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Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking

(article, Caroline Cummins)

Jaffrey got her start as an actress (and recently appeared on Broadway), but she's been writing cookbooks for more than 30 years. Her early books, including the 1982 publication Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking, revolved around just one basic idea: simple Indian cooking for the Western home kitchen. 

This is tougher than it sounds; most of us, as Jaffrey points out, lack tandoor ovens in our kitchens, or access to the incredible variety of fresh, local produce available around India. (Just this summer, in fact, will the U.S. lift its longstanding ban on mango imports from India.) So her translations of Indian dishes both classic and creative are minor miracles of substitutions, measurements, and techniques.


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Jaffrey's recipe for Leavened Oven Bread (Naan), for example, explains how to use an ordinary broiler-equipped oven to replicate the puffy, charred perfection of the Indian original. (She doesn't mention it, but her recipe — which takes two hours, tops — provides the satisfaction of chewy, yeasty bread in far less time than most Western loaves.) Her ingredients are all readily available in most American supermarkets, and she explains everything — from equipment to techniques to the history of garam masala — in a chatty tone utterly lacking in condescension.

Slim and straightforward, Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking is both handy reference and reliable guide, a book of basics that produces quick, delicious versions of Indian fare.

p(bio). Caroline Cummins is the managing editor of Culinate.

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