Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking
By Sanjeev Kapoor


When this book isn't in my kitchen (I'm attempting to teach myself to cook Indian food), it's on my bedside table for nighttime reading. Its more than 600 pages have no photos or illustrations to interrupt the text, which means there's a lot of information to absorb.

This isn't the easiest cookbook to follow because the index lists each dish under its Indian name, with just a few descriptions in English. Finding the lamb recipe I chanced upon while browsing in the bookstore proved to be a challenge. I had to investigate each mention of lamb before I found the right one.

That's something I can live with, though, because in that process, I found even more dishes that I now want to try.

In the blurb, author Sanjeev Kapoor is described as "The Rachael Ray of Cooking", which, I'm assuming, is meant to be a compliment. But judging by the YouTube videos I watched for this review, he doesn't seem nearly as annoying as the American cooking show host.

This book, which was published previously under the title, How to Cook Indian, is divided into chapters such as kebabs, snacks and starters; main courses: vegetarian; main courses: fish, shellfish, lamb and chicken; food for feasts and festivals; and Indo-Chinese. In the latter chapter, Kapoor writes, "Chinese food is the most popular choice when Indians dine out … the strong Indian palate, however, means that many dishes are tweaked to suit our tastes."

The result is dishes such as "chile channa", or chickpeas cooked in a quasi-Chinese sauce that includes onion, garlic, chillies, bell peppers, red chilli powder, red chilli paste and soy sauce. For Chinese dosas, the lentil and rice crepes are filled with vegetables including lots of cabbage, plus a Sichuan sauce composed of chillies, vegetable stock, celery and tomato ketchup.

The more familiar (and traditional) dishes include kanda bhajia (onion fritters); shrimp idlis; tandoori chicken; Parsi lamb cutlets; palak paneer; vegetable and paneer jhalfrazie; batata vada; and urad dal kachori.