The Spice is Right: A Book Review

The Spice is Right: A Book Review

By Brenda Hyde

The Spice Is Right:

Easy Indian Cooking for Today

Monica Bhide

Callawind Publications Inc.

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If your only exposure to Indian Cuisine was that little bottle of "Curry Spice" that was added to a dish to make it "exotic", you should read The Spice is Right. Monica Bhide will not only clear up the mystery of curry, she will delight you with her family stories and her easy and delicious Indian recipes. Though I love cooking with herbs and spices I hadn't really took on the challenge of Indian cooking. After reading this cookbook, I really felt I could take it on with ease. Monica explains the ingredients, and has adapted the recipes using items we can find at our local grocery stores or online. I was thrilled when I read:

"I had one goal: the recipe had to be simple to make, delicious to eat, and easy on the weight and wallet."

A woman after my own heart! Her cookbook lives up to her goals, and much more. In the margin of each page she shares family memories and tidbits about the recipe. In the beginning of the book she defines the spice mixtures and methods that will be used, and throughout the book she shares internet resources that will further assist the cook. Many ethnic cookbooks become complicated resource manuals in their quest to explain the cuisine of a country. The Spice is Right is written in a warm, friendly style that invites you into the world of Indian cooking right along with Monica and her family. I truly enjoyed reading her book, as well as using it.

You'll find menu plans for An Indian Super Bowl Party, Hearty Sunday Brunch, A Picnic Basket, Backyard Grilling, and Turkey Day, plus many more. There are over 150 recipes in The Spice is Right-all of them keepers.

Coriander Layered Potatoes (Multani Aloo)

Yield: 6 servings

This dish gets its name from the "Multani masala" my grandmother would sprinkle on her potatoes along with some of the spices listed below. My attempt to capture the taste here comes pretty close. Multan, a city in Pakistan, is where my family originates from.

Multani masala can be found only in the backstreets of Chandi Chowk, a famous shopping area in Delhi. My grandfather had a store in Chandi Chowk, and he would bring us this masala from his friends there.

6 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Vegetable cooking spray

1 cup / 250 mL finely chopped fresh coriander

2 teaspoons / 10 mL ground coriander

2 teaspoons / 10 mL ground cumin

1 teaspoon / 5 mL red chile powder

1 teaspoon / 5 mL turmeric

Salt to taste

Garnish: Thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Place the potatoes in a single layer in a roasting pan; spray with the vegetable cooking spray. Bake until potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes, depending on thickness). Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl stir together the fresh coriander, ground coriander, cumin, chile powder, turmeric, and salt. Cover the bottom of a large saucepan with a thin layer of overlapping potatoes; do not leave any gaps. Sprinkle with some of the spice mixture. Continue layering until all the potatoes and spices are used. Sprinkle with a few drops of water. Cover and cook over very low heat for about 8 minutes to release and blend the spice flavors. Check frequently to ensure that the potatoes do not burn.

Serve hot garnished with thinly sliced ginger.

Variations: My grandmother used to make this dish in the days when deep-frying was not considered evil, and she would deep-fry the potatoes instead of baking them. I have to admit, it did taste awesome!

Each Serving Provides: Calories: 83; Protein: 2 g; Carbohydrates: 18 g; Fat: Trace

Reprinted from The Spice Is Right: Easy Indian Cooking for Today by Monica Bhide, Callawind Publications Inc, 2001

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