India!: Recipes from the Bollywood Kitchen, written by Sandra Salmandjee, features over 60 diverse dishes from the cuisine of India. Well-known favorites such as Murgh Tandoori (Tandoori Chicken), Palak Paneer (Spinach with Paneer), Gulab Jamun (Fritters with Syrup), Mango Lassi, and Aloo Samosa (Vegetable Samosas) accompany the less common but still delicious Masala Salad Papad (Papadum with Topping), Nimbu Pulao (Lemon Rice), Baingan Bartha (Mashed Eggplant Curry), Masala Kaju (Cashew Nuts with Garam Masala), and Ras Chawal Masala Fish (Steamed Fish in Banana Leaves).
Sandra Salmandjee, nicknamed Chef Sanjee, is a food blogger based in Paris. She is known for her modern and inventive style of Indian cuisine. She started her blog, Bollywood Kitchen (in French), as a way to share her passion with others. She also has her own cooking show on Youtube and runs private events.
Chapters are divided based on course: The Basics, Snacking, Meat and Fish, Rice and Lentils, Vegetarian Dishes, and Desserts and Drinks.
Sanjee begins with the basics. There is a photo guide for basic utensils and ingredients. You will also learn how to work with some of the more popular spices and make pastes such as curry, garlic, and ginger. There are also menu suggestions for the Thali (set of containers for a balanced meal) and Lunch Box (Dabba). The most common type of rice in Indian cuisine is Basmati and you will learn how to cook and flavor it. Another focus is on Ayurveda (the science of longevity)- the balancing of the six aspects of taste to maintain good health: sweet, bitter, salty, pungent, sour, and astringent.
Measurements for the recipes are listed in US Customary and Metric. Preparation, resting, and cooking times along with serving sizes are included. Occasionally, there is a headnote with background information and tips.
Photos are provided by Patrice Hauser with food styling by Sophie Dupuis-Gaulier. Every single recipe is accompanied by a beautifully styled photo, generally of the finished product and often full page. Smaller step-by-step photos are often also included.
This book is a great pick for those looking for an introduction to Indian cooking. Nearly 40 percent of the population in India is vegetarian, roughly 480 million people, and India! reflects that with plenty of vegetarian options. Many of the recipes include ingredients that can be found in the average supermarket, but a few may require finding a South Asian food market such as rose-flavored syrup, ghee (recipe included with step by step photos), cardamom pods, fenugreek, papadums, garam masala, red lentils, chickpea flour, tamarind paste, star anise, saffron, and semolina.
Paneer Korma is a vegetarian dish made with pieces of paneer (cheese) in a creamy spiced tomato sauce. Chunks of paneer are pan-fried until golden, then coated in the tomato almond sauce with coriander, garlic, ginger, and onion. Before serving, half-and-half cream and butter is mixed in for richness. Serve hot with Basmati rice.
Paneer is the type of fresh, white cheese used in India. It can be melted to bind sauces or eaten solid (and often fried). Paneer can be found in the specialty cheese section of some grocery stores and International food markets specializing in South Asian ingredients, but it is also easy to make your own- Sanjee includes a recipe.
Store the paneer in it’s liquid or cold water in the refrigerator for up to a week. It can also be frozen.
Be careful while frying the paneer since it tends to splatter and pop oil. The first time I fried it, I was not prepared at all and ended up with oil everywhere. Dabbing the pieces with a towel before adding them to the oil and covering the pan with a screen helps.
I also made Mint Chutney, Chapatis, Dahi Chicken Curry (Chicken with Yogurt, Garlic, and Turmeric), and Toffee Lassi.
I made the Mint Chutney to accompany the Dahi Chicken Curry. It came together easily with the help of a food processor and added an herby, refreshing taste to the meal. Mint and yogurt is combined with lime juice, ginger, and salt. I liked Sanjee’s tip of using the salt to help finely chop the herbs.
Another accompaniment to the Indian meal is Chapati. Chapati is a flatbread made with atta (or whole wheat flour), water, and ghee. Evan and Claire loved helping make these. The basic dough is rolled into thin circles (after resting for an hour) and cooked in a frying pan until golden. Bread lovers will also enjoy Sanjee’s recipes for Naan, Cheese Naan, and Paratha with Cilantro.
The Dahi Chicken Curry (Chicken with Yogurt, Garlic, and Turmeric) was a huge hit for the whole family. Pieces of chicken are first marinated in a seasoned yogurt dressing for a few hours. The pieces are simmered in a spiced curry cinnamon sauce before serving with cilantro for garnish, chapati, and the mint chutney. It took some planning ahead with the marinating time, but was an easy, flavorful meal to put together.
Sanjee includes a few Lassi recipes in the book including Plain, Mango, and Rose. I chose to make the Toffee Lassi since I am such a huge fan of vanilla. The lassi comes together easily by whisking together yogurt, milk, condensed milk, vanilla, and salt. It is refrigerated for an hour before serving to let the flavors come together and chill. This was such a refreshing, creamy drink. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, me or Claire.
Disclaimer: I received this book from H.F. Ullmann in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own.
Adapted from India!
1 quart (1 liter) whole milk
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 piece muslin or kitchen cloth
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon turmeric, plus an extra pinch
1 1/4 pounds (600 grams) firm paneer
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pureed
3/4 inch (2 cm) piece fresh ginger, pureed
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground coriander
7 tablespoons (100 grams) water
1 pound (500 grams) very ripe tomatoes (or 1 2/3 cups, 400 ml, chopped tomatoes)
3 tablespoons (30 grams) blanched almonds
7 tablespoons (100 ml) half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons (10 grams) butter
Freshly chopped cilantro
To make the Paneer: In a large pot, add the milk over medium heat. Right when it comes to a boil, remove from heat and add the vinegar. Set aside to curdle for 10 minutes.
Strain the curdled milk through the piece of muslin, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Place the cloth filled cheese in a rectangular container and cover with a weight. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Remove the paneer from the cloth, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for another 30 minutes before using or up to a week in the refrigerator in the retained liquid or cold water.
To make the Paneer Korma: In a large pan, drizzle about 4 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Sprinkle with a pinch of turmeric. Slice the paneer into even pieces, about 1-1 1/2 inch. Once the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the paneer pieces (in batches if needed) and cook until browned on each side. Remove and drain on a towel lined plate.
In a large saucepan or pot, drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, until softened and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, coriander, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, water, and salt to taste. Simmer to reduce the liquid.
In a food processor or blender, pulse together the tomatoes and almonds until smooth. Add to the pot and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes before stirring in the half-and-half and butter. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the paneer pieces to coat and garnish with cilantro. Serves immediately with Basmati rice.