March 10, 2010
Welcome to everyone that has taken even a second of their day to stop in as see what I'm cooking. Lately, it hasn't been much. I think I've been on an unintentional break from cooking - especially Indian. Last month I cooked 20 dishes in 2 days for our first photo session for my upcoming book and I was literally spent. I managed to do it single handedly with two sick kids home from school but I needed to take a step back for some time. I'm glad to say I'm back and ready to cook and write some more on this blog.
Our community of Indian foodies is growing...for that I have to thank all of you. I appreciate each and every one of you for reading this blog and especially for becoming a follower. I can't believe I have 30 followers now! You can also friend me on facebook and become a friend of indianasapplepie on facebook.
There have been so many questions up to this point that I wanted to take a second and address as many of them as possible.
When Can I Buy Your Cookbook? As many of you know, I have written the first comprehensive cookbook on authentic and healthy Indian cooking in a crockpot. My book, entitled The Indian Slow Cooker will be released in October by Agate Publishing. The book is being edited as we speak..pictures have just been shot and I'm looking forward to sharing a jacket cover with all of you just as soon as we have it ready. I'm as eager as all of you!
Can I Try Making Some of Your Recipes Now? Yes, absolutely. If you take a look towards the right of my site you'll see the header 'Recipes'. CP refers to crockpot. I have dishes from Rajmah (kidney beans) to Kali Dal (Black Lentils)...to chicken curry, butter chicken to chicken tikka masala. Some of you have emailed me asking for more recipes. I am putting a few more out on the blog but that's about all I can realistically share before the book comes out. I hope that's an incentive to buy the book (I can't just subsist on beans, folks!:)
Will You Come to My City to Promote Your Book? I would love to come to your city and meet you. But, remember...there is little money in the publishing world these days. And, I'll depend on all of my supporters to help me in this area. I'm asking all of you to consider hosting an event in your town, in your home or other venue. Invite as many people as you like or are able and I'd be happy to do a book signing and/or cooking demo. For all my hosts I'd love to offer you a free copy of my book. Though a goal is to sell books my bigger goal is to get all of you cooking more and thinking about Indian as an option in your daily routine. For those desis out there I want you to realize that making the Indian food your grew up with is not that complicated. It just takes a little thought and planning. If you are interested please email me ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org If you have any community organizations that you think would benefit from such a book please run it by me...you never know where your thoughts and ideas can lead...
How Can I Be a Taste Tester? I have 7 slow cookers, and when I recipe test most of them are going at once. There is no way I can get through all the food. Rather than waste it I offered it to friends and contacts to taste test. If you want to test some recipes just text me/email me once you read what I'm cooking that day and come over with containers. I have NO MORE containers. I'll fill them and you'll be on your way with some amazing, fresh Indian food. The only catch is that I ask anyone who is testing to post feedback within a week of tasting. Otherwise you've got to go to the end of the taste testing line, unfortunately. This is my way of getting feedback on my recipes and ideas on how you've used the recipes in completely different ways than I ever dreamed. I've used a few ideas already in my book. I'm sorry I can't credit everyone in the book.
If I want to try making some recipes what size slow cooker should I buy? I've made all my recipes in a 5-quart slow cooker - the Rival Crockpot. I then tested them in a 3 1/2 quart Cuisinart slow cooker. I found that the beauty of Indian food is that it's scalable. Take the recipe for the larger size and half it if you want to use the smaller and it will work for you. You might have to adjust the timing a little but in the cookbook I will have that in there for you.
Should I Use the High Setting or Low? I have indicated the temperature settings in my recipes. I find that beans need to be cooked on high to get them at at temperature where they will finally soften. Meat, I prefer to cook on low to make sure it's still moist. BUT here's where you can experiment. If you are planning to cook something on low instead of high, just tack on about 2 extra hours for cooking. And vice versa if cooking on high instead of low. You'll have to experiment a bit here.
Cooking Beans - Should I Soak Them First?? The key to my recipes is that I don't like fuss. I hate that extra step of soaking beans - so you don't need to in ANY of my recipes. Now, from the health perspective it is believed soaking them will reduce the gas. I haven't noticed a difference. If you insist on soaking beans first just remember to reduce the water used in the recipe a bit as well. You'll have to experiment to get it just right. I'm a health nut but I will NOT soak beans 'cause then I'll never get around to cooking them! You get that right? With a 7and 5-year-old underfoot - the easier the better.
Can I Use Canned Tomatoes? Unlike other cuisines like Italian, good Indian food does not depend on a sweet, well-ripened tomato. Our food benefits from tomatoes that are actually less sweet because we like the tanginess and tartness. So, if you don't get great tomatoes - try using them - likely it will be fine. If you like using canned for the sake of ease go for it. I'd suggest replacing a 15 oz. can for 2 tomatoes. My only issue with canned is go for a good quality brand, as often I feel like it adds a level of acidity that doesn't suit me. But experiment - I know plenty of people who use canned tomatoes and even tomato paste in their recipes to replace tomatoes.
How Much Methi in the Chicken Curry? Yes, I do use 1 cup of dried fenugreek in my chicken curry. I think this is a magical ingredient. My bua (father's sister in England) is an amazing cook and she used dried fenugreek leaves (methi) in all of her cooking from curries to paranthas. If you are nervous that this will be too much just reduce it to 1/2 cup and see how it goes. It will be fine!
I'm Afraid of Indian Because It's Too Spicy. The beauty of cooking anything at home is that you can make it just the way you like it. My young girls love love love Indian food. I just make it without any chilies for them, and add the green chilies and red chili powder later for me and my husband. Don't miss out on this amazing cuisine because you have the incorrect assumption that it's too spicy.
Can I Watch You Cook? I am working on a cooking show pilot as we speak. So, yes, eventually. I will also be doing demos at various locations in Illinois including Bloomingdale's in Old Orchard on April 10 and then in May at the Bloomingdale's in Oak Brook. I'll post more about the dates on this blog and my facebook page!
How Can I Write A Cookbook? Writing a book, let alone a cookbook is one of the hardest things I've ever done - outside of quitting work to take care of my two little girls. I just spoke on a panel sponsored by the Association of Women Journalist where I explained that when writing a work of non-fiction it's essential to have a solid book proposal written. This has several standard components to it. I promised that crowd of 30 or so future authors that I'd publish the books I used to write my proposal. Remember there are hundreds out there and tons more information on the Internet, but the ones I used worked for me and came highly recommended. They are:
"Write the Perfect Book Proposal:10 That Sold And Why" by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman
"Author 101: Bestselling Book Proposals" by Rick Frishman and Robyn Freedman Spizman
"How to Write a Book Propoal" by Michael Larsen
I hope you keep reading this blog. I know so much good will come out of it. It already has...my kids are eating better than they ever have. Tonight we sat down to Mataar Paneer (homemade cheese and peas)...Basmati rice...fresh rotis...raita...papard. My girls ate it all...not because they are naturally easy eaters. Because I've been working with them over the last three years giving them new foods almost daily...filling their plates with little heaps of this and little heaps of that. When they don't like something and spit it out, reintroducing it the next week but never ever giving up. It's been hard. Yes, we've reverted to pizza and pasta on occassion but more often than not they cry for Basmati rice and savory yogurt. I still can't get my little one to eat even a full slice of pizza - unless it's homemade!
You can't get better than that! You can do it too. It's easy and accessible with a little planning. Email me...call me...friend me on Facebook...send me a Tweet. I want to hear from you and I want to help you!!!!