'The Indian Slow Cooker' - Updates and Questions

January 19, 2011

Curry ›

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of my first book, The Indian Slow Cooker. It's you who have helped it sell out consistently. And, it's partially because of you that we are now heading into our fifth printing in about four months in the midst of fantastic press. While I continue to recipe test and write, I am also shooting a cooking show with a team of former co-workers in the news business who believe as much as I do that there needs to be an Indian cooking show out there that's for the everyday person --- just like us -- struggling to get good food on the table quickly and effectively. I'm not exotic. I'm not gourmet. I'm certainly no goddess. I grew up in a blue-collar community outside of Philadelphia and just happened to have a foot in the States - with another foot in my country of birth, India. I want you to all realize that learning how to make wonderfully nutritious Indian food is incredibly simple. Adding simple Indian spices to your everyday foods will make them pop with flavor without too much fuss. If I can do it - you can do it. This video clip is part of a 30-minute show that we are editing in the hopes it will be picked up by a station one of these days. In the meantime - enjoy. This is my gift to all of you!

Recently, my book has gotten some great press. The February issue of Clean Eating magazine features The Indian Slow Cooker as part of their Book Club on page 26. Thank you to the editorial team there for recognizing that Indian cuisine is - at its core - incredibly healthy AND delicious. Many non-Indians are just realizing this, while many Indians and Indian-Americans, I argue, have actually forgotten as we've deviated from the cuisine we grew up on. It's comfort food at its best, explained beautifully by New York-based journalist Lavina Melwani on her really fun blog lassiwithlavina.com, where she graciously reviewed my book. The Indian Slow Cooker continues to rank #1 Indian cookbook on Amazon and is listed in the triple digits in terms of ranking. In the Quick and Easy and Healthy categories it's also one of the top. Amazing. Sure that might change, but I'm going to take a second to savor the moment with you.

Ahhh, with the moment of savoring out of the way, let's head to questions:

Salt: Before cooking up my recipes, check out page 31 and my paragraph on white salt.  In all of my recipes I used Kosher or sea salt, which has crystals that are larger than the more-commonly found table salt. If you are using table salt, reduce the amount of salt in my recipes. So, if it calls for 2 tablespoons of salt, use 1 tablespoon or 1 1/2. Also remember that all of my measurements are LEVEL measurements except where I call for heaping. My recipes were written so that you can dole them over rice, sit down at the table and eat without sprinkling more spices or salt over them. This is how I eat at home..but that doesn't mean I presume to know how you eat in yours. To be safe..always start with a little less salt you can add more later and tweak your recipes as needed. Some garam masala blends, I'm hearing, also come with added salt. When purchasing this spice take an extra look at the ingredient list and if it does include salt, adjust the recipes so that it works for you. If a recipe ever feels like it is heavy on the salt...just balance it out by adding a little more water and allowing it to boil, cook a bit more or by adding some milk, cream, or yogurt to lighten up the taste.

Cooking Times: One of the most frequent questions I get is about cooking times. For some, their food cooks faster than what I've indicated. Neither of us is right or wrong. There just simply is no gold standard in slow cookers. You should use my times as general guidelines and know you might end up going a little longer or shorter depending on the type of slow cooker and how old it is. I did have one user say that her beans did not soften after the appropriate amount of time. After some emails back and forth, I realized that likely it was because she has a slow cooker with only an on and off switch. To successfully cook raw beans you should have a high setting in order to really get them to soften and break down.

Can I Shorten Cooking Times?: You absolutely can, especially with the lentils and bean recipes. One way is to immerse them in water and soak them overnight. If you do this, discard the water the next day and reduce the amount of water used in your recipes by 2 - 3 cups. You'll have to be the judge of how much you reduce the water. Just be sure to jot it down so you remember for the next time. Another little trick if you are short on time and don't have time to soak your beans or lentils, is to use boiling water in your slow cooker. You can reduce the cooking time by a few hours with this little trick. Again, you'll have to play with it to get it just right.

When I halve the recipe from a 5-quart to a 3 1/2-quart, what is the cooking time? The cooking time is the same. That's why it was not changed or indicated in the subtext.

Can I substitute other beans and lentils in your recipes?: Sure, why not? I had one friend make the Rajmah recipe on Page 74 out of large, white beans instead of kidney beans. These recipes are simply guidelines and once you become more comfortable working inside the box, you'll become a master at cooking outside the proverbial box.  

