Complete Book of Indian Cooking: 350 Recipes from the Regions of India

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9780778801702: Complete Book of Indian Cooking: 350 Recipes from the Regions of India

Classic recipes from the many regions of a diverse and culturally rich nation.

Indian cuisine is widely revered for its distinctive tastes and ingredients. The sheer size of India, combined with its history and religious diversity, is reflected in the country's cuisine. Complete Book of Indian Cooking provides hundreds of user-friendly and great-tasting recipes from all regions and cultures of this extraordinary country.

Local/regional ingredients deliver unusual flavors that satisfy the search for new tastes. Each recipe includes background information that helps the home cook become more knowledgeable about -- and comfortable with -- Indian food.

Here are examples of the hundreds of exotic, yet easy, recipes:

  • Starters like fenugreek and spinach fritters (methi palak pakoras), and steamed corn bread (corn dhoklas)
  • Bengali shrimp and long squash (lau chingri); fried dumplings with yogurt and chutney (pahi pakodi chaat)
  • Kerala lamb biriyani; assamese roast chicken (poora kukura); Coory egg and potato curry
  • Vegetarian delights like curried spinach and cheese (saag panir), and chickpea flour dumplings (besan ke gatte)
  • Refreshing desserts like baked bananas with coconut and jaggery.

In addition to all the regional foods, the book features chaat the crunchy, sweet and wildly popular street food of India. The chapter on Indian meal traditions and customs rounds out this comprehensive handbook on Indian cuisine.

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About the Author:

Suneeta Vaswani was born in Bombay and moved to the United States in the late 1970s. She is a cooking instructor and recipe developer whose writing has been featured widely in culinary publications, and author of Easy Indian Cooking. She lives in Houston, Texas.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


Regional foods around the world tend to be distinctive and influenced by local ingredients. In India, the size and geography of the country, coupled with the impact of history and religion, have accentuated this distinctiveness. The vast and ancient land of India is almost a continent in itself. With more than one billion inhabitants of multiple ethnic backgrounds, it is no surprise that the diversity of its cuisine is equally staggering.

The purpose of the Complete Book of Indian Cooking is to illustrate the differences and similarities between Indian regional foods. Although spices are the common denominator, the way they are used is vastly different in each area. That, combined with local ingredients and religious beliefs, means a distinctive cuisine exists in every part of the country. And there are other differences. In general, the north has a grain-based diet of wheat, millet and sorghum, but rice is not the main event as it is in the south, which is almost 100 percent rice-based. In North India, pan-frying is a common cooking method, while in the south, steaming is a much-used method. Generally, gravies (curry sauces) in North India are thicker, with a base of onions, tomatoes, puréed nuts, puréed lentils and, occasionally, cream. Southern cooks use coconut milk and tamarind in their dishes. The gravies are light and broth-like, which is one of the reasons why the cuisine of the south has not become as popular in North America. The soupy dals are too thin and watery for the non-Indian palate and would qualify as soups rather than main courses. The other issue is rice served in multiple courses, which, again, is too repetitive for non-Indians. The exception is dosa (crêpes), made of a light rice-and-lentil batter, which are extremely flavorful when eaten with just a smattering of lightly spiced potatoes and coconut chutney. The food of the eastern regions, too, is rice-based. The diet is also rich in fish and seafood, except in the far northeastern states, where pork is the main protein and seasonings tend to be very simple, devoid of oil and spices. The western states share many commonalities with the north, but each has a distinctive cuisine. Rice, a variety of grains, goat, poultry and seafood along the coast usually cooked with a plethora of spices and using a variety of different cooking techniques - are common to all these states.

My interest in food, which began when I was a young homemaker trying to be a good housewife and mother many decades ago, has developed into a passion, as has my interest in the background and evolution of Indian cuisine. As I delved into the foods of India, partly out of curiosity but mostly to research the antecedents of particular recipes, I became aware of the many differences in the way spices and other ingredients are used in different regions. This, coupled with the fact that there are regional vegetables, fruits, herbs and oils (to mention just a few points of difference), led me to believe the time was right to introduce more people to the richness and diversity of the regional foods of India.

My hope is that this book will help to explain some of the mysteries surrounding the cuisine of this ancient land and encourage you to embark on a culinary adventure that is as astonishing as it is satisfying.

- Suneeta Vaswani

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