Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn by Chitra Agrawal

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Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Spicy and sour tomato lentil soup (Tomato bele saaru or rasam)

    • TrishaCP on October 14, 2018

      I haven't made or tried rasam before, and I found this soup to be ok. I guess I was expecting something with more oomph from the description in the recipe notes- more sourness and heat for one thing. Perhaps it's my fault for not adjusting some ingredients to taste. For example, I didn't get any sour note from the initial one teaspoon of tamarind paste called for- so I added two more and it was better but maybe I needed to add more. I have lots of rasam powder remaining so I'll be trying other versions.

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      This is delicious. We served it a bit thicker, by personal preference, and did adjust the seasonings to taste, as with pretty much everything. Have made again several times, as you end up with quite a bit of rasam powder.

  • Roasted kabocha squash and coconut milk soup

    • TrishaCP on October 02, 2018

      This is one of the best squash soups that I have ever made. If you make this all in one go, like I did, including the rasam powder, it is very time-consuming. I would say worth it though, as this soup has really nice depth of flavor (as it should after toasting and grinding spices, roasting a kabocha squash, and adding ginger, chiles, curry leaves and more spices to the blended squash/spice mixture)! I served it with farro, which made for a satisfying meal.

    • jenburkholder on October 09, 2021

      This was okay, but one of my least favorites from this book. Kind of bland, even after tinkering with the spices, and made a strangely small amount.

  • Lime dill rice with pistachios (Nimbehannu sabseege soppu baath)

    • VineTomato on April 17, 2017

      Delicious, even when leaving out two ingredients! I forgot the limes at the end, and left out the ground chilli lentil spice powder they recommend as I was short for time and serving dinner for guests who don't enjoy thier food too hot. I did the Ragahavan Iyer rice cooking method to start (for the turmeric basmati) as it works like a charm and has not let me down once.

    • aschacht on April 15, 2022

      This is such a great recipe for using up leftover rice, so delicious and the dill really shines! We eat it with a dollop of yogurt, and a little achaar from Brooklyn Delhi (Chitra's condiment company). It goes well with other recipes in the book like a salad, dal, or palya, or stands on its own for a light meal.

  • Mixed vegetable and lentil stew (Tharakaari huli or sambar)

    • Lepa on October 18, 2017

      This stew was much too spicy for my kids (and I only added half the sambar powder) and the adults who like spicy food thought it was just meh. It might have been better with homemade sambar but there are so many great Indian lentil recipes that I don't feel compelled to revisit this one.

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      We adored this, and it earned sambar powder a permanent place in the spice rack. We didn't find it to be too spicy at all, and cutting down the sambar would definitely result in a bland product. I've made it with both her blend and a store-bought version, and both are good, though obviously homemade wins. This is really more of a template than a recipe, and I tend to add lots more veg than she calls for. With some brown rice, it's the best lunch a bloke could ask for.

  • Cabbage stir-fry with lemon and curry leaves (Yalekosu palya)

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      This is tasty and simple. Good for when there's not much else in the fridge.

  • Green bean and coconut stir-fry (Huralikayi palya)

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      This is an excellent method that's very versatile. We made as written, with green beans, and it was delicious, even with out-of-season beans.

  • Beet yogurt raita

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      Tasty, basic raita. A good use for that last lonely beet sitting in the crisper.

  • Coconut rice with cashews (Kayi anna)

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      This was a nice alternative to plain basmati rice, without being too much more work. We didn't add the optional pomegranate seeds and didn't miss them.

  • Thin flatbread (Chapati or roti)

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      Tastes like a chapati, nothing to complain about with the directions.

  • Red cabbage and citrus coleslaw (Yalekosu kosambri)

    • jenburkholder on June 25, 2022

      Very good slaw. Subbed cucumber for snap peas (allergy). Would be great on a fish taco or similar.

  • Shredded carrot and lentil salad (Hesaru bele carrot kosambri)

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      This is an excellent salad. Two of us ended up eating the whole thing, even though it claims it serves 4-6. We used home-sprouted mung bean sprouts instead of moong dal, and that worked well.

  • Radish yogurt raita

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      This was okay, but we don't really care for radishes, so it wasn't our favorite. Radish-lovers would probably like it more.

  • Kale yogurt raita

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      Another solid raita to serve alongside most anything. I almost always have kale around, so I've made versions of this a few times.

