Madhur Jaffrey CBE is an Indian-born actress, food and travel writer, and television personality. She is recognized for bringing Indian cuisine to the western hemisphere with her debut cookbook, An Invitation to Indian Cooking, which was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2006.
Fantastic book. Madhur Jaffrey is one of my favorite food writers and Ultimate Curry Bible doesn't disappoint. For the purposes of this book, she uses the British Colonial definition of curry, i.e. any Indian or Indian-style dish with a sauce; as she points out, this is not how Indians would define it (typically classifying dishes by name and as "wet" or "dry", depending on amount of sauce). In addition to a wide variety of recipes (including kebabs, soups and salads) from throughout the world (the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Africa, US, UK, the Caribbean, and Japan), Jaffrey discusses the history of dissemination of this class of dishes. Originally Indian "curries" expanded with priests and merchants travelling to other lands but really took off in the 18th and 19th Centuries with the British Colonial empire, both with British who acquired a taste for these dishes and Indian indentured workers and lower-level (but still English-Speaking) bureaucrats. Various circumstances caused greater or lesser changes in these recipes, either from poorer emigrants having to "make do" with local ingredients or non-Indians altering them for their own tastes. For an extreme example, look up "Curry Roux" (Japan), which seems to be the only example where the concept of curries was imported without the people. Changes also resulted based on religion/personal tastes in certain areas (i.e. use of pork and coconut milk in SE Asian curries rather than lamb/goat and youghurt). Thus far I've only made three recipes from this book (Goan Prawn Curry, grilled Dry Fish Masala, and Green Coriander Mushrooms) but all were excellent and I have several dozen others marked for future use. UCB also includes some historical recipes, including a 18th Century Moghul "Raw Meat" Biryani and various 19th Century British curry mixes (powder, paste, and sauce). The last part of the book has a selection of raitas, chutneys, dipping sauces/relishes, chaats, pickles and garnishes. There is also a section related to various types of rice, noodles (including excellent advice on cooking techniques) - apparently I have been cooking Lo-Mein noodles wrong all this time), and breads. 4.5 stars.
UPDATE: In addition to the three recipes above, I have now also cooked Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dill and Cardamom, Silken Chicken Tikka Kebabs, Kadhai Chicken, Yoghurt with Spinach and Dill, Green Cabbage Sabzi, Prawn Curry with Roasted Spices, and Grilled Fish in Sri Lankan Tomato and Coriander Curry Sauce. The cabbage was pretty good. All of the others, excellent. Change rating to a full 5 stars.
I tried for years to make a good curry to no avail until someone bought me this book. Now takeaways are a thing of the past and I know that currys are not as hard as I thought. Madhur shares many experience and lets you in on secrets in order to share the curry love. Across the continents - any type of curry you can imagine is here.
When it says Ultimate Curry Bible, that's what you get. Every recipe I've tried (around 75% of them so far) are delicious and taste authentic - to my European taste buds at least... Nice anecdotes makes the book fun reading apart from the great recipes. And as she has recipes for a lot of different curry pastes and spice mixes, you can start making your own versions of these as well.
Fabulous book. The best curry recipe book I have. Curries from all over the world. South Asia, South East Asia, the Caribbean, Africa. Even some Raj era recipes. Some recipes are complex or time consuming, but none has failed yet.
Very informative, I enjoyed learning about the origins of different cuisines based on the diaspora of the peoples from the Indian sub continent, but be careful with the measures, I don’t know about the quantities of the spices but I do know that cutting squid into rings 5mm or 3/4” wide are not the same.
What is a “curry”? Ms Jaffrey defines it as the British did, back in colonial days: any Indian or Indian-style dish with a sauce. She says nothing of using hot spices to cover up less than fresh meat in a hot climate! Ms Jaffrey also covers accompaniments such as rice, noodles, breads, chutneys & relishes, and tea. Suddenly the non-specific word “curry” is transformed into a considerably more helpfully descriptive; entirely thanks to the very lack of precise definition; and whimsically at odds with our present day Western society which constantly and tiresomely seeks unambiguous clarity (important when flying an aeroplane, not necessarily to the same degree when categorising food? I’d venture to suggest not so much fuzzy-logic as fuzzy-food?
