Chef Hemant Mathur of Tulsi in New York City demonstrates how to eat Indian food with your hands.
Indian cooking can seem both fascinating and intimidating at the same time to the average home cook. The very characteristics that appeal to the adventurous — the generous array of exotic spices, the myriad cooking styles of every region of a faraway land, and the seemingly endless combinations of ingredients — can also be turn-offs for some cooks. Where should one start?
Luckily, Anjum Anand brings a wealth of experience to the table from her time spent in restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, and New Delhi, and knows how to connect with home cooks thanks to her time on BBC as the host of her own Indian cooking television series, Indian Food Made Easy. Anand is the author of several cookbooks, and her latest, Indian Vegetarian Feast (Sterling Epicure, $25), is another home run.
To anyone who is hesitant to try vegetarian cooking, Anand offers this in the introduction to her book, "I have always said my desert island ingredient would be the humble Bengal gram (chana dal), a type of lentil. It can be made into a curry, stir-fried with spices into a protein-rich side dish, even used to make a dessert. It is also ground into flour and then made into bread, or batter for spiced pancakes or bhajis, or spiced and steamed savory lentil cakes." All this comes from just one ingredient — imagine what can be done with all the other Indian ingredients out there. "Indians are alchemists of the vegetarian table, and can conjure thousands of uses from their beans or dairy products." In other words, if Indian is your cuisine of choice for going meatless, even just once a week, you're in good hands.
Biryani is a hearty and filling dish often made with chicken or mutton, but Anand's meatless version is just as satisfying and delicious. (Photo courtesy of Emma Lee)
An American favorite gets an Indian twist. (Photo courtesy of Emma Lee)
Best ever? You be the judge. Anand stands by her recipe. (Photo courtesy of Emma Lee)
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.