by Bal Arneson, Whitecap Books; March 2009, Softcover: $29.95
With Bal Arneson's new cookbook, Everyday Indian: 100 Fast, Fresh, and Healthy Recipes, Indian food is lighter. The dishes are healthier, and the list of ingredients for each dish is lighter, too.
Find simple, fresh takes on Indian dishes like baked samosas, whole wheat naan bread, tandoori halibut patties, lamb kabobs with Thai-Indian fusion sauce, and mango lassi with low-fat yogurt.
Arneson, who grew up in Northern India and learned how to cook in the traditional — and often very time consuming — way, is now a busy mom in Canada. Her way of cooking reflects a no-nonsense lifestyle.
Traditional Indian flavors (think garam masala, garlic, ginger and coriander) lead off the book, with a chapter on basic flavors and the spices needed to achieve them. The rest of the book is broken down into small bites: from Breads, Sauces and Chutneys; Soups; Vegetables; to Chicken, Seafood and Meat Dishes; Drinks and Desserts; and Menus.
The heaviness of some Indian dishes is problematic to many, for health reasons, and for those who just crave a lighter meal. Butter Chicken, a dish traditionally cooked with cream and ghee (Indian butter) gets lightened up considerably in the recipe for Bal's No-Butter Chicken. The fish dishes are fresh and light as well; be sure to check out Halibut with Peach Sauce.
Some creative vegetarian menu ideas can also be found in the book. Bal's Vegetarian Burger is made with refried beans, red onion, ginger, green chili, and garam masala.
Arneson does not skimp on the side dishes. There are many great ideas here.