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Traditional Indian Curry in a Hurry

by Babita Taneja and Win Dulai

(Foulsham Publishing, 2005)

Although delicious, most dishes from your local Indian take away are never to be seen in an Asian household. Indian home cooking is a distinct and authentic culinary tradition in which curry powder, pilau rice and balti dishes don’t appear.

Traditional Indian Curry in a Hurry is a lovely cookbook written by two friends who are second-generation British Asian Punjabi women. Authors Babita Taneja and Win Dulai are home cooks, and it’s this approach that makes Curry in a Hurry such a practical guide to Indian home cooking. It’s a rare book that gives easy to use recipes to proper home cooked Indian cuisine, rather than the hybrid Indian food served in British Indian restaurants. And that’s what makes this book so welcome on my shelf.

There are cheats and short cuts, some of which are great ideas and some of which I’m less keen about. Samosa crusts are made from tortillas, endearingly post-modernising this most Indian of snacks. But I don’t like the regular recommendation to use the microwave. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like microwaves. They just don’t feel the right way to cook my lovely organic ingredients.

This book has eight colour plates and is written with a homely slightly Indian English writing flavour. The authors say: “Our main goal is to illustrate that cooking traditional Indian food and being the ‘host with the most’ is not only at the centre of the Indian family and social life. It is enjoyable, easy and a great skill to have and be passionate about. We don’t want the modern British lifestyle to bring an end to a wonderful cooking tradition. We hope that Traditional Indian Curry in a Hurry will encourage young Asian adults to pass on their enthusiasm for Indian cookery to their children – in the same way that we learnt from our parents.”

I’m sure Babita and Win will help lots of young British Asians keep cooking Punjabi-style food, plus introduce lots of other members of the British community to this rich and ancient cuisine.

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