Monday, May 4, 2009

The Ethnic Diva: Modern Spice Edition

Last night I dreamt of Chaat Masala. Really. And yet, its not quite as odd as it seems. You see, I've spent the better part of this weekend devouring Monica Bhide's wonderful new cookbook - Modern Spice. I'm reading it cover to cover and enjoying every blessed word. Modern Spice has been making its way around more than a few blogs this past week and the attention is well-deserved. Its charming, informative and altogether delicious.

I must extend a huge measure of thanks to Charmian Christie of Christie's Corner for making the introductions. She wrote about Modern Spice last week and I ordered a copy as soon as I finished reading her post. I couldn't be happier with the purchase. Thanks, Charmian!

While I'm nothing if not intrepid in the kitchen, I must admit that I've always been a bit intimidated by Indian cuisine. I adore Indian food, but have never attempted to make it at home. Its not as if I'm unfamiliar with the spices, so I'm not sure what was holding me back. Fortunately, that's about to change - with the help of Modern Spice, I'm happily embracing these heretofore uncharted waters!

After reading Ms. Bhide's glorious description of "The Modern Spice Pantry" I set off on a field trip to my favorite local spice market, Kalustyan's, and am now happily in possession of great quantities of Chaat Masala, turmeric, Paanch Phoron and cumin seeds. Whee ... let the cooking begin!

And begin it did, with this gorgeous and spicy shrimp stir-fry. Actually, I made this insanely good dish prior to my trip to Kalustyan's, and had to substitute some tandoori masala for the turmeric. No matter really, the finished dish was gloriously seasoned, multi-layered in flavor and, honestly, one of the best meals I've ever cooked.

The recipe is called: "Hot, Hotter, Hottest Shrimp" ... and with good reason! The combination of fresh serrano chiles, dried red chiles (I used chile d'arbol) and crushed red pepper flakes really packs a punch! But make no mistake, this spicy concoction offers more than simple heat. The flavors are so deep and intriguing they nearly defy description. Suffice it to say the husband and I finished every last bit of it and I cannot wait to make it again.

While I'd like to offer the recipe here, I don't yet have permission from the author. You can find the recipe on page 183 of Modern Spice and with an introduction like this, I'm certain this book is destined to become a Diva favorite. I recommend it, highly!

So, where do you stand on Indian cuisine ... are you comfortable cooking it at home? Curious Diva wants to know.

Whether you're comfortable or not, I urge you to take a spin though this book. Its a wonderful resource and a mighty good read.

Bon appetit!


doggybloggy said...

this falls well into my comfort zone - I make some Indian inspired dish at least twice a month if not more - this hot hotter hottest looks great!

The Wino said...

I have never made Idian food...pretty sure I have only even eaten it once. This looks pretty darn good though! I will have to add it to the list!

Daily Spud said...

Oh I'm a big Indian food-eater-maker person (it all started with Madhur Jaffrey for me) - that book sounds like it would be right up my street!

pixelgal said...

AS you know, not all husbands are as adventurous as yours in the eating department. Meat and potatoes the simpler the better are the most popular around here but Indian cuisine is on the list of things he likes and I have never made. We're not into hot stuff but I'm sure it can be adapted to semi-blandness. Looks good!

stephchows said...

John always makes fun of me when I "read" cookbooks from front to back LOL love it! What you made sounds delicious!!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Good news, I wrote Monica Bhide and she's given me permission to reprint the shrimp recipe here tomorrow. Stay tuned!

doggy - I'm not at all surprised, you might be the most adventurous cook I know! :)

Wino - I really recommend the book. If you're a lover of food, and I know you are, its an incredible read and so inspiring.

Daily Spud - I'll just bet you've made some amazing Indian themed spuds, yes?! In fact, I know you have. Yummy!

Pixelgal - true enough, though I know Papa Diva is a fan of Indian food. That said, as I've made it, this dish is probably a bit too spicy for you. You could certainly cut down on the heat though and it would still be incredibly flavorful.

Steph - its nice to know I'm not the only one who reads cookbooks like novels! I'm enjoying every word of this one!

Christie's Corner said...

This looks wonderful! I didn't try this recipe since my husband doesn't touch seafood, but now I'm thinking he can slap a steak on the grill and I'll eat the whole dish myself!

Glad you liked the book.

Anonymous said...

I bet by devouring a book you really upped your fiber intake...sorry! Couldn't resist!

I hear this is a great book and what I know of Monica is all positive. Enjoyed your post!

Tangled Noodle said...

I love to eat Indian food and have made some Indian-esque dishes at home. But having all the spices required seems daunting! I prefer to leave it to the pros instead! You're obviously much more adept - this dish looks fantastic. I'll have to check out this book!

Deb said...

I do adore Indian cuisine - my DD traveled there and introduced DH and I to it but I gotta admit all those spices do intimidate me. I've only eaten it out never attempted any dishes myself - you are such an inspiration!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Charmian - Yes, do give that hubby a steak and make this for yourself ... its wonderful! I'm not a big fan of the sea creatures myself, but I do make an exception for shrimp. So yummy.

Dana - LOL You always make me laugh, love that. And, thank you! :)

Tangled Noodle and Deb - Honestly, reading this book takes all the fear out of those mysterious spices. She includes a wonderful chapter on pantry spices and its so fascinating I guarantee you, too, will be moved to explore.

Thank you both! :)

Deb - how cool about your daughter's travels. Does she have wonderful pictures?

Deb said...

She does have wonderful pictures - she is one of those creative folks who puts everything into a scrap book that tells a story - not like her mom with bags full of old pictures and negatives!