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
Although the recipes in Saran's aptly titled second cookbook share no unifying principle apart from their deliciousness—whoever heard of Macaroni and Cheese keeping company with Mushroom and Rice Biryani Casserole?—they complement one another in a mysterious way. Such eclecticism reflects how Saran, chef and co-owner of Dévi in New York City, cooks for his family and enormous circle of Tupperware-toting friends. Unlike many other chefs' signature dishes, which originate in a restaurant kitchen, Saran's most inspired creations begin at home. When this cooking-without-borders approach succeeds, as it mostly does, the results taste like wild siblings of the original: bolder, stronger, deeper. Seasonings for a delicious variation on harira, a traditional Moroccan soup, include Aleppo pepper and garam masala; a buttermilk brine for fried chicken is flavored with ginger, coriander and cayenne. Indian dishes like Mashed Potatoes with Mustard Oil, Cilantro and Onions and Bombay-Style Whole Snapper, in which the fish is rubbed with a spice paste before roasting, particularly stand out for their elegance and ease of preparation. 60 color photos not seen by PW . (Oct.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.