I've seen many recommendations for anything by Madhur Jaffrey for Indian cookery. But is there one book in particular that would be a good starting point for someone with no experience at all with this cuisine?
The Madhur Jaffrey cookbook I use most often is From curries to kebabs (published first in the UK as The ultimate curry bible). I like the breadth of it, because it presents recipes resulting from the diaspora of people from the Indian subcontinent in addition to strictly Indian recipes. But because of that, it might not be what you are looking for.
I was going to second robm's recommendation of Flavors of India, then realised that the book on my shelf I thought was Flavors of India is actually called A Taste of India. Very confusing. And it doesn't help that many of her books have been published in the UK and the US with different titles.
I would recommend A Taste of India as a nice survey of recipes from the different regions of India. That way you would get an idea of the spectrum of Indian cuisines.
Unless you have a pressure cooker and are not afraid to use it, I would not recommend the Quick and Easy Indian cooking--the recipes seemed to me to take some unecessary shortcuts and relied heavily on the use of a pressure cooker to cut down on total cooking time. But for me, one of the glories of Indian food is the depth of flavors achieved by slow cooking.
I see that she just published a new book in the UK called Curry Easy which might be even a better one to start with, but I cannot personally vouch for it and it is not yet available in the US. But if you aren't in a hurry to start your explorations, it might be a good choice.
And a final word of encouragement--don't be dismayed by the length of ingredient lists when you browse Indian recipes! they can look overwhelming, but the payoff is worth it.
The one book that really made me start Indian cooking (though not my first Indian cookbook at all) was Madhur Jaffrey's Spice Kitchen.
It is quite small, only 50 recipes, but it has a great range of dishes. I actually like the small number, as means you don't have to choose between hundreds of recipes when you don't really know how to choose yet.
But the one thing that makes this book stand out is how she describes what the spices are supposed to do, and why they are added to the dish in the manner they are. This means you get a good idea of what the finished dish will taste like, and it helps you get to know the spices.
As a poor student in Minneapolis in 1970 I would eat lunch for a dollar at the Hindu students' association cafeteria. My mouth as astonished at what ginger, cumen, garlic and other mysterious spices could do to the tired cabbages and carrots of the Midwestern winter. Since then, I have enjoyed cooking my way across the Pacific and coast to coast schlepping my spices and cookbooks. I recommend the Moghul Microwave by Julie Sahni for beginners. It is low fat, fast, and uniformly delicious. Try the "Moghul-Scented Basmati Pilaf" on page 302 for a fablulous treat!
My go to Indian cookbook and the one I actually bought first is "Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking" by Yamuna Devi. It is a huge book (huge as in many many recipes) and is presently on sale on AbeBooks.com for $15.00 plus shipping. I have other Indian cookbooks but none as comprehensive as this one. It is really a treasure and one I will never give away or sell.
Ive got a few Madhur Jaffrey books and learned a lot from them
but this book:
Is currently transforming my cooking of indian style food* Her flat breads in particular are ace
*(I'm not Indian, I lived in Leeds for a long time which has its own strong traditions of Indian food and I've been making Indian food for long enough that most things I make are my own creations but I doubt any of my Indian friends would recognise my cooking as "authentically" Indian - not that that is an issue at all)