Spices and Seasons, Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors
By Rinku Bhattacharya
Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals. Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few. As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found, and the instructions are simple. Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.
Hello! I am Rinku Bhattacharya the blogger at Spice Chronicles,on my quest to make Indian cooking manageable. It all about Spices and Season, Simple, Sustainable, Indian flavors today. One of the key things I try to do with my cooking is to keep the essence of authenticity, without losing my mind. I have been teaching Indian cooking for over 10 years to all kinds of audiences and Spices and Seasons, was developed to be a cookbook that offered a combination of classic and creative recipes giving readers a selection of their favorites along with ideas for something new. So, right along with your Chicken Tikka Masala, Pork Vindaloo, Saag Paneer (Creamed Spinach with Indian white cheese), you have recipes for spice and herb roasted Chicken and a spiced golden cornbread, that I have fancifully labelled Masala Sunshine Cornbread.
I have also tackled a lot of the pet peeves in this book – I have simplified the basics to a group of 7 spices, that I am calling the essential spice pantry. This is a great start and works for several of the recipes in this book. People also like to see what a finished dish looks like, so there is a photograph for every recipe in the book. Other common points that I have encountered and addressed demystifying the myth of curry powder (yes, it is indeed a myth), addressing the flexibility of using spices and detailed sections on how to build and enhance your spice arsenal.
The seasons part of the book comes from the fact that at heart like most ancient cuisines, Indian cuisine is very eco-friendly and espouses eating and living with the seasons. There is an excitement about welcoming the seasons and the signature produce that is associated with each of the seasons. Now, here I have taken this excitement and translated it into the local offerings. Indians love their vegetables and we take a very Spartan approach to using the vegetables. To that end, you will find recipes for turnips, radishes and broccoli just to name a few overlooked vegetables and lots of ideas on how to use the greens that come with these vegetables. Speaking of vegetables – the book has several vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free recipes. To make it easier for everyone, I have made sure that the recipes are all carefully tagged with the dietary restrictions and are perfectly indexed with separate vegan and vegetarian indexes. What can I say, I really want everyone to feel comfortable working with this book.
Overall, this is a fun time of the year to reach out for a copy of Spices and Seasons, it is May just when the markets are beginning to start full swing. It is that time of the year, you want to try new grilling ideas, such as my Pineapple Chicken Wings. A colorful and sturdy hard cover, the book certainly makes a great gift as well.
About Rinku Bhattacharya
Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”
Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.