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Reza’s Indian Spice – Eastern Recipes for Western Cooks:
I was sent Reza’s Indian Spice to review a month or so ago. And, it’s been sitting in a growing ‘to-do’ pile. I like to try a recipe from cookery books before I write a review and every so often I’ve browsed through and wondered what to cook with this one. I’ve been away quite a lot (both on holiday and business) and I’ve also been doing the 5:2 diet which means those days when I am cooking tend to be ‘fast days’ where I have to keep the calories to under 500. So, the best I have done so far in terms of actually making a dish is to adapt the rather fabulous lemon and coriander chicken recipe that is in the ‘quick and chic’ section for the 5:2 diet. It was a great success – and I know that some of my fellow dieters have also used the basic recipe and replaced the chicken with prawns.
Lack of cookery on my part is no reflection on my opinion of the book. Reza’s Indian Spice is another great quadrille cookery book with wonderful photography and a good selection of recipes ranging from the ‘I could do this one in my sleep’ to ‘only for a special occasion’. I’m not going to try to comment on the authenticity or otherwise of the recipes because I really don’t know enough about Indian food to do that. What matters for me is that they work with ingredients that I can buy in my local shops and that they seem practical and fun. I love the ‘quick and chic’ section – it’s full of very doable recipes that I can see over time will become real favourites. Next on my list to try is marinated smoked salmon with yoghurt, herbs and spices because it uses a rather fascinating sounding way of smoking that I suspect will work well in a London flat in winter!
‘heat a piece of charcoal over a gas flame on the hob until it is red hot, then transfer to a small metal bowl. Place the bowl in the centre of the roasting tin. Sprinkle the cardamom and cloves straight onto the charcoal, then pour the ghee over it. As soon as it starts to smoke, cover the tin tightly with foil to trap the smoke’
I will report back and probably try with other fish and meat if it works too!
There are some fabulous and unusual vegetable dishes. How about ‘saffron-roast cauliflower’. Definitely on my ‘to try’ list. And there’s a selection of classic curry recipes too, all beautifully photographed and explained with a little about the origin of the dish and detailed but not scary instructions which make the recipe sound accessible .
Perhaps what I like best about Reza’s Indian Spice is that although the recipes are all ‘for Western cooks’ there are a lot of new techniques and ideas to try. There’s an interesting braised and fried beef recipe which involves slow cooking beef and then frying it briefly in more spices. And, while for the most part I cook by creating things based on recipes I’ve been making for years, this book has a whole host of ideas and techniques which are new to me and which I can see may be used more extensively. I’m sure, for instance, the braised and fried beef concept would work well with a slow cook lamb or pork dish…and the indoor smoking technique may be adapted for chicken, other fish, cheese or potatoes. Maybe it sounds as if I am jumping ahead, but I like recipe books that pique the imagination, that make me want to visit the country where the food originated and that I can read in bed instead of a novel. And Reza’s Indian Spice ticks all three boxes for me.
Recommended – especially if, like me, you are cautious of making Indian dishes because of the ingredient list and tend to resort to bought curry pastes;)