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Ebury Press, £25
It was Madhur Jaffrey who first convinced us that our lives were incomplete without a bunch of coriander. From the 1980s onwards, she created the wave of home cooking of Indian food that we now take for granted.
This latest book from the doyenne of South Asian cooking is a vegetarian sequel to 2010’s ‘Curry Easy’. The new book’s a fabulous read, and celebrates how Indian home cooks triumph in transforming frugal ingredients into magnificent feasts.
Outstanding recipes from the book include a mustardy lemon rice studded with peanuts and toasted lentils, often served at ashrams; and a wild mushroom curry inspired by the hunter-gatherers of the southern Coorg hills.
We travel with her as she recreates tiffin lunches enjoyed by jewellers in Mumbai, appreciate the sweet-sour partnership of jaggery and tamarind in Gujarat’s staple dishes, and are given the lowdown on making memorable family meals from across India. If tarka dahl is your go-to recipe, Jaffrey’s marvellous four-lentil mixed dahl, infused with cardamom, astringent clove and bites of chilli, will dramatically broaden your repertoire.
Shop-bought poha (par-boiled rice flakes) is to Gujaratis what baked beans are to Brits. Jaffrey delivers the goods with her version of warmed poha, tossed with fried cauliflower florets and peas, sharpened with lime juice, mustard seeds and crackling curry leaves. Even my Gujarati neighbour gave it her nod of approval. This marvellous flash-fry makes for a healthy brunch and it’s one of those obliging dishes that takes-on whatever vegetables are around.
Don’t be put off by the lengthy ingredient lists – dishes are quick to assemble and pretty much look after themselves once on the stove. And the best thing is that making them will set you back pennies rather then pounds.
by Roopa Gulati