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Indian Cooking Resources

Our favorite Indian cookbooks, cooking blogs, and how-to videos

Indian cooking

Understanding the foods of India, with its many cultures, cooking techniques, and cuisines, requires guidance—lots of guidance. As we were testing recipes and putting together our August/September 2014 special India issue, there were several cooking resources—books, blogs, and videos—that stood out for their usefulness. Here, nine of our favorites.

by Smita Chandra
For this historically minded cookbook, Kerala native Smita Chandra drew on her family recipes and travels, starting with the ancient cuisines of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar and leading up to the fusion dishes of contemporary cooking. Discover the lavishly spiced dishes of Southern India, the royal cooking of the moghuls, and the European-influenced recipes of Goa, Bombay, and Calcutta, alongside scholarly tracts on geography and eras. The novice-friendly cookbook offers substitutes for hard-to-find ingredients and specialized cooking tools for mouth-watering recipes, including Moghul grilled chicken in tomato cream sauce, Goan shrimp curry, and Tamil Nadu okra with cashews and coconut. —Kellie Evans

Ecco, 2001; $1
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by Pushpesh Pant
At 960 pages, this tome bears a likeness to an encyclopedia in both heft (it's the thickness of a telephone book) and scope (it contains more than 1,000 recipes). Detailed guides in the back of the art-filled book break down ingredients and cooking tools needed for its vast collection of recipes, including luxurious carrot halwa from the North, Goan prawn curry with coconut and tamarind, and Kerala fiery prawn curry. —Kellie Evans

Phaidon, 2010; $50
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by Raghavan Iyer
Bombay born Raghavan Iyer tackles India's vast range of curries in this focused compendium. Starting with basic spice blends and pastes, Iyer guides home cooks through recipes both familiar (pork vindaloo) and unexpected (pigeon pea fritters with a yogurt-tomato sauce). The book is rounded out with accompaniments, including rice, breads, chutney, and raitas, or yogurts, as well as useful charts on shopping and flavors. —Kellie Evans

Workman, 2008; $26
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by Madhur Jaffrey
Grande dame of Indian cuisine Madhur Jaffrey celebrates the home cooks of India with vibrant recipes named for individuals around the country. Organized by region, chapters offer soulful overviews of the subcontinent's varied cuisines, along with tantalizing recipes like Promila Kapoor's cauliflower with potatoes in Punjab and Shoba Ramji's ginger chutney in Kerala. —Kellie Evans

Atheneum, 1985; $25
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This retro edition of Time Life's Foods of the World series is no longer in print, but it is worth hunting down a used copy. While some of the information has dated (like a note directing cooks to Asian grocery stores to find fresh ginger), its 100 recipes—including baked stuffed eggplant, curried steamed clams, and puri—and the gorgeous photography of Indian culture are timeless. —Kellie Evans

Time Life Books, 1969; out-of-print, used copies from $9
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by Sarla Razdan
From the sweeping Himalayas and their foothills bright with saffron to the placid lakes of Srinigar, Kashmir is exquisite. The gorgeous landscape yields a fascinating cuisine, and both are represented in Sarla Razdan's book. Indigenous ingredients—pumpkin, wild greens and fungi, lotus root, lamb—render unique and delicious dishes such as kangach pulao, a saffron-tinged rice earthy with morels; kabargah, bite-size hunks of crispy fried lamb rib; and Kashmir's rich doon chetin, walnut chutney. The recipes don't hold American cooks' hands, but with some practice, they yield the riches of an under-represented region. —Betsy Andrews

Roli Books, 2011; $40
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by Rocky Mohan
There is no Indian feast as fabled as the Kashmiri wazwaan, a Muslim meal of 36 dishes, nearly all made with lamb. The banquet has its origins in the 15th-century conquest of Turko-Mongol ruler Timur, who brought along skilled cooks. Their descendents, called wazas, cook over open flames and serve guests copper platters mounded with rice and fragrant meats. With this book, you can execute a wazwaan like a pro. A visual ingredients glossary fronts elaborately photographed recipes for toothsome dishes like tabak maaz, turmeric-seasoned, pounded, and fried lamb ribs, and spicy rogan josh tinged red with cockscomb flower. —Betsy Andrews

Roli & Janssen BV, 2007; $2
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By Colleen Taylor Sen
The latest in the Food and Nations book series, Colleen Taylor Sen's interdisciplinary history of the culture surrounding India's food is a comprehensive addition to any library. Not only does the book examine India's history and culinary developments from the prehistoric through present day eras, it also interweaves snippets of literary works and recipes that are now enjoyed worldwide. Sen follows various influences on modern Indian cuisine, including religion, climate, and colonialism, and concludes with a chapter on the assimilation of Indian influences in nations around the world, giving thorough insight into one of the world's most diverse cuisines. —Laura Loesch-Quintin

Available November 15 from Reaktion Books, $30
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2014 Editors' Choice winner of the Saveur Best Food Blog award for regional cuisine
From her kitchen in the San Francisco Bay Area, Prerna Singh weaves together heartwarming memories and mouthwatering recipes from her home country of India. Vivid photographs accompany her clear and simple recipes, making Indian cuisine both fun and accessible. From basic homemade naan to more elaborate dishes such as methi murgh, chicken with fresh fenugreek leaves, and shrimp sizzler with tandoori masala, Singh emphasizes healthy, family-friendly recipes by drawing inspiration from her childhood. —Emily Carter

Cooking channel produced by Sanjay Thumma
In less than 10 years, Hyderabad born chef Sanjay Thumma has amassed nearly a thousand cooking videos on his highly regarded YouTube channel VahChef. With an emphasis on quick, healthy Indian meals, Thumma's videos are high-energy and fun, making them popular among young families and Indian expats around the world. Each 2- to 10-minute video focuses on a single dish; expect everything from Hydrabadi mutton biryani to quick raitas and chutneys. Blending traditional and modern techniques, Thumma teaches everything you need to know about Indian cuisine and more. Stay tuned until the very end to catch the chef goofing off for the camera. _—Emily Carter__

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