Easy Indian Cooking: 101 Fresh & Feisty Indian Recipes, written by Hari Nayak, features a collection of inspiring recipes created for the home cook with Indian flavors and simplified cooking techniques. A few highlights include Spinach and Thyme Roti Flatbreads, Tropical Fruit Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette, Classic Marinated Lamb Curry, Hot and Sour Chickpeas, and Salted Yogurt Lassi with Cumin. I will also be sharing his recipe for Cardamom Brownies following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Tuttle Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Hari Nayak grew up in Udupi, India and developed his love of food by watching his grandmother in the kitchen.
He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and his career in the food industry has spanned over 18 years.
Hari is now the culinary director for Café Spice and has a restaurant consultancy firm called Gourmet Gurus. He is also the author of Modern Indian Cooking, My Indian Kitchen, and The Cafe Spice Cookbook.
Easy Indian Cooking
Hari begins Easy Indian Cooking with a basic guide to cooking techniques such as roasting meats and tempering along with helpful tools.
The Ingredient Guide includes photos and descriptions for those who are unfamiliar with Indian cooking. After the introduction, he gets straight to the recipes.
Chapters are divided according to course: Accompaniments; Appetizers, Soups and Salads; Poultry; Meat; Seafood; Breads and Rice; Beans; Vegetables, Eggs and Cheese; and Desserts and Drinks. The contents page also includes a list of the recipes in each chapter for easy reference.
The photography is provided by Jack Turkel. Nearly all of the recipes are accompanied by quarter to full page photos of the finished dish.
The titles are written in English with measurements listed in US Customary and Metric. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information and serving ideas, serving size, preparation, and cooking time.
These Cardamom Brownies are quite the delicious treat for the fall and winter baking season. The basic, fudgy brownie base is taken up a notch with the addition of toasted pecans and freshly ground cardamom.
After bringing together the ingredients, the mixture is transferred to a prepared baking dish and baked until just set.
Once cooled, slice into bars and serve at room temperature, cold, or even heated for a few seconds in the microwave.
I dusted the tops of the brownies with powdered sugar for a little contrast. They would also be perfect alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
These Cardamom Brownies are best the day they are baked. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 days.
A Few Tips
For the best flavor, toast the pecans before adding to the batter. I arranged them in a single layer on a baking sheet, then toasted in a 350˚F (180˚C) oven until just golden and fragrant, about 5-10 minutes.
Allow the melted chocolate to cool slightly before mixing into the butter and adding the eggs. If it is too hot, it will melt the butter and scramble the eggs.
Take care to not over-mix the batter. Fold in the flour and pecans just until combined with no streaks remaining.
I used a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 centimeter) baking dish. The exact baking time may differ based on the size of your dish and thickness of the brownies. Smaller pans will create thicker brownies.
Bake the Cardamom Brownies until just set on the top. A knife inserted into the center will still come out a little wet. It will continue to set as the pan comes to room temperature.
It can be difficult to wait, but make sure the brownies are cooled for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Otherwise, they will crumble and fall apart when cutting.
Green Cardamom is a highly aromatic, warm citrus-like spice. Most of the flavor is in the seeds encased by the green pods.
You can buy cardamom whole or ground, but the seeds quickly lose their flavor once the pods are cut. I have been able to find the pods in the spice section of larger grocery stores and specialty spice stores/International Markets featuring South Asian products. It is also available on Amazon: Green Cardamom.
If you only have ground cardamom, use about 1 teaspoon for these Cardamom Brownies.
Looking for more recipes with cardamom?
I also made the Fresh Tomato Soup with Cilantro Cream, Coriander Crusted Salmon with Cilantro Cucumber Chutney, Saffron Rice with Toasted Almonds, and Masala Scrambled Eggs with Crumbled Paneer.
The Fresh Tomato Soup with Cilantro Cream was a perfect ending to summer. The creamy tomato soup base is topped with a homemade cilantro cream. The light and refreshing soup comes together easily in less than 30 minutes. The kids really enjoyed it paired with grilled cheese sandwiches.
The Coriander Crusted Salmon with Cilantro Cucumber Chutney is another quick and easy meal. Salmon fillets are seasoned with crushed coriander seeds and garam masala, cooked through, then served with a fresh cilantro cucumber chutney and lime wedges.
The Saffron Rice with Toasted Almonds is a 15 minute rice dish seasoned with saffron, ginger, cumin, cardamom, garam masala, and almonds. Hari recommends serving it with his Spice Stuffed Okra and Cannellini Dal Fry.
The Masala Scrambled Eggs with Crumbled Paneer was the quickest meal of all. Eggs are scrambled into a mixture of tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, and garlic, then tossed with crumbled paneer and cilantro. It was a huge hit with the whole family. I loved the idea of serving the scrambled eggs in a wrap for an easy meal on the go.
Easy Indian Cooking is a great pick for those looking for new ways to incorporate Indian flavors. Most of the recipes come together easily, often in 30 minutes or less, and are perfect for weeknight dinners. I especially enjoyed the flavorful assortment of sauces and condiments like the Pomegranate Mint Chutney and Plum Tomato Mustard Dip.
Many of the ingredients can be found in the larger American grocery stores. Having a South Asian market nearby will be helpful in finding items such as black mustard seeds, dried mung beans, star anise, sambal, saffron, mango powder, curry leaves, Asian eggplants, cardamom pods, nigella seeds, and lemongrass.
Cardamom Brownies Recipe
Excerpt from Easy Indian Cooking
- 5 ounces (140 grams) bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks, 250 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for buttering pan
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- Seeds from 15 cardamom pods freshly ground
- 1 cup (135 grams) all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting pan
- 1 1/4 cups (125 grams) pecans lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350˚F (175˚C).
- Butter a 9×12 inch (23×30.5 centimeter) baking pan, fit the bottom with a piece of parchment paper and dust the inside of the pan with flour; tap the excess flour out and set aside.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water or with a microwave oven. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let it cool slightly.
- Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl with a flexible rubber spatula until smooth and creamy. Stir in the chocolate.
- Gradually add the eggs one at a time.
- Whisk and then add the sugar and ground cardamom, followed by the flour and pecans, stirring using a whisk until all the ingredients are incorporated. Do not beat or aerate.
- Scrape the batter into the baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The top of the brownies will be dry, but a knife inserted in the center will come out wet with batter on it. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow the brownies to cool for 30 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edges of the pan and untold the brownies. Remove the baking paper, cut the brownies, and serve.