Who knew there were so many Indian Cookbooks to choose from! It took me a while to choose the right one to fit our family’s lifestyle and budget … and it had to have pictures – (I ‘m no Julia Child’s- trying to master the art of Indian cooking, although, if you are into that, there is that book too!).
After looking at at least 10 cookbooks, I found one called “Best Ever Indian Cookbook-325 Famous Step by Step recipes for the greatest spicy and aromatic dishes”. The book is easy to follow with a picture for every recipe – and- it meets another vital criteria for me – it had to have good Chapatis and Nan bread recipes.
Speaking of bread, I came home on Sunday afternoon to practice my bread-making skills. I grew up in a family with secrets. There was always a secret to every prized recipe in my home and my mother would not tell us until we had earned the trust factor – which meant that I had to be old enough to appreciate the food before my mother would divulge the “secret” ingredient in a particular dish. I was in my late 20’s before the coveted Honey Braid Bread recipe was handed down to be kneaded and braided every Christmas for my children. Now, I have “mad skillz” with that recipe to knead the best bread ever (or so says my daughter!). I wasn’t kidding when I said that the criteria for my cookbook was a good Chapatis or Nan recipe; I was going to have to utilize those “mad skillz” for kneading dough.
The Chapatis (sometimes known as Indian Flat bread) was an instant family hit! Chapatis is an everyday bread in the Indian home. I found it to be very rewarding. It is an unleavened bread made with chapati flour, but you can use a combination of wholewheat flour and white all purpose flour to get some great mouthwatering results. It took very little time to make and to eat. Once I made a few, I could not get them into the hands of my family and guests fast enough. Now my whole family is convinced that Chapatis is the perfect accompaniment for any Indian dish (several kids said they want wouldn’t mind it at every meal, regardless of whether it was Indian fare).
( a few changes) Serves 4
2 cups flour ( 1 cup wholewheat, 1 cup white flour)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
Mix flour and salt. Make a well and add water. Mix well, form a dough and then knead for 7-11 minutes. Make at least 8-10 round balls and with a little flour and the rolling pin-roll out into circles ( like a tortilla). Heat a pan or skillet, add a little oil and cook the chipatis until it looks like a little like a pancake. Eat warm!
More surprising to me was the Basmati rice. This was my second attempt at the aromatic grain. Basmati rice has been around for thousands of years. This elegantly thin and aromatic rice used to be the main dish for royalty in many cultures. Historically, the best basmati comes from the foothills of the Himalayan mountains and is aged to get a better tasting product. Today, I used a regular grocery store basmati. Later on this week, I plan to go by a few Indian stores in Durham I have discovered online and I will see if I can get a better quality grain.
In the end – I have to say, this meal was very dignified. I do not think the ancient royals would have complained too much.