Indian cookbooks

Time Out reviews the best new recipe books to spice up your suppers

Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape

Gordon Ramsay, Harper Collins, £25

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Ramsay’s latest book, a spin-off from the recent Channel 4 series, is inspired by regional Indian home cooking, street food stalls and regal feasting.

The 100 recipes are for curious entry-level cooks as well as experienced hands on the lookout for unusual spice combos, as Ramsay’s gone beyond the curry house in his search for authentic recipes.

There’s a decent spread of coastal specialities, teatime snacks and sweetmeats, relishes, vegetarian staples, meaty masalas, breads and grains. Evocative photography capturing memorable street scenes is interspersed with striking food shots. Mark Sargeant and Emily Quah have worked wonders in standardising recipes, substituting hard-to find ingredients and adapting methods for modern kitchens without detracting from base flavours.

Fish specialities are star players; favourites include Bengali-style mustardy prawn and tomato curry, or garlicky crab claws cloaked in sticky, golden-hued spiced onions.

Although recipes are mainly traditional, modern interpretations are carefully integrated. If you cook just one fish dish, make it sautéed John Dory fillets with red curry sauce – I found it simple to make, but saucily complex in flavour, and notable for its toasted fenugreek flavour cut with tart tamarind and coconut.

There are a few hiccups – the inclusion of coconut-stuffed Peshawari naan (a British invention) is tough to justify.

Sourcing the ingredients shouldn’t be a hassle in London, but if you’re out in the sticks, there can’t be many stores that do a line in banana leaves and green papaya. This is a book for aficionados of all things spice: the recipes are properly tested, the instructions clear and the photography is a visual feast. My copy is already smudged with turmeric – a good omen.

Roopa Gulati, Time Out London Issue 2059: February 4-10 2010

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