THE INDIAN VEGETARIAN by Neelam with Shelly Rothschild-Sherwin Batra


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Indian cuisine still sounds exotic to many people and has yet to work its way into American kitchens. Here, Batra (who teaches at the Montana Mercantile Cooking School in L.A.) adapts traditional vegetarian Indian recipes to the American palate, gives separate recipes for sauces and gravies (though they are not part of authentic Indian cuisine), offers dishes inspired by American food (a fruit salad spiced with chat masala and black pepper is surprisingly savory), and assures readers that they do not have to make complete Indian meals in order to enjoy Indian flavors (chutneys, for instance, work well as sandwich relishes). Sample menus offer direction so that even those completely unfamiliar with paneer cheese or cauliflower paranthas can choose dishes that complement rather than compete (always a hazard when working with lots of spices). And she makes sense of the distinctive Indian herbs, spices, and seeds with an extensive guide to their preparation, storage, culinary use, and even possible medicinal effects (e.g., bay leaves are digestive stimulants). Indian cooking can easily become an all-day process if you have to do everything from grinding and roasting masala to creating the proper chutney accompaniments. Batra's careful instructions tell what steps can be done in advance to avoid this problem. Overall, well organized, with only a couple of glitches: Why advise using the mango chutney on chicken in a book purportedly for vegetarians, and why does the sound advice to use gloves when working with hot serrano peppers come pages after their first mention? A mystique breaker.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
Page count: 380pp
Publisher: Macmillan