Incredible Indian Feasts

I find it surprising that my favorite, most frequently relied upon cookbook isn’t a vegan one or even a vegetarian one. Instead is an absolute gem by the name of 660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking. While it leans heavily on vegetables and legumes, it is fully omnivorous—from beef to eggplant—and also fully fan-foo-goo-tastic. Seriously!  It’s an incredible collection of recipes, plus bonus history and culture notes. Every single dish we’ve tried (and that’s saying something!) has been “good” at worst and “phenomenal-and-mouthwatering-I-must-have-seconds” at best. Indian cuisine is so varied and diverse by region and packs so much flavor. It is also highly adaptable—and cheap. I love it.

In my last post, I mentioned that we are eating extra, super duper dank these days. We almost always eat a home-cooked dinner even during more ordinary times, but often enough it has to get squeezed in before we head off to a concert or game night or brewery meet-up. Oh, not so(!) now that COVID-19 has freed up our schedules. Now we have all the time in the world to eat like royalty.
Carrots and Peas with a Roasted Chile-Spice Blend, Cayenne-spiked Cauliflower with an Onion-Tomato Sauce, Buttery Rice with Spinach and Onion, and ”Beef” with Bell Peppers, Onions, and Mushrooms 
(Or at least our version of royalty. Perhaps most people’s don’t involve so much rice or beans. This is probably like the time I told the waiter at Dennys that I wanted double hashbrowns but “fancied” up with some sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Bek’s uncle was openly amused and said putting spinach on something was not his idea of fancy. My dad agreed. But, I digress.)

For the past month we’ve had a weekly Indian Feast.  [An Indian Feast in our household can be defined: three or more(!) separate Indian dishes served at one meal so each plate is a mini buffet of flavors and textures.]. Usually, we'd only feast once a month, maybe. Now it is our weekly jam. Yum.

I have to credit our friend Alex with inspiring the term Indian Feast. Every now and then we pull off a Feast with him and his family—and, boy, it is epic. It is a belly-busting Indian extravaganza. Both of our households own the 660 Curries book. It is a superb time with swell folks centered around great food.  Plus, the food math is really simple:  if we each make three things then that is six!  Super Feast!
Bolly Cauli, Brown Lentils with Chunky Onion and Chilies, and Buttery Rice with Spinach and Onion 
…  Perhaps the rising frequency of our Indian Feasts these days is about more than just having extra free time in the evening though. I was wondering yesterday, as I soaked in the tub, whether it might be a subconscious attempt to add some routine to my bizarrely fluid and oh-so-similar days. In my ordinary life Monday is my Late Night Working At The Library. Tuesday is Bowling Night. Wednesday is Workday Wednesday around the house and garden. Friday is Pizza Night. The weekend is Travel and Adventure Time.  Concert Nights supersede basically any of those.

Except now it is Tuesday is Wii Bowling Night. Thursday is Indian Feast night. Friday is still Pizza Night and the weekend is now Matt Doesn’t Have to Work So We Get to Hang All Day Now Time. Workday Wednesday is whenever the heck we feel like it.  Concert Night comes via live feeds, catch as we can.
Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts, Carrots and Peas with a Roasted Chile-Spice Blend, Buttery Rice with Spinach and Onion, and ”Beef” with Bell Peppers, Onions, and Mushrooms
In any case, I can’t recommend the cookbook enough. I didn’t know diddly squat about the range and breadth of Indian cuisine before we checked it out from our public library all those years ago. (And after checking it out like five times in a row we finally just bought a used copy for our own.)  I’ve learned a whole lot, both in technique and ingredients. Mustard seed pops like popcorn and there is a subtle but notable difference between yellow mustard seed and black mustard seed. We now consider cumin seed to be an “essential “ingredient, right along with salt and pepper. [Pro tip: cumin seed can often be found in the Mexican/ethnic section at the supermarket.]

There are loads of recipes that don’t require any hard-to-obtain or exotic ingredients, but there are lots of recipes that do, too. I love the variety.  I am, as I write this, eagerly awaiting a shipment of fresh curry leaves, ordered online. I didn’t even know curry was anything but a powder when I first picked up this book. The fresh curry leaf is lovely though, sort of citrusy and maybe a little nutty…
Mangalorean “Chicken” Curry with Tamarind and Coconut Milk,  Cauliflower and Potatoes in a Spiced Tomato Sauce,  Buttery Rice with Spinach and Onion
We have probably eaten 30+ of the various vegetable dishes—which are all conveniently alphabetized by the main ingredient: cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms, potatoes, squash, etc. More recently we’ve been tackling some of the chicken and beef recipes from the meat section, substituting homemade seitan. We also regularly include the various rice dishes – my favorite is called Buttery Rice with Spinach and Onions, though the Nutty Rice is a close second. Then there are the flatbreads such as naan, but also less familiar versions like the crepe thin Flaky Griddle-cooked Bread made from chickpea flour, for example.
It is a solid little book. Also, if I do say so myself, the Feast concept is pretty solid, too. I mean, I know Indian isn’t for everyone, but I am pretty sure that an Italian Feast or a Japanese Feast or a Swedish Feast tradition would be equally awesome to a person who was into that cuisine or culture.

10/12/22 Update:  I revised some of the language in this post following an article I read in Mother Jones September/October 2022 (see below) about the use of the term "curry" as an umbrella term with colonial roots.


  1. Thanks for the recommendation...I'd not heard of that one...and I do love a good curry...
    ~Have a lovely day!

  2. Love the "feast" concept!! We would probably do Indian like you, actually - my mother-in-law grew up in India and Indian food is part of my husband's family. I agree that we need some kind of markers for these days!! Also these are the fun little traditions that tell us we are home and life is all right.

    I remember my husband looking for curry leaves for a recipe years ago and not finding them (and me telling him to just use curry powder - oops).
    My Indian cookbook is by Julie Sahni, and it is super detailed although she's a little bossy. Have you made any Indian pickles? My family now requires pickled lemons all the time - no vinegar involved - just salt and SPICES and oil. Keeps on the counter in a jar for literally a year or two.

  3. I will have to try this pickled lemon business! Nope, never have tried that before.

    Maybe I’ll see if my library has the Indian cookbook you have, even if it is a little bossy. Ha!

    We sure enjoy the feast and all of the the delights of home that it is associated with.

    Tonight we’re having a Mexican feast in honor of Cinco de Mayo.


Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!

Popular Posts