Why are there so many damn chickpea recipes in this book? I want more meat! Yes, there are some of you who have been alarmed that indeed there are so so so many lentil and bean recipes in this book. There are a variety of reasons for this. First...that's what many South Asians on a regular day-to-day basis eat. Those dishes that are more familiar to some like chicken vindaloo...chicken tikka masala...butter chicken...are items that are found on most Indians menus outside of India. But, this book is familiarizing folks with homestyle Indian. It's giving you a true window into one aspect of the Indian world. Indian food is one of the few cuisines that truly takes legumes to a whole new level. They are incredibly tasty made this way, and why not try and fit them into your diet if you can. With this book you now have a reason to want to do so.

Man this book is hot - and I don't just mean how fast it's selling: Yep. The dishes are spicy. They are meant to be. That's how we eat this food in our homes. Now, my mother is from a home in India where food is less spicy. In my father's village food is made spicy the way I've indicated in the book. I've eaten in some South Indian's friends'  homes where I could not mange to eat the food it was that spicy. So, there are ranges. Again, I gave you a window into my world with my spice levels. But, you know your palatte. Don't go there if you truly can't handle heat. Work up to it. I'm not judging you. The point is that you should love the food. The food should be delicious to you. Keep in mind as well, that as the dishes sit, the immediate heat of the chili also subsides a bit. If you make a dish and it's a little too much, just add a little milk, cream, or yogurt to it to balance it out. A good example would be to do this for my palak paneer (spinach and cheese) recipe.

Why is my chicken not RED?? Before you go and post a one-star review on Amazon as a result of this, I want you to note that in a normal world chicken is never red. That's right, folks. Not even Indian chickens. You've only been brainwashed to think so (and I was the same until I started to cook myself) because the Tandoori paste in which chicken and other meats are marinated in most Indian restaurants is infused with good old basic red food dye. This chicken is often grilled and served dry. Or, it can be cut up and put into a chicken tikka masala sauce. The chicken tikka masala recipe in my book gets a little bit of redness from paprika. That's it. And, the chicken curry dish on page 108 should be brown in color from the masalas that are added. If you are looking for red chicken curry in South East Asia - that's likely a blend of Indian and SE Asian spices. Often that is served in countries like Malaysia and Thailand. If you want to eat healthier kick the red dye habit to the curb. It's gross and it might even lead to negative behavioral issues in young children. It's totally not worth it. And for the guy in Thailand that just can't understand why he ended up with a greasy mess (ironically that's after 1/4 cup of oil in a 5-quart slow cooker and three pounds of chicken), you are welcome to email me. I'd love to buy my book back from you. This was such a labor of love, I'd rather not have you even be bothered to keep the book a minute longer than you'd want to...My email? anupysingla@indianasapplepie.com.

I'm Indian...and the recipes in this book don't seem authentic: This one I'm a little over the top on. If you are Indian than you realize the country and culture AND cuisine is so vast there is no authentic. I never claimed that this book represents an entire country. We stated in the beginning that it's a Punjabi's take on Indian food. Keep in mind, my husband and I both come from Punjabi families and we still have vastly different tastes in everything from rajmah to kardhi. So, don't review this as 'not authentic'. You might say it's different from what you are used to if you're from another state outside of Punjab..and if you want the recipes to taste closer to home then just make your modifications and notes right in the book. There are many Indian cookbooks out there that I use as a reference but have yet to find one that really rings true to the way I grew up eating - well, except for mine - because I was the one to write this one. I don't criticize other Indian chefs or authors. I just love that they have a different way to speak the same culinary language. Why not mix it up -- and as Indians why not all rejoice in the celebration of all of our points of views? Because there is no one way to cook Indian food.

Simplest of Simple Yellow Lentils (page 55): Cook this one 7 hours on low. I've also clarified that this is the moong dal: dried split, and skinned yellow moong dal.

Simple Spinach and Lentil Soup (page 56): Cook this one 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Same thing as above, this is moong dal.

Simple Split Chickpea Curry (page 65): Yes, folks. You are right. You SHOULD NOT use 33 cups of chana dal. It should be 3 cups, which can be figured out by taking a look at the 603 g measurement. Thank you to the folks who helped catch this typo early - we fixed it after the first print.

Chicken Tikka Masala (page 109): Kudos to the reader who realized that red chile pepper was listed twice - eliminate the first reference and use 1 tsp - 1 tablespoon. Thank you for pointing that out and I appreciate that it did not dissuade you from trying out the recipe and others in the book. Hugs!

