Author Topic: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?  (Read 5191 times)

Offline gmac

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Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« on: August 14, 2012, 02:48:07 PM »
I want to expand my cooking prowess and the two cuisines I'd like to try are Mexican (I can't say I've ever really had "authentic" Mexican more than once or twice) and Indian (and who knows how authentic that is here).

So, do you have a recommendation for good cookbooks for either of these cuisines?  I'm looking to buy one of each.
Thanks

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2012, 03:17:51 PM »
I don't use books much but the 'Beautiful...' books are good, they have 'beautiful mexico', 'beautiful italy' etc. I think they might actually be from Williams sonoma.
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Offline jmmcfarland

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2012, 04:12:49 PM »
For Mexican I recommend any thing by Rick Bayless, his recipes are delicious and he explains the techniques used.
Also, Diane Kennedy's The essential cuisines of Mexico is pretty good too.
I know very little about Indian cuisine unfortunately except I like it.

Offline troybinso

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2012, 05:55:40 PM »
I'll second both Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless for Mexican food.

Madhur Jaffrey is the classic Indian cookbook author.

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2012, 07:52:34 PM »
I'll second both Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless for Mexican food.

Madhur Jaffrey is the classic Indian cookbook author.

+1  I would also suggest Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking."
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Offline mihalybaci

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2012, 08:02:00 PM »
the indian cookbook i have is simply called "indian" by shehzad husain and rafi fernandez, the recipes are really good. i haven't eaten any of rick bayless' dishes, but he's definitely the go-to guy. for general cookbook i would recommend anything from America's Test Kitchen, for your needs the book "The Best International Recipes" has sections on Mexican, Indian, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, etc.

Offline redbeerman

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 07:31:09 AM »
I'll second both Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless for Mexican food.

Madhur Jaffrey is the classic Indian cookbook author.

+1  I would also suggest Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking."

+1  Julie Sahni's books have pretty authentic recipes.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 06:08:40 PM »
The problem with "authentic" Mexican food cookbooks is that Mexican grandmas are too busy cooking and being grandmas to write a cook book.

FWIW there are a bunch of different "authentic" cuisines in Mexico. I've heard that people in Mexico generally regard food from the Yucatan region as being especially good. But that's a lot of tropical fruit, plantains, black beans, and other things you'd more likely associate with the Caribbean. A lot (probably most) of the "Mexican" food in the US is from northern Mexico, or from the area around Mexico City.

I wouldn't call what Rick Bayless does "traditional." It's more Mexican fusion, or American-style Mexican food.

I love Test Kitchen, but they butcher a lot of "ethnic" dishes. They're the #1 source for kickass American food though. 

If you want something authentic to blow your mind, you should make pambazos. They're the best. Chorizo, fried potatoes, avocado, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, refried beans, and queso fresco in a fried hoagie-style roll that's been brushed with a guajillo sauce.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2012, 06:25:53 PM »
I could probably help troubleshoot dishes if there's something in particular you're trying to make. My wife used to be a pro cook so she's pretty good at making stuff. We've been chasing "authentic" Mexican food for a while, and we haven't found anywhere that provides decent recipes. Our best results have just been through trial and error.

Two general tips I've found that can improve any Mexican dish: use lard, and if the recipe calls for salt, use chicken bouillon, and if it calls for liquid, use chicken stock.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2012, 06:42:07 PM »
Thanks Nateo.
I'm not trying to do anything too earth shattering.  Figured I'd start with tamales since I like them but I have no idea how to make the sauces that go with them.  I know that there was a tamale link on here but I need more instruction.  Biggest problem I'm going to have is finding ingredients or good ones.  Our grocery stores around here cater to our "very diverse" ethnic population - Canadian and Dutch.  I can always get salted licorice but it's only right now that I can get plantains for example (and never tomatillos or avocados that aren't either hard enough to crack walnuts or way, way over ripe and darkening).  That's because of the Mexican/Caribbean migrant labour that is here to pick vegetables and tobacco but once they are done, they go back home where it's nice and warm and the supply of anything interesting dries up.

For Indian, I'd like to try mater paneer (making my own panner since it's just acid co-agulated cheese) and lamb rogan josh which are my two favourites.  But I'm also interested in other Indian dishes.

Offline nateo

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2012, 07:03:25 PM »
Tamales are my favorite food in the world but a giant PITA to make. We don't really have a recipe per se, but I can try to describe how we do it. This recipe is a decent starting place, with some changes: http://www.food.com/recipe/traditional-tamales-pork-15286

When it calls for fat, use lard. When it calls for liquid, use chicken stock, when it calls for salt, use chicken bullion.

