- Paperback: 203 pages
- Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre; 1 edition (Aug. 22 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1553651847
- ISBN-13: 978-1553651840
- Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 1.6 x 29.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 794 g
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine Paperback – Aug 22 2006
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"Filled with incredible recipes, creative, thoughtful technique, and delightful stories, Vij's invites the home cook into the bustling kitchen of what has been called one of the finest Indian restaurants in the world." (Cookbook Digest 2007-02-01)^"Admit it. You get cravings for Indian food. But it's time to look beyond takeout standards like butter chicken. These days, Indian-inspired menus mix and match cultures and tastes. Invite friends for a buffet full of flavour and spicy aromas, and rent a Bollywood movie. Go Indian -- it's a memorable way to entertain." (Style at Home Magazine 2007-03-01)^"From the twin kitchens of their wildly successful restaurants, Vij's and Rangoli, and now in the pages of their cookbook Vij's: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala have changed the way we experience Indian food." (Eat Magazine 2007-05-30)^"[The recipes are] made all the easier by clear instructions and an excellent introductory section called 'In the Indian Kitchen' that elucidates both technique and ingredients." (Focus Magazine 2007-07-01)
About the Author
Vikram Vij was born in India and grew up in Amritsar and Mumbai. He studied hotel management in Salzburg, Austria, before moving to Canada to work at the Banff Springs Hotel. He opened the original 14-seat Vij's Restaurant in Vancouver in 1994.^Meeru Dhalwala was born in India but moved to Washington, D.C., at a young age. Prior to moving to Canada, she worked on human rights and international development projects. She and Vikram live in Vancouver.
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The book starts with a detailed explanation of, and some colloquial terms for, the Indian spices and ingredients used within the text that the average North American might not be familiar with. The step by step recipes are simple, and often complimented by narrative explaining differences in methods and results, esp. between the Vij and Dhalwala families.
The tone of the work is very personal and casual; encouraging the reader to experiment with the basic palette of ingredients & spices presented, to create the flavour and texture best suited to their family's taste.
An absolute joy to have added to my kitchen reference shelf!
I just prepared an Indian dinner and prepared a number of recipes from the cookbook. Some were definitely home-runs, particularly the beef short ribs. A few were total failures, and others would have been if I had not made adjustments. Examples:
1) The spiced roasted nuts called for 1 TABLEspoon of salt for one pound of nuts, which made them essentially inedible (and I am fond of salty snacks, and I don't have any particular concern about the health effects of salt).
2) The spiced candied walnuts were also too salty, to my palate at least.
3) Vij family's chicken curry also called for a TABLEspoon of salt for a sauce that was only about 3 cups liquid--learning from my nut experiences [and common sense] I cut this down to 1 tsp, which was more reasonable. The sauce broke down and ended up very oily, so I used an immersion blender on it and it came out great.
4) The sturgeon and mussels in the tomato cream curry also called for a TABLEspoon of salt in about 6 cups of broth--I put in about half that and still found it a bit too salty. This whole dish left me wanting for something: The extra salt notwithstanding, it seemed mainly sour--I can think of a bunch of different ways I would rather have mussels, anyway.
5) The long green beans and potatoes were good with about half the recommended salt (again, a TABLEspoon in about 7 cups of liquid). This dish pointed out another oddity in the recipes: Sometimes, the ratio of the ingredients didn't make sense: Do we really want 9 oz of potatoes and 9 oz of green beans in 7 cups of liquid? I mean, that is soupy even for soup.
6) Along these lines, I liked the sauteed arugula and spinach with paneer (after cutting the one TABLEspoon of salt back), but the recipe ends up with 2 pounds of greens for 9 oz of paneer. The photo shows the dish as I presented it, with maybe 10 leaves of greens per hunk of paneer. That was great, but it left me with a huge amount of leftover greens in coconut curry, which didn't make sense ot me. If I had put them all on the plate they would have totally overwhelmed the paneer.
7) Same issue with the seasonal vegetables with black chickpea rice. Great dish (reducing the TABLEspoon of salt in the vegetables to a teaspoon or so), but as written you will end up with, oh, about 6 times as many vegetables as you want.
8) The black chickpea curry would have turned out watery and bland if I had followed the recipes and used 9 cups of water for the already soaked chickpeas plus an additional 2 cups for the masala. After I cooked the chickpeas, I put in a minimal amount of the cooking water in with the masala (just enough to submerge the chickpeas). They ended up being spicy and delicious--the best chickpea curry I have ever had. Oh, I also pureed a bit of the chickpeas to thicken the sauce, which worked nicely. Another salt mystery: This recipe calls for only 1/2 Tablespoon of salt in 11 cups of fluid plus the chickpeas and masala. This would almost certainly have not been enough.
9) The beef short ribs were truly excellent, though I decided to brown them before braising them. I will make these again. And one final salt mystery: This recipe calls for no salt at all!
One final note: These recipes call for an appalling amount of oil and ghee--often 1/2 cup per recipe. In some cases this is essential for cooking the onions and the spices properly. But in some cases it was just plain oily. In the future I might start with half of the required oil or ghee and add extra if needed.
All in all, I am glad that I have the book and will be using it again. But the novice cook should approach these recipes with caution. If you want a more reliable (and more traditional) cookbook, check out Camillia Panjabi's "50 Great Curries of India."
Strongly recommended for beginners and veterans of Indian cookery.
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