Chicken Vindaloo (page 114): The correct cooking time is 7 hours on high.

Rice Pudding (page 127): The correct cooking time is 3 hours on high. Some folks have asked if you can make this one with brown rice. For some reason, using brown has not worked for me in the past, but if you have tried it sucessfully please, please add your comments and maybe we can include that as part of the recipe at a later time.

Where do you shop?  I am currently compiling a list of grocery stores and online vendors where folks can purchase spices and goods. Please share your favorite spots - names, addresses and even phone numbers if and when possible. These are places that you've tried and trust. I will try and put a post out soon with your findings. In the meantime, I want to let everyone know I'm on my way to offering my own spice blends, which will be available shortly. You'll be able to purchase a starter kit of spices through this blog.

Again, thanks to all the rest of you. Please continue to check back as I will be adding to this post as the questions continue to filter in.

 



Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla

Author



24 Comments

Stephanie
Stephanie

April 28, 2012

Loving the book. I do have a question, though. I am making the Pakistani Old Clothes Beef Curry. Is there no liquid in the recipe at all other than the oil?

Adrian
Adrian

June 29, 2011

This is by far my favorite cookbook ever! I cook meals out of this book an average of twice a week. I have found that my question about the red pepper listings in the Chicken Tikka Masala is answered on this site. I have another question about the Curried Chickpeas recipe. It lists Chana Masala as an ingredient. I am unable to find this as an ingredient. I was wondering if you meant Chaat Masala. It seems to be made from mango and pomegranate, as you mentioned Chana Masala is, in your notes in the recipe. Was this a typo?

Get Skinny, Go Vegan.
Get Skinny, Go Vegan.

July 18, 2011

Anupy can answer this more clearly, but Chana Masala is a spice mix and you should be able to pick it up at any International store. It is pretty common. But as far as I know, it is not Chat Masala! Amazon of course carries it as well. You might want to check the salt content on whatever mix you buy because many brands put salt in the first few ingredients. I tend to try to pick the box that has salt furthest down the list, so I can add more flavor without going overboard on the sodium.

Sonia F
Sonia F

July 27, 2011

Regarding cooking rice pudding with brown rice what has not worked ? I mean cooking the brown rice in the slow cooker or making the brown rice pudding in the cooker ?
I am planning to try this sometime soon.

http://chefinyou.com/2011/02/brown-rice-pudding/

Amy Poe
Amy Poe

March 15, 2011

Your book was my holiday present to my self last year. So far, the Goan black-eyed peas and sarson ka saag (made with a bag of mixed, precut mustard, collard and turnip greens) were a great riff on our food here in the heart of the Bible belt, served with good old-fashioned cornmeal mush (call it polenta if you must).

Two queries: I have a half-batch of Tamarind chickpeas cooking right now, and I didn’t realize until I was prepping that the recipes calls for no salt. Typo? I am leaning toward adding 1T with the half lemon for the last two hours of cooking.

Also, can the Lamb Biryani be made with brown basmati? Bittman recommends soaking brown rice overnight for faster cooking, but this may just duplicate your parboiling step. I’d hate to ruin two pounds of very expensive lamb, but I don’t use white rice.

Thanks,
Amy

P.S. I’d like to add a personal plea to all slow-cooker recipe writers to be conscious of and help publicize the fact that some cookers (and those big, freestanding roasters) contain silicone linings and parts that can emit fumes that kill pet birds, even when used as directed. It is hard to find out which models are safe, although this ought to be a selling point for manufacturers.

Jeff Rutsch
Jeff Rutsch

March 21, 2011

I just got the book today, it looks great and I’m very excited to try some recipes. I was even more excited when I went to the local store to get the ingredients for Dry Spiced Dal on page 68, and it came to something like $2.27.

BUT, while it was good, it really came out very undercooked and needed 4 hours to get right. Is 2-2.5 hours on low really the correct cooking time? Is my slow cooker massively underpowered? I see some of the other dal recipes have the times lengthened and I wonder if that one should have been as well.

Geekgirl
Geekgirl

March 27, 2011

I am loving your book! Today I have been making Black Lentils with Kidney Beans and the house smells so good! It should be done now but I have a small problem – way too much liquid! The recipe calls for 2 cups whole lentils, 1 cup kidney beans, and 12 cups of water. It seems really soupy to me, not thick like I was expecting. A few weeks ago, I made the rajmah on p. 74 that calls for 3 cups of beans and 9 cups water, and that consistency was perfect.

