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Raghavan Iyer defines curry “as any dish that consists of meat, fish, poultry, legumes, vegetables, or fruits, simmered in or covered with a sauce, gravy, or other liquid that is redolent of spices and/or herbs.” And to prove his point, the author takes us on a long journey that covers hundreds of curries in his new book “660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking.”

Priced at $22.95, the 807-page book from Workman Publishing ( has the following categories of curries: appetizer, poultry, game and egg, beef, lamb and pork, fish and seafood, paneer, legumes, vegetables, contemporary and biryani.

Iyer also blends the flavors and spices of his native land with the ingredients and culinary techniques from his adopted homeland.

Here are just two of the numerous curries offered in the book, courtesy of the publisher:

Jairam's Potatoes and Eggplant with a garlic-chile sauce

bihari Aloo baingan A tall, animated, wiry man with a pencil-thin, Errol Flynn–like moustache, Jairam Das clearly takes great pride in his nighttime security job at my brother’s Information Technology office in Bangalore.

As we chatted, he described how he and his brother had left a small village in Bihar—leaving behind his wife, kids, parents, and a small but bountiful farm—to come to Bangalore to make ends meet and to provide monetary support for those left behind.

Jairam loves to cook, and he does so daily, his diet rich with vegetables, legumes, and the occasional meat. His manner of speech is slow and precise, just like his cooking techniques, and his flavors are bold and strong. Jairam insists that you eat this curry with griddle-hot rotis (page 727), slices of raw red onion, and slivers of fresh green chiles.

1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled,

cut into ½-inch cubes, and submerged in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning

½ cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems 4 large cloves garlic 3 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed (see Tips)

2 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 2½ inches long, 1 inch wide, and ¹/8 inch thick)

2 tablespoons canola oil 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1 medium-size red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced 5 small purple Indian (or 1 small Italian)

eggplants (about 8 ounces total), stems removed, cut into ½-inch cubes

(see Tips) 1½ teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt

1. Drain the potatoes.

2. Combine the cilantro, garlic, chiles, and ginger in a food processor, and pulse until the ingredients are minced.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and turn reddish brown, about 5 seconds. Immediately add the onion and stir-fry until the slices are light brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Add the cilantro-garlic blend and continue to stir-fry until the garlic is lightly browned and the chiles are pungent, about 30 seconds.

5. Toss in the potatoes and eggplant, and stir until they are coated with the seasonings, 1 to 2 minutes. Then add 1 cup water and scrape the pan to deglaze it, releasing the browned bits of onion and garlic. Stir in another 1 cup water, and add the salt. Bring to a boil (which will happen quickly in the hot skillet). Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are fall-apart tender and the sauce is glossy and slightly thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Then serve.


Jairam used dried round red chiles, the size of a marble, which he referred to as gol (round) mirchi (chiles). This is a bit confusing because in many other regions in India, people call black peppercorns gol mirchi. The red chiles that Jairam used (which I managed to procure and bring back with me to the United States) are a variety known as Tinnevelly chiles. If you can find them here, by all means use them instead of the Thai or cayenne.

You can certainly submerge the eggplant in the water along with the potatoes if you are concerned about it discoloring. However, when you simmer it in the curry, it will turn blackish purple anyway, so I wouldn’t bother if I were you!

If eggplant is not your thing, use yellow squash; the cooking time will be the same.

Marinated Chicken with an onion-pepper-almond sauce Chicken tikka masala I contemplated giving this dish a Hindi title (especially the “chicken” part) but decided against it because Chicken Tikka Masala is, after all, the proclaimed national dish (drum roll, please) of Britain, a testimony to that country’s love affair with curry. With over eight thousand curry houses in the United Kingdom, this particular fusion dish appears on diners’ plates in many variations. I find this version particularly pleasing because the mellow heat from the Kashmiri chiles does not compete with the sauce’s delicate, nutty, creamy flavors. Serves 4.

For the chicken tikkas:

Bamboo or metal skewers ½ cup plain yogurt 2 tablespoons Ginger Paste (page 15) 2 tablespoons Garlic Paste (page 15) 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh

cilantro leaves and tender stems 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, ground 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground 2 teaspoons ground Kashmiri chiles; or

½ teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper)

mixed with 1½ teaspoons sweet paprika 1½ teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt ½ teaspoon Punjabi garam masala (page 25) ½ teaspoon ground turmeric 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts,

cut lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons Ghee (page 21) or canola oil 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and

cut into ½-inch pieces ¼ cup slivered blanched almonds ¼ cup golden raisins 1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned (no need to drain)

¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream or half-and-half

½ teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper)

¼ teaspoon Punjabi garam masala (page 25) Vegetable cooking spray 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

and tender stems for garnishing

1. If you are using bamboo skewers, place them in a flat dish filled with water and let them soak for an hour (see Tip, page 84).