For the pork, you should get a cast iron skillet really hot, and sear the outside of the roast before you slow cook it. It's not necessary, but it's better if you do. After that, we put it in the crock pot till it's fall-apart tender (usually overnight).

For the sauce, I think the recipe in the link is pretty much what I do. I don't think the kind of chili really matters that much. We just use whatever we can get at the grocery store at the time, ancho, guajillo, new mexico, whatever.

You'll have to use your tongue to the get the quantities of everything dialed in. Don't skimp on the spices/aromatics. I'd use more onions and garlic than that recipe calls for. I'd double the onions and triple the garlic, but I like garlic a lot. For the sauce recipe, just add the spices to taste. It's basically just a red enchilada sauce.

Like great beer, great food is more about how you make it than what recipe you use. Let your taste guide you while you're cooking.
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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2012, 05:43:03 AM »
The problem with "authentic" Mexican food cookbooks is that Mexican grandmas are too busy cooking and being grandmas to write a cook book.

FWIW there are a bunch of different "authentic" cuisines in Mexico. I've heard that people in Mexico generally regard food from the Yucatan region as being especially good. But that's a lot of tropical fruit, plantains, black beans, and other things you'd more likely associate with the Caribbean. A lot (probably most) of the "Mexican" food in the US is from northern Mexico, or from the area around Mexico City.

I wouldn't call what Rick Bayless does "traditional." It's more Mexican fusion, or American-style Mexican food.

While I haven't done much traveling around Mexico, I think Rick Bayless' recipes seem to be pretty authentic.  They may not be exactly what you'd find en la mesa de abuela, but then again, RB is sort of an upscale chef.  It's probably only fair to compare his recipes to those made in upscale restaurants in Mexico (which may be more fusion/American oriented, I suppose).  BTW, I am completely biased about this because I love RB and I own just about all of his cookbooks. ;D
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Offline nateo

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2012, 06:58:17 AM »
While I haven't done much traveling around Mexico, I think Rick Bayless' recipes seem to be pretty authentic.  They may not be exactly what you'd find en la mesa de abuela, but then again, RB is sort of an upscale chef.  It's probably only fair to compare his recipes to those made in upscale restaurants in Mexico (which may be more fusion/American oriented, I suppose).  BTW, I am completely biased about this because I love RB and I own just about all of his cookbooks. ;D

Just as one example, since I'm not an expert on Rick Bayless, here are his duck tacos: http://www.rickbayless.com/recipe/view?recipeID=142

I don't think those ingredients or the preparation are in any way "authentic" Mexican ingredients or techniques. It's Mexican/Pan-Asian fusion. I'm sure duck tacos are good, but I'm also sure they're not "authentic" or "traditional."

If Asian-style duck tacos catch on, and all the taco joints in Mexico start selling Asian-style duck tacos, eventually they can become "authentic" Mexican food. "Tacos al Pastor" is a good example of Lebanese-Mexican fusion becoming "authentic" through time and widespread use. In America, spaghetti with meat sauce is a good example of Italian-American fusion becoming traditional American food. I love spaghetti and meat sauce, just don't try to tell me it's "authentic" Italian food.

(I know I'm conflating "traditional" and "authentic," and that there is in fact a difference between those words.)
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 07:00:15 AM by nateo »
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Offline troybinso

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2012, 07:39:31 AM »
As long as we are talking about "authentic" I guess you have to break things down into regions. In Northern Mexico flour tortillas are authentic and traditional, but you won't see them in the Yucatan.

I have never been to India, but I understand there are some huge regional difference - to be expected in a country of 1 billion people.


Offline nateo

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Re: Best Mexican and Indian cookbooks?
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2012, 08:44:10 AM »
I'm not as well-versed in Indian food, but I think a lot of the dishes popular in American Indian restaurants have been filtered through British tastes. I'm thinking of chicken korma, specifically, but it's my impression that Indian food in America is generally only slightly more authentic than Chinese food in America. (As an aside, xiaolongbao is heavenly, if you ever get the chance to try it)

I don't mean to be picking on US-versions of ethnic food in particular. A lot of stuff gets lost in translation anywhere you go. In Korea canned corn is a common pizza topping, and dill pickles are a common ingredient in burritos.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 08:47:23 AM by nateo »
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