Sunday, 16 May 2010

[book review] the indian vegan kitchen

I picked up the Indian Vegan Kitchen (by Madhu Gadia) at the beginning of April, on recommendation of my friend Christine. She had very complimentary things to say about it, and it had clearly made an impression on her so when I saw it in Dymocks I thought I'd bring it home and give it a go.

In the intervening six weeks I've made six recipes from this book, which I think has given me a pretty good basis from which to stand as I say: this is a really good book. There's lots of variety in the recipes, both flavour and heat-wise, and there's variety in their difficulty, too: some are very difficult, some are easy, and some are middling in their difficulty. There's also a nice collection of different types of food: entrees + finger food sort of things; main meals; desserts + drinks; and an attempt at barbecue foods, which I appreciated (and hope to try). And a whole lot of breads. A lot of the recipes in the book are fast to make, but some do require sitting time (such as soaking).

The recipes, to my taste, were a little bit hit or miss but mostly hit.

creamy mushroom curry + curried potatoes

We started with the curried potatoes (pg 100) (gf) and the creamy mushroom curry (pg 103) (gf), the latter of which was cooked by Danni. I found the curried potatoes a bit too dry for my tastes, though the flavour was quite nice. The creamy mushroom curry was really delicious, not as creamy as I had expected but a nice mushroom flavour without being overwhelmingly mushroom-y. I definitely plan to make the mushroom curry again (or have Danni make it).

rajmah + cabbage mixed vegetables

Next up was the rajmah (pg 120) (gf) and the cabbage mixed vegetables (pg108, gf). The cabbage mixed vegetables were a bit same same - you really need to like cabbage to get into this dish, and it was very understated. It's not really my thing, though it was good to have the contrast to the rajmah, which was full flavoured and quite tasty. I will make the rajmah again, but I've made plenty of mixed vegetable dishes and the cabbage was nothing exceptional.

chickpea noodles

I love a good noodles, as I've mentioned many times, so I thought I'd give the chickpea noodles (pg 149) (gf) a go. These were not my thing at all - the flavour was understated to the point of being bland, which is not great for rice noodles, and the chickpeas overwhelmed what flavour there was. It was like eating two separate dishes, because you couldn't pick up noodles and chickpeas at once. I added extra cayenne pepper, but all it did was allow me to see through time. Not trying this one again.

tofu and pea curry

The final dish we've so far tried is the pea and tofu curry (pg 176) (gf). This is Christine's favourite dish. The flavour of this one is really good, but I need to work out something to do with the tofu - maybe marinate it first, because it takes a while to soak in the flavours. However the flavour was really good, so I will try this one again. Featured in the back of this photo is my aloo muttar.

So that's the Indian Vegan Kitchen so far! I recommend it, it's going well.


Anonymous said...

OH! The pea and tofu curry is AWESOME! I have made it about 3 times since buying the book and I just NOM it down.

But I do know what you mean about getting the flavour to soak into the tofu - I like the idea of marinating the tofu first. But what will you marinate it with?


steph said...

maybe a chili-tomato chutney?

Madhu Gadia said...

Marinating the tofu is a good idea. How about using the same spices as in the recipe, that way you won't change the flavor. Put half of the spices in the tofu and let it marinade for 1-2 hours, and then add it the dish. Or better yet, cook the dish, 1-2 hours before and the tofu will marinade in the curry sauce. I find some dishes taste better after the spices have sometime to soak in, eg. chickpeas.

steph said...

Hi Madhu, I just found that two hours wasn't long enough to be really delicious - I'm thinking maybe overnight next time. Also maybe extra spices, rather than half and half? Just worried it might reduce the overall flavour, which was brilliant.