The first meal I cooked out of Made in India: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen was Roasted tamarind chicken, and on the side the lime pickled onions, the mint and yogurt chutney, and the Chapatis. I would not usually make so many sides, but these recipes are just so easy and so easily made ahead. The chutney, chicken, and pickled onions are each about 5 minutes of hands-on time. The chutney and the onions can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until needed. Same goes for the marinated chicken. The only thing that requires a bit of that all important just before dinner time is the chapatis.
All of this is to say, the food in this book is delicious, maybe the best Indian food you’ll ever have. Certainly the best I’ve ever had. But the most remarkable thing about these recipes is that they are so incredibly simple to put together. There is so much reward for your effort. This is also a book with a lot of healthful, vegetable and legume-forward dishes, and a great cookbook for company. Meera Sodha has other cookbooks that are specifically for vegetarians and vegans. However, if you are having guests with special diets, you should be able to make a nice meal from this book that fits the bill, whether that bill is gluten-free, vegetarian, or what have you.
In short, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I love it and will be cooking from it for many years to come. This would be a great book for anyone who enjoys cooking at home. A lot of the dishes are spicy (though they can be modified somewhat), so that is something to keep in mind if gifting.
Beet and feta samosas (p. 48) – These actually are a bit of a hassle to put together. But, they are so delicious that they are worth the fuss. And, they freeze well. My advice is, instead of trying to make a cone and then spooning in filling, just spoon filling on bottom right hand corner and then fold up. Much easier. 9/10 (-1 for being a project)
Eggplant and cherry tomato curry (p. 57) – Spicy and full of vegetables. A hearty and delicious vegetarian main, adaptable for many different diets. 10/10
Roasted tamarind chicken with honey and red chili (p. 94) – super fast, came out well but I broiled at the end to get the skin to crisp. Flavor good, mild but nice. 8/10
Lamb kebabs with cumin and coriander (p. 109) – Delicious marinade, but unfortunately I got the wrong cut of meat at the store. Used it on lamb shoulder chops, came out great. 9/10
Dal Makhani (p. 167) – Made a slightly different version of this (see below). Does take some tending, but turned out spicy, smoky, and creamy. A meal in itself with some naan on the side. 10/10
Workers’ Curry (p. 173) – Tasty, easy to make. A pantry meal in my house, with just a few spices, onions, garlic, jalapeño, canned chickpeas and canned tomatoes. 9/10
Corn on the cob with chili garlic butter (p. 32) – Spicy garlic and hot pepper butter, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of sea salt on corn charred over a gas burner on the stovetop. Super easy, convenient, and the RESULTS. 10/10
Spiced potato tikki (p. 46) – Deliciously spiced, but very spicy. Needed the yogurt and mint chutney to cool it down. A bit delicate in the pan, but stays together if you are very gentle. 9/10
Jaipur slaw (p. 182) – This salad recipe makes enough for 8 people. Very tasty dressing, but could use more—I’d double it. As an aside, this inspired me to look up Jaipur (“India’s famously pink city”), and, wow, it is so beautiful! 8/10
Roasted cauliflower with cumin, turmeric, and lemon (p. 191) – This is not quite as quick and easy as it might be, because it requires blanching in boiling water before roasting, but it is super delicious and crisp and worth it for me. A center stage vegetable. 9/10
Chapatis (p. 196) – Used 50/50 whole wheat and all purpose flour. Quick and easy, but I am used to rolling out pitas and tortillas. They taste hearty but are soft as long as you keep them wrapped up once cooked. Good for strong flavored fillings. 9/10
Aunty Harsha’s naan (p. 199) – Soft and fluffy. They take an hour of rising time, so plan accordingly. Still fairly quick for a bread, and worth every minute. Store leftovers in a plastic bag in the fridge. Reheat by charring on gas burner, like tortillas—watch carefully and turn often, they catch on fire quickly! Slather in butter for breakfast, you will not be sorry. 10/10
Golden Garlic Raita (p. 178) – Really nice taste, very garlicky, not as hot as I thought it would be. 10 minutes to make it, and a great side for meat or a curry. 10/10
Sweet and hot tomato chutney (p. 218) – Spicy spicy and sweet. In that order. 10/10
Mint and yogurt chutney (p. 219) – Very fast with a big payoff in taste. Make ahead. 10/10
Lime pickled onions (p. 221) – Simple as can be, very tasty. Make ahead. 10/10
Pomegranate and mint raita (p. 188) – Good, but too much cumin for me. Husband loved it, though. 7/10
Saffron shrikhand with passion fruit (p. 224) – The shrikhand itself was really good. Light and creamy and I appreciate the idea of just sweetening yogurt, adding some spices, and calling it dessert. The passion fruit sauce—the taste was good, but I didn’t like the crunch of the seeds. It’s a texture thing, may be different for some. 7/10.
