Just got my copy today, and it's a hefty book! I'm not sure where to start. What recipes are you guys eyeing?
(Added on 5/24/11)
In general, I am happy to have this cookbook as a reference, but I don't think this is a great cookbook if you are an Indian food beginner.
On the plus side, the recipes are not dumbed down for American audiences. If you want to learn authentic Indian cooking (as I do) it's nice to have recipes that call for ingredients like black salt and besan (chick pea flour), amchur (powdered dried mango), asafeteda powder, etc.
In addition, the recipes themselves are uncomplicated. Except for the exotic ingredients, the recipes are relatively straightforward.
As for the minuses, I find that the cookbook has the same flaws as most encyclopedic cookbooks: too much breadth and not enough depth. It is difficult to know which recipe to choose, and each recipe is little more than an opening sentence or two ("This dish is a perfect everyday Indian meal") followed by a list of ingredients and a quick set of not exactly foolproof steps.
Most of the recipes turned out well for me, but the lack of explanation did land me in hot water occasionally.
Here's an example of how I got into trouble.
I was making Vendakkai Mor Thalippu (Okra with yogurt and coconut).
1) The instructions say "Soak the rice in 6 tablespoos of water for 15 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder, add the coconut, and grind to a smooth paste."...
I need to stock up on some of the more unusual spices/ingredients used in Indian cooking, and I don't think I will find them locally. Does anyone have a good online source?
Indian food makes me groan with pleasure (true story) so I'm looking forward to getting a loose grip on preparing it myself. Generally the recipes have so many steps, using so many unusual ingredients that I shy away. Last winter I took on the challenge of adding Sambar to my normal soup routine, and I've accomplished that, so I'm ready to forge ahead. Thanks Heidi, for the invitation to join you. I have Sanjeev's book on its way. In the mean time, I was inspired to pull out Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking" today, and made "Hearty Blue Mountain Cabbage and Tomato Stew" with Roti, for lunch. (Omitted ghee, curry leaves and cilantro, added fresh chives for garnish, used 1 tsp. salt.) Very good, and a good "beginner recipe", if you have sambar powder made up or purchased.