Lifelong vegetarian and chef Chitra Agrawal takes you on an epicurean journey to her mother's hometown of Bangalore and back to Brooklyn, where she adapts her family's South Indian recipes for home cooks. Read more...
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Lifelong vegetarian and chef Chitra Agrawal takes you on an epicurean journey to her mother's hometown of Bangalore and back to Brooklyn, where she adapts her family's South Indian recipes for home cooks. This particular style of Indian home cooking, often called the -yoga diet, - is light and fresh, yet satisfying and rich in bold and complex flavors. Grains, legumes, fresh produce, coconut, and yogurt--along with herbs, citrus, chiles, and spices--form the cornerstone of this delectable cuisine, rooted in vegetarian customs and honed over centuries for optimum taste and nutrition.
From the classic savory crepe dosa, filled with lemony turmeric potatoes and cilantro coconut chutney, to new creations like coconut polenta topped with spring vegetables 'upma- and homemade yogurt, the recipes in Vibrant India are simple to prepare and a true celebration of color and flavor on a plate. Chitra weaves together the historical context behind the region's cuisine and how she brought some of these age-old traditions to life thousands of miles away in Brooklyn during the city's exciting food renaissance.
Relying on her experience as a culinary instructor, Chitra introduces the essential Indian cooking techniques, tips, and ingredients you'll need to prepare a full range of recipes from quick vegetable stir frys (corn, basil, and leeks flavored with butter, cumin, and black pepper), salads (citrus red cabbage and fennel slaw with black mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chile), yogurt raitas (shredded beets and coconut in yogurt), and chutneys and pickles (preserved Meyer lemon in chile brine) to hearty stews (aromatic black eyed peas, lentils, and greens), coconut curries (summer squash in an herby coconut yogurt sauce), and fragrant rice dishes (lime dill rice with pistachios). Rounding out the book is an array of addictive snacks (popcorn topped with curry leaf butter), creative desserts (banana, coconut, and cardamom ice cream), and refreshing drinks (chile watermelon juice with mint). Chitra provides numerous substitutions to accommodate produce seasonality, ingredient availability, and personal tastes. The majority of recipes are gluten-free and vegan or can be easily modified to adhere to those dietary restrictions.
Whether you are a vegetarian or just looking for ways to incorporate more vegetarian recipes into your repertoire, Vibrant India is a practical guide for bringing delicious Indian home cooking to your table on a regular basis.
Cooking: Winning the weekend
A few years ago, after Anthony Bourdain’s infamous trashing of brunch, I almost gave it up. But that only lasted a New York minute. The leisurely lure of this quintessential fusion meal, which can shift from coffee to cocktails and back again, was too tempting. Now we have Joy the Baker Over Easy, Joy Wilson’s ballad to brunch that sings of colorful combos of sweet and savory, from Fluffy Scrambled Eggs cooked in clarified butter and pecan-flecked Praline Bacon to crustless Spaghetti Quiche and Fried Chicken and Maple Waffle Sandwiches. You can then move on to Blueberry-Pistachio Tabbouleh, Baked Brown-Butter Banana Bread Doughnuts and delicate Lemon Poppy Seed Palmiers. Wilson, aka Joy the Baker, includes salads, sides and a selection of midday drinkables—spicy Micheladas; an elegant, prosecco-spiked Aperol Spritz; or Frothy, Milky, At-Home Mochas. Wilson is an expert in making home-cooked brunch into a joyous, relaxing respite from the relentless quotidian crunch.
INDIA BY WAY OF NYC
Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn, Chitra Agrawal’s debut cookbook, opens up the wonderful world of South Indian home cooking. Lighter than the usual North Indian restaurant fare, this cuisine relies on grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and unique spice mixtures to create complex flavors and some serious heat. Agrawal comes from a long line of strict vegetarians and learned to cook what her mother, aunts and grandmother cooked. She then started experimenting with these traditional dishes from Bangalore, using seasonal produce from local farms and adapting ingredients to suit her bustling life in New York City, where she opened Brooklyn Delhi, a company that produces acclaimed, small-batch achaars, or Indian pickled condiments. From breakfast treats and sensational snacks to salads, stir-fries and soups, Agrawal’s fresh vegetarian recipes are doable, delectable and truly vibrant.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Melissa Clark, celebrated New York Times food writer and cookbook author, wants us to get creative in the kitchen, to get away from the humdrum tyranny of serving the “proper” dinnertime trio of a protein and two sides and get with a new way of cooking dinner. Clark is a proponent of using fabulous ingredients that were once seen as exotic but are now easily available components of our ever-expanding food culture. Each of the more than 250 recipes in Dinner: Changing the Game is a brightly seasoned one-pot, one-bowl dinner. You can add a salad or some crusty bread or just stick with the solo sensation. Clark offers a list of spices and sauces she uses in many of these exciting dishes, such as crispy skinned Sumac Chicken with Plums or Slow-Roasted Tuna with Harissa and Olives. But you can turn out Spicy Stir-Fried Cumin Lamb, Garlicky Calamari or a vegetable-topped Quinoa Egg Bowl without any unusual ingredients. With Clark as mentor, the dinner game has changed—and you’re the winner.