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Anjum’s New Indian – Book Review & Cannellini Bean Curry Recipe

Wish you all a very Happy & Prosperous New Year!!!! May this year be filled with loads and loads of good food :) I know I have been absconding for a while, but due to some personal commitments and and loads of traveling, I just haven’t been able to make time for blogging. But now I’m back, with the review of a wonderful cookbook, that has been due for so long. Josie from Wiley Publishing group contacted me to ask if I was interested in reviewing Anjum Anand’s new cookbook titled “Anjum’s New Indian”. Of course I said yes!

I’ve been a fan of Anjum’s show on BBC and I adore her elegance and simplicity. This new book is a fabulous journey through India’s cuisine. I love the way she has introduced the various regions and their cuisines, with a wonderful write up talking about region and its specialities, the ingredients and spices found there and how they should be used. And the best part of the book – the absolutely gorgeous photographs! To me, cookbooks without photographs don’t make sense. I totally agree with the saying ‘You eat with your eyes first’. While reading a cookbook, it is essential to have good pictures that portray how the dish will turn out.


Here’s a sneak peak into the book!

Click here to visit Anjum’s website and get a preview of the book.

I love Anjum’s New Indian mainly because it breaks the myth about ‘curry’ in Indian food. Most people think of Indian food as rich, spicy and greasy i.e. it should be eaten occasionally. While this may be true about a select few foods, but the  vast majority of Indian food is very light, simple, flavorful and healthy, that can be safely included in everyday meals. Anjum has included a lot of such recipes. Anjum’s perfection is clearly reflected in the first chapter, ‘Before you Start’, where she talks about the common ingredients used and how to select them. For example, she says that Indian food needs the cheapest variety of tomatoes, as we need the sourness in most of our recipes and this is very true! Then she starts out with the basic recipes for garam masala and black masala, which I think is brilliant. It will demystify Indian food to a lot of people who do not understand the spices that go into our food.

The light meals and snacks chapter consists of such a variety of recipes! Some of them are very new to me, like the Steamed spinach and rice dumplings and the Quick bread and vegetable stir fry. The creamy Anglo Indian tomato soup is to die for! I’m a vegetarian, so I cannot comment on the poultry and meat sections, but all you carnivores, go grab the book soon because the photographs look awesome!

The rice, lentils, vegetables and condiments chapters have recipes that range from a normal dal and stir fried vegetables to the exotic Kashmiri pilaf. Then there is the simple tomato rice and Maharashtrian one pot rice for the busy souls. There are a lot of recipes I want to try from this book, but I’ve had a chance to try only a few.

The above picture is the ‘Steamed spinach and rice dumplings’ from the light meals section. These are quick to make, simple, healthy and very tasty. A great way to use up leftover rice too!

The desserts in this book are a very modern interpretation of the classic Indian desserts. The poached peaches with star anise cream, Punjabi cranachan and the coconut bebinca look marvelous and sound sinful. I’m waiting for an opportunity to try these! My new year resolution about weight loss is in serious trouble, I tell you!

Now here’s the recipe for the Cannellini Bean curry from Anjum’s New Indian. Creamy and flavorful!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil – 1/4 cup
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Brown mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fresh curry leaves – 14 curry leaves
Onion – 1 small (chopped)
Ginger – 1/4 inch piece (finely chopped)
Garlic – 5 large cloves (chopped)
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Pure red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Ground coriander – 1 tsp
Coconut milk – 2/3 cup
Cannellini beans – 2 cups (drained and rinsed)
Cherry tomatoes – 10 (halved) (I used regular tomatoes)
Brown sugar or Jaggery – 1 tsp
Tamarind paste – 3/4 to 1 tsp (or to taste, some brands are really strong)
Fresh or frozen coconut – for garnishing
Cilantro – a handful (chopped)

Method:

  • Heat oil in a large, nonstick pan. Add the asafoetida and, once it sizzles, add the mustard seeds. Once they start to pop, add the curry leaves, then the onion and cook until these are soft and golden, around 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the ginger and garlic and garlic and cook for 1 minute over medium heat. Add the salt and powdered spices and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add the coconut milk and 3/4 cup water and bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the beans and tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to marry.
  • Stir in the sugar and tamarind paste, then mash some beans against the side of the pan to thicken the curry a little.
  • Taste and adjust the tartness, sweetness and seasoning to taste. Garnish with the grated coconut and fresh cilantro and serve.

Doesn’t that curry look super delicious!! Do grab Anjum’s New Indian for many more interesting recipes.

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