Asma’s Indian Kitchen: Home-Cooked Food Brought to You by Darjeeling Express features a delicious and flavorful collection of authentic Indian homestyle recipes celebrating Asma Khan’s ancestry. Highlights include Kari Patta Ka Kaddu (Butternut Squash with Curry Leaves), Bharwa Simla Mirch (Stuffed Bell Peppers), Kachumber (Lemon and Chili-Infused Salad), Macher Jhol (Bengali Fish Curry), Masala Omelet, and Chicken Bharta (Shredded Chicken with Eggs in Gravy). I will also be sharing her recipe for Tengri Kabab following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Interlink Books 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. Looking for more books by Interlink? Check out my review for The Immigrant Cookbook, Wild Honey & Rye, and Andaluz.
Asma Khan grew up in Calcutta before moving to England to join her husband. She is now the chef and restauranteur of the all-women run Darjeeling Express in London. The restaurant has been featured in Time Out, Harper’s Bazaar, the Guardian, and more. It was named one of the best restaurants in London in 2015 by the Evening Standard and one of the most impressive restaurant newcomers in 2017 by Eater. She was also in Volume 6 of the Netflix award-winning series, Chef’s Table.
Asma’s Indian Kitchen
Chapters are divided according to the following: My Indian Kitchen, Feasts for Two, Family Feasts, Feasting with Friends, and Celebratory Feasts. After the recipes, there is a list of menu suggestions for a variety of occasions.
Asma begins with her experiences moving to England from Calcutta and how she developed a love for cooking to hold onto her flavors from home. The culinary heritage of her family and their favorite meals shines across the pages. As stated, “This is more than just a collection of delicious and accessible recipes, it is a celebration of heritage, culture, community, and quality. This is Asma’s Indian Kitchen.” For those new to Indian cooking, Asma has also included an introduction with basic techniques such as cooking with onions, chilis, and spices.
The beautiful photography is provided by Kim Lightbody and Ming Tang-Evans. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a full-page photo of the finished dish. Measurements are listed in Imperial and Metric. Titles are written in English and the original language. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, serving size, tips, menu ideas, and tips.
This book is a great pick for those interested in Indian cooking. I especially love the variety of recipes made with different occasions in mind. Serving sizes range from intimate meals for 2 to larger feasts for 8. There is a little something for everyone with a sizable amount of vegetarian recipes along with desserts, drinks, and sides. Having a market with Indian and South Asian ingredients nearby will be helpful for locating items such as saffron, cardamom pods, Himalayan rock salt, rose essence, mace, cassia bark, anardana (dried pomegranate) seeds, fenugreek seeds, channa dal (split chickpeas), curry leaves, ghee, fine semolina flour, rose petals, golden raisins, kewra water, dried lotus seeds (makhana), and more.
Asma remembers having these Tengri Kabab at large family gatherings during the 1970s and 1980s when chicken was only available to purchase whole. With the increasing ability to buy any piece of the chicken separately, these drumsticks can now be prepared anytime.
The Tengri Kabab come together quickly and easily with a little planning ahead. The skinless drumsticks marinate for at least six hours to overnight in a mixture of soy sauce, lemon juice, coriander, cayenne, sugar, ginger, and garlic. They can be baked in the oven or grilled outside until cooked through and speckled with brown patches. I served the Tengri Kabab simply with lemon wedges and Puri (recipe also in book).
Make this Tengri Kabab with medium-sized drumsticks of roughly all the same size to keep them from cooking unevenly.
I also made Paneer (Homemade Indian Cheese), Adrak Masala (Chai-Spiced Ginger Tea), Paneer Malai Korma (Indian Cheese Korma), and Puri (Deep-Fried Bread).
Paneer is becoming more and more readily available in larger grocery stores, but it tastes so much better fresh and only requires two ingredients! Milk is brought to a boil, then lemon juice is gently stirred in to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are drained in a cheesecloth and pressed together with a heavy pan for nearly an hour to form a block of fresh cheese. The resulting Paneer can be used right away or refrigerated for up to a week. I made the Paneer for Paneer Malai Korma, but Asma has also included recipes for Karai Paneer (Stir-Fried Indian Cheese), Saag Paneer (Spinach with Indian Cheese), and Mattar Paneer (Peas with Indian Cheese).
The Adrak Masala (Chai-Spiced Ginger Tea) is a delicious and warming drink made with strong black tea (Asma recommends Kenyan or Assam Orthodox), ginger, brown sugar, cassia bark, green cardamom, and cloves. It was perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up.
After making the homemade Paneer, I put it to use with this Paneer Malai Korma (Indian Cheese Korma). Onions are cooked with garlic and ginger, then seasoned with coriander and cayenne. The mixture is simmered in a tomato sauce before adding the paneer, coconut milk, and almonds. It was wonderful with rice and I love how easily the dish came together.
Bread lovers will enjoy the variety of bread recipes in Asma’s Indian Kitchen. I made one of the easier ones, Puri (Deep-Fried Bread). Flour, salt, and melted ghee are combined to form a soft, smooth dough. After resting for an hour, the dough is rolled into thin circles and deep-fried until puffed and golden. I paired the puri with the Tengri Kabab.
Tengri Kabab Recipe
Excerpt from Asma’s Indian Kitchen
- 4 medium skinless drumsticks approximately 1 lb 2 oz (500 g)
For the marinade:
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper replace with paprika for a milder heat
- Large pinch sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- Lemon wedges to serve
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Place the chicken drumsticks in a non-reactive container with a lid and pour over the marinade, making sure that every surface of the chicken is covered. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours, but preferably overnight.
- Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. These kababs can be cooked either in an oven or on a barbecue.
- If cooking in an oven, preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Place the drumsticks in a roasting pan in a single layer to allow them to cook evenly and pour over any remaining marinade. Bake in the oven. After 20-25 minutes, pierce the thickest part of the drumstick with a sharp knife or skewer to check whether the juices run clear. If not, return to the oven. When cooked, the drumsticks should be speckled with brown patches but the meat shouldnt not be dry.
- If cooking on a barbecue, wait until any flames have subsided and a low heat is evenly spread across the coals. If the heat is too high, the outsides of the drumsticks will cook quickly but the insides will still be raw. The cooking time will vary depending on the heat of the coals. Before serving, pierce the thickest part of the drumstick with a sharp knife or skewer to check whether the juices run clear. If not, continue to cook.
- Serve the drumsticks warm, with lemon wedges to squeeze over.