  • Cucumber, tomato, and onion yogurt raita

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      This is delicious - best raita in the book, maybe the best I've had. Crunchy, tart, creamy, just great.

  • Roasted butternut squash and lentil stew (Kumbalakayi huli or sambar)

    • jenburkholder on October 05, 2020

      Yum! Needed a generous hand with the seasonings - way more acid and salt than called for - but was a warm, cozy meal for fall. I upped the lentils to make it more of a main protein source. Served with sautéed kale, rice, yogurt, and some pickles.

  • Black-eyed peas, greens, and lentil stew (Alasande harive huli or sambar)

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      Anything that has multiple legumes is going to be a win for me, and this was no exception. Earthy, hearty, and delicious, plus a good use of some amaranth greens that I snapped up at the farmer's market.

  • Creamy yellow lentils with tomato and ginger (Hesaru bele thovvay)

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      One of the best simple dals out there, we've made this half a dozen times and it always satisfies.

  • Ben's curry leaf popcorn

    • jenburkholder on August 21, 2020

      I thought this was delicious, though not everyone in the family agreed (some people are boring and just like butter and salt). The butter, however, burns too easily, so I would try the alternate coconut oil next time.

  • Spicy cranberry relish (Thokku)

    • jenburkholder on November 03, 2020

      Good - tart and hot. Have used for several different things: plopping on a bowl of Indian food, slathering on cornbread with butter, nibbling with a bit of cheese. It was tasty with all, but particularly the cornbread - that and a vegetarian sausage patty made a killer breakfast sandwich.

  • Rice and lentil crepe (Dosa)

    • savitha.moorthy on April 18, 2021

      This is my go-to dosa recipe. I was born and raised in South India (i.e., the land of the dosa) but never learned to make them from scratch until I found this book and recipe. This recipe has changed my relationship to dosas, and we now have them once a week at home.

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  • ISBN 10 1607747340
  • ISBN 13 9781607747345
  • Published Mar 21 2017
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 224
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Ten Speed Press

Publishers Text

From the acclaimed chef and owner of Brooklyn Delhi, a debut cookbook focused on the celebrated vegetarian fare of South India.
Lifelong vegetarian and chef Chitra Agrawal takes you on an epicurean journey to her mother’s hometown of Bangalore and back to Brooklyn, where she adapts her family’s South Indian recipes for home cooks. This particular style of Indian home cooking, often called the “yoga diet,” is light and fresh, yet satisfying and rich in bold and complex flavors. Grains, legumes, fresh produce, coconut, and yogurt—along with herbs, citrus, chiles, and spices—form the cornerstone of this delectable cuisine, rooted in vegetarian customs and honed over centuries for optimum taste and nutrition. 
From the classic savory crepe dosa, filled with lemony turmeric potatoes and cilantro coconut chutney, to new creations like coconut polenta topped with spring vegetables 'upma" and homemade yogurt, the recipes in Vibrant India are simple to prepare and a true celebration of color and flavor on a plate. Chitra weaves together the historical context behind the region’s cuisine and how she brought some of these age-old traditions to life thousands of miles away in Brooklyn during the city’s exciting food renaissance.

Relying on her experience as a culinary instructor, Chitra introduces the essential Indian cooking techniques, tips, and ingredients you’ll need to prepare a full range of recipes from quick vegetable stir frys (corn, basil, and leeks flavored with butter, cumin, and black pepper), salads (citrus red cabbage and fennel slaw with black mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chile), yogurt raitas (shredded beets and coconut in yogurt), and chutneys and pickles (preserved Meyer lemon in chile brine) to hearty stews (aromatic black eyed peas, lentils, and greens), coconut curries (summer squash in an herby coconut yogurt sauce), and fragrant rice dishes (lime dill rice with pistachios). Rounding out the book is an array of addictive snacks (popcorn topped with curry leaf butter), creative desserts (banana, coconut, and cardamom ice cream), and refreshing drinks (chile watermelon juice with mint). Chitra provides numerous substitutions to accommodate produce seasonality, ingredient availability, and personal tastes. The majority of recipes are gluten-free and vegan or can be easily modified to adhere to those dietary restrictions.

Whether you are a vegetarian or just looking for ways to incorporate more vegetarian recipes into your repertoire, Vibrant India is a practical guide for bringing delicious Indian home cooking to your table on a regular basis.