Chai-spiced chocolate puddings (p. 227) –These are more like truffles than puddings to me. They were super easy, but I think anyone who expects this to magically transform in to a soft pudding will be disappointed. 6/10
Mango, lime, and passion-fruit jello (p. 234) – Light and sweet and a little sour. Really is delicious with vanilla ice cream. I always think of jello as sort of hokey in an 80’s way, but it was surprisingly sophisticated. 9/10
Fresh lime soda (p. 250) – sweet, tart, bubbly, and refreshing. Summertime bliss. 10/10
- I think Ms. Sodha uses fine sea salt or table salt. I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, and for me everything needed a bit more salting.
- I took out my mini Cuisinart for nearly every recipe. It made everything so fast.
Standout Star Recipe: Eggplant and cherry tomato curry (p. 57), Mint and yogurt chutney (p. 219). I don’t indiscriminately love eggplant, but I do love this eggplant and cherry tomato curry. It’s spicy and flavorful, the vegetables are super soft, it is really easy to put together, and it makes for a very healthy meal. Make sure to have all your ingredients prepped and grouped together and it’s a snap. Reheats perfectly, and is delicious with rice or naan. The mint and yogurt chutney is just so quick to put together, and adds so much to any curry or meat dish. An easy sauce like this is still an extra step for busy cooks, but it is so worth it! It takes the whole meal to another level. I love that these are both so relaxed for the cook, too. The curry is great at room temperature, no need to be cooking right up to the moment you sit down to eat. And the chutney can just be pulled from the fridge when you’re ready for it.
Runner-Ups: Corn on the cob with chili garlic butter (p. 32), Aunty Harsha’s naan (p. 199), Fresh lime soda (p. 250). That chili garlic butter, though. Wow. The naan are wonderfully soft and lovely. So much better than anything you can buy. Flatbreads are my favorite every day kind of breads, and very achievable for non-bakers. If you have trouble rolling them out all the way, roll them to rounds of a few inches, then let them rest, covered, for five minutes and try again. They should be more flexible. The lime soda is just a little joy in this world, maybe for an aperitif before dinner.
Tips and Advice
- The recipe for Eggplant and Cherry Tomato Curry (p. 57) is online! Highly recommend it.
- The recipe for the mint and yogurt chutney is thus: plop into your blender: 5 tablespoons Greek yogurt; 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves; 1 green chili, seeded and sliced ( I used a jalapeño); 1 tsp sugar; juice of 1/2 lemon; and a pinch of salt. Blend it up, taste it, adjust the sugar, salt, lemon if needed, and put it in a jar in the fridge until you need it, up to a couple of days. It’s pretty thin, which I like, but if you want it to be thicker, hold back some of the yogurt from the blender, and just stir it in at the end.
- Check out this Cookbook Companion Content: Short video of how to efficiently roll up the Beet and feta samosas; A cheaters version of Dal Makhani, adapted to use black beluga lentils instead of urad dal (not easy to find here); Recipe for Mango, lime, and passion fruit jello (p. 234), adapted using powdered gelatin.
- Breakdown of types of peppers from Epicurious.
- You can find loads of her recipes online: on her website, on the New York Times’ cooking site, and in The Guardian’s The New Vegan column.
More amazing looking books by Meera Sodha:
East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing. Available from Amazon, Bookshop, or wherever you buy books!
Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy, and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day. Available from Amazon, Bookshop, or wherever you buy your books!