An Indian kitchen can be anywhere in the world. Mine just happens to be in London.
I had decided that I wasn’t going to buy any more recipe books that included meat recipes. I was sick of having to skip over so many pages that I couldn’t use. I was going to stick to buying only vegetarian recipe books. And then I was listening to the Woman’s Hour Cook the Perfect podcast on the way to work one morning. I listened to Meera Sodha cook her Daily Dal recipe and talk about cooking Indian family food in Britain.
Meera’s family (originally from Gujarat in India) had been expelled from Uganda in 1972 and had ended up Lincolnshire. Meera’s mother had continued to cook Gujarati food but with British ingredients. This cookbook is based around those recipes.
It’s a lovely warm hug of a book. It’s full of fresh flavours and recipes that encourage rather than intimidate. There are some specialist ingredients, but most of these recipes only need a trip to the average supermarket, not an hour spent online tracking down obscure spices.
The book is divided into:
Starters and snacks
Pulses and grains
Chutneys and pickles
Housekeeping: Make your own and Leftovers
There’s a Menu Ideas section with menus for 2, 4, 6 and 8 vegetarians. There’s an Alternative Contents section with ideas for 1st Timer Recipes, Midweek Meals, Get the Kids Involved, Gluten Free and other options.
The recipes are clear, one to a page with plenty of full page colour photographs. While there are meat recipes there, they are restricted to two chapters and make up less than a quarter of the book. The tone of the book is chatty and cheerful, mixed in with a few family stories, like a good conversation between foodie friends.
I have tried the Daily Dal and it is excellent. There is also a recipe for 100 Garlic-Clove Curry. I might have to give that one a try sometime soon!
Title: Made in India Cooked in Britain: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen
Author: Meera Sodha
Publisher: Penguin Fig Tree
Recipes: 133 (including 47 vegetarian and 49 vegan)
Price: £20 hardback
Runner Beans with Mustard Seeds and Ginger
The recipe in the book calls for French beans, but with runner beans being in season I decided to use them.
This is a lovely, gently spiced dish. It’s not hot, but warming from the ginger. It can be served as a side dish safe in the knowledge that it won’t overpower whatever it’s served with.
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds
250g runner beans, topped, tailed and sliced into cm lengths
2 cm ginger, peeled and grated
2 tsp tomato puree
1/4 tsp turmeric
Add a little oil to a large frying pan on a medium heat.
Add the mustard seeds and sesame seeds.
When they start to pop add the beans and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the ginger and stir for another two minutes.
Add the tomato puree, turmeric and a splash of water.
Cover with a lid, turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes.
When the beans are tender, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Serves 2 as a side dish