About Spices and Seasons
Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals.
Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets.
You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few.
As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found and the instructions are simple. Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets, and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.
Title: Spices and Seasons, Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors
Author: Rinku Bhattacharya
Genre: Standalone Cookbook
Length: Approximately 252 Pages
I would like to say a special, “Thank You,” to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for connecting me to this author!
About Rinku Bhattacharya
Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”
Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.
My Interview with Rinku Bhattacharya
Rev. Rebecca: I love food, but I am not particularly talented in the kitchen. Sometimes I struggle to make even simple meals. I’ve always wanted to try cooking Indian food, but I’m afraid that I will be a disaster. Do you have any advice for aspiring cooks like myself who would like to try cooking Indian food for the first time?
Rinku Bhattacharya: Well Rebecca, I wrote Spices and Seasons for people like you. It is about as simplified as the cuisine gets, without loosing its authenticity. There are also a lot of easier recipes with familiar techniques such as grilling or roasting. I would actually suggest cooking those recipes and then moving on to more complex ones.
I have listed an essential spice kit at the beginning of the book, I would suggest starting with that and then building up. In general, it is a good idea to begin getting the hang of things with a few simple ingredients and then using them to build up additional spice flavors. It is much like learning to paint or pretty much learning anything.
Rev. Rebecca: I have friends and family members who are sensitive to gluten. What are some good Indian options from your book that I could make for them?
Rinku Bhattacharya: Other than Indian breads, Indian cooking is largely gluten-free. Of the 156 recipes in Spices and Seasons, only 14 of them contain any gluten. So, really most of the book is perfect for anyone sensitive to gluten.
In addition, my recipes are clearly tagged with most major dietary preferences, you can see right away which recipes are gluten-free. In addition, recipes are marked as Vegan and or Vegetarian. The index at the back also clearly highlights these.
Rev. Rebecca: My husband isn’t a fan of spicy food. Is there a way I could still cook Indian food and have it taste good, but also reduce it’s spiciness?
Rinku Bhattacharya: Actually Page 31 in Spices and Seasons actually addresses just that. These are the tips from that section.
Do not be intimidated or constrained by the number of chilies in a recipe. The preference for heat is much like that for salt, and can be modified to suit the individual palate. If you like it spicy, notch it up and if you like it mild tone it down.
- Spice tolerance seems to be much like temperature preference between couples. I never fail to have pairs in my class where one likes their food spicier than the other. In my household, my children cannot handle the heat, and my husband likes it really hot, so almost all these recipes have been tested with both extremes and the measurements I’ve given offer a comfortable middle ground.
- In case you haven’t noticed, I am trying to dispel the common myth that Indian food is too spicy and that a high level of heat is a hallmark of good Indian food. For the spices to work in harmony, they need to work like an orchestra. Thus the chili pepper is something like the cello or flute section that must blend in rather than dominate.
Rev. Rebecca: What are some of the easiest recipes in your book? Do you have any recipes that you particularly recommend for beginners?
Rinku Bhattacharya: Chicken Tikka Kebabs on Page 39
Warm Red Cabbage Slaw with Pecans on Page 69
Lazy Mulligatawny Soup on Page 95
These are three that you can get started with.
Rev. Rebecca: Do you have a favorite recipe from your book?
Rinku Bhattacharya: That is a tough one, it is almost like choosing a favorite child. I like the lentil and seafood sections. Also, love the Indian for the holidays, I think that is a fun section with festive Indian Inspired recipes.
Rev. Rebecca: I have a huge sweet tooth. Does your book include dessert recipes? I’ve never had an Indian dessert. What are they like? Do you have a favorite dessert?
Rinku Bhattacharya: Well, Indian desserts are often milk based, fragrant puddings, sweet yogurts and then pretty much anything else one can think off. They are often seasoned with cardamom or rosewater.
I love Kulfi – Indian Ice cream, and have a recipe for Raspberry Kulfi in 329, and if you want an Indian flavored cookie, try the ginger and cardamom shortbread cookie on page 339.
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