Learning the secrets of Indian food
Indian cuisine is one of my favourites. The flavours, the colours and the smells have an exotic appeal and I am always happy to find a good Indian restaurant. I’ve never been to India, I’ve only tried Indian food as prepared in different countries. I also like to cook and I take pride in being a good cook in general (and a modest one, as you can see). But I’ve never dared to try Indian recipes. I have this image in my mind of piles of spices that need to be mixed to get the right taste, spices that I don’t know where to buy and how to combine. Recently I received, as a gift, an Indian recipe cook book. Since I had no more excuses to not try my skills in this type of cuisine, I decided to give it a go! The book is called “Papa Kazmi. Pure Cook Book” and the recipes come from the Hills & Mills chef, known as Papa Kazmi. It was written by his kids. How lovely is that?
Browsing through it, I noticed it is more than a recipe book: it’s the story of a family told through its food and childhood memories. I like very much that he uses healthy ingredients: sugar is replaced with brown agave syrup or honey, oil with coconut oil and sometimes the dairy with soy or coconut products (which I would have done anyway, so I’m happy he does it too). I also like what they say about Papa Kazmi – that he “cooks by heart”- and they had to struggle to get the exact measures for the ingredients in order to write the book. I also like to cook by heart and I love people who do so! For my first attempt of the Indian cuisine, I promised myself to try following the instructions — but I still changed some things. I just couldn’t help it!
There is a list of basic ingredients at the beginning of the book – I made sure I had all the ones I needed before the big day. Luckily, many were already on my shelves, but some were quite new: rice bran oil, for example. I had to look up chaat masala and where to find it in Amsterdam. I still don’t have it, so the interesting fruit salad will have to wait a bit longer.
I started with some easy recipes: Raita, mango chutney, palak paneer, chapatti, samosa cabbage potato. The instructions are easy to understand, it’s almost impossible to not get it right. There was a bit of drama over the samosa dough, the shape and how to convince them to stay in one piece, but I managed it (well, sort of). I had to fight with myself a bit when time came to mix mango with garlic for the chutney, but I know now it was for the best 😛 The samosas were gorgeous combined with raita and mango chutney. I am very proud of the results, and happy to see that it’s not very difficult, once you know some secrets, to get the Indian taste at home!
Nevertheless, I now have to go to Delft to the Hills & Mills restaurant to try the real version of the food. Until then, I’ll try to make you hungry with some pictures of the dishes I’ve made: