When thinking about Indian desserts, a delicately layered cake of crêpes and custard isn't the first thing that springs to mind. But according to Anjum Anand, author of Anjum's New Indian, a bebinca is a classic Goan dessert. Traditionally made up of 16 layers of coconut milk pancakes layered with ghee, Anand lightens it up ever so slightly by replacing the ghee with coconut custard and cutting the number of layers in half.
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Anjum Anand is on a crusade to change the way we look at Indian food. Her mission is to familiarize Western cooks with ingredients and techniques as well as lightening up classic dishes to make for a more healthful eating experience. This Kashmiri Chicken from her recently released Anjum's New Indian does both by creating a simple to put together dish that relies on an array of spices and vegetables for flavor instead of fat.
This Radish and Yogurt Chutney from Anjum Anand's Anjum's New Indian takes all of the elements of a classic raita and adds shredded radishes in place of cucumber. The sauce has the same clean, cool flavor, but the radish adds a great pepperiness and lovely fuchsia tone. Adding a bit of chopped green chile is optional, but the spiciness compliments the cool radish raita beautifully.
Two unique and possibly unfamiliar flavors in this dish are Asafoetida and panch phoron. Asafoetida is a strong-smelling powdered spice that adds oniony notes of sautéed leeks. Panch phoron is a blend of five spices including nigella seed, fenugreek, cumin, fennel, and either celery or radhuni seed. Incorporating these spices in with mildly sweet butternut squash and earthy chickpeas makes for a wonderfully warm and hearty vegan curry.
I generally opt for steamed basmati rice to accompany my homemade curries but after trying out this Kashmiri Pilaf from Anjum's New Indian, I'm wondering, why settle for that when you can have an aromatic nut and fruit studded pilaf?
This week we will be testing out recipes from Anjum's New Indian to see just how easy Indian food made at home can be. (Spoiler: Super easy once you've assembled all of your spices!) On the menu this week: Maharashtran Lamb Curry with a wonderful sauce of coconut and caramelized onions, Kashmiri Pilaff with pistachios and dried figs, and a Coconut Bebinca, almost like an Indian mille-feuille. Enter to win a copy of the book here.
Yet another British import, Anand has been cooking Indian food professionally for years. Her main goal is to banish the stereotype that Indian food is hard to prepare. She says as much in the opening credits to her show: "For most people, [Indian food] is more likely to be a takeaway than homemade. In this series, I want to show you how easy it is to cook it for yourself." She also emphasizes making health-conscious dishes that can appeal to all audiences.