REVIEW: RICK STEIN'S INDIA BY RICK STEIN

RICK STEIN’S INDIA

Author: Rick Stein
Random House RRP $49.95
Review: Monique Mulligan 

Rick Stein's India, Rick SteinBlue Eyes and I found a great Indian restaurant in Fremantle last year. We don’t get there very often, so when I can I like to cook up a good curry at home with flatbread and other condiments … even mango lassi. Rick Stein’s India is the perfect accompaniment to my love of cooking tasty curries from scratch that satisfy the whole family (nearly … Music Man will probably never eat anything spicier than sweet chilli kettle chips).

‘Whenever I hear the word curry, I’m filled with a longing for spicy hot food with the fragrance of cumin, cloves and cinnamon. I see deep red colours from lots of Kashmiri chillis, tinged with a suggestion of yellow from turmeric. I think of the tandoor oven, and slightly scorched naan shining with ghee and garlic.When Indians talk of their food, they talk about their life. To understand this country, you need to understand curry.’ – Rick Stein

In his new cookbook, Stein asks ‘What makes a good curry?’ Is it the sensual spicy aroma or the thick, creamy sauce? The book takes home cooks through India in search of the truths behind the food so popular beyond its borders. As Stein found, chefs, home cooks and street vendors hold the key to unlocking the secrets of these complex and diverse flavours. His travels take him to the heart of both their long-held traditions and most modern techniques, uncovering recipes for fragrant kormas, delicate spiced fish and slow-cooked biryanis. What is his take on the perfect curry?

My mouth started watering as soon as I opened this book. Turning the pages, I oohed and aahed over the recipes and photography, taking mental notes of all the recipes I wanted to try out. Well, I tried to take mental notes. There were too many recipes that caught my eye, so I had to use post-its. The cook in me wanted to get started straight away … what would I cook first? Would I try Stein’s version of Butter Chicken, the safe choice? Or Chicken Skewers with Cardamom? What about a fiery Beef Vindaloo? Or the Potato and Pea Curry with Coriander? Why not just make a feast? There’s plenty of food for thought for upcoming menus in my house. While there are plenty of authentic recipes, Stein has also re-interpreted classic English dishes such as lamb chops, lamb roast and even bread and butter pudding with an Indian twist. Cinnamon gets a lot of use! For those who like sweets, there are traditional and non-traditional recipes to consider.

Each recipe is introduced with information about its regional origin or with anecdotes from Stein about his travels – it’s interesting to read. The ingredients are clearly laid out; the method is written paragraph style, which may be confusing for some. I prefer step-by-step. Just make sure you read the whole recipe first! The photos of the food, people and locations are simple, eye-catching and have a rustic feel – the dishes look achievable, not like a restaurant dish that never looks the same when cooked at home. It’s a good looking cookbook, and my copy is bound to have splatters and fingerprints on it before long.

Available from good bookstores and Random House Australia. This copy was courtesy of Random House.