In Indian Home Cooking, Suvir Saran introduced our taste buds, and our kitchens, to the wonders of cumin, coriander, cardamom, and curry leaves. American Masala takes the next step, marrying Indian flavors with American favorites to create dishes that are exotic, yet familiar; full of complex tastes, yet easy enough for weeknight suppers. Masala—the Hindi word for a blend of spices—is at the heart of Indian cooking. Whether toasted, ground, fried, infused in oil, or fresh, spices are used to layer flavors in simple but profound ways. Bring the same techniques to American classics such as meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, or roasted turkey, and the result is something truly special. Masala also refers to the excitement and vibrancy that come from a house full of friends and family. Simple recipes prepared with staples found in every supermarket mean less time laboring in the kitchen and more time spent enjoying the spice of life.
From snacks and starters and on to the evening meal, the Indian influence brightens the flavors in dishes like:
– Goat Cheese Pesto–Stuffed Chicken Breasts
– Tamarind-Glazed Turkey with Corn Bread–Jalapeño Stuffing
– Crab-and-Salmon Cakes with Spicy Cilantro Aïoli
– Crispy Okra Salad
– Bombay-Style Whole Snapper
– Honey-Glazed Double-Thick Pork Chops
– Pistachio-and-Cardamom Pound Cake with Lemon Icing
– Fried Eggs with Asparagus and Prosciutto
American Masala isn’t about traditional Indian food—it’s about adding new flavors to the great American melting pot, using spices to liven up the old standbys, and enjoying dishes that are as exciting and diverse as life in the big city, and yet as familiar and comforting as your mother’s cooking.
Suvir Saran’s first book, Indian Home Cooking, offered a you-can-make-it take on one of the world’s great cuisines, whose many spice blends, or masalas, can daunt Western cooks. In American Masala, Suvir offers 125 similarly approachable recipes that bring the many-layered flavors of Indian cooking to more familiar dishes, yielding, for example, Crab and Salmon Cakes with Spicy Cilantro Aïoli, Indian-Spiced Meatballs with Tomato-Chile Sauce, and Tamarind Roost Turkey with Corn Bread-Jalapeño Stuffing. More traditional Indian dishes, like Sweet Potato Chaat and Lamb Seekh Kebabs, are also included, as are sweets, such as Pistachio-and-Cardamom Pound Cake with Lemon Icing and Pavlova with Spiced Berries and Cointreau Cream.
Saran, a warm, food-loving presence, also offers autobiographical notes that further domesticate his recipes. With color photos and good info on ingredients and techniques, American Masala can help cooks add excitement to everyday and party-giving menus alike. –Arthur Boehm