Savoring the Spice Coast of India: Fresh Flavors from Kerala

Maya Kaimal, Author Morrow Cookbooks $30 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-019257-0
With northern India's Moghul cuisine now a culinary mainstay in the U.S., Kaimal (Curried Favors) returns to her ancestral homeland on the southwestern edge of the country, where a greater emphasis is placed on ingredients such as coconut, tamarind, brown mustard seeds and curry leaves. (These last are so important that Kaimal even provides a source for curry leaf plants.) Bold flavors are relished in Kerala, even at breakfast, which usually includes Sourdough Crepes or Sourdough Dumplings made with a slightly fermented batter. The primary meal of the day, explains Kaimal, consists of rice, a dry vegetable curry, a wet vegetable curry, a dhal, as well as a dish of fish, poultry or meat, and she provides intriguing examples of each. Beets with Coconut assembles a unique combination of flavors, while Fried Bitter Gourd in Yogurt Sauce celebrates the strong taste of this unusual produce. Eight different dhals are offered, and entr es are as varied and inviting as Stuffed Fish with Sweet and Spicy Masala (masala is simply a spice mixture), Peppery Chicken Curry, Shrimp Biriyani (a casserole with rice) and the ever-popular Lamb Vindaloo, this original version tempered with minced golden raisins. Rice, breads and chutneys also add welcome infusions of taste. This is an immensely appealing book for anyone wishing to expand an Indian repertoire. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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