The Cafe Spice Cookbook -- Book Review -- Exploring India

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me a copy of this book free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

We have been continuing our exploration of India, this month's country for Global Learning for Kids. We explored recipes from India in The Cafe Spice Cookbook by Hari Nayak and photography by Jack Turkel.

This cookbook is inspired by the Cafe Spice grab 'n go Indian meals found at Costco and Whole Foods. I am excited to review this book and have Hazel try some Indian food. Steve has never liked Indian food, so I was interested in seeing if he would like it. The only times he ever ate it was when other people had ordered it. Since we are not a family who loves things too spicy, I was hoping to keep the spice factor down, however I did not really succeed. We tried three recipes from the book so far. We started with a lassi. Hazel wanted to try a lassi after seeing it on one of the Indian DVDs we watched and hearing about it in a few of the books we have read

Some of the lassi ingredients
She was so excited to make it and it had to be the first recipe we tried. I bought the yogurt and mangoes so we could try them. She helped with the making of the lassi and also ate the extra half of mango.

Once it was all blended we tried it. We had cut the recipe in half since it was just the two of us. Though we did bring some to my parents for them to try it as well.

Hazel was disappointed in the lassi. It was not what she was expecting. I am guessing she may not have liked the cardamom in it. I have seen other recipes that do not use it, so she may like that better.

Next I had to try the Perfect Chai recipe. I love chai and spend way too much at Starbucks on them. It took me awhile to find the green cardamom pods, but I finally found some at Whole Foods. I really enjoyed this recipe though I think I will try it next time with a cinnamon stick in it as well.

While it was steeping
I enjoyed my homemade cup of chai this morning. I am definitely going to try it again and once I get it perfect this way I will try it with my frother.

I was hoping to make some naan since it is one of my favorite things to eat at an Indian restaurant. There is a recipe in The Cafe Spice Cookbook, but you need a cast iron skillet. I do not have one. I thought we would make it at my parents since my mother as a couple, but we did not get around to it, so I bought some for our Indian dinner. I warmed it up before we ate.

Our dinner was chicken tikka masala (one of my favorite Indian dishes) and brown basmati rice. I was going to try one of the rice dishes, but figured it would be better not to add spice to the rice when our family is not that into spices and loves rice. I just followed the instructions on the package to make the rice. However the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe came from The Cafe Spice Cookbook. I really enjoyed it. Steve liked the rice and bread but did not eat much of the chicken. He said it was too spicy. Hazel said it was too spicy but liked it with the rice and bread. 

The recipes in the book often use some of the basic spice mixes that are separate recipes. This is great if you plan to make several recipes or cook them all the time. I found I used almost every electric appliance I have to cook this meal and felt like I was missing some. The recipes are very clear to follow and delicious, but there are many little steps and equipment needed for the recipes. I felt like I was washing the dishes for a holiday meal instead of just a Tuesday night dinner, but besides that it was fun. I do love cooking and trying new recipes! Unfortunately, I am the only one who really enjoyed the meal. Oh, well. At least Hazel has some idea of what Indian food is like. I will definitely use the chai recipe many times. We are also planning on making the carrot pudding recipe some time this week. Hopefully they will like it a bit better. 

If you like spicy and/or Indian food, I do recommend this cookbook. Food is such a fun way to explore other cultures. Whether you like the recipe or not does not matter when you know you were going for the experience of the different food. 

This post is part of our exploration of India in the Global Learning for Kids. If you have any resources on India, please link them up here. It can be a craft, lesson, books, recipe or more! And of course check out all the great resources already shared. It is the perfect place to get ideas to explore India!