I just love Indian food; I find the layering of flavors and textures very exciting. But most home cooks are reluctant to cook it because of all the ingredients (mostly spices) involved. Well I reached out to my friend Madhur Jaffrey, actress, cookbook author extraordinaire and host of three Asian television series. When I worked in the test kitchen at Gourmet in the mid eighties I tested her recipes for the magazine and was floored to find out that there was so much more to Indian cuisine than curry. The three recipes that we make on the show are from Madhur’s book, Quick and Easy Indian Cooking, published in 1996 by Chronicle Books; you can order it from Amazon right here. When I asked Madhur what new projects she had on the horizon here is what she said: “I have two films that will come out this year, ‘Hiding Divya,’ and ‘Phoebe in Wonderland.’ I am shooting another feature, ‘Seven to the Palace’ in the summer and am working on a new cookbook for Knopf, Surprisingly Simple Recipes from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. I am still the consulting chef at Dawat (210 East 58th Street) here in New York City. To provide me great joy, I have a large, organic vegetable garden that comes into full plentitude in the summer and beautiful children and grandchildren who love to visit and gobble up the fresh English peas.”
You can find two of the recipes here and the Royal Chicken Cooked in Yogurt recipe below:
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Tips. To keep coconut milk from separating when you add it to a hot pan, add some water first and then whisk in the coconut milk
I have always cooked hard boiled eggs the Julia Child way which essentially means not boiling them. (Start them in cold water, bring it up to a full boil, turn it off and let them sit for 17 minutes. Throw them into ice water until they are cold.) Madhur has her own quick foolproof method – she also starts the eggs in cold water and when they come up to a boil she starts timing them. She simmers them for 8 minutes and then cools them in ice water. Either method will eliminate that nasty green line which happens when you overcook the egg and don’t chill it right away.
If you want to boil yogurt until it thickens, do not add any other liquid.
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Although we did not cook the pork vindaloo or royal chicken in a pressure cooker on the show, Madhur says that a pressure cooker would really speed up the process. And they don’t explode anymore so no need to worry. I asked her if she had a favorite brand and she mentioned Kuhn Rikon which I know you can find in all shapes and sizes at many kitchenware stores.
We used an Oxo Garlic Press on the show which is very sturdy and has a little gizmo attached to help with cleaning. For more information go to Oxo.com.
Flexible cutting boards are available at many kitchenware stores. They are light weight and thin which is a good thing if you don’t have much storage space. They also come in different colors so you can designate different colors for different categories – red for meat, yellow for dessert, etc.
Spice kits – you can order empty kits and spices to fill them from www.Kalustyans.com. Go to the website, click on “cookwares and accessories” and then “masala dabba.” The spice kits consist of 7 empty metal canisters in a round tin with a common top. You will probably need to order two in order to fill them with all the spices you need. Kalustyan’s is a wonderful store based here in New York that is a great resource for all kinds of international ingredients, not just Indian.