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A Full Indian Dinner

Made in India – Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen

I was late to the Indian food party.  My gateway drug was the late, great Xacutti on College Street.  While I love to eat it, I’ve been reluctant to cook it.  Every time I looked at a recipe, there were too many ingredients and gadgets that I didn’t own.  But it’s fun to learn something new.  I heard great things about Meera Sodha’s book, Made in India, which was a finalist in a 2016 cookbook competition (called the Piglet), praised for its approachability.  So over the holidays, with some extra time and with an extra pair of hands offered by my daughter, Sarah, I decided to give it a go.


Naomi and Sarah’s excellent Indian adventure was a success.  Totally doable.  I didn’t invest in anything other than curry powder and garam masala spice blends (Perfect Taste brand, made in Niagara).  I bought fresh paneer (fresh cheese) at Fortino’s.  


For our Indian feast we made Chili Paneer, Oven-Roasted Chicken Tikka, Pav Bhaj, fluffy basmati rice and homemade naan, washed down with Fresh Lime Soda. Our favourite was the Chili Paneer, a slightly sweet, salty and spicy street food.  Chicken Tikka was flavourful but not too spicy and the yogurt marinade made the chicken very tender, even though I used white meat.  Pav Bhaj, a Mumbai street food, is a spicy mash of eggplant, cauliflower, potatoes and tomatoes.  Having never tasted this before, I can’t say whether it was authentic, but this dish tasted like something you might order in an Indian restaurant.  I tested Sodha’s technique for rice and it was perfect.  Love the Lime Soda with spicy food.


Don’t be afraid to do some internet research if you’re not sure about something.  I was wondering about the naan and I found some criticism of Sodha’s recipe, suggesting a recipe in the Guardian entitled “how to cook the perfect naan”.  I used the Guardian recipe for the ingredients and Sodha’s recipe for cooking the naan.  It was really good, especially straight out of the hot pan, brushed with butter.


We made a lot of dishes, but this is not necessary.  I particularly like Sodha’s alternative table of contents, which identifies recipes that would be good as midweek meals, pantry curries, cooking in advance, etc.


At a different meal, I tried Chana Dal with Golden Garlic Tarka.  This Dal was made with yellow split peas, caramelized onions and garlic and elevated with a hot oil flavoured with spices, garlic and chili, added after the Dal was cooked.  I served it with rice and Kale Paneer from a blog called Cook Republic (check it out too).  Great vegetarian meal.


I will cook from this book again.  It was fun and the recipes work but they are flexible too. If you’re a fan of this type of cuisine, or looking for something new, it’s worth a try.  



Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject and she reads cookbooks in her spare time.