01 November 2009

Spice Up Your Life

Binda Grandhi DID send me a copy of her new cookbook, Spice Up Your Life. Grandhi makes food that is healthy, low-fat, Indian, spicy and flexitarian. Being fond of giant slabs of meat, I wasn't sure this cookbook would do anything for me, but even I have to eat vegetables once in a while. The recipes are easy and spicy and they never betray their flavor, even when they are good for you. So many cookbooks offer up "healthy eating" but if you won't eat it, how healthy can it be.

Spice Up Your Life does just that, it gives you spicy and tempting recipes with plenty of chicken and fish for those carnivorous eaters who might balk at anything both vegetarian and healthy. The fish recipes in Spice Up Your Life really shine. As you know, I am not at my best when cooking fish, but these recipes are clever and easy enough for me to try.

There is a great recipe for okra, Southerners are not the only okra lovers out there, it is quite big in India. Not wanting to betray my Southern heritage, but I was never a big fan of okra until I saw it being made by Indian chefs. They manage to cook it in ways that leave it crisp and delightful.

I adore cauliflower curry. Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables but I never thought of a cauliflower/ Brussels sprout curry. It is my favorite recipe in the book, though I must admit I leave out the cashews as I hate nuts in my food.

Another favorite veggie for me are beets. Here is a great recipe featuring beets.

Spicy Beets and Rice

2 c. basmati rice, prepared according to your favorite method and set aside
2 Tbsp. extra light olive oil

1 large sweet onion, diced

2 green chilies, stemmed and sliced in half lengthwise

2 beets (1 lb. each) or enough beets to equal 2 lbs, stemmed, peeled, and diced

1 Tbsp. lime juice

2 Tbsp. powdered, unsweetened dried coconut

salt to taste

1. In a medium skillet, heat the oil. Over medium heat, sauté onions and green chilies for 7–8 minutes. Add the beets; cover and sauté 5 minutes. Add lime juice and coconut powder; sauté for 3 minutes, or until beets are tender. Turn off heat.

2. Add cooked basmati rice and mix until well blended. Salt to taste.

3. Serve as a stand-alone or with another entrée.

Truth be told, I would probably never have put this book on my wish list, and look at all the cool things I would have missed. Shame on me, come on people, lets start moving out of that comfort zone and experimenting with the unusual and even the healthy.

Grandhi has a cool website, The Flex Cook, with more info and recipes. If you are in New York, she has a cooking show, Cooking With Spices, premiering 4 November.

And remember: Eat your vegetables, especially if they are spicy!

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