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I like Indian food and I like quick, so when Ruta Kahate's Quick-Fix Indian: Easy, Exotic Dishes in 30 Minutes or Less arrived in my mailbox, I was looking forward to diving in.
Because not everyone is familiar with Indian ingredients, Kahate devotes the beginning of the book to discussing pantry, freezer, and refrigerator items as well as tips for successfully cooking from her book. Tips and definitions of cooking terms are also scattered throughout the pages, when needed.
One of the first things I noticed about Quick-Fix Indian is that I didn't have to worry about tracking down unusual ingredients. Although my pantry doesn't always contain coconut milk, brown poppy seeds, and fresh curry leaves, my local grocery store and/or health food store stocks everything I'll need to cook from Quick-Fix Indian.
The cheerful red and cream color scheme, which evokes the warm flavors of Indian cuisine, is inviting, and I appreciate that most of the recipes are super-fast to make. Kahate developed many of these dishes after she became a mother; no-stress weekend cooking is a must for busy families.
One chapter I know I'll turn to often is called "Shortcut Shelf." Here is where Kahate tells us how to make our own masala mixes and a fresh milk cheese (kind of like ricotta) called paneer. The chapters are organized in a familiar way but with cute titles such as "Mains in Minutes," "Express Veggies," and "Zippy Snacks."
The recipe directions are easy to follow and many include serving suggestions, but not all. There are very few photos, and none of the finished dishes, which may be a problem for some cooks. I made several dishes from Quick-Fix Indian and had no difficulties in the kitchen. However, my general opinion is that, although we liked the flavors, nothing was particularly spectacular.
Our biggest success was the eggplant bharta, which is a roasted eggplant dish with hot peppers, warm spices, onion, tomato, and cilantro. Unfortunately, Kahate didn't provide serving instructions for this dish, and I had to do some Internet investigation to discover that this is often served with naan as a snack or side dish. Because Kahate recommends serving the bharta at room temperature and because it contains no meat to spoil, this would be a terrific choice for a pot luck, picnic, or packed lunch.
Regardless of my thoughts, I can still recommend that interested cooks give this book a try. Quick-Fix Indian would be particularly appealing to those of you who like Indian cuisine but don't want to stock your pantry with hard-to-find ingredients. It's also a good source for weeknight recipes. In addition, the sauces, spice mixes, and snacks are all worth checking out.
Vegetarian/Vegan alert: If you like Indian food, you should absolutely give Quick-Fix Indian a look. Yes, there are meat and fish recipes, but many dishes will suit your diet.
- 2 globe eggplants (about 2 pounds)
- 4 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ cup minced yellow onion
- 1 minced serrano chile (seeded, if desired)
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ cup minced tomato
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala (recipe in the book)
While the eggplants are cooling, make the sauce: Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet over high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the cumin seeds and cover. When the sputtering stops, add the onion and chile and saute until golden brown.
Turn down the heat, add the turmeric, cayenne, and tomato, and stir-fry until the tomato breaks up. Turn off the heat while you peel the eggplants.
When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin and save all the mushy goodness inside. It's okay if a few black specks also make it into the bowl; it heightens the smoky taste.
Now add the smoked eggplant to the skillet and turn the heat back on to medium. Add salt to taste and stir gently, breaking up any large lumps. Don't overstir; you don't want a smooth puree. Simmer for a minute, then remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro and garam masala.
Tastes best a room temperature.
BFR's notes: We blackened the whole eggplants on the gas grill, which gave them a good flavor and didn't heat up the kitchen. We served this spooned on pieces of naan.
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Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)