GUNPOWDER, EXPLOSIVE FLAVOURS FROM MODERN INDIA.HARNEET BAWEJA, DEVINA SETH & NIRMAL SEVE
This is the first and only book from the team that run Gunpowder at White’s Row, Spitalfields, London. This Home Style Indian Kitchen is named after ‘Gunpower’ a heady blend of pulses and spices central to Indian cooking.
Harneet and Devina were compelled to open the Restaurant in 2015 after moving to London from India in 2014. Although captivated by London’s ‘vibrant and diverse restaurant scene’ they realised that Londoners were missing the true heart and soul of Indian cooking.
True Indian cooking is delicate, intricate and above all has real soul. Both grew up in Kolkata, surrounded by the mingling flavours and aromas of the City’s Street Food. An abundance of market stands and food stalls combined with their family’s traditional cooking, fuelled their own passion for experimentation mixed with family tradition.
They employed Nirmal as their head chef. Originally from Mumbai but brought up on a farm, he has a lifelong appreciation of cooking with fresh ingredients.
At first glance it is obvious that Gunpowder harnesses the unique collection of multiple cultures and centuries old family recipes that comprise the vast treasure trove of Indian Food. I soon realised that this is not any old Indian Cookbook. A refreshing change from page upon page of sloppy curries, this is REAL Indian food at its best.
The book opens with a ‘Spice Glossary’ which pays homage to India’s agricultural diversity. Spices are listed alphabetically and whilst many seem more obscure, the descriptions in themselves left me desperate to smell, taste and experiment with them. I’ve since invested in a few and their heady aromas are proving addictive, buying spices is my new obsession.
Recipes are concisely divided into four sections: Small Plates, Big Plates, Sweet Plates & Drinks and Sides and Spice. This seems fitting as many Indian meals are centered around different sharing plates or multiple courses. It makes it easy for the reader to pick and choose what they want to cook and for what occasion.
From the Small Plates section, I made the Mustard Broccoli & Makhani Sauce. Although the ingredients list seemed long, most of the spices I had already and the method was fairly simple. The results blew me away, it was utterly delicious! I also made the Gunpowder Aloo Chaat. The lotus root was difficult to source (I bought ready-made lotus crisps…totally addictive) but apart from that it was easy, delicious and so far removed from any Indian curry I have ever eaten, more akin to an Ottolenghi style salad.
From the Big Plates section, you can expect a measured range of Game, Chicken, Fish and Meat dishes (vegetarian and vegan are contained within the Small Plates section). The Organic Tandoori Chicken was a revelation and I can’t wait for Game Season to start for the Pheasant Bhujing Pulao.
The Sweet Plates And Drinks section was right up my street, Cocktails and inspired Lassi Flavours interjected with enchantments such as Masala Chai Crème Brule and Banana & Curry Leaf Parfait with Chocolate Mousse, literally left me drooling
Sides & Spice were a revelation. Handy, quick dishes that are suitable as sides for a plethora of dishes. I can’t wait to make the Spiced Pineapple Raita and Coconut Chutney.
I think you’ve guessed, I LOVE this book! The styling and photography is in a league of its own, you can literally sit at the table in front of the alluring plates. I will admit, it is for the more accomplished cook, or at least someone willing to spend some time and effort to produce show stopping dishes. You may have to invest in some new spices to adorn your spice rack, but, if you are like me, you’ll find yourself pimping everyday dishes with a new twist… my mango powder has even found its way into a pasta dish to high accolade. I found I could buy all the spices I needed either through Steenberg’s or Amazon so this was no hardship.
I highly recommend this book, even if you can’t take spice that Is hot. Most dishes are ‘fragrant’ rather than ‘spicy’ and it is in itself a beautiful thing to adorn your bookshelf.