Rice, Spice and All Things Nice by Reza Mahammad
|Rice, Spice and All Things Nice by Reza Mahammad|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: For fans of Reza Mahammad this book will be a delight. His cheeky attitude shines through in every page and you'll also get a reasonably staged introduction to cooking Indian foods right through from starters or snacks to desserts. It's a sumptuously-presented book and would make a nice gift.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: November 2006|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd|
If you're a fan of TV chef Reza Mahammad ( Delhi Belly, Coconut Coast and A Place in France) then this book will be a delight to you. He's the star of the text and photographs and his cheeky, irreverent attitude shines through from every page.
If your experience of Indian food doesn't extend any further than the local takeaway then the subtlety of some of the flavourings might well be lost on you, but the book is aimed squarely at the novice cook. Some of the recipes come from India, some from Reza's home and some from the restaurant, Star of India, which he runs. The chapters follow the courses of a meal, from starters and snacks through to deserts. I liked the idea of starting each chapter with the simplest dish and moving through to those where more skill and experience is needed. If you care to read it that way there's an impromptu lesson in Indian cookery waiting for you.
Do read Reza's Rules first though - or as he says 'read these before you even touch a pan unless you need to use it as a weapon'. If you don't some instructions or phrases in the recipes - such as 'tempering' - won't be clear to you. Be wary too about the recommendations with regard to equipment. A wet and dry grinder is recommended and it's said that Lakeland do one. I've checked the Lakeland catalogue and they do supply a wet and dry grinder although it's not their own make. It's available slightly cheaper elsewhere, but more importantly, reviews on Amazon suggest that it's not reliable and might even be dangerous.
Some of the lists of ingredients for the recipes might appear daunting but there's good advice to have everything prepared and lined up beforehand. That would apply to me, I'm afraid, as I'm notoriously relaxed about preparing as I go along. Reza's relaxed too, though, and does say that if you don't have a particular spice (or two) then you can still make the dish. There's an emphasis on improvisation and experimentation that I like.
The range of recipes is very good, with plenty of variety in the way of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes. There's a recipe for meatballs in a green sauce which you can just about taste as you read the ingredients. It's a longish list, but the method is relatively straight-forward. Make certain that you've read Reza's Rules with regard to numbers when you're doing your planning: 'serves 4-6' means that 'it will be enough for the higher number if you are making more than one main dish with accompaniments. Otherwise it will serve the lower number with rice and/or a vegetable.'
The range of deserts is wider than is found in many Indian cookery books. I particularly liked the look of the pancakes, with coconut milk and spices added to the pancakes which are then filled with poppy seeds, almonds, pistachios and sultanas and drizzled with maple syrup or honey. There's a mouth-watering picture too.
There are one or two indulgent recipes but for the most part the food produced is well-balanced with an emphasis on vegetables. If you were looking for a present for someone who likes Indian food and who could be encouraged to cook it for themselves then this sumptuous book might well be the answer. If you have some experience of cooking Indian food then the book would still be worth a read.
Thanks to the publishers, Simon and Schuster for sending this book.
You can read more book reviews or buy Rice, Spice and All Things Nice by Reza Mahammad at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Rice, Spice and All Things Nice by Reza Mahammad at Amazon.com.
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