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I started a new job recently, still within The University of Manchester, but in a different School. My new building has a BOOK MAN! I am thrilled! My first bargain purchase was this:
My Indian cooking ‘skills’ have extended only slightly beyond using ready made curry powder, so I was happy to see the wealth of vegan recipes in this book – I would say that the majority are, with only a few using ingredients that can’t be replaced.
Today I took a trip to my local Chinese supermarket (mercifully, a 3 minute walk from my office) and bought up a few of the spices and ingredients that were missing from my kitchen. I was intrigued to find some asafetida, which a lot of the recipes call for. I was already suspicious about the presence of the word “fetid” in the name of this spice, but its description in the book’s intro troubled me further…
I got a decent sized jar for a good price though – this was less than £1.50 and should last me a long time!
And yes…..it did smell a bit like devil dung 😦 I thought black salt was bad enough on first whiff, but this stuff stays with you for quite some time. Don’t do what I did and cast off its lid simply in order to grab a lungful of devil dung……just trust me on this one!
In any case, back to my glorious book, full of tremendous full colour shots, just the way I like it! This was the first dish I tackled:
Because I’m a coward, I left out the chilli peppers, but otherwise followed the recipe faithfully. Really, you can use any combination of lentils to make up the required amount, which is what I did. I also bought a big ol’ bag of chapati flour today, so decided to make some flatbreads to go with….
The ghee is easily replaced in both these recipes either with a nice margarine (I use Vitalite) or vegetable oil.
This was actually super easy to make, and very delicious! I now have a huge pot of dhal leftover, but the book promises me it’ll taste even better tomorrow, so lunch is sorted.
I admit that these recipes are not for the casual cooker of Indian food – luckily I already had a lot of these spices in my kitchen, as I’ve collected them over time, so it wasn’t too much of an effort for me to grab another couple.
If you find a good local Chinese or Indian supermarket, though, buying a complement of Indian seeds/spices (ground coriander, ground cumin, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, etc) shouldn’t be TOO expensive, and you can use them for loads of the recipes in the book.
Next I’ll move on to some of the ‘proper’ curries, but this was a good start 🙂