Being married to an Indian, I like to think i’ve learnt a thing or two about authentic Indian cuisine over the last few years. When I see that yet another celebrity chef has written a book on Indian cuisine I always fear the worst. All to often the result is not so authentic recipes. However in this book I’m pleased to say that Rick Stein seems to have got it bang on and delivered a great recipe book.
The book is a follow on from the recent TV series of the same name. It was clear watching the series that Rick Stein was really captivated by his time in India, both with the culture and people as well as the food. Its nice to see such a talented chef so openly engaged in learning more about a foreign food culture.
What I like most about this recipe is that the author doesn’t dumb down any of the recipes or ingredients for his British audience. While the usual suspects such as Butter Chicken, Sag Paneer and Korma are present and correct there are also the real classics of Indian cuisine that are often undiscovered by the British like Thoran (dry cabbage dish), Rasam (tamarind and tomato soup), Rajma (kidney bean curry) and Dal Maa ki (black lentils).
In the actual recipes Rick has stuck to the small details that make the differences in the dishes. Whether it is the small addition of daal in the rasam or specifying different types of oil (mustard, coconut etc) for certain dished it is these small details that I believe make the recipes truly authentic.
While filming the TV series Rick was based in Kerela and as you’d expect for such an accomplished fish chef there is a healthy section on Indian fish dishes.
The photography in the book (by James Murphy) is stunning. The richness of colours really portray a sense of India and certainly are faithful to the food, not over styled like many modern cook books. I have some great Indian recipe books by the likes of Madhur Jaffrey that are jam packed full of excellent recipes however their lack of illustrations and creative photography mean I don’t often get excited and inspired by them. In contrast I was trying Rick’s Calcuttan Prawn Curry within half an hour of first opening this book.
If you’re going to buy a recipe book on Indian cuisine then at just over £10 from Amazon this is a great buy. Whether you’re a complete novice to Indian cooking or an expert in daals and spices you’ll find plenty to excite and inspire you in this book.