It’s in my nature to snort with derision at the gross arrogance of any book that calls itself the “ultimate” or (other than the Holy) “Bible”. I also own a general intense dislike of books which incorporate their author’s name in their title. The fonts chosen by the publisher (Ebury Press) are characteristically elegant and sympathetic to the subject. The Frontpiece is of an early C17th Indian painting of, “a fighting cock destined for the pot if he loses”. Proudly aloof; his eye in profile betrays a mere hint of superiority and fatalism conjoined. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that these recipes really are best read (and the practicalities straightened out in one’s mind) before so much as picking up a knife.
The ‘meat’ of this book properly begins with a generously illustrated introduction on the background of the foods of the Indian subcontinent and how the ‘curry’ style of cooking has spread across the world. Perfect for passing the time whilst waiting for flavours to bubble and meld before taking the next step in the recipe.
The chapters are usefully ordered by grouping of ingredients, not by country of recipe. Scattered throughout each chapter are short articles and stories which, through wider discussion of some of the recipes, promote later conversation at table. Rather pleasingly, the occasional full page photograph does NOT dominate and turn this book into a child’s picture-book.
Where a hot chilli or curry powder is required, it is specified; otherwise the heat is left to the discretion of the cook. Therein lies my second criticism. As one who prefers to maintain the sensitivity of her taste buds, I would have welcomed more detailed guidance. I err on the side of caution. Much as I have enjoyed reading recipes such as the South African “Curried Whole Chicken, Durban-Style” (p.80); I have avoided actually making and eating the dish thanks to the listed ingredient of Three fresh, hot, green chillies, chopped. Am I being overcautious? I wish I knew.
No shortage of variety is proffered up in this book; with dishes from India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, Great Britain, Trinidad, Guyana, Japan, and the USA. Even if I can’t see quite how the publisher justifies the puff of the ‘ultimate’ curry book (other than for its discussion of more than just recipes), I CAN see why this book just might be seen as a ‘curry ‘bible’ '. Certainly it’s the only single volume devoted to curry which I give precious physical space to in my bookcases.
This book is both my current favorite cookbook and the most frustrating one I own. I have tried at least 25 recipes in it, and of those easily 6 are dishes that are already household favorites. We are especially delighted by the recipes for places we are unlikely to visit soon, such as Pakistan. That said, this book is NOT for beginning cooks. It is plagued by Ms. Jaffrey's well-known reluctance to adequately explain Indian cooking techniques; worse, in my mind, are the numerous errors--I have already found two recipes in which she neglects to tell us what to do with many of the ingredients! It is characteristic of her books in other ways, too: heavy on meat, skimpy on dals. And finally-- though she is to be credited for her efforts in popularizing South Asian/Indian home cooking for those us with the misfortune of not having South Asian/Indian family members, she 'translates' too much for the British and American supermarket, in my view. Seeming to presume that all of her readers are from those countries, she under-explains for those of us not located 'at the center.' Take her glossary entry on Bamboo Shoots: since in the US and UK one can only purchase canned, she only explains what to do with canned. But I live in a part of the world in which I can purchase fresh. Her books are little help at such moments.
Still, I am grateful for the recipes, especially the lamb dishes--some of which I dream about, they are so good.
A lot of people are disappointed in this book when they get it. That's simply because they don't know what they're getting. I think the logic runs something like "Madhur Jaffrey? Curry? Definitely Indian". It isn't.
This book does contain recipes for Indian curries, but also British, South-African, Carribean, Kenyan, Thai, Japanese, Indonesian - in short, any cuisine that's ever been touched by that of India, fell in love with spice and has developed its own curries (some, like Thailand for example, to a degree now as famous as India it self). It also contains recipes for some curry accompaniments, but not for any Indian (or any other cuisine) non-curry dishes.
With all of that in mind, once you know what you're getting, it's a lovely book, charting the history and development of curries around the world (including interesting side-notes, for example the tradition of lager with curries was started by the King of Denmark, who used to visit London once a month in the 1850's for a duck vindaloo and had a cask of Carlsberg sent over to accompany it each time) and also providing a large number of curry recipes.
If you enjoy curries, this is a wonderful book to own. If you're looking for a book for Indian food, however, this is not it.
I love this book. It is journey into the history and origins of curry. Madhur Jaffrey gives personal accounts on different recipies. It is definitly a cookbook written for cooks who have mastered some basic skills in curry cooking and are at home with a wide selection of spices and techniques.
Easily my favourite book on curries and accompaniments, with recipes from all over India and elsewhere in the world. The only thing it could do with (perhaps) would be a few more images, but it still gets five stars from me.