Cookbook road test: I Love India
Anjum’s passion for Indian food, and way of life, is clear in her newest cookbook. It’s vibrant, colourful and alluring.
The visuals are a mixture of recipes (often shot birds-eye), close-ups of ingredients such as chilli, coconut, pulses etc and scenic shots of life in India. Our favourite is an image of a man looking out, over the boats, on the Indian coastline.
We put some of Anjum’s recipes from the book to the test…
The recipes are broken up into chapters including street food, small bites, Indian summer, curries and comfort food – Anjum basically provides everything you need for an Indian feast. Each recipe is personalised with an introduction about the meal such as which of her relatives enjoys the recipe, where it comes from or a memory. These opening paragraphs create the feeling that Anjum is there with you, talking you through each recipe.
The ingredients list seem intimidating at first (there’s a lot) but most of the herbs and spices used are required in other recipes throughout the book so you’ll never end up with a near-full jar of a spice you won’t use again. The method is broken up into easy-to-read paragraphs with easy-to-follow instructions.
The recipe test
I tested the tandoori-style chicken and the mini paneer kathi rolls. I started with the tandoori marinade so that I could leave the chicken to soak up all the flavours for a few hours. Originally, I thought the recipe was daunting but it turned out that everything just went in a blender; you whizz it up, pour it over the chicken and voila! The hands-on part for the meat preparation was complete.
A few hours later I pottered back into the kitchen and whipped up another marinade, this time for the paneer. Once again, it was very simple. I was feeling lazy (and hungry) so opted for pre-made small tortillas rather than making my own mini wraps. The rest was easy – pop the chicken under the grill, fry the onions and the marinated paneer and make the minted yogurt chutney (which I used for both the chicken and the paneer rolls).
The tandoori-style chicken was by far the highlight of the meal – tender and juicy with a crispy, spicy coating that was full of flavour. I made eight pieces and ate three, if I hadn’t been feeding four people I would have easily eaten double. The chutney was a little runny but it complemented the chicken perfectly. I served the kathi rolls with fresh baby spinach though you could also opt for a side salad or steamed greens.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning how to cook Indian food. There is a good range of easy, medium and more complicated recipes. It would be a great book to slowly work your way through over time. I have never cooked tandoori chicken before and often thought of it as being a bit difficult, or out of my league, but I was wrong. This was one of the single most satisfying, yet impressively simple recipes I have ever taken on. I am so happy I did – my friends and I have not stopped talking about that chicken since.
Note: my photo really doesn’t do the recipes justice.
I Love India by Anjum Anand (Quadrille £20). Photographs by Martin Poole.