The New Indian Slow Cooker: Recipes for Curries, Dals, Chutneys, Masalas, Biryani, and more by Neela Paniz
Publication date: 2 September 2014 by Ten Speed Press (reprint)
Category: Cooking, Indian Cuisine
Keywords: Cookbook, Slow Cooker
Format: Paperback, ebook
Source: Blogging for Books, ARC from publisher for review
So I've been sitting on this book review for a while. I've had really mixed feelings about The New Indian Slow Cooker. The book is pretty gorgeous, with delectable photography and easy-to-follow layouts. Recipe introductions, instructions, and descriptions of ingredients used in this cuisine are helpfully clear and concise for helping the home cook navigate unfamiliar territory, making this a great intro to Indian food. The structure of most of the recipes also reduces the intimidation factor quite a bit, though slow cooker aficionados should note that there is more prep involved than you would expect from a normal slow cooker manual. Onions, for example, need to be cooked through on the stove before adding them into the mix; spices need to be roasted and ground (I've done this by hand and also in a spice grinder).
The variety of dishes is as I expected--staples like chicken tikka masala and my favorite butter chicken--are featured alongside everything you need for a meal, including rice dishes, paneer, raita, and chutneys. Simmering them for a long time at a low heat made a lot of sense, and the recipes were easy to prepare. However, while my test batches of curry were pretty successful (I'm looking at you, lamb vindaloo), one of the recipes I wanted to master the most (baingan bharta, a spicy eggplant curry) didn't come out nearly as I expected. Stewing the vegetables (mostly eggplant and potato) in the slow cooker didn't produce the smoky flavor I'd come to associate with the dish, nevermind that my usual exposure to it was through the Trader Joe's frozen food aisle (and the item is now, sadly, discontinued). I think I'll actually roast the eggplants next time.
Additionally, some of the recipes struck me as pretty Westernized, not authentic, but then I also think it makes acquiring or substituting ingredients somewhat easier, especially if you don't happen to live near a good Indian supermarket.
The size and soft binding of the book is great for leaving it open while you cook. Get a splatter-shield, though--I learned that lesson the hard way while frying onions. It's worth reading cover to cover, if for nothing else than to get a better idea of which spices combine to make a particular flavor. There are also little tips sprinkled throughout that I'd only expect to learn while learning from an experienced cook (like adding ice to a sauce pan before adding milk to make the yogurt). And actually, I got the cookbook right around the time my slow cooker broke--I have been preparing most of the recipes on a very low flame on the stove top, so you don't even really need a slow cooker if you get the principles of how heat affects your ingredients.
I'd recommend this to adventurous cooks getting ready to venture into Indian cuisine, but not to slow-cookers expecting a quick fix-and-forget meal.
- ALETHEA -
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review purposes.