Indian cookbooks aren’t thin on the ground, but Anjali Pathak’s new one is a cause for celebration.
When it comes to’Indian Families’, Anjali Pathak’s is known to a large part of the UK, as well as the world. She is the third generation of the family that came to the UK with almost nothing and created Patak’s brand of Indian-style curry pastes, sauces and spices. The business was recently sold for many millions to Associated British Foods but the family are still closely involved in it.
The book is something of a memoir, reflections about growing up in an Indian family and a guide to how she brings tradition to western cooking and style.
Anjali herself has trained at Leith’s and is a recognised authority on Indian cuisine and in this book she writes about the food her family loves and the food that she first learnt to cook. Over 120 recipes are here, all are simple to prepare but most of which step outside the usual dishes we all know.
The book is divided into sections such as Light Bites, Big Bites, BBQ, Veggies and even cocktails as well as a large appendix on kitchen must haves, gadgets needed and what you need to keep handy in the fridge. This is a good idea, most Indian Nights fail when you discover that a crucial spice or lump of fresh ginger is missing.
We tried a couple of recipes, I think it’s a good idea to always do that as it’s the only way to find out if the recipes actually work. Many cookbooks these days are not properly edited and you can find yourself totally lost at a crucial moment as a whole instruction is lost or an ingredient suddenly appears out of nowhere.
Having a glut of beetroots from our allotment, we went for paneer and roasted beet salad. Paneer is easy to find in supermarkets these days and when pan-fried as here it’s delicious. The whole recipe took under thirty minutes to make and was a big household hit.
A dish of Smoky Spiced Potatoes using paprika and Chipotle chili was another good one, the mixing in of urad dal lentils added crunch and the and lime juice was the perfect finishing touch,
We’ve yet to try the Mixed herb salad with honey pecan dressing, or the BBQ chops marinated in spices, or the drunken chicken but we will.
This is a book that while based in Indian cooking is not afraid to bring in other influences, one dish features that oh so Indian cheese burrata for example, while there is also a tarte tatin enhanced with cardamom.
Vegetables are stars here and meat includes beef, not always present in many Indian cookbooks, and the book has lots of personal reflection and family photos. All in all, a genuinely useful addition to any cook’s Indian armoury.