Raghavan Iyer wants you to understand something: for all its spices, for all its flavor, for all its vibrant colors, Indian cooking is not hard. This is a message he's been putting out there since his first cookbook 660 Curries, but in this latest book, Iyer breaks it down for us in the form of easy, approachable "lessons." Pull out your favorite pan and dust off your spices, people, because we're about to embark on Indian Cooking 101.
• Who wrote it: Raghavan Iyer
• Who published it: Workman
• Number of recipes: About 100
• Recipes for right now: Minty Potato Cakes, Collard Greens Roulade, Creamy Chicken Kebabs, Indian Slaw, Ginger-Cumin Tomato Soup, Ultimate Chicken Curry, Raisin-Stuffed Lamb Burgers, Panfried Cheese with Creamy Spinach, Tart Eggplant Pate
• Other highlights: I really love Raghavan Iyer's whole approach in this book. Every chapter focuses on a different aspect of Indian cooking, from snacks and breads to vegetarian main dishes and Indian beverages. Within each chapter, we start off with one master recipe — which, pursuant to the cookbook's title, is printed on extra-large paper that is literally "unfolded" from the book. This master recipe (the first "Lesson") then leads us into other lessons within the chapter, each a new recipe and each building on the next to teach us core techniques and flavor combinations.
While the "unfolded" aspect and classroom-like structure feels slightly gimmicky at first, after spending some time with the book, I'm on board. Even just paging through it, I can see how cooking my way through this book would be a real education in Indian cuisine. And rather than just making recipes at random, as has always been my approach, I can see how cooking my way through this cuisine with a little more intention and guided purpose would serve to train both my palate and my kitchen skills.
Of course, you can certainly pick and choose which recipes you want to make here! Nothing says that you have to start at the beginning and cook your way through to the end (though how much fun would that be?!). You'll find a good mix of traditional Indian recipes here, like chicken curry and chana dal, along with some recipes that are clearly intended to appeal to an American palate. Hence the raisin-stuffed lamb burgers and naan pizzas. As Iyer points out however, fusion foods like these are great for introducing folks who are unfamiliar to Indian spices and foods (like children) to the cuisine.
• Who would enjoy this book? Cooks interested in learning more about Indian cuisine
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Indian Cooking Unfolded by Raghavan Iyer
• Visit the author's website: Raghavan Iyer
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Emma Christensen)