I’ve added yet another vegan cookbook to my collection. This time Vegan Indian Cooking. I have a few Indian cookbooks, but sadly hardly used. I haven’t spent the $ that’s needed to buy all the spices that are required. On top of that, a lot of the recipes in those books are too complicated (exception: Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking. See review).
You do need a few spices to get the right taste. I’ve accepted this as a necessary part of Indian cooking and I’ve begun buying spices on an as-needed basis. I find if you start skipping a lot of spices, the end product becomes bland.
The recipes here are simple to prepare and flavourful. I made the tofu curry and I recommend baking the tofu first to boost the texture. The curry was easy to make and if you’re not vegan/vegetarian, this is a good base for meat like chicken. I knew this dish would turn out spicy so I omitted the teaspoon of cayenne which would have been suicide for me.
The sweet and sour potatoes even though the ingredient list is short, it doesn’t come off as bland.
Chickpea poppers. I think the oven took longer to preheat than the actual bake time. The prep work is nearly zero and it’s healthy because it’s baked, not fried. I did find the original recipe makes a large batch so next time I’ll halve it. Singla, has the chickpea popper recipe posted on her blog.
The Ripe Banana Curry is another easy one to prepare. It’s a nice change from using those over-ripe bananas for banana bread to make something more savoury.
As someone who can’t really tolerate spicy food, I found I had to tone down the recipes quite a bit. If you’re spice averse, I’d only use a fraction of what’s suggested or omitting some items completely (e.g. if a chile pepper is needed, you might not need the cayenne pepper as well). The index is a little frustrating to use and could be laid out better. They’re sorted by their title name and that makes it harder to find what you’re looking for. The banana curry, for example, wasn’t under banana or curry. It was listed under the Indian name and the title (which was a person). I’m not too familiar with the Indian names so I’d often have to flip through the book to find what I was looking for. Another thing I’d like to see is the serving size. The yield is stated, but serving sizes are my lazy way of seeing how many people it can feed. I do like how the author has included weights for some ingredients. I’d like to see more cookbook authors do this as a “large” potato is open to interpretation.
I’ve bookmarked more that I need to try (baked samosas, anyone?) and I really like how it’s health-focused without sacrificing taste.
Sneh Masi’s Ripe Banana Curry
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small onion, peeled and diced (3/4 cup [113 g])
1 med tomato, peeled and diced (1 1/2 cups [240 g])
1-3 green thai, serrano or cayenne chiles, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut in 1/4 inch (6mm) rounds (3 cups [450 g])
1. In a deep, heavy pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the cumin and cook until the seeds sizzle, about 30 seconds. Add the onions. Cook for about 20 seconds.
3. Add the tomato, chiles, and salt. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the tomato softens into a slight sauce.
4. Add the bananas. Replace the lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over a bed of brown or white basmati rice.
Note: My review copy had an errata for this recipe. I contacted the author and this is the correct version.
Excerpted from Vegan Indian Cooking by Anupy Singla (Agate Publishing)
Thanks to Agate Publishing for sending me a review copy. As always, reviews are my own opinions and I did not receive monetary compensation.by