Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine by Meeru Dhalwala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Purchased at The Book Warehouse, when I thought it was going out of business (but then it didn’t).
I think Vij’s is probably the most-talked-about Vancouver restaurant. So basically I bought this because of their reputation and because I love Indian food. nomnomnom.
Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala are the husband-and-wife owners of Vij’s. The preface (written by Vij) and the introduction to the recipes (by Dhalwala) shares the background of the restaurant and their relationship.
The book is a nice large format, with lots of colorful photographs. The large macros of the food are mouthwatering and the smaller photos interspersed throughout give a good feel for the restaurant. The first section discusses ingredients (I always appreciate when cookbook authors do this), followed by “basics” such as garam masala, ghee, masala, paneer. I happen to have some black cardamom, which is a key ingredient in their garam masala (p. 26) so guess what I’m going to be making?
The recipe section starts off with appetizers. There’s a mix of vegetarian and meat dishes. The mains are divided into meat (beef, lamb, goat, pork), poultry, fish and seafood, and vegetables (these are vegetarian mains, not side dishes). I want to try the original chicken curry (p. 92) — with homemade garam masala, of course.
There’s plenty of eggplant (the Warm Eggplant, Onion and Tomato Salad appetizer on p. 43; Eggplant, Tomato and Green Onion Curry on p. 131 — definitely will be making this; Oven-roasted Eggplant and Butternut Squash Curry on p. 136 and more!) to keep eggplant lovers like me happy.
After the mains, there’s a section of sides (including cucumber raita, various chutneys, potatoes, rice, chapattis) and finally desserts and drinks, including the all-important chai recipe. I’m addicted to chai.
The introductions to each section and the recipe head notes are well-written and informative. Don’t be intimidated by the length of the ingredients lists—it’s mostly spices. With respect to the actual food elements, there are few obscure ingredients; it’s mostly basics like chicken, tomatoes, onions, yogurt. Overall, the recipes are inspiring and don’t look difficult to make.
One possible lie: They claim that even people who don’t like Brussels sprouts like theirs. I don’t know about that… 😉
One drawback: it’s a paperback, so if you’re referring to it while cooking, you’ll need to put something heavy on top so it won’t flip closed.