19 September 2013

Dining With The Maharajas

Rarely does a cookbook arrive that is not just a cookbook but a work of art.  Neha Prasada's Dining With The Maharajas:: A Thousand Years Of Culinary Tradition is a work of art masquerading as a cookbook. I had read a reviews of this book and stuck it on my Amazon wish list, only to have a friend snag a copy for me. 

When it arrived, it was in a box all its own.  When I took it out of the box, I found it was covered in a lovely, dark-blueish, purple. At that point, I was afraid to touch it.  when one does touch, it is big and has a tri-fold cover.  So it needs a big space to really look at the book.  Yes, it has lots of recipes and stunning photos by Ashima Narain. Since the book is a such a "coffee table" experience, the published added a small, plain booklet of recipes, a kitchen copy to preserve the integrity of the book while making cooking from its pages a bit easier.

To give you an idea of the lavish entertaining in the book, you will find photos like this one.
Here the granddaughter-in-law of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, and her daughter are beside a small 108-foot teak table.  The table will seat you and 100  friends for dinner.  Alas, the palace is now a hotel.  Despite its lavishness, the book features solid Indian recipes that anyone with the right spices could cook, even if your table only seats four.

Safed Keema

Minced meat with capsicum

Chicken mince (keema) 1 kg/2.2 lb
Capsicum (Shimla mirch), chopped 4
Ghee/Refined oil 2¼ cups/250 gm/9 oz
Onions, medium-sized, sliced 4
Ginger (adrak) paste ½ tsp / 3 gm
Garlic (lasan) paste ½ tsp/3 gm
Garlic pods, finely chopped 200 gm/7 oz
Green chillies, ground to paste 6
Green coriander (hara dhaniya), chopped 1 bunch
Mint (pudina), chopped 1 bunch
Juice of lemon (nimbu) 1

• Heat the ghee or oil in a wok (kadhai); add half the sliced onions and capsicum, fry till it turns yellow (not pink or brown).
• Add the minced meat, salt, ginger and garlic pastes; mix and fry for a few minutes.
• Add the chopped garlic, green chilli paste, green coriander, and mint. Pour some water and cook till the meat is soft.
• Then add the remaining sliced onions and capsicum; cook till the mixture is dry.
• Add the lemon juice, mix (not cook) and serve.
 While this might not be the one book you need on Indian cooking, it is certainly a book for a cook that has ever been mesmerized by India.

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