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indian cooking made easy

Updated on April 26, 2010


Indian Cooking for Family and Friends

By Meena Pathak

Not content with running what is virtually a manicured and metiulously managed monopoly on the market for Indian pickles, chutneys, cooking sauces and in recent years, a barrage of Asian ready meals and snacks, Meena Pathak, product director of Patak ltd follows up her debut cook book with this her second offering-  Indian Cooking for Family and Friends (quite what fatal consequences could occur were the dishes to be cooked for anyone other than family and friends, is anyone’s guess...).

Sections include quick snacks like spiced beans on naan bread and spicy eggs with spinach; traditional dishes like fish and chicken curries, chapattis and pilau rice; more exotic offerings for dinner parties like mango soup, garlic and chilli cheese oysters, sweet lime and mandarin prawn curry and hot chilli sorbet; comfort foods like coconut pancakes and fried sweet potatoes, and desserts like saffron semolina pudding and pistachio and coconut barfi.

There are also ‘helpful’ sections, albeit hugely limited ones, on Asian dining traditions, preparation of and a glossary of ingredients.

The book contains over a hundred recipes, each with mini introductions and occasional tips. The recipes benefit from being short and to the point. This being the case, and with very limited guidance to ingredients, utensils and food handling, this is not a text for novices to Indian cooking.

Although the book is illustrated, the photographs are more like garnish rather than a step by step visual guide.

Pathak does well to innovate and move away from the hackneyed dishes we are used to seeing on the menu of our local curry house. There are attempts to fuse traditional Indian dishes with ingredients from other cultures like bean sprout and peanut salad, pork with pickling spices and baby corn and mushrooms in a spicy tomato and onion sauce.

There are hoever, some glaring shortcomings here. The names of the dishes are sometimes pointlessly awkward; why simply say garlic chicken curry when you can verbosely title the dish ‘chicken in a strong garlic sauce’?...

The biggest blunder however is the way the recipes are organised. Rather than having chapters on starters, main dishes, side dishes, vegetarian, snacks and desserts, we have a hotch potch mix of all these under sections like ‘everyday family meals’, ‘home comforts’ and  ‘special occasions’, making it very difficult for readers to locate certain sections in a single convenient place within the book.

Innovative traditional Indian cuisine fused with some international infuses, but not for Indian cuisine beginners nor anyone who wants a user-friendly recipe book...

Indian Cooking is published by New Holland (2005)

Kaleem Raja



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