Indian Cooking Made Easy

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This post is long overdue. Earlier this year (approximately 30 weeks ago according to Instagram) I won the most amazing cookbook from the author herself. When I received the book in the mail I got all giddy to find an inscription inside made out to me from her. The cookbook I’m speaking of is Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. I’ve had plenty of time since the book landed on my doorstep to whip up a few of the recipes. I’m finally ready to tell you all about it.

Vegan Richa has been on my radar for a while. She has the most amazing website and everything she cranks out is gold! I have a bit of a woman crush on her. We’re considering moving close to where she resides in Seattle so I may just have to stalk her. Just kidding!

I never would have thought I would be cooking Indian food so often in my kitchen and having my pantry stocked with things like asafetida, dried mango powder, and nigella seeds. Cooking Indian food seems like a very intimidating task. Probably because of all the foreign ingredients and needing to go to a special store to find them all. Really, obtaining the ingredients is the hardest part. Richa makes Indian cuisine a piece of cake naan and she will have you craving curry like never before.

The first thing I absolutely had to make was the Avocado Naan (p. 190). Nothing in this world beats fresh bread. That might be my only weakness. Luckily, I had all the ingredients on hand so I decided to give it a try. Pure loveliness! Of course they had an awesome green color from the avocado. They were also that perfect combination of soft on the inside and crunchy outside. I could have eaten the whole batch that night, but I was nice and I shared with my family.

That first recipe had me hooked. Unfortunately, life got busy (getting ready for tiny tummy and then having said baby arrive), I didn’t pick up the book for a while. I still thought about all the wonderful things I wanted to make all the time. There is sat, taunting me.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I picked up the book during one of my menu planning sessions and went for it. I planned an elaborate Sunday meal comprised of several recipes. It would take me all day in the kitchen, but I didn’t care. This was going to happen. It did happen and it happened to be World Vegan Day. Well, isn’t that just a nice coincidence?!

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That magnificent dinner that took hours to prepare consisted of:

  • Puffy Restaurant-Style Naan (p.188)
  • Mashed Spiced Eggplant (p.76)
  • Cauliflower, Carrots, and Peas in Coconut Poppy Seed Curry (p.72)
  • Butternut Coconut Red Lentil Curry (p. 121)

We were not disappointed in the slightest. Everything went together really well. I made a pretty darn good menu! The flavors of it all had me amazed. “Did I really make this?” It was restaurant quality and yes I did make it. Thanks to Richa!

This meal started my month of being gluten-free as part of the elimination diet I am doing for tiny tummy. It was perfect since there are so many gluten-free recipes in this book. Plus many of the recipes are soy-free and a lot of them are nut-free, too. Because of this I was able to enjoy a few more recipes the month of November for my gluten-free experiment.

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The next thing I most certainly had to try was the Chickpea Tofu (p.253) and subsequently Chickpea Tofu in Spicy Madras Sauce (p. 163). Ever since going soy-free I have been wanting to make chickpea tofu. I can’t tell you how much I love it. Richa’s recipe is different from how you would normally make it, I think. She has you make it from chickpea flour instead of the dried beans like I’ve seen done before. Her method makes it ridiculously easy. The result is a soft yet firm block of silky goodness. I highly recommend.

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The last recipe I made was Spicy Red Lentil Cauliflower Potato Casserole (p. 136). This was of course another hit. I actually doubled the recipe and I’m glad I did. It is very easily doubled and will fit just fine in a 9 by 13 pan. I was worried about the cooking time with how much I shoved into the pan. I was thinking it wasn’t going to cook or something was going to go wrong and it would be a flop. There was no need for worry. It all cooked up beautifully! That casserole lasted us all week and neither of us was tired of it by the end.

I haven’t got around to making any of the desserts yet. I will one day! Most of them contain nuts so I will have to figure out some way of getting around that. I don’t think replacing them with seeds would hurt their integrity. I have my eye on trying the Doughnuts Soaked in Sugar Syrup (p. 218) or the Fudgy Cardamom Squares (p. 227).

The entire first chapter was written to make you feel comfortable in executing her recipes. She defines everything you need to know about an Indian kitchen. This includes the tools you’ll need, how to prepare specific ingredients, and just what to expect. My favorite part of this chapter is her grocery list. She graciously divides her grocery list into “Must Have”, “Good to Have”, and “Nice to Have” categories. This was helpful in sending papa tummy to our local Indian grocery store. I sent him off with the book and he just went by her list. Now I have a well-stocked pantry that has enabled me to make whatever I want from the book as long as I have the right veggies.

Bottom line is I would not be writing this review if I didn’t think it was worth your money and time. Richa was able to turn something intimidating like homemade Indian food into the comfort food I never grew up with. Her recipes are full of flavor, her instructions are easy, and her notes are incredibly helpful. Everyone should add  Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen to their cookbook collection.

One more personal note: Richa is a super sweet humble lady. I have talked with her a few times through social media and she always answers my questions with kindness and usually very quickly. She also has no idea I’m writing this.

You can buy Richa’s book on Amazon which is on sale right now! Go ahead and get yourself an extra Christmas present.

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