Collect a few essentials, and there's a lot you can do without spending hours in the kitchen.
Because she has taught Indian cooking--she had a school in Oakland, California--Kahate knows how to present recipes clearly. And she knows what ingredients are available in this part of the world.
Her book promises "easy, exotic dishes in 30 minutes or less." The actual time depends on how long it takes to assemble and chop the ingredients, and that varies with each person.
I spent almost an hour on Farmer's Black Bean Stew (at top), but I'm not the fastest mincer in the world, and the recipe calls for six ingredients to be minced or finely chopped.
Once that is done, putting together the stew is easy, and it's a great dish. Serve it with a salad and yogurt raita (there are several raita recipes in the book), and you have an easy and very tasty dinner.
For dessert, there's nothing easier than fresh fruit with Kahate's cardamom-scented syrup.
If you're serious about Indian food, Kahate provides a shopping list and shortcuts to keep on hand such as garlic and ginger pastes, homemade ghee and red and green masalas.
If it's an occasional whim, an extra spice or two will carry you through quite a few dishes. And you can pick up dals, rice and yogurt as you go.
The 125 recipes include plenty that will appeal to vegetarians, as well as others based on meat, poultry and seafood.
Kahate has also written "5 Spices, 50 Dishes," and you might want to keep an eye out for that book too.
FARMER'S BLACK BEAN STEW
From "Quick-Fix Indian"
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 (3-inch) piece ginger root, peeled and minced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 medium serrano chiles, minced
1 (14-ounce) can peeled, chopped tomatoes
2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, drained
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until golden. Add the ginger, garlic and chiles and saute until browned and aromatic.
Mix in the tomatoes and cook, covered, until the tomatoes are saucy--about 3 minutes. Stir occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spatula.
Add the beans and water to this sauce. Add a little salt if necessary (remember, canned beans are frequently salted) and simmer for 10 minutes, or until thick and creamy.
Stir in the cilantro, mint and butter, if using. Serve hot.
Makes 4 servings.