Wednesday, November 4, 2009

favorite cookbook: madhur jaffrey's ultimate curry bible

a few years ago in mumbai on a very quick shopping trip that brought new meaning to the term power shop with the most fantastic bargainer i've ever had the privilege to witness, i acquired an authentic indian spice tin. at the moment, it contains coriander seeds, golden mustard seeds, black mustard seeds, dried ginger, mixed peppercorns and cumin seeds. the fragrance when i lift the lid to transfer small spoonfuls (spoonsful?) of spices to my mortar & pestle transports me to exotic lands - not only india, but mexico, thailand, singapore and london. yes, london, because london is the ultimate place to eat a curry isn't it?

and when it's time to make a curry, i call both on notes that i made years ago in arizona during the only real cooking lessons i've ever had (with a wonderful indian friend) and on madhur jaffrey's ultimate curry bible. curries are warming and comforting and transcendent. yes, transcendent - with the heavenly, exotic smell of a curry filling my kitchen, i feel lifted above the mundane everyday.

if you've got staples in your cupboard - rice, chick peas or lentils, coconut milk, onions, and the spices in my spice tin, plus turmeric and a head of cauliflower and a tomato or two in your crisper, you can have a curry in the same time it takes you to make a boring old everyday meatloaf. and you don't even need meat, tho' of course you can use it if you want to. but i find myself turning to curries when i want to eat less meat, they seem to me to make vegetarian food more exciting.

madhur jaffrey, who was a brit TV cook before it became trendy to be one, presents curries from the entire spectrum - traditional curry places like india, singapore, malaysia, indonesia, thailand, but also south africa, kenya, great britain, trinidad, guyana, japan and the US and lots of places in between. there are some that will take your head off and ones that will soothe your soul. but they will all wake up your palate and and a put a bit more excitement in your everyday. if you love curries, or even just reading about curries and their evolution and history, this is the one cookbook you need.


Molly said...

Ooohhhh you're speaking my language!!
LOVE curry, must have it at least once a week (but preferably more often), couldn't agree more with your use of the word 'transcendent'.
Yup, curry speaks to my soul. And luckily my husband is a wicked curry chef - this book might just be his Christmas present ...
(When we packed up our kitchen for the builders on the weekend hubby's stash of curry spices filled an enormous camping crate all by themselves!)

Bee said...

One of my little sadnesses is that my family doesn't like curry as much as I do. I remember the first time I ate it: in London (of course), when I was 15. I was at a wedding a few weeks ago, and a couple was describing making a complicated lamb curry together; it made me so envious!

I think you are right about the vegetarian thing. The aromatic spices make pulses and veggies much more interesting.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the inspiration of the spices of life.

Anne said...

I turned up my nose at curry for years because I thought I didn't like it. As it turned out, I just didn't like my mom's curry. I found curry on a trip to London, too (despite having a wealth of great Indian food around here), and ever since then it's been one headlong rush into curry love. I have a couple of Jaffrey's books, but not this one. Sounds like it's a must-have!

I agree, too, about the vegetables. I think that Indian is the only cuisine in which I could be vegetarian and not miss eating meat--or at least the cuisine in which I would miss it least.

christina said...

i can smell them from here. i always, always have coconut milk on my shelf. and curry~ oh yes.

Anonymous said...

Well I agree but I dream the collection should have more info then it has.

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

I LOVE curries of all kinds and all sorts, except ones that contain fruit. But coconut milk is good, bring on that creamy deliciousness!


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