratch and thought that any opportunity that I would have to let the flavours prepare as long as they would in a slow cooker could only be a good thing.
And so I chose this book. It comes from a range which also includes books on slow cooking international dishes, Mediterranean, vegetarian and seasonal food. The book itself is paperback with a glossy cover, although I have noticed that the cover has already gotten a bit sticky from being too closely in the vicinity of the food being cooked. The paper is matt finished which has meant that it is very vulnerable to splashes and stains and any that you do get on there needs to be wiped off quickly so pages do not stick together or get tatty. Also, the spine is not very flexible which means that it is difficult to get the pages to stay open to cook from by just lying them down on a surface.
After a short introduction there are pages giving advice on the following:
Using a slow cooker - the basic stages in using your appliance
Cooking tips for using the slow cooker - eg advice on how to gauge the amount of liquid you put in your dish as slow cookers do not make liquid evaporate, particular considerations that you may need for some recipe components eg vegetables, beans, meat, onions
Looking after your slow cooker - basica maintenance tips to get the longest life out of your appliance.
Cooking times - a conversion chart on how conventional cooking times relate to the different settings on a slow cooker
Notes on the recipes - more generalised tips and explanations of some points in the recipes
Then onto the recipes. Typically each recipe takes up a whole page and includes a short introduction. The ingredient lists are split into the standard ingredients and anything which is needed 'to serve'. There are no photographs in this book.
Poultry recipe examples are as follows: non-grilled chicken tikka masala, sautéed chicken in spice sauce (tomatoey and one of my favourites), tandoori chicken, thai green chicken curry, English-style curried chicken casserole, chicken and red lentil, spicy buffalo wings,
Beef dishes include: mild minced beef curry (a great standby recipe), Mexican carne con chilli as well as traditional, Mexican shredded meats with chorizo, chilli beef mole with fine noodles
Lamb dishes include : Kashmir red lamb stew, lamb madras, Indian style slow-roast leg of lamb, lamb and bean curry (I cannot personally vouch for these ones as I do not eat lamb)
Next up are pork dishes, which include: vindaloo, English curried pork chops, curried pork sausages with potatoes and beans (lovely), Cajun spiced pork loin
Fish dishes include: Caribbean prawn, crab pilaf, thai green fish curry, squid in chilli sauce
Vegetable dishes including: mixed vegetable curry (a really great and versatile one), Indian pumpkin, cauliflower and potato curry, Bombay potatoes (a fantastic side dish if you are cooking a curry on the hob), mild spinach and potato.
Pulses and grain-based dishes (possibly my favourite section) : red lentil curry (another great standby one), curried eggs with chick peas, chickpea and potato curry (also great), chilli beans and vegetables, spiced Tunisian vegetables with chickpeas.
I have really enjoyed cooking from this book and have found a number of recipes that I believe that I will use over and over again. However, I have to say in the meat section there were not as many useful ones as I would have liked. Some of them used some more obscure ingredients than I would generally be able to get my hands on.
It is also worth saying that you will need to have a well stocked spice cupboard as many of the recipes have quite a list of spices. However this is worth your while doing anyway if you are planning to cook curries in your slow cooker as it really does more justice to the spices you include than in conventional cooking.
The curries from this book that I have tried making generally have a really nice creaminess about them as the use of cream and yoghurt is actively encouraged. The recipes themselves are very short and brief and largely rely on you browning off the ingredients before putting in the slow cooker.
In conclusion, this is a fine, but not exceptional slow cooker cookbook. It is by no means comprehensive but for some staple spicy recipes that have some versatility, it serves its purpose.