I've been on a buying spree the last couple of weeks - four new cookbooks, all of which seem really exciting, and four spices that I dont even know what to do with because I've never heard of them before. No, I tell a lie, I HAVE heard of one of them - sumac - but never used it (I remember that Mika of The Green Jackfruit has used sumac, so I will go digging in her archives soon for the recipe).
The other three are complete strangers to me, but I hope to get friendly with them in the coming weeks. However, if any readers know what these spices are and how to use them and in what recipes, please dont hesitate to make the introductions! All relevant advice is welcome.
Here are the spices:
Sumac and Haloon seeds
Kamarkas and Tukmaria
And now for my lovely cookbooks - I cant wait to try the recipes! But in the meantime I'm reading them like storybooks, savouring the text and goggling at the gorgeous photos where available!
1. The first one is Suvir Saran's Indian Home Cooking.
The recipes seem reasonably authentic and the photos are lovely. They are mostly North Indian recipes but there are a few stock South Indian ones as well. Not that I'm complaining - I'm happy to make whatever looks and tastes good. Where it originates is secondary.
2. The next one is a beautifully colourful cookbook on Jamaican cooking - Delicious Jamaica.
Better yet, it's vegetarian fare. For a while now, I've wanted to know what to do with the Jamaican ingredients and vegetables that are available at the shop in Telford where I (sometimes) get my Wednesday groceries. And now I can try them out! Yay!
3. The third cookbook is by someone extremely familiar to British folks - Madhur Jaffrey, that diminutive, cute-as-a-button chef who popularised Indian cuisine in the UK. The book is World of the East - Vegetarian Cooking.
It's a nice fat book, and it's got loads of South-East Asian recipes as well as South Asian, so it's a great buy (even if there are no pictures!). I think it's the one that's sold over a million copies... but I could be mistaken. Anyway, lots of recipes to try out here!
4. The fourth and last cookbook, and one that I'm most excited about, is Neelam Batra's 1000 Indian Recipes.
I've only had a cursory look at it, but it has fantastic detail - there are pages and pages of recipes just for making different kinds of dry and wet masala, and that's only the start! It made me want to immediately make all the masalas and store them neatly in labelled bottles, ready for use whenever required. But that's a pipe dream, really.
What I WILL need to do is scale down the masala recipes, because the proportions given in the book will make way too much to be finished before their recommended shelf life (unless you're running a restaurant, that is). But Ms Batra's book is seriously exciting - and I'll be trying out the non-vegetarian recipes on Pete and his family!
Tell you what, though... all these cookbooks and their wonderful recipes make me want to resign from my job and take up full-time occupation of the kitchen. If ONLY someone would pay me to do that!