Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family

Image of Indian-Ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family
Release Date: 
April 23, 2019
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Reviewed by: 

“This book is a kitchen essential for anyone who wants to learn the secrets of simple, tasty, and mostly healthful Indian cooking.”

Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family demystifies Indian cooking.

Krishna wants Indian food to be everyday food and so she has penned this entertaining and helpful book. The cookbook is filled with colorful photographs and diagrams and provides a glimpse into life in the Krishna household. This book is a loving tribute and appreciation of Krishna’s mother.

“A lot of people say their moms are the best. But my mom, Ritu Krishna, is actually the best,” she writes. The multitalented and accomplished Ritu is listed as co-author, and Krishna readily admits the recipes are her mother’s.

“It’s the best of both of us: my outlandish tales and lack of shame, plus her food.”

In case you are wondering about the book’s unique title, Krishna explains, “Indian-ish was never supposed to be the title . . . it was actually the placeholder title I put on the book proposal . . .”

But it turns out the book title perfectly describes her mom’s eclectic cooking style of combining different flavors (combinations like Indian tomato rice with crispy cheddar cheese). The book is also about identity, of living in two worlds and never being fully part of one or the other. But growing up in this Hindi-English hybrid world has inspired Krishna to write this cookbook, and home cooks can now reap the delectable benefits.

A food writer by profession, Krishna has an easygoing, effervescent style, and browsing through her cookbook is almost like sipping on a glass of bubbly. Readers will quickly feel at home with the Krishna family. The book is surprisingly easy to follow and very well organized. The various sections or chapters include: Essentials, Mother Sauces, Vegetable Mains, Vegetable Sides, Breads, Beans and Lentils, Grains and Noodles, One Chicken and Three Fish Recipes, Desserts, and Drinks.

Novice cooks will find the Essentials chapter very handy. The basics of cooking white rice or boiling potatoes is covered in this practical section. There is also a useful spice guide. Want to know more about lentils or need a generalized look at how to make Indian food? The reader will find all this information here.

The Mother Sauces chapter has interesting and savory flavors. Some are Indian in origin, while others are invented by Ma Ritu. So take your pick from Sun-Dried Tomato, Chile and Garlic Dip to Ginger-Lime Strips. The different sauces will provide flavor and a nice punch to even the blandest of dishes.

The Breads chapter has mouth-watering delicacies from Bombay Toast (a fancy grilled cheese with Indian potatoes) or Dahi Toast (spiced yogurt sandwich). The Roti Noodle Stir-Fry and Pesarattu (Lentil Pancakes) are more substantial entrées.

Vegetarians will love the Vegetable Mains chapter as well as the Vegetable Sides section. From the impressive (and delicious) Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Pea Chutney to Kachumber (salads) and an Indian-ish Baked Potatoes, there are many mouth-watering recipes.  

Krishna and her mother share their Dal (lentil) recipe as well as Kadhi (Turmeric yogurt soup) in the Beans and Lentils chapter. The Grains and Noodles chapter has several intriguing and tangy combinations from the Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar to the Warm Cumin, Asparagus, Tomato and Quinoa Salad. For non-vegetarians there are a few chicken and fish recipes, but the book has so many flavorful choices that meat will not be missed.

Boozy Strawberries, Eggless Pineapple Cake, or Quinoa Kheer (pudding) are some of the dessert choices. End the meal with a cup of Cardamom Chai or Sweet Lassi.

As a bonus, readers get Ma Ritu’s Handy Guide to Pairing Wine and Indian Food. Whether you prefer a glass of white wine or red with your Indian food, Ritu Krishna has you covered. The guide includes wines from California’s Napa Valley as well as choices from Italy, Argentina, and Spain.

And after cooking an Indian meal (and perhaps imbibing a couple glasses of Malbec), what if the reader feels the need to drape a sari? Well, Krishna has that covered too!

This book is a kitchen essential for anyone who wants to learn the secrets of simple, tasty, and mostly healthful Indian cooking. Even experienced cooks might find inspiration between the brightly illustrated pages.

Maria Qamar’s illustrations provide a nice burst of color to the book. Her background in Desi pop art is clearly evidenced in her work.

The photographs are dazzling and Mackenzie Kelley has captured the heart and character of her subjects whether it is Ma Ritu’s elegance or Priya Krishna’s playful grins.