Book reviews by Mobilism's Book Review team
Mar 27th, 2021, 1:16 pm

TITLE: Chetna's Healthy Indian Vegetarian
AUTHOR: Chetna Makan
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Cookbooks, Indian Vegetarian and Vegan
PUBLISHED: June 11, 2020
RATING: ★★★★☆

PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon iBookStore

Review: Chetna Makan was born and brought up in Central India, with a degree in fashion and worked in Mumbai as a fashion designer before moving to the UK in 2003. Chetna became extremely well-known and popular in the UK when she astonished the judges with her creative and vibrant flavour combinations and reached the semi-final of The Great British Bake Off in 2014. Chetna’s Healthy Indian: Vegetarian is her fourth book, which she wrote after a research trip to India. Chetna describes Healthy Indian Vegetarian as an eclectic mix of vegetarian and vegan dishes from Indian cuisine with many flavour twists and a love of simple Indian home cooking. Healthy Indian Vegetarian celebrates plant-based food, bringing vegetables centre-stage; nothing complicated, just beautiful food for everyone.

Nigella Lawson the well-known culinary author describes Healthy Indian Vegetarian
“I must say, I usually recoil from books with ‘healthy’ in the title, not because I have anything against the principle, but out of a deep-seated opposition to the devil-angel approach to food and eating. The reason that I so happily embrace Chetna Makan’s Healthy Indian Vegetarian is that I knew, from her first book, Healthy Indian, that her food is a joy, and a true celebration of eating. This, her second book, truly confirms that glad fact. And while it’s a particular treat for vegetarians and vegans, it is a glorious invitation to those vegetable-loving meat-eaters amongst us, too. There is so much I am longing to cook from this book”

The cookbook has nice and easy-to-make recipes from Indian Cuisine, the instructions are clear and simple. Every recipe has an accompanying photograph depicting the finished dish, which rarely happens in many cookbooks. The book is divided by food types into eight chapters and each chapter consists of around ten recipes on average. Soups & Starters, Snacks & Canapés, Sabji, Lentils, Peas & Beans, Curries, Rice & Roti, Raita & Chutney, and Sweets. The cookbook has a nice selection of recipes in a variety of sections but I would’ve liked more selection of desserts and appetizers. Dal is one of the absolute favourite staple dish from India, made from a variety of easy-to-find legumes (black-eyed peas, green lentils, mung beans), basic spices, and basic ingredients (rapeseed oil, potatoes, onions, red chilies) few tricks and twists to elevate dishes to a next level.

A lot of the recipes from the cookbook can be found on the author's YouTube channel. The cookbook has vegetarian recipes from almost all major directions of India. Recipes include Garlic and tamarind soup, Gram flour stuffed chilies, Cheese and potato chapatti sandwich, Mushroom and Cashew Curry, Courgette kofta curry, Beetroot and sweet potato korma, and Masala paneer to name a few favourites. I love Halva of all kinds, was surprised to see Coconut included in the same; it’s a nice diversion from the usual ones.

Halva cakes

These quick little cakes are best served fresh and warm. The subtle flavour of coconut and cardamom is irresistible, and the nuts give a crunchy contrast to the super-soft halva mixture.
MAKES 8–12

70g (2½oz) dark muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
350ml (12fl oz) water
100g (3½oz) fine semolina
2 tablespoons ghee, plus extra for greasing
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
6 almonds, finely chopped
6 pistachios, finely chopped

Combine the sugar and coconut in a pan with the water and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes while you prepare the semolina.
Toast the semolina in a dry pan on a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring continuously until it starts to change colour. Add the ghee and cook for another 2 minutes, so that the semolina is beautifully golden, then add the cardamom.
Gradually add the hot coconut syrup to the semolina, stirring to prevent lumps forming.
Grease either some chocolate moulds or small bowls. Sprinkle some chopped almonds and pistachios into each. As soon as the halva is ready, put a couple of spoonfuls into each mould, using the spoon to press the mixture down well so that it compacts.
Once the halva has cooled slightly, slide the cakes out of the moulds and serve warm. These taste best when eaten on the day.

There are two errors made in the book pertaining to two dishes: First, the rice and lentil cake dish is Handvo, not Khandvo and, second, Sandesh comes from the East of India, not West as mentioned in the book.

Chetna's Healthy Indian Vegetarian is a follow-up on her popular Chetna's Healthy Indian that contains meat- and seafood-based dishes as well. I have seen people moan and groan about finding exotic spices or ingredients but the spices in the book are easily available in Asian supermarkets or the “Ethnic” aisle of regular markets.

If you like Indian food and want to cook it at home, Chetna's Healthy Indian Vegetarian will be an excellent addition to every cook's library; while it is not an in-depth dive into Indian vegetarian cooking from all of India it does offer a rather nice overview.
Mar 27th, 2021, 1:16 pm