My introduction to Indian food and actually cooking it was in 1982, which does seem a long time ago now. A friend who I worked with in Australia had parents who had grown up in India, later moving back to England and then on to Australia.
Clare’s mother very kindly shared three recipes with me and I have always enjoyed cooking them. Of course the trouble with them was the quantity of spices I had to have and the time it took to prepare them and make the base for the curries. While they are gorgeous recipes I sometimes feel that it is easier to just go out for Indian food instead.
Suddenly that has changed since the book Everyday Indian by Bal Arneson entered my life. This is a very pleasant book to read and to learn all about the basics of healthy Indian food. Bal explains the spices needed for the recipes in the book, where to buy them and also exactly how to use them and make things like garam masala from scratch if you have the time. And she doesn’t make you feel a failure if you don’t have the time to do that. She lets you feel that it is okay to buy them readymade if time is short.
I have a husband who, while adventurous with food, is not very keen on hot and spicy meals. When I have cooked my Indian recipes in the past I know by experience how much now of each spice to use so that the curries are mild enough for him to enjoy but also hot enough for me to also look forward to the meal.
So I really had to go through the book reading the ingredients thoroughly so there was not going to be a big surprise for either of us when we took the first bite of a new recipe. The choice I made for the first test was the Tandoori quesadillas, because I recognised all the ingredients and also knew they were well known ones, easy to purchase from any grocery store or Indian specialty store too.
The recipe was extremely well written and very easy to follow. My only mistake was not cutting the chicken up small enough so that made the quesadillas a little lumpier than the picture showed in the book. The recipe made three full size quesadillas and the suggestion was to then cut them up as finger food. I am ashamed to say we ate a full one each and then saved the last one for the following day for lunch and it was plenty between the two of us. This recipe is a keeper and will certainly be a repeat meal for us as we both really did enjoy them.
I am now very keen to try more recipes from this book. If they are all as tasty and can be made with as much ease as this first one then I don’t think the book will spend much time on my book shelf but will be a permanent fixture in the kitchen. My Folsom friends are about to become beta testers.