the best indian cookbooks for beginners

The Best Indian Cookbooks For Beginners

We know it already. What you get in Indian restaurants aren't the most 'authentic' Indian dishes. So what are you going to do about it?

That's right. The only way to be judge and jury is to give it a go yourself and see how you fare.

We often get asked what are the best Indian cookbooks for beginners. We're not going to sit here, stroking our beards and say that we've read every single cooking book on Indian food, but we've been through a few.

So without further ado, the list below goes over the top 7 books on Indian cooking that we'd recommend to our customers.

1. Made in India: Cooked in Britain

Meera Sodha introduces Britain to the food she grew up eating here every day. Unlike the stuff you get at your local curry house, her food is fresh, vibrant and surprisingly quick and easy to make.

It's an easy read with lots of pictures. You can tell that Meera is quite passionate about letting us know what her perception of home cooked Indian food is like and we really enjoyed reading her personal anecdotes.

Most of the recipes belong to her mum and the fear was that they were going to be long forgotten. Thankfully, she pencilled them all down and published this fantastic book about Indian food, and in particular, about Punjabi style cooking which includes lots of yoghurt, nuts and cheeses (or paneer).

2. The Curry Secret

There is truly no other curry book like this one. The recipes are not the traditional cuisine practised by Indians at home but the distinctive and well-loved variety served in Indian restaurants worldwide.

This book is actually one of a two part series, but you should read the first one and see if you are interested in the slightly more advanced second part.

He is a big fan of Western style curry, so the recipes do come very close to replicating the Balti or Jalfraezi you might have tried in your local Indian takeaway. 

3. The Indian Cookery Course

Monisha teaches you how to make traditional Indian food at home, based on the principles of good health and touching on the values of Ayurveda.

It's really well written and you end up going on a travel journey with the author. So many exotic locations are talked about and it just makes you want to book a flight to Asia to get a fuller experience of cooking.

Maybe it's not for everyone as the author does start to go off on a tangent about cultures and how religions influenced cooking styles, but we found it very interesting.

Another slight negative is that it doesn't focus on a few types of dishes. It's all over the place! So you have recipes on lentil dishes, then seafood and then meat. Then we jump into salads, relishes and a section on drinks and desserts. It might be a bit too much for some and might start veering towards intermediate levels.

4. Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation

Madhur Jaffrey's cook book showcases her favourite curry recipes with influences from all over the subcontinent: Punjabi, Goan, Parsi and Bengali amongst others.

Carefully selected and adapted by Madhur, the recipes conjure up the colour and vitality of this vibrant culture, but keep to her mantra that Indian food doesn't need to be complicated.

She also talks about what relishes and side dishes would accompany the main dish, so that is a bonus. Some of our customers have asked about this in the past and we often just say to make a yogurt raita or a lime pickle for the side. Madhur's answer is a bit more refined and we appreciate that.

her other book, title the Ultimate Curry Bible, is a bit more adventurous than this one. It includes dishes from other countries fused with Indian food e.g. Vietnamese, Malaysian and Thai. Again, that might be at a slightly more advanced level compared to this one.

5. The Incredible Spice Men

Not quite your Indian cook book in the traditional sense, but this book is great for those wanting to cook lots of dishes where you can add a spicy twist. Following on from the TV series, Chefs Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh come up with dishes that they put a spicy twist on.

6. An Indian Housewife's Recipe Book

Laxmi Khurana is an Indian housewife living in the UK. Her recipes have been handed down to her through the generations and admired by her family and friends. Here, in her classic curry cookbook, she makes them available to everyone, so you can re-create authentic Indian meals for all the family.

7. ​The Dal Cookbook​

​Dal is to India what pasta is to Italy. Cheap to produce, highly nutritional, suitable for long storage and capable of being cooked in a basic pot on an open fire, dal has been providing nourishment to millions of Indians for millennia. It truly is a pan-Indian dish consumed by rich and poor alike.

blank book surrounded by spices

There are no recipes or instructions in this book!

That's it!

You never know. If you are able to master the art of Indian cooking, then we could have a spot open for you at the restaurant.

So what are you waiting for? Read all the books above to your heart's content, find the right Indian spice box to mix your spices and then start peeling those garlic cloves once you're done!

If there are any book recommendations you think that we've missed, then feel free to suggest them and we'll give it a review as well and maybe add it to our best Indian cookbooks for beginners list.

2 thoughts on “The Best Indian Cookbooks For Beginners”

  1. What about any vegetarian options? I do like dal, but do you have a recommendation for a good indian cooking book for vegetarians?

  2. Hi, sorry for the late reply! We really like Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry nation listed above. It’s got some really good options for veggies.

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