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Monday, 26 June 2017 15:37

Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook

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Indian Cuisine Cover FINAL Picmonkey

By May Abraham Fridel

American Diabetes Assn., 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58040-599-7

Soft cover, 258 pages $19.95

Asked if he wanted to write about this cookbook, your reviewer was hesitant. While the title is straightforward, it certainly didn’t excite a man who has neither diabetes, nor any special familiarity with Indian food.

However, I do like to cook. My bookshelves contain over 100 cookbooks and after exploring this one, I’ve found it a worthy addition to the collection. The subtitle, Savory Spices and Bold Flavors from South Asia, has much more pizazz than the prosaic Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook and seems more reflective of the diverse and sprightly content within. Photography by Renee Comet is excellent and prods the reader to think, “that looks so good, I must try it.”

Author May Abraham Fridel, a native of the Indian state of Kerala, gives a brief overview of the healthy cooking she grew up eating and preparing, followed by discussion of the basic spices used in Indian cuisine and a listing of what’s needed to stock a pantry (a fairly long and pricey exercise if you secure all the elements). After a short introduction to basic Indian cooking techniques, she jumps in to How-To Recipes in a Learning the Basics section. Following that begins a series of numbered chapters that seem to chart a logical course. Healthy Breakfasts are followed by Appetizers, Snacks and Street Food, then Chicken and Vegetable Curries. Chapter 4 deals with Shorbas (Soups) and Dals. Elegant and Exotic Dinners and Fish and Seafood Delicacies are treated in Chapters 5 and 6.

Just reviewing the ingredients and techniques in all 15 chapters will give the reader some familiarity with Indian cuisine, even if he doesn’t get around to giving any of the 140 recipes a try. That would be a shame, though as the descriptions and color photos are really intriguing.

Chicken Curry in a Hurry might be a good place to start. Fridel suggests the recipe requires just five minutes preparation and can be cooked in 30 minutes. Her introduction informs us that curry comes from the Tamil word Kari which means “sauce.” One suspects that a novice cooking this cuisine for the first time could approximate the finished product by purchasing a pre-made curry powder. However, the author identifies specific spices and amounts for this recipe. Measuring out cayenne pepper and ground versions of coriander, turmeric and black pepper will provide the tyro with some hands-on understanding of the basic flavors that, when mixed with the other ingredients, make up a basic curry.

Other dishes require more time, if not necessarily a lengthy list of ingredients. Slow-Roasted Salmon in Red Marsala is one such offering. Cooking time is listed as just 25 minutes, but preparation takes 2 hours. This sounds daunting, but the instructions are not complex and the time element takes into consideration time the salmon fillets spend marinating.

For home cooks brought up with Western cooking techniques, the recipes may not be all that intimidating. Each includes a brief introduction that will help educate the cook not born into this culture. Recipes are displayed in clear and cogent form. Ingredients are listed with American measurements, as well as their metric equivalents, and each step of preparation is numbered. Cook’s Notes are included which give the novice little extra insights that will make the task easier. A Choices/Exchanges addition next to the ingredients details nutritional aspects of the recipes.

This cookbook is published by the American Diabetes Association, so we’ll have to believe that all the recipes are healthful for folks with diabetes. However, that healthfulness probably doesn’t hurt the rest of us non-diabetics. As someone with no known diabetic issues, Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook seems to be a fine introduction to Indian food and one that tantalizes with some exotic---but not too exotic—ingredients and resulting aromas and flavors.

               

               --reviewed by Trevor Jones