I LOVE INDIAN FOOD. Possibly more than any other culture's cuisine. But I've never been able to make authentic Indian food at home because most recipe books written for an American audience avoid harder-to-find traditional ingredients, like various dals, hing, curry leaves, black mustard seed, etc. And the best Indian restaurants in Memphis are all a good 30-minute or more drive from my house. So I just rarely eat Indian food.
But that's changed with Plant-Based India by Dr. Sheil Shukla. This totally vegan Indian cookbook is written by a doctor who doesn't shy away from traditional ingredients. We have three Indian markets in the Memphis area, so authentic ingredients aren't hard to find here. And really, in this age, you can buy anything online. His recipes are a blend of Gujarati dishes (where his family hails from) and a few modernized recipes that call for less-traditional ingredients, like quinoa. And the photos are GORGEOUS. This hardcover book could double as a coffee table book!
I went to Janta Farmers Market in Southaven and stocked up on ingredients that were called for in multiple recipes and dove right in. I told the clerk, an older Indian gentleman, at the store that I was going to start experimenting with Indian cuisine, and he said "You'll never learn until you dive in." So right! So I dove! Here's what I've made so far.
I started with the Rice Vermicelli and Corn Upma, which is something you'd eat as both a snack or breakfast. I ended up eating it for breakfast for several days. This may have been my very favorite recipe. It has tender vermicelli (a special short version I found at the Indian market) with curry leaves, hing, lots of turmeric, corn, and roasted cashews. Still dreaming about this.
I also LOVED this Roasted Aloo Chat. I'm all about Indian snack foods, but the North Indian restaurants near me don't serve things like this. You've got to drive out to Hacks Cross in Memphis for South Indian, where the chat is more likely to be found. This has roasted potatoes tossed with chat masala (it has black salt and lots of other spices) topped with cilantro-mint chutney, date chutney (recipes for both are in the book), unsweetened yogurt, finely diced onion, carrot, and bell pepper, and sev (the crunchy sticks on top! I love sev!).