Sunday, March 12, 2006

New cookbooks, new spices

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.

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!


Anonymous said...

Hi Shammi..Try sumac with fried eggs. Just dust them on the eggs when frying them. TIt is a middle eastern spice blend. The book 'Arabic Table' has recipes using sumac.
I am sure you are inspired to cook with all those cookbooks on hand.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Gini! :)

Mika said...

Hi Shammi- such great books you have bought. I do like to collect such delicious looking spices. The hungry tiger blog has some wonderful recipes with sumac. I have used sumac to make zaatar a middle eastern spice mix with sesame and thyme. It is delicious and I have used zaatar in a couple of recipes in July/August 2005 (making your search easier).

Anonymous said...

Mika, thanks so much for your help :)

Kay said...

Shammi, no idea about the spices! But I'm very sure, you'll love Neelam Batra - I have her 'Indian Vegetarian'... It's very good. I love her style of writing. I got this book from a US library - tried 2 dishes and was hell bent on buying that book. It was that good! :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Shammi

Tukmaria seeds are the seeds which are used in falooda. (Hope you have had the drink ) The seeds are those which float in the bottom and are absolutly delicious. Just soak them for about 5 min in hot water, drain and use. use china grass (looks like vermicelli) with it. hope this helps


Anonymous said...

hello shammi
i am new to your blog recipes but being an avid cook i tried a few and glad to say they were all great. thanks and keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm an Israeli and sumac is widely used here as a garnish for raw onion rings. These are eaten as a snack with falafel or salad. Other uses are: part of the spice mix for shredded lamb meat, part of salad sauces, garnish for tahini, and also in stuffed meat dishes. It has a slightly sour taste, so you have to use only a small amount.

fatmanyash said...

yes sumac has a sour kind of taste , and is mixed with onion rings and used as garnish for arabic kababs, or a sald dressing for cubed vegetable salad called fattoush(alongwith lemon and olive oil).toukmaria are kind of tulsi seeds,which u soak in water and use for falooda. i dont know abt haloon and kamarkas though..