Noorbanu Nimji and Karen Anderson, 2015
If you love Indian food and want to learn how to cook it at home, A Spicy Touch is most definitely for you. Nimji has been cooking for, and with, her family for 60 years and she is sharing not only her family recipes, but also her experience and kitchen. Working with Karen Anderson (of Calgary Food Tours), the two passionate cooks help you understand the fundamentals, the true colours and textures that make this cuisine so enticing.
To start, there is a wonderful glossary of spices used along with their flavour profile. There are recipes for the basic spice mixes and pastes used repeatedly throughout the book, and lists of pantry items (with useful packaging pictures) to have on hand. Nimji emphasizes the necessity of being prepared to cook – reading the recipe, preparing
ingredients, and understanding how to extract the flavours. Everything starts with spices and their tempering, a process of heating the spices before adding the other ingredients, followed by wonderful step-by-step instructions detailing what to look for through the building of flavour process.
Although these may be Nimji’s family favourites, it is clear that Anderson has adopted these for her own family, and provides the reader with helpful hints on today’s concerns of healthier eating, as well as fast preparation. There is even a turmeric-infused chicken soup as a cure for the common cold (no guarantees however!) and their version of pizza, “Pi-naan-za”.
The chapters of the book are indeed laid out like an Indian feast from start to finish. Although some recipes may seem daunting, some are labelled fast and easy, and all have being prepared as a common thread. So there’s a little reading and a little work ahead, but butter chicken here we come!