The last Saturday of the month means it is time for a book review! Starting this series has been making me keep myself on my toes and go through the cookbooks I have with me to cook something and review about it too. Just this month, when my parents came, they lugged along in their baggage five more that I added to my collection, despite promising to myself that I wouldn’t get more. 🙁 So much so for promises… My girls, especially Rasha, keeps cribbing on how many cookbooks I have. Rasha gets irritated because I turn down her requests for more books and don’t allow HD to get her, even though they always manage to get things done through my back. I keep telling her that ummi is buying the books from my hard earned money, and at your age, you should be thinking more of borrowing and reading rather than building up a library. Somehow it doesn’t get into her head. High time I put her up in a library, I suppose!
OK, this was supposed to be a book review post rather than a cribbing one! 😀 So let’s come to the book chose for today. “Indian Bible” may give you other thoughts, but no, it’s a cookbook published by DK books, featuring around 130 recipes from around India. I bought this book through Book Depository way back in March 2014 (dug this out from my mail archives! 😉 ) simply because it looked really colorful. Most of my cookbook purchases are really impulse. Most of them have turned out fine, while a few have become duds which I don’t mind now, since it has already happened and I can’t reverse my decision after physically receiving the books in hand. 😀
Once I got the book in hand and flipped it through, I could understand that the book has been developed keeping in mind the idea of Indian food by people from UK. It is a well known fact that Indian food is really popular among the local population in England. My ex-boss was English and I would be awed at how much he enjoyed Indian food, though he would complain that the ones he got from here were too spicy for him to handle. 🙂 The book is published by Dorling Kindersley Books and is a collection of 130 recipes ranging from flat-breads, soups, curries – vegetarian and non-vegetarian and a small portion of desserts. A few things I love about the book is its compact size, making it easy to handle and colorful pictures – many recipes are accompanied by a beautiful picture of the dish. Taking into account the crowd for which the book is aimed, most of the recipes are simplified and low on spices, so for an ardent Indian cook, we will need to adjust the spice proportions as per our tongue capacity. 🙂
If you are an Indian connoisseur, this book isn’t for you. Sometimes even the name of the dishes may make you feel that something is wrong – you will read more as I get into the recipe I chose for this post. Like I mentioned, the book caters to a specific population and for them, the way the recipes are developed, it seems apt. I feel the basic intention of the book is to tell English people that making Indian food at home is easy and taking that intention as base, the book does a good job. It is definitely a good book for starting cooks too, as the recipes are easy to make.
I have already tried the Chicken Madras before from this book and blogged about it too. Even though there are some very interesting recipes that I would love to try especially the Gulab Jamun made of milk powder and Balti Chicken, this rasam was attracted my attention almost instantly. In fact, this was named as “Sambar Style Tomato Soup” but reading through the recipe made me feel something was a little amiss. Once I started preparing it, the aroma kept telling my head that this has to be rasam, and once the first sip was taken for testing, it screamed “rasam”, so I decided to rename it so while doing my post.
There are so many varieties of rasam if prepared in the traditional way, some with lentils as base and most of them like a soup with some chewy elements to it (like my umma’s rasam, tomato rasam and kollu rasam). What I loved about this recipe was that there is hardly any work involved and it uses store cupboard ingredients like tomato paste, which I used to with half water to convert into tomato juice! I was not sure of how it would taste, but at the end of making it and having a sip, it did taste like rasam, albeit prepared in a very unconventional way! Since rasam is usually had like a side with rice or as is for digestion purpose, this particular recipe hits the right cords taking into account its utility. I am sure if you try the recipe, just like me in the beginning you may think, “Would this really work?” But trust me, it does and it does beautifully! I really can’t wait to try the other recipes in the book and hopefully you will see more interesting ones coming up…
- 1 tbsp oil
- ½ tsp mustard
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp pepper powder
- 2 dried red chillies
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- A fat pinch of asafoetida
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 cup tomato juice
- Juice on one lemon
- ½ cup water
- Salt to taste
- Coriander leaves for garnish
- Heat oil in a saucepan. Splutter mustard and cumin seeds.
- Add the ingredients from garlic to curry leaves and saute till soft and aromatic.
- Add in the tomato juice, lemon juice and water along with salt and give it a good boil.
- Simmer for around 10 minutes or till the rasam is cooked.
- Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.