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Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen [Hardcover]

Monica Bhide , Mark Bittman

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Book Description

April 21 2009
Born in New Delhi, raised in the Middle East, and living in Washington, D.C., acclaimed food writer Monica Bhide is the perfect representative of the new generation of Indian American cooks who have taken traditional dishes, painstakingly prepared by their Indian mothers and grandmothers, and updated them for modern American lifestyles and tastes. Respectful of the techniques and history of Indian cuisine but eager to experiment, Bhide has written simple but deeply flavorful recipes. Modern Spice takes the vibrant tastes of India into the twenty-first century with a cookbook that is young, fun, sassy, and bold.

Dishes like Pomegranate Shrimp, Paneer and Fig Pizza, and Coriander-and-Fennel-Crusted Lamb Chops are contemporary and creative. Bhide pours Guava Bellinis and Tamaritas for her guests, and serves Chile Pea Puffs and Indian Chicken Wings; instead of Chicken Tikka Masala, she serves Chicken with Mint and Ginger Rub. Make-ahead condiments such as Pineapple Lentil Relish and Kumquat and Mango Chutney with Onion Seeds add a piquant accent to the simplest dish. There are plenty of options for everyday meals, including Butternut Squash Stew with Jaggery, Indian-Style Chili in Bread Bowls, and Crabby Vermicelli, along with plentiful recipes for elegant dishes like Tamarind-Glazed Honey Shrimp and Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Paneer. For an original and effortless finish, spoon Raspberry and Fig Jam Topping over tart frozen yogurt or a store-bought pound cake, or if you have more time, tempt guests with exotic sweets such as Saffron-Cardamom Macaroons or Rice Pudding and Mango Parfait.

As Mark Bittman says in his foreword, "there is not a cuisine that uses spices with more grace and craft than that of India," and Bhide's recipes do so, but without long and daunting lists of exotic ingredients. In keeping with its local approach to global flavors, Modern Spice includes a guide to the modern Indian pantry and Monica's thoughtful, charming essays on food, culture, and family. Eight pages of gorgeous color photographs showcase the recipes.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 21 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416566597
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416566595
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 18.8 x 23 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 771 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #459,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"At once contemporary and rooted in tradition, sophisticated yet straightforward, creative but comforting, Modern Spice is perfectly suited to the times; it offers new directions, interpretations, and ideas for taking Indian food to the next level. Thanks to enriching personal and informational essays, Modern Spice is also a great read." -- Steven A. Shaw, author of Asian Dining Rules and director of

"Monica Bhide -- a proven expert in all things South Asian -- has compiled a witty and practical guide to Indian-style cooking. Her recipe for curried egg salad is alone worth the price of this book." -- James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief, Saveur, and author of Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore

"For those of us who love Indian food and want to cook it at home, Modern Spice is the cookbook we've been waiting for. Monica Bhide's simple, flavor-packed recipes make this exciting cuisine modern, accessible, and right at home in the American kitchen." -- Victoria von Biel, Executive Editor, Bon Appétit

"Monica Bhide is a mistress of spices who uses them like enchanting spells. Her recipes will take you to distant lands but bring you right back home with their taste and ease!" -- Chef Art Smith, television personality, award-winning chef, and author of Back to the Table

"The real spice in Modern Spice is love! No one writes about food with as much joy as Monica Bhide does. Her passion makes this book's beautiful stories and recipes a pleasure to read." -- José Andrés host of the PBS series, Made in Spain, and author of the companion book Made in Spain

"Monica Bhide...invites you along for a tasty ride in her forthcoming book, Modern Spice....Bhide offers a modern interpretation of Indian flavors and cooking techniques. The result is something cooks need-- new ways of thinking about common ingredients. -- J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press

About the Author

Mark Bittman is the author of Food Matters, How to Cook Everything and other cookbooks, and of the weekly New York Times column, The Minimalist. His work has appeared in countless newspapers and magazines, and he is a regular on the Today show. Mr. Bittman has hosted two public television series and has appeared in a third.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you afraid to try cooking Indian food? Don't be. Nov. 19 2009
By Suzanne Fass - Published on
First, I must admit that the author is a friend, and that I worked with her on this book. But please don't let that make you think that any praise I give the book is unearned. Believe me, if this book had fallen out of the sky into my kitchen I would also love it.