Should the lentils be soupy? Or more like the rajmah? The lentils taste delicious – I am just reducing the liquid by cooking in a deep skillet on the stovetop before serving them.

Thanks!

ram
ram

February 14, 2011

While Googling, I came across your book on slow cooking with Indian recipes. Your book has fantastic reviews and well covered in the media. You are doing an excellent promotion.
I am looking for healthy Indian recipes. Could you pl let me know where or how I can find calorie count and other nutritional data for your recipes.
I have lived in Chicago even before the Patel Brothers existed. They were the first Indian Grocery store in Chicago area. What I see now is a change I have never imagined.
Tks for experimenting with Indian recipes to make them healthy recipes.

ram

Abbe
Abbe

February 23, 2011

Thank you so much for this book! I attended your talk in King of Prussia in December and have been working my way through your book ever since. The Rajmah, Kheer and Palak Paneer have been my favorites so far! I’m getting to be recognized at two of my local Indo-Pak grocers because I’m there nearly every week to pick up something new!

Have you sent a press release to the local paper? I’m sure they’d be interested in an article on a “local girl” with a hot book!

Thanks again!!!

Pat N.
Pat N.

March 07, 2011

I’ve found two errors that I’m hoping you can clarify for me. On page 66 (Split Green Lentil and Rice Porridge) it says cook on low at the top, but cook on high in the description. On page 98 (Paneer) it says 3 tablespoons (15ml) fresh lemon juice, but 3 tablespoons would be 45ml. 3 teaspoons would be 15ml. I’ve only made the porridge so far (on high) and it was tasty, but I overcooked it (it was a little mushy) and I’m not sure if it’s because I went over in time by about 1/2 hour or if I should have cooked it on low.

aruna
aruna

February 05, 2011

I have made 2 recipes from your Slow Cooker book. Today I made the Punjabi Spicy Potatoes, it was so delicious. My husband said it tasted better than the restaurant.
I am very excited to try the eggplant recipe next.
This book has really helped me become more motivated to cooking Indian food- especially North Indian dishes. Thanks so much.

Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla

February 05, 2011

Wow, Aruna. You made my night. Well, you and your husband! I am so so excited that you are trying the recipes and they are working for you. Please continue to post feedback as you continue to cook. I myself have been more motivated to cook. I’ve made fresh rotis probably 4 nights in a row now. That’s a record!! Also, how you can help me is to post your honest feedback in the comment section for the book on Amazon. It continues to put all that good energy out there for folks that are still to find this book and easy, healthy ways of cooking Indian. All the best to you.

Get Skinny, Go Vegan.
Get Skinny, Go Vegan.

February 12, 2011

If you don’t have an international store that carries the Black Lentils then just google them!! There are lots of places on the web that carry all of these legumes and spices for good prices and even Amazon has them! Our Asian store carries nearly all of the ingredients but we hit the Indian place for Dried Methi Leaves, Fresh Curry Leaves, and a few other staples. I have noticed that when I used the beans that she asked for that the food tasted a lot more like what I have always eaten a the restaurants. The Black Lentils are incredibly rich and creamy. Personally I stay away from places like Penzey’s if I need to buy a bunch of spices or ingredients, since those places run so high. If you shop around a bit, you will find great prices on the internet and low shipping costs! And it sounds like Anupy is going to come out with a “master list” of great stores!

Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla

January 26, 2011

Thanks again everyone for your thoughtful comments. We’ve gone into the 6th print and I’ve incorporated many of your thoughts and feedback into it. I have a wonderful publisher who let me go back and edit a few line items…so each print just gets better and better. Just to clarify for everyone, the tablespoon and teaspoon measures and standard measures that your would use in baking, etc. For a cup it’s a standard cup measurement (yep someone asked me about that one too). As for places to purchase spices, there are many Indian grocers tucked away in spots you may have never thought to look. Google is a great way to find them for your area. North Jersey has Edison where you can find anything you need and then some. And the rice pudding is especially delicious made with soy milk versus regular milk! And please, I encourage all of you to add your 2 cents to the comment section on Amazon. Every little bit of feedback truly helps.

Carol Robbins
Carol Robbins

February 02, 2011

I just bought your cookbook about one hour ago. I was browsing a store during our snow storm and I just plucked this right off the shelf and there was never any question whether I would buy it. I read on the back cover about your blog. I had never heard of you before.
I just want to say that in North America we do not utilize beans enough – especially dried beans (canned are not as good for you). I am so glad to see all the dried bean recipes in this book! I can’t wait to start making some of these recipes. I lived for a while in Little India (Toronto) and still shop there all the time, so I have all the ingredients already. More beans and lentils – less meat! (And no, I am not a vegetarian.)

Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla

February 03, 2011

Hi Carol,
Welcome to the website. Thanks first and foremost for buying the book. I appreciate it. And, please send me questions – any you might have – as you start working through the recipes. I’ll try my best to address them all. I just made some Amla Channa tonight and once again am always surprised by how easy it all is how great it tastes. Looking forward to getting to ‘know’ you!

Dave Snyder
Dave Snyder

January 25, 2011

Re:Chicken Tikka Masala (page 109)

Does that mean one should use the total amount of Red Chile Powder, or one amount or the other?

Tara
Tara

January 25, 2011

Great pointers. I have a question. I haven’t been able to find black lentils. Can I substitute red ones, or will they be too soft? Thanks! I am so excited to try this recipe.

Tara

Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla

January 25, 2011

Hi Tara,
Thank you for your comment. I’m excited to hear your feedback as well. The best substitute for whole, black lentils are whole, green lentils (mung beans). Yes, you can sub the red lentils (I’m assuming you mean split?) BUT it takes a fraction of cooking time to make these than the black. I would suggest making the recipe with the subbed red lentils and just managing it for cooking time. And then take those blank pages in the book to jot down your notes so you can replicate the recipe down the line. Good luck!

Molly
Molly

January 23, 2011

Thanks Anupy for these notes. I was just about to ask you for a little more guidance on your techniques so I could better gauge proportions. I’m just now getting comfortable enough to experiment with substitutions.

I can’t say enough how much I have enjoyed this book. My neighbors and co-workers are enjoying it too (and picking up their own copies)!

I’m glad to see you referring to this as your first book. I’m looking forward to your next one.

Caroline
Caroline

January 24, 2011

Must tell you that your book has filled our dinners with great excitement! The only difficulty is finding a shop to buy the few more exotic ingredients. Could you please look for an Asian or Indian store in Northern New Jersey?

Thank you so much!

Colleen Wright
Colleen Wright

January 20, 2011

tsp/tbls what are you using? The baking spoon measurement or the tsp/tbls from the kitchen table?
You just got the biggest complement, via my husband. understand he never, never eats from a slow cooker much less indian. I made aloo gobi the other night and he said it turned out okay. And even funnier, I did not have a regular potato so I used a white sweet potato. So happy to have some one make a slow cooker Indian cookbook.
Great Job.

Patricia
Patricia

January 22, 2011

Anupy, thanks for all the tips and advice. I will make sure I correct any mistakes in my book :) Would you share your list of favorite/reliable online Indian grocers? Since it is hard for me to find locally many of the “dals,” I ordered several from ishopindian.com along with some spices and a couple of masala dabbas. It would be nice to try other websites and you probably know better ;)

About the level of “hotness” in the recipes, I still can’t find Thai chilies. The other day I found “Green Chilies” at Target (I wondered what KIND of “green chilies”?) that looked like the ones on the book. I tried putting one whole chili in the Punjabi Potato Soup and after 11 hours of cooking it made it taste acidic hot. I don’t know if I it was because of the wrong chili or that is what chilies do for flavor but I decided to just skip the Thai chilies and keep my 5 y/o and 8 y/o kids happy :)

CW
CW

January 22, 2011

I bought your book about two weeks ago and have cooked out of it all but two nights since. It’s wonderful! Everything tastes delicious, and the leftovers I’ve frozen and defrosted have been just as good the second time around.

I have made the kheer both exactly as printed in the book, and also once with brown rice and almond milk. The latter turned out very tasty, but it was something very different from kheer— it seemed to thicken up more and become more homogenous than the traditional kheer. I’d make it again when I want to be virtuous, but if I’m craving kheer, I’ll stick with your recipe.

Speaking of virtuousness… one terrific addition to future editions of your book would be a calorie count. I feel confident that I’m putting wholesome, high-fiber, low-fat things on my plate whenever I cook these recipes, but I also like to keep track of the numbers. The nutritional value of some of the ingredients are hard to find indexed online, so my attempts to calculate the totals myself are often thwarted.

It’s a truly wonderful cookbook, though. As a fellow Chicagoan, I’m only sorry I didn’t know about your slow cooker efforts during the testing phase!

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