Title: Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen
Author: Monica Bhide
Release Date: April 21, 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: 4.75 out of 5
From the author’s website:
A local approach to global flavors, Modern Spice captures the spirit of Indian cuisine while updating the genre to reflect modern tastes and lifestyles. Author Monica Bhide builds on longstanding traditions and techniques to create stylish and refined Indian fare that captures the vibrant flavors and colors of a new generation. With a compelling foreword written by Mark Bittman, the award-winning author and food writer, Modern Spice dispels myths about Indian cuisine being all about the curry, while introducing its audience to a new chapter in Indian food.
Replacing the ubiquitous Mango Lassi with a Lychee Martini, and the traditional Chicken Tikka Masala with a flavorful chicken simmered in fresh cilantro and mint, Bhide explores the full potential of Indian flavors and spices to create a new style of Indian cuisine that is both approachable and flavorful. Filled with simple and unusual dishes like Pomegranate Shrimp, Paneer and Fig Pizza and Salmon with Kumquat Chutney, Modern Spice is a perfect gift for cooks who love to entertain and experiment with spices. In addition to the mouthwatering recipes, Bhide also explores the relationship between food and emotions in a collection of essays interspersed throughout the book.
Though I am Indian, I am a complete failure when it comes to cooking Indian food. In some ways, it is an art form and I just don’t have it. However, I enjoy cooking very much and am always looking for new recipes. Therefore, when I first heard about Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice, I immediately knew I wanted to give it a try.
The recipes in Modern Spice are simple. This isn’t to say that they are simplistic, merely that many seem to be designed to be made in 30 minutes or less. Additionally, the recipes don’t require multiple expensive ingredients; therefore, it’s easy on both the watch and the pocketbook. Modern Spice really is a godsend for those who love to cook but aren’t looking to spend a lot of time or money making dinner.
I’m going to approach this review a little differently than my normal reviews. I made two dishes from Modern Spice before writing this review – evaluations of these are below.
Tamarind-Glazed Honey Shrimp
My rating: 4.5
My husband’s rating: 4.5
The preparation of this dish was incredibly simple. It simply consisted of marinating and cooking the shrimp, as well as preparing the rice. The only ingredient I couldn’t find in my regular grocery store was the tamarind date chutney, which I found very easily in an Indian grocery store.
As far as the taste, I wasn’t sure about the first bite. It was the second that fully appreciated how simple the dish was, and how the flavors worked with one another. This was an incredibly subtle dish, but it really was delicious.
Paneer and Fig Pizza
My rating: 5
My husband’s rating: 4.5
Once again, preparation was incredibly easy, which I loved! I used dried Nutra Figs instead of fresh figs, as the recipe suggested. The author also suggested that, if I eat meat, I include pan fried pancetta on the pizza, which I did.
I absolutely loved this dish. I thought all the flavors worked together incredibly well. The saltiness of the pancetta was offset by the sweetness of the figs. My husband really liked it as well, though he thought it was a little bit dry.
Modern Spice is an absolutely wonderful cookbook that will be a staple in my kitchen. Bhide’s creative twist on Indian cooking is wonderfully executed in this book. I highly recommend this one to first-timers in the kitchen and seasoned cooks alike!