APRIL 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida



India Cookbook, by Pushpesh PantIndia Cookbook” by Pushpesh Pant; 1,000 recipes; 960 pages; $49.95; published by Phaidon Press (www.phaidon.com)

We have reviewed quite a few cookbooks but never one that had 1,000 recipes or even close to it. Till now, of course. Pushpesh Pant, an India-based recipe columnist and cookbook author, spent 20 years to collect recipes from 10 culinary regions and put them together in this massive book. He spotlights similarities and differences in cuisines from Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi, Awadh, Bengal, Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and The Western Coast. There also is a one-page note on “How to Eat an Indian Meal,” presumably for those unfamiliar with food from the largest democracy in the world.

To ensure that he covers every type of Indian dish, Pant has divided the book with colorful photographs throughout into several chapters: Spice Mixtures and Pastes, Pickles, Chutneys and Raitas, Snacks and Appetizers (vegetables, fish and seafood, meat), Main Dishes (vegetables, fish and seafood, meat), Pulses, Breads, Rice, Desserts and Drinks. A chapter with signature dishes by some of the highly regarded Indians chiefs around the world such as Suvir Saran in New York, Vivek Singh in London, Joy Kapur in San Francisco will delight culinary lovers. A glossary of ingredients is followed by a one-pager directory of few online suppliers that specialize in Indian ingredients, utensils and cookware.

“India Cookbook” is a mammoth attempt by Pant to spread the word about Indian cooking all around the world. And he succeeds quite well at it.

Here are just two of 1,000 recipes from the book, courtesy of Phaidon Press:

Syrup soaked Pancakes

Origin: West Bengal
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes, plus cooling time
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Makes: 8

Mix the yogurt and flour together in a bowl, add the aniseeds and mix well.

To make the syrup, poor 2 ¼ cups cold water into a large pan, add the sugar and heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and boil until the syrup reaches one-thread consistency**. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Heat the ghee in a kadhai, wok, or deep, heavy based pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of yogurt batter at a time and fry for 2-3 minutes until brown and crisp at the edges. Remove the mini pancakes from the pan using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Dip the pancakes in the syrup, one at a time, as they are fried.

**To test, take some syrup between your thumb and forefinger. Be careful, as the syrup is very hot. Draw your fingers slightly apart. The syrup will form fine threads. The numbers of threads it forms, will give you the correct consistency.

Saboodana Vada
Sago Patties

Origin: Coastal
Preparation Time: 40 minutes, plus soaking time
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Makes 12

Soak the sago in a large bowl of water for about 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for about 20 minutes, or until soft, then drain and allow to cool. When potatoes are cool, peel of their skins, return to pan, and mash.

Heat a kadhai or large wok, add the peanuts and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until roasted. Transfer the peanuts to a mortar and pestle and pound until crushed.

Separate the sago so that it is free of any lumps, then sprinkle over 1 cup of water. Add the potatoes, chilies, peanuts, and salt, and mix well.

Divide the mixture equally into 12 small portions and shape into flat patties. If the patties are sticking to your hands then you need to oil your hands with a bit of oil.

Heat enough oil for deep frying in a kadhai or deep heavy based pan to 350 degree F, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Carefully lower the patties, in batches, into the hot oil and deep fry for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

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