2. While the skewers are soaking, make the marinade: Combine the yogurt, Ginger Paste, Garlic Paste, cilantro, coriander, cumin, Kashmiri chiles, salt, garam masala, and turmeric in a small bowl. Whisk to blend.

3. Put the chicken strips in a large bowl and pour this full-flavored, red-hot-looking marinade over them. Toss to thoroughly coat the meat. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours.

4. When you are ready to cook the chicken, make the sauce: Heat the ghee in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, almonds, and raisins, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften and then acquire honey-brown patches, 10 to 12 minutes. The nuts and raisins will turn reddish brown, and a thin film of brown will coat the bottom of the pan. (Forcing the vegetables into a small pan allows them to sweat a little, creating moisture that prevents burning.)

5. Stir the tomatoes into the pan and scrape the bottom to deglaze it. Pour this chunky sauce into a blender jar, and add the cream, salt, cayenne, and garam masala. Puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed, to make a thick, nutty-gritty, reddish-brown sauce.

6. Pour the sauce into a medium-size saucepan and simmer it over low heat, stirring it occasionally, while you grill the chicken.

7. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill, or the broiler, to high.

8. While the grill is heating, thread the chicken strips, covered with the marinade, onto the skewers, accordion-style. If you are grilling, lightly spray the grill grate with cooking spray. Grill the chicken, covered, turning the skewers occasionally, until the pieces are light brown, the insides are no longer pink, and the juices run clear, 6 to 8 minutes. If you are broiling, position an oven rack so the top of the chicken will be 2 to 3 inches from the heat. Lightly spray the rack of a broiler pan with cooking spray, place the skewers on the rack, and broil, turning the skewers occasionally, until the chicken is light brown, the meat is no longer pink inside, and the juices run clear, 6 to 8 minutes. 9. Slide the chicken off the skewers into the sauce. Stir once or twice to make sure the sauce drenches the tender, juicy meat, and then serve, sprinkled with the cilantro.


Who says you can’t fuse Indian and American cuisine? To prove skeptics wrong, freelance journalist Gita Iyer has written a book “American Curry: Fusion Food for the Vegetarian Palate” made up of 35 recipes along with photographs. Priced at $25.99, the 86-page book by BookSurge Publishing is available at,, and

The sections in the book are “Snacks & Tiffin,” “Dips & Sauces,” “Zestful Grains,” “Vegetable sides” and “Sweet Endings.”

Here are a few interesting recipes courtesy of Iyer:

Ginger Ice Cream


1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped fine
2 cups whipping cream or half-and-half


Add water to the ginger and pulverize in a food processor. Strain the liquid to remove the solid particles. Heat the liquid with ?? cup of the sugar. Heat for 3 minutes after it starts to boil. Cool to room temperature. Add the rest of the ingredients but the candied ginger. Blend well. Mix in the candied ginger. Freeze.

Cumin Asparagus Soup


1 teaspoon salt
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 cup cooking wine
5 pods garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons cream (optional)
1 bunch asparagus spears (about 1 lb)
1 big white onion, peeled, and chopped
1 big baking potato, peeled and chopped


Trim the woody ends from the bottom of the asparagus, and discard. Sauté the onion, potato and garlic in the oil for 1 minute. Add asparagus, cumin, rosemary and salt. Add 6 cups of water. Cover, and cook until the potato is soft. Puree in a blender or food processor. Add cooking wine and cream.

Coconut Lentil Pilaf


1 dry red chili
3 cups water
5 curry leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup split green gram lentil
1 teaspoon black gram lentil
1 teaspoon asafetida powder
1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut


Dry roast the rice and the lentil on medium heat for 5 minutes and set aside. Heat the oil, and sauté the red chili, asafetida, curry leaves, and black gram lentil until lentil turns brown. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook until the rice is done.

Optional: Use a rice cooker to simplify the sautéing and the cooking.

Avocado Mint Chutney


¼ cup water
1/2 cup cilantro
2 green chilies
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup black raisins
2 pods garlic, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
1 big ripe avocado, peeled and chopped


Use a blender or food processor to blend all ingredients into a coarse paste.

Ginger Jam


1 cup water
3 1/2 cups sugar
3 oz liquid pectin
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup of coarsely chopped ginger with peel


Crush the ginger with the water in a food processor. Strain and set aside the liquid for 1 hour. Carefully pour out the ginger juice on the top without any of the white sediment at the bottom. If you don’t have 1 1/2 cups of juice, add enough water to make 1 1/2 cups. Combine with the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer in a wok. When the mixture reaches a hard boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down), add the sugar. When the mixture returns to a full rolling boil, stir in the pectin and start timing; boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour into jam jars immediately, and let cool.


“Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts: Recipes and Remembrances of a Vegetarian Legacy,” by Ammini Ramachandran; iUniverse paperback; $23.95; 347 pages.

Hats off to Ammini Ramachandran for winning the annual St. Petersburg-based Cordon D’or International Cookbook & Culinary Arts Award for the Best Self-Published cookbook. The resident of Texas will accept the award at 6 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg. The honor by Noreen Kinney recognizes exceptional culinary accomplishments.

Ramachandran’s book takes you on a journey of Kerala while literally teasing you with that state’s delicious vegetarian marvels. The book is available at, and or click on

Here is a recipe from the book:

Kadalakari: Spicy Chickpea Curry


2 cups Indian brown chickpeas
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup freshly grated coconut
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
5 or 6 dried red cayenne, serrano, or Thai chilies (or less for a milder taste)
Salt to taste

For seasoning and garnish:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 dried red cayenne, serrano, or Thai chili, halved
¼ teaspoon asafetida powder (optional)
12 to 15 fresh curry leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves


Soak chickpeas overnight in plenty of water. Rinse in several changes of water until the water runs clear, and drain. Place the chickpeas in a saucepan with four cups water and the turmeric powder, and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the chickpeas are very tender, approximately fifty minutes to one hour. Alternatively, you may cook the chickpeas in a pressure cooker (following the manufacturer’s instructions) for six to eight minutes to speed up the process.

Heat half a tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and fry the grated coconut, stirring constantly, until it turns golden brown. Add the coriander seeds and red pepper, and fry for another minute or two. Remove from the stove, and let it cool. In a blender, grind the coconut and spices with just enough water to make a thick, smooth puree. If there is excess water in the chickpeas, drain some of it. When the spice puree is stirred in, the curry should be fairly thick. Combine the spice puree and the chickpeas, add salt to taste, and simmer for six to eight minutes.

Heat oil in a skillet, and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the halved red chili pepper, asafetida, and curry leaves. Remove it from the stove, and pour it over the kadalakari. Garnish with thinly chopped cilantro leaves. Cover and set aside for ten minutes, to allow flavors to blend. Serve hot with puttu or plain boiled rice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Variation: Instead of using asafetida, substitute with half a cup of finely chopped onions that have been browned in a teaspoon of oil.

Easy versions: Instead of making the fresh spice puree, add two tablespoons of sambar powder, which is available in Indian grocery stores, to the cooked chickpeas, and continue with the remaining steps of the recipe. An even easier version is to use canned chickpeas. Rinse the canned chickpeas under cold running water and drain them before proceeding with the remaining steps of the recipe.


When I was growing up, my family lived near fishing villages in both Bombay and Goa, so we were able to get the freshest shrimp imaginable. As a child, I looked forward to Fridays because we always had shrimp for lunch. (We Cardoz children didn’t eat lunch at school like many other children but went home for the midday meal). The sweetness of the shrimp, the heat of freshly ground black peppercorns, and the citrusy flavor of the coriander seeds make a great combination. I serve this with Watermelon Lime Salad or cucumber and onion salad. For a first course, simply halve the recipe. The shrimp can be grilled, too, but first brush the rack with oil so they don’t stick. I call for extra-large shrimp, but use whatever size is local or freshest and just the cooking time accordingly.

2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
30 extra-large shrimp (16 to 20 count), peeled and deveined
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup canola oil
Juice of 1 lime (2 to 3 tablespoons)

Grind the peppercorns and coriander seeds separately in an electric coffee/spice grinder until medium-fine. Combine the ground spices with the olive oil in a bowl and mix well. Add the shrimp, tossing to coat well. Marinate the shrimp, covered and chilled, for at least 1 and up to 24 hours.

Season the shrimp with the salt. Heat ½ cup of the canola oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until the oil just begins to shimmer. Carefully put half the shrimp in the skillet and panfry them until crisp, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain the shrimp on paper towels or brown paper and drizzle with the lime juice.

Cook the remaining shrimp in the remaining oil and drizzle with lime juice in the same way.




I don’t have my grandmother’s exact recipe. I never asked her, being too young at the time to know better. But the recipe here is a good approximation (as Jimmy Durante, the American comedian, used to say, “Da nose knows”) and utterly delicious.

Do not use jalapeno or serrano chilies for Indian dishes. They have the wrong texture and flavor. Green bird’s-eye chilies or any long, slim, thin-skinned variety, such as cayenne, are ideal. If you can’t find them, use ½-3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper instead of ¼ teaspoon.

2 tablespoons olive or other vegetable oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 ½ pounds (8 cups) medium-sized cauliflower florets, cut so each floret has a steam
1 ¾ cups grated fresh tomatoes
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated to a pulp on the finest part of a grater or Microplane
2 fresh hot green chilies, cut into slim rounds
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup coarsely grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Pour the oil into a large, preferably nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the cauliflower florets, and stir them around for 2 minutes. Add the grated tomatoes, ginger, chilies, cayenne, turmeric, ground coriander, and salt. Stir to mix. Stir and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the tomatoes are almost absorbed and the cauliflower is almost done. Add the cilantro and mix it in.

Put the contents of the pan into an ovenproof dish about 8 inches square, add the cream, mix, and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Put in the top third of the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and developed a few light brown spots. Serve hot. Read More


Our good old friend, restaurant chef-owner, food consultant and cooking teacher Suvir Saran was in Florida recently. He had donned on the traveling chef cap at Aprons Cooking Schools at Publix Supermarkets in Sarasota and Tampa.

The New Delhi-born and Bombay-educated had an insatiable appetite for cooking since he was a kid. Saran attended Sir JJ School of Arts in Bombay before moving to New York City to study at the School of Visual Arts.

He was store manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman, and later director of retail merchandising for the home collection at Henri Bendel. But it was his interest in cooking for friends and food followers that led Saran to begin teaching classes at NYU’s Department of Food and Nutrition. Today, Saran owns two Indian restaurants, Devi in New York City, and Veda in New Delhi. He also is the author of “Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More than 150 Recipes,” which he co-wrote with Stephanie Lyness. The 260-page book guides readers on a cultural journey, helping even the novice cook make simple, satisfying and tasty Indian food.

And yes, he will be releasing yet another cookbook “American Masala,” published again by Clarkson Potter, like his first one. Coming back to the Florida visit, Saran is glad to pat Publix on the back. “They are a great company,” he says with sincerity. “Employee owned and bringing amazing quality, service standards and exciting product and knowledge to their customers.”

It’s a wonderful payback to give loyal customers, he feels. “Traveling chefs that bring their culinary know how to communities which are eager to learn how to add new and fun flavors to their diet. Doing this, they bring also the culinary traditions from around the world to these cities.”

And Saran loves Florida for showing “every bit the charm and challenge of being Southern and yet has such a wealth of residents that have come to its lap from other parts of the country.” But of course.

“The community is made richer by the wealth of experiences and traditions brought to it by those retiring there,” he continues. “These are people that have lived full lives, and have traveled as much as any. They bring a new hunger for diversity to Florida. I see in Florida an energy that is far from lethargic. And I see in Publix, a commitment to only indulge all their customers wholly.”

Each class he teaches, appears on a morning show or is interviewed by a journalist, Saran realizes some new aspect of food, people and life that he would have not known, though he was enjoying it for a long time. “That is always my goal, and my travels and my vocation, are both always enriching my life,” he says. “That happens daily, happened in Florida and I shall be indulging my profession till the day it remains my muse, enrichment and my passion.”

All you Suvir Saran fans can jot down the following dates on your 2007 calendar. If you don’t have a calendar, we suggest getting hold of one. It will be worth the money. The master chef will be returning to the Sunshine State this winter to conduct classes at Publix cooking schools in Tampa (Jan. 4, 2007), Sarasota (Jan. 5) and Jacksonville (Jan. 6).

For more information, click on or call (917) 859-7160.


Reprinted with permission from “Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago” by Ramin Ganeshram; 250 pages; $29.95; Published by Hippocrene;


Moses Reuben, Executive Chef and Owner of Melange Restaurant in Port of Spain, adds elegance to everyday Trinidadian food with French techniques and delicate seasoning. His version of curry chicken can be paired with roti for a more traditional feel or plain rice for a more sophisticated presentation.

Ingredients (4 servings)

4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh shado beni or cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chicken stock
1 medium-size Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup coconut milk


Mix the chicken with the garlic, onions, shado beni, cumin, and 2 teaspoons of the curry powder. Set aside to marinate for at least 20 minutes but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

Mix the remaining curry powder with ½ cup of water to make a smooth paste and set aside. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan, add curry paste, and then add the chicken. Mix well and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock, potatoes, and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes and continue to cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes more. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 3 minutes more. Taste to adjust the seasonings. Serve with rice or roti.


This quick bread has a special sweet tang from the mangoes. If you cannot get fresh mangoes for this recipe, frozen are available at many gourmet markets. Trader Joe’s is a good brand. Alternately, you can buy frozen mango puree made by companies like Goya.

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

1 large ripe mango, peeled and sliced, or 1½ cups frozen mango cubes
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup (3 ounces) chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350-degree F and grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Combine the mango, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of water in a blender. Puree until smooth and set aside. Alternatively, use 1½ cups store-bought mango puree.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg, mango puree, and oil. Add the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Add the walnuts.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Slice and serve.

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