Deepa’s Secrets: Slow Carb New Indian Cuisine, written by Deepa Thomas, incorporates Indian flavors with Western time-saving cooking techniques in a variety of slow carb and gut-healing recipes. Highlights include Tomato Rasam, Sweet and Spicy Mango Salad, Smashed Chickpea and Toasted Peanut Cakes, Aviel, Keema Spicy Beef, and Dilled Masala Crab Cakes. I am also including Deepa’s recipe for General Joseph’s Five-Star Chicken Batons at the end of the review.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book from Carrie Bachman in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Deepa Thomas was born and raised in New Delhi. She graduated from Delhi University with degrees in journalism and political science. After spending 21 years as the founder of Deepa Textiles, she combined her passions for journalism and cooking to focus on a healthy lifestyle for her family. She is currently based in San Francisco with her husband.
Chapters are divided based on course: Happy Accidents; Right Food, Right Mind; Gut Knowledge; Kitchen Essentials; The Basics; New Beginnings; Soups and Stews; Salad Days; Savory Vegetables; Fish. Chicken. Meat.; Sweet Endings; Comfort Foods; Life in the Balance; and This is Just the Beginning.
Deepa’s Secrets is more than just a cookbook. The chapters are intertwined with stories of Deepa’s life in India, her family, how she met her husband, and their life together in the United States. Her husband was diagnosed with diabetes and as a way to manage it, Deepa began to reinvent their meals using ingredients that wouldn’t spike his blood sugar while still preserving the flavor. For those unfamiliar with diabetes, she provides a basic guide to the glycemic index and an overview of how the body metabolizes carbohydrates. She also includes a list of fresh and dried pantry ingredients and equipment along with tips for storage and menu planning ideas.
The photography is provided by Sherry Heck with food styling by Fanny Pan. Every recipe is paired with a beautifully styled photo of the finished dish. There are also family photos to accompany Deepa’s stories. Measurements are listed in US Customary with titles in English. Each recipe had a headnote with background information, personal stories, serving size, tips, and menu ideas.
This book is a great pick for those looking for slow carb recipes that are full of flavor. Deepa has created a collection of Indian-style dishes using alternatives to the rice and bread-based staples. All of the recipes I tried came together fairly easily, often with additional options for building the flavors with toppings like caramelized shallots or New Indian Gremolata. There are plenty of seasonal vegetable dishes to choose from along with soups, salads, meats, and seafood. Having a market nearby with South Asian ingredients will be helpful. Some of the more difficult to locate items include cardamom pods, fenugreek, asafoetida, chaat masala, curry leaves, black mustard seeds, chana dal, jal jeera powder, and tamarind paste.
General Joseph’s Five-Star Chicken Batons
Deepa named General Joseph’s Five-Star Chicken Batons after her Uncle Joseph, a surgeon and head of the Armed Forces Medical Corps. These chicken skewers are briefly marinated in a mixture of shallots, bacon, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, sesame oil, and spices before broiling until tender. A couple of drops of liquid smoke are added to get the grilled flavor even when they are prepared indoors.
I paired the Chicken Batons with Deepa’s Chutput Ketchup and the Avocado, Tomato, and Plum Salad. She also recommends her Green Sauce (a spiced herb sauce) and New Indian Pesto and Bean Soup.
I used metal skewers. If using wooden, soak the skewers in water for at least an hour before threading on the chicken pieces and broiling.
I also made the Masala Omelet; Mamamimi’s ‘Shroom Soup; Avocado, Tomato, and Plum Salad; and Mango Lassi.
The Masala Omelet is filled with spices, fresh parsley, and a sprinkling of caramelized shallots on top. It was the perfect way to start the day.
Mamamimi’s ‘Shroom Soup is a creamy and aromatic soup filled with shiitake mushrooms. I loved the combination of textures. Some of the mushrooms are pureed into the soup while the other half are left sliced. Before serving, it is topped with caramelized onions and freshly chopped parsley. I appreciated the tip to save some of the sautéed mushrooms for breakfast the next day with eggs or using some leftover soup as sauce for pasta.
I made the Avocado, Tomato, and Plum Salad with the last couple of tomatoes from my garden. Slices of avocados, tomatoes, and plums are tossed with a seasoned ginger lime dressing and topped with herbs, spices, and nuts. I served the salad with General Joseph’s Five-Star Chicken Batons.
The Mango Lassi is a refreshing drink with a yogurt base that is pureed with mango, vanilla, rose water, honey, cardamom, and a little salt. This one was Claire’s favorite. To serve the lassi as a dessert, Deepa recommends topping it with berries and dark chocolate shavings.
General Joseph’s Five-Star Chicken Batons Recipe
General Joseph’s Five-Star Chicken Batons
Excerpt from Deepa’s Secrets
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste (p. 38)
2 tablespoons shallots, minced in a foodprocessor
1 slice bacon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon allspice
2–3 drops liquid smoke
8 six-inch skewers, wooden (soaked in water for one hour) or metal
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, for basting
1 tablespoon chaat masala
Pound chicken breast between two sheets of parchment paper with wooden mallet until 1⁄2-inch thick. Cut into 1-inch strips.
Mix the marinade in a medium glass bowl. Add chicken, cover, and hold in the fridge for at least one hour.
Position rack in middle of oven and turn broiler on.
Thread chicken on skewers. Brush with sesame oil and broil, 5 minutes per side.
Sprinkle with chaat masala and serve hot with Deepa’s Green Sauce or Chutput Ketchup for delicious dipping.