Reason #1: The recipes WORK. I'm lucky enough to know that Monica tests her recipes, and has people with all different levels of cooking skill test them, too. And she won't let a recipe go until everyone can make it. So even if you are a novice cook, you *can* make these dishes. And if you are already skilled in Indian cooking, you just might find a simpler way to make something you love. Case in point: the recipe for Cream of Wheat and Paneer Pancakes (page 200). When I read it, I recognized it immediately as idli. But where is grinding the grains for it? Where is letting the batter sit overnight (or longer) to ferment? Gone! But what you get is a delicious pancake that works as a side, as a bread, as the basis for a meal.

Reason #2: She is there to guide you through things that might be new to you. It might be a bit much to call this a "Mastering the Art of Indian Cooking," but there is very helpful information about ingredients and techniques that might be unfamiliar. And again, even if you think you know all about them, you just might learn something.

Reason #3: This really is a book for *modern* cooks. Who has time to grind spices, and make complicated multi-day recipes? Very few of us. But even the simplest, quickest recipes are so full of flavor, you'll almost feel guilty at how easy they are. There is no such thing as a recipe that is too simple, as far as I'm concerned, not if the people I serve it to eat up every last bit! When I told the wife of one of my cousins about this -- she's an engineer who was born in the United States to parents from India who live now in North Carolina -- she exclaimed, "I would love that. And my mom would LOVE it, too!"

Reason #4: This is more than "just" a cookbook. Monica writes beautiful essays that may touch your soul, or remind you to call a friend you haven't spoken to in too long, or make you forgive your spouse for a silly argument, or let you marvel at how wonderful simple cooking can be. Even if you never cook anything from this -- although I can't imagine not wanting to -- you can sit with it and have a glass of wine or a cup of tea and lose yourself in her writing.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT cookbook! May 20 2009
By Kristin Ohlson - Published on
There are so many wonderful recipes here, plus I love the little personal stories that Bhide drops into the book, like pearls. I find her recipes for vegetables especially helpful: we're trying to eat less meat in this house, and Modern Spice gives me so many new ways to cook old favorites like eggplant. She's also given me a reason to like green beans. Many nice seafood recipes, too.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal, fresh approach to Indian cooking! Aug. 13 2009
By L. Campbell - Published on
Bhide's third cookbook features sophisticated, boldly-flavored recipes that reflect her unique life experiences in India, the Middle East, and the United States. While the recipes are grounded in traditional Indian flavors, they incorporate ingredients and techniques from many cultures. Each section is preceded by an essay that captures Bhide's relationship to a particular recipe, ingredient, or cooking philosophy. Her recipes are very personal, and the stories behind them are compelling. Like many of Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks, Modern Spice offers a friendly, unintimidating approach to Indian cooking. Many of the recipes feature simple preparations and commonly available ingredients. They are forgiving, and encourage substitutions and creativity. Bhide thoroughly explains spices and herbs which may be unfamiliar, and recommends sources for unconventional ingredients and time-saving commercial products. Recommended for readers who enjoy a blend of recipes and personal narrative, or readers looking for a fresh approach to Indian cooking.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite New Cookbook! May 7 2009
By Tara W. Dahill - Published on
"Modern Spice" is hands-down my favorite new cookbook. I am reading it cover to cover, and I simply can't say enough good things about this book. For those out there who fear the exploration of this cuisine, let "Modern Spice" be your guide. The pantry chapter alone will allay your fear of mysterious spices and by the time you've gotten to the first recipe you'll be chomping at the bit to get to your stove.

"Modern Spice" is more than a cookbook; its a deeply personal exploration of food, family, culture and more. Monice Bhide's passion for life and food is infectious - it will draw you in, keep you reading, and encourage you to explore. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this treasure - your heart and your palate will thank you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Indian recipes that work in an American kitchen Jan. 27 2011
By K - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This cookbook has been a great addition to my kitchen. While I love Indian food, I often struggle to pull off recipes in my own home because it's difficult to obtain the right ingredients. Fortunately, many of the recipes in this book use recipes that are easy to access (yes, I had to make a special trip to Whole Foods for some, but that's still obtainable). And while the ingredients are easier to find, the recipes are still inventive and interesting (it's more than just a book filled with dal and chicken recipes). I personally enjoyed the short stories scattered throughout the book. However, they don't dominate the book, so if they're not your cup o' tea, you won't be too distracted by them. The photographs in this book are mouthwatering, and will make you want to try every recipe. Not only has this book become a staple in my kitchen, but I have given it twice as a gift to adventurous cooks, with rave reviews from the recipients.

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