The rare nuance of Made in India by Meera Sodha is that the dishes in the book can be made on a weeknight with pantry items that you have on hand—which isn’t often the case with Indian recipes and their page-long ingredient lists. Sodha’s recipes are ones she cooks at home and, without dumbing down, open Indian cooking to those who may be intimidated. We’re all for it.
Here are the first five recipes to try from Made in India:
If you make one recipe:
100 Garlic-Clove Curry. How bad would my garlic breath be after eating this curry, I thought. Amazingly, it was a non-issue. This curry starts with frying mustard seeds and then adding 8 heads of peeled garlic. You then braise the garlic in just water until it turns translucent, creamy, and very mild. During braising, you’ll get a bunch of browned garlic bits on the bottom of the pan that, when scraped up and mixed with tamarind paste and coconut milk, is all the good things about garlic (the toasty, full flavor) and none of the bad (spicy, hot garlic breath).
If you make two:
Roasted Tamarind Chicken with Honey and Red Chili. I won’t shy away from the truth: You’ll need to make some pantry investments for this book. But once you do, you really only need to buy perishables at the store and you can make nearly anything in this book. One of those investments is tamarind paste, which will keep for months. Here the tart, bright ingredient gets mixed with chili powder, honey, and crushed garlic, which you slather on chicken thighs pre-roasting. It’s the Indian equivalent of a complex barbecue sauce with way less work and time.
For your turkey-day leftovers:
Cilantro Chutney. Make a double batch of the chutney (made from cilantro, raw peanuts, and green chilies) for a day-after-Thanksgiving turkey curry—and even spread some chutney on turkey sandwiches for a much fresher leftover game.
For the “I’ve pickled everything” set:
Garlic Pickle. The subtitle of this book should be “Magic from the Pantry.” This is a recipe that can be made with ingredients you are very likely to have at home: garlic, oil, spices, and lemon. It’s an instant pickle of toasted coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and lots of chili powder, golden fried garlic, and lots of lemon juice. It adds a spicy, tangy, addictive addition to savory dishes—even non-Indian ones like grilled chicken or roasted veg.
For snackers who are sick of almonds (and DIYers whose windowsills are filled with herbs and sprouting things):
Sprouted Beans with Garlic, Lemon, and Cumin. The book provides recipes to make a lot of pantry staples yourself, including sprouting beans, which involves nothing more than remembering to rinse and drain the beans occasionally for a day or two so that they sprout tails and get a crunchy texture. Once you congratulate yourself for producing a superfood, instead of eating them raw on a salad, stir-fry the sprouts with browned garlic, tomato paste, cumin, and lemon juice. It’s a crunchy, tangy, healthy side.