I knew I had far too many cook books, but hadn't realised QUITE how serious the problem was. This is the pile I picked out for purging - and to be honest there are at least as many again that haven't been opened for years.
The one I rescued is called "30 Minute Indian" by Sunil Vijayakar. I see the publication date is 2000 - and I have never cooked a single thing from it. The page it opened at was Lobia Salad - a salad of black eyed peas with potatoes, green beans, black eyed peas, spring onions and tomatoes, tossed in finely chopped mint and green chilli with a lemon, chilli and honey dressing.
All was going swimmingly - potatoes and beans cooked and refreshed, tomatoes and spring onions prepped, mint and chilli chopped. Then I went to the cupboard for the tin of black eyed peas..... and at that point remembered the lobia curry we had last week. So a last minute change of plan meant I whipped out a tin of chickpeas and converted this dish from Lobia Salad into Channa Salad.
We LOVED it! It was a very hot, sultry evening and the fresh yet spicy flavours worked perfectly. As the title of the book suggests, it was very quick to make - I could have probably popped out to the corner shop for a tin of black eyed peas and STILL made it within the 30 minutes. I think personally I would have liked it even more served as a hot dish, but Mark disagreed and thought it was perfect as a salad.
Since the book was to hand, I decided to try a couple of other recipes from it, this time chosen rather than picked at random. The first was Gujarati carrot salad - the spicy dressing of black mustard seeds, curry leaves and chilli flakes is served warm.
The second was a mushroom pulao. I really thought this would turn out a sloppy mess, as time was saved by chucking in all the ingredients - rice, mushrooms, turmeric, spring onions, garlic and ginger - together into melted butter, stir frying for a couple of minutes and adding the water. I pictured broken rice, mushy mushrooms and bitter garlic. I'm so used to adding things one at a time and treating the rice gently. But in fact it worked beautifully.
Well, I have to say the whole meal was spectacularly good. The book is now back on my shelf, and bulging with Post It notes for the dishes I want to try.