We tend to think of most Indian meals as time-consuming because of the complex spice blends and rich buttery sauces. Challenging that preconception and expanding our knowledge about Indian cuisine is Rinku Bhattacharya’s new cookbook, Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors, which offers fast and fresh recipes for busy lifestyles.
Bhattacharya is a food blogger at Cooking in Westchester, a wife, a mother of two kids, a finance professional, an avid gardener, and a writer for local newspapers who understands the value of time. Her previous book, The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, was published in 2012.
In Spices & Seasons, she demonstrates the basics of Indian cuisine techniques and a starter guide to complex spices. Her book offers a refreshing take on vegetarian and meat-based dishes, as she offers allergy-friendly abbreviations alerting readers which recipes are vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten-free. Besides her Indian culture, her backyard garden, nicknamed “the little backyard that could,” influences how recipes are organized by the season.
In New York, berry season is a short few weeks away and Bhattacharya’s Seared Scallops in a Fresh Blueberry Ginger Sauce (recipe here) is delicately flavored with sumac and coriander. I chose to roast the blueberries in a toaster oven, because my kitchen quickly gets hot in the summer. As the blueberries roasted, I quickly prepped and seared the scallops. The time, including prepping the ingredients, was about 25 minutes. It’s a delicious starter dish to a main course meal, such as Bhattarcharya’s Chickpea Flour Crusted Fish or Chili Basil Chicken.
Bhuttacharya’s earliest memories are of cooking next to her mother and grandmother. Combining the author’s childhood memories, Indian techniques for incorporating fresh and seasonal ingredients in recipes, and slow-cookers and pressure cookers to save time, Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors offers easy and fast recipes throughout the year.