I had high expectations for this book but, in the end, I can not recommend it.
I found this book in the wonderful, old-fashioned Shackford's Kitchen Supply in Napa, California and I couldn't wait to try the recipes. Since I prefer to grind my spices as needed, I was undaunted by that aspect of the book. I get most of my whole spices from World Market, or an Indian grocery store. I did have difficulty finding the whole allspice (I don't normally use allspice), but I eventually found the berries at Smart and Final.
The first dish I tried from this book was Moussaka with Artichokes, Tomatoes and Potatoes. The note for this recipe indicated that this dish baked in a slow cooker "may be a bit juicier than if baked in an open casserole dish in the oven." Perhaps I am arguing semantics here, but I would describe the resulting dish as "watery" rather than "juicy." I have never tasted actual moussaka before, so I cannot say whether this dish tasted similar, but I did not care for either the flavor or the consistency. I will not be making this dish again.
The next dish I tried was Creamy Dal because I am on a continual search for a recipe for whole lentil Indian dal that rivals the dals served at my favorite Indian restaurant. This was not it. The recipe calls for 4-5 cups of water, indicating that 4 cups would produce a stew consistency, whereas 5 cups would produce a porridge consistency. Since I like the consistency of my dals somewhere in-between, I used 4-1/2 cups of water. However, the finished dal was extremely soupy - so much so that I believe the minimum four cups of water would still have made it too watery!
In addition, I found that the proportions of the spices indicated in the Creamy Dal recipe were odd. The recipes in my Indian cookbooks use larger quantities of spices than this recipe did. I was especially baffled by the "pinch of curry to taste" which was to be added at the end of the cooking time. In my experience, if curry powder is used, it is usually included with the rest of the spices at the beginning of the cooking time, and it is measured in teaspoons rather than "pinches". When the Creamy Dal was finished, the resulting dish was bland in comparison to the dals I have been served at Indian restaurants or even in comparison to those I have made by following recipes in other cookbooks. According to the options given in the recipe, I had already increased the amount of chili when I added the spices to the onion but, in the end, the balance of spices wasn't right. I added more curry powder "to taste," which improved the dish somewhat, but I will not be making this recipe again either.
The third dish I made was Risotto with Lentils. I have made traditional risotto several times at home, as well as enjoying it in restaurants, so I have a fair understanding of what a risotto is and how it is made. I was surprised by the fact that the recipe called for water rather than vegetable stock and wine, since a lot of the subtle flavor in a risotto is supplied by the liquid. I also suspected that the stated amount of liquid might be excessive but I chose to give the author the benefit of the doubt. The recipe doesn't indicate what kind of lentils to use (black, brown, red, yellow, or green) or whether they are whole, split, or hulled - the cooking times vary for the different forms of lentils; however, since there appeared to be hulled, split yellow lentils in the photograph that accompanies the recipe in the book, that's what I used. Aside from that minor glitch, I followed the recipe faithfully.
The serving suggestion for this recipe was to accompany it with grilled vegetables, which I did. The vegetables were excellent; the risotto was overcooked and gluey. A risotto, by definition, should be creamy while the grains of rice remain separate and firm. This dish was a viscous mush, and it didn't even have much flavor! It was a complete waste of ingredients, time and energy: I threw it out. I will definitely not be making this again!
After three disappointing recipes, I am reluctant to try any more from this book. I like the theory behind this book. I agree with the practice of grinding spices as needed. I also agree with the practice of cooking some ingredients outside of the slow cooker and then adding them to the dish instead of cooking everything in the slow cooker. However, these principles can be applied to any slow cooker recipe. The fact remains that, while the recipes in this book may seem gourmet, those dishes I tried were extremely disappointing. I have had excellent results with recipes from the books "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker" by Robin Robertson and "125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes" by Judith Finlayson, so I will continue to use them instead. I would recommend either (or both) of these books instead of "The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker."