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Indian chefs offer lots of tempting dishes

The Baltimore Sun

American Masala

By Suvir Saran with Raquel Pelzel

Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet

By Padma Lakshmi

Weinstein Books / 2007 / $34.95

Although Padma Lakshmi also hails from India, Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet is less an homage to the author's ethnic roots than a tasting tour of her favorite international flavors.

In fact, it's fair to say that the book, whose recipes hopscotch the globe, is really a celebration of Lakshmi, the model, author and actress best known as the host of Bravo's Top Chef. The 265-page book is liberally seasoned with her pictures.

Because of the random nature of the recipe assortment, it's hard to imagine using the book to plan a certain meal. Rather, it's the type of book you'd leaf through looking for inspiration. And there are a number of tempting dishes.

I tried the Puree of Roasted Eggplant. Vibrant and fresh-tasting with cilantro and lemon juice, it worked well as a spread, better than as a side dish, which Lakshmi also recommended. A friend found the raw red onion a bit overpowering, so the onion-sensitive might want to consider roasting that along with the eggplant.

Goan-Style Shrimp Curry

Serves 8

MARINADE: 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)


1 pound large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined


1 cup water (divided use)

1/4 cup canola oil

24 curry leaves, roughly torn (optional)

4 dried red chiles

1 teaspoon ground peppercorns

3-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 cups canned chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon Sambhaar spice blend or 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1 1/2 cups coconut milk

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

To make marinade, place all of the ingredients in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Add shrimp, toss to coat and refrigerate.

Set 1/2 cup of water next to the stove top. Heat the oil with the curry leaves (if using) and chiles in a medium pot over medium-high heat until the curry leaves start to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ground peppercorns and cook for 1 minute longer.

Stir in the ginger, onion and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is browned, about 8 minutes, sprinkling with water and stirring whenever the onion and ginger begin sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Add the garlic, coriander and turmeric, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes to the pot. Cook, stirring and scraping the browned bits up from the sides and bottom of the pot, for 1 minute.

Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the Sambhaar or curry powder and cook for 1 minute, and then pour in the coconut milk and remaining 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and add the shrimp and any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are curled and opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

From "American Masala"

Per serving: 247 calories, 14 grams protein, 18 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 86 milligrams cholesterol, 1,255 milligrams sodium

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