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.