India with passion (without leaving the kitchen)
(The ne plus ultra of insanely hot curry is Curry Hell, created by the late Abdul Latif, Lord of Harpole, who is best known for holding the Guinness World Record for long-distance takeout delivery from Newcastle, UK, to Sydney, Australia. If you finish the dish, it's free.)
I'd probably still harbor suspicions about Indian cuisine, were it not for the existence of such places as Diva in Davis Square, which goes beyond curry and rice to such yummy dishes as tandoor-baked salmon, fried okra, and coconut-cardamom soup. They also have a fabulous cocktail of ginger-infused rum with mango juice and fresh lime, finished with a dash of cayenne pepper. Gives one's tongue a fruity tingle, it does.
While The Boy has become quite adept at throwing together a curry, he's been working from the same recipe for a while. So we picked up India with Passion by Manju Malhi. The book splits the cuisine up by region and hits the high points of each. The recipes are reasonably straightforward (few are longer than this post so far).
As we'd pledged to eat healthily this week, we decided to try something veggie, so made both dal makhani and aloo gobhi. The former is a dish of black lentils simmered with kidney beans and spices; the latter involves cubed potatoes and cauliflower fried with onions and finished with fresh ginger. There was a small amount of prep for both (the fine chopping of pungent ingredients), and the lentils needed to soak for eight hours in advance, but everything came together pretty quickly.
The kitchen smelled wonderful: onions and garlic and chilis and ginger; turmeric and coriander and cumin and garam masala.
India with Passion is also edumacational: I learned that the vicious vindaloo of my youth came to India by way of Portugal--the name is a variation on vinh d'alho (i.e. garlic vinegar), a leftover from Portuguese colonization of the island of Goa.
The book also has chutney recipes (fig, apple, tamarind, garlic), as well as instructions for drinks such as mango lassi and a ginger lemonade with peppercorns and cumin.
Now, I don't want to promise anything, but if we try out a few more dishes, we might need some volunteer tasters ...