Friday, August 10, 2007
Cookbook Review: Modern Indian Cooking
The introduction says that this is "an attempt to recreate classic Indian dishes by using simplistic techniques along with a delicious juxtaposition of non-Indian ingredients." Many of the recipes struck me more as an attempt at a type of fusion cuisine, only driven by the spices of the southern, and not eastern, part of Asia. But this sort of combination is tricky - you can get a new take on classics, in which case you need to be grounded enough there, or you can try for something in between two cooking cultures, but that requires maintaining a balance and offering adroit flavor blends that offer complementary hints of each.
I find Modern Indian Cooking to stumble about this ground, so that you will see in the same soup and salad section a take on carrot and ginger soup (not all that startlingly new, even with mustard seeds and curry powder) and a curry corn chowder with roasted poblanos (and if you drop the curry powder, is similar to a corn chowder recipe I saw in Fonda San Miguel).
That's not to say that the recipes look bad. On the contrary, I'm looking forward to trying a number of them. But it's the overarching concept that I find weak. I think it would have been better to pick one ground: either simplifying Indian for western cooks, or sticking to modern approaches to Indian cooking. That said, it does offer many ideas for starting to incorporate Indian spices into western dishes, which could open new ways of practicing cooking for many. The list price is $29.95.
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