Madhur Jaffrey has been teaching me how to cook Indian food since I got my first flat at university. First there was a series of her recipes in the Sunday Times, or was it the Observer. The recipes looked at the authentic tastes and styles of cooking around India. Then I acquired a copy of ‘Eastern Vegetarian Cooking’, which was a sensation when it was published.
I had enough fabulous recipes to think I didn’t need another recipe book for Indian food, but then Curry Easy came along. Bright and modern, the recipes are pared down and quick to cook. Each recipe comes with a little context and some serving suggestions. The instructions are easy to follow, and the dishes I have made so far are delicious. The index is good as well, listing recipes by ingredient as well as by name.
Just about perfect.
In 1983, I was living in Edinburgh. My boyfriend at the time announced that he wanted to be a vegetarian, and after a short discussion, we renounced meat. I can no longer recall his reasons, but for myself, my concerns were around animal welfare and factory farming, especially for pigs and chickens. I also was aware of the environmental impact of feeding livestock as opposed to using land to grow plant-based food.
One of the first recipe books we acquired was Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. I think we didn’t get much past the first chapter, there were so many delicious recipes. The book includes recipes from Syria all the way through to Japan. There are chapters on Vegetables, Pulses, Rice, and Eggs, for example. The chapter on condiments, dips, chutneys and relishes is wonderful; Madhur Jaffrey explains that this allows each diner to ring the changes with combinations of different flavours.
I find that I don’t cook some of the more complex dishes. Although I love the illustrated guide to making tofu, I have never tried this myself. I’ve also struggled to find some of the ingredients listed, especially for some of the Korean, Japanese and Chinese dishes.
To compensate, this is a book full of wonderful recipes, properly indexed. The book isn’t full of glossy pictures, but there are 500 pages of advice, descriptions of ingredients and flavours, techniques and culinary tips. The food I have produced from these pages has been outstanding.