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An Invitation to Indian Cooking

THE quintessential book on Delhi-style cooking for western home cooks in the early '70s. Hard to overstate how foundational this book was to the western view of Indian cooking, though some of the details are outdated in 2021.
  • An absolute gold mine of flavor combos.
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Great for entertaining.
  • Written like a novel, which can be tricky to follow.
  • Average cook time per meal was about 4 hours.

If you're someone who likes to explore classic cooking techniques and make spicy, warming foods available to guests when you entertain, then this cookbook is for you.

I found my way into this book because I wanted to make paneer from scratch one night. No reason — I just thought it would be fun to try. Anyway, I started rifling through a few cookbooks to see what the overall strategy was to making this dense and glorious cheese (spoiler: it's lemon juice).

While reading Madhur's paneer recipe, I quickly found myself down a rabbit hole and an hour later I was working out how to make her parathas, potatoes, and lamb. All I wanted to do in that moment was read more of her recipes; the paneer would have to wait.

So, after a week (and 18 dishes) of working exclusively with An Invitation to Indian Cooking, I learned that a pickled onion and some yogurt go a long way to fix any kitchen mishap and that the combination of fried rice and black-eyed peas is divine.