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Cooking Indian & South Asian

New Indian Basics

100 Traditional and Modern Recipes from Arvinda's Family Kitchen

by (author) Preena Chauhan & Arvinda Chauhan

Random House Canada
Initial publish date
Nov 2022
Indian & South Asian, Canadian, Quick & Easy
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2022
    List Price

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Welcome Arvinda and Preena, the mother-daughter duo behind Arvinda’s premium Indian spice blends, into your kitchen with their decades of experience, vibrant recipes, and cooking wisdom! Learn the basics of both classic and modern Indian cuisine in this timeless book that you will return to again and again.

In New Indian Basics, Preena Chauhan and Arvinda Chauhan—the masters behind Arvinda’s Indian spice blends—present a collection of flavorful, accessible recipes and kitchen wisdom gained from a lifetime of personal and professional experience teaching Indian cooking, where spices take center stage. With their clear instructions and signature warmth, this mother-daughter duo will guide you to flawless renditions of Indian dishes, both traditional and modern, with absolute ease.

Here, you’ll find recipes perfect for all meals and all home cooks, whatever the time of day or level of experience. Chapters like Indian Brunch & Eggs are full of modern dishes like Chai-Spiced Apple Buckwheat Pancakes with Maple Cream or Indian-Style Baked Eggs in a richly spiced tomato sauce. Indian Street Foods & Savory Appetizers will make traditional snacks, like Chaat Papri, your new go-to nibble. And whether you’re looking for vegetarian or meat mains, you’ll find options to excite your palate, from a classic Butter Chicken or Channa Masala to a celebratory Vegetable Biryani with Saffron & Nuts or a Mapled Tandoori Salmon with Mint. There are many accompaniments that go along with a full Indian meal, so there are chapters dedicated to these components such as chutneys, pickles, raitas, and masalas to help you build your pantry, rice dishes, and, of course, flatbreads, like homemade Naan. And don’t forget about dessert! Preena and Arvinda share a full chapter on exquisite mithai, traditional sweets, and modern desserts as well. With this focus on the many expansive regions that make up India’s culinary fabric, you’ll be enticed to learn about beloved specialties and new flavor profiles. No matter the recipe, Preena and Arvinda use their many years as educators to walk you through every step.

In addition to their vibrant recipes, Preena and Arvinda include helpful resources like a spice glossary, a guide to different lentils and beans, a mini workshop on the best way to cook basmati rice, and information on how to serve—and eat—an Indian meal. They even suggest ways to put it all together with their celebratory and seasonal Indian menus. With a wealth of incredible recipes, knowledge, and gorgeous photography, New Indian Basics is sure to become a food bible in your kitchen.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

PREENA CHAUHAN and ARVINDA CHAUHAN have been teaching traditional Indian cooking to home cooks, chefs, and restaurateurs since 1993, attracting participants from around the world. They create some of the world’s premier Indian spice blends, which are available at fine retailers across Canada and the United States. Arvinda is a recipient of the Woman of the Year award from the Women's Culinary Network, and Preena was named a Local Food Hero by the Toronto Food Policy Council. Together, they have run culinary trips to India, and worked as recipe developers, consultants, and speakers on Indian cooking, and Preena was the host of Masala Magic Recipes, an Indian vegetarian cooking television series.

Excerpt: New Indian Basics: 100 Traditional and Modern Recipes from Arvinda's Family Kitchen (by (author) Preena Chauhan & Arvinda Chauhan)


My first foray into the kitchen was around the age of five. I would help my mother, Arvinda, sort out beans and lentils and do odd jobs for her in the kitchen. I loved to bake and made my first cake at this age—incidentally, this was about the same age as my mother when she first started cooking. Although we have that in common, our circumstances couldn’t be more different.

When Arvinda was seven years old, living with her family in a small village in Kenya, her mother passed away, so she started cooking out of necessity from a small age, helping her grandparents while her father was away studying in Germany and the U.K. Her first cooking experience was making chapatis on a chulha, a coal-heated clay stove, a practice still carried out in rural India today. To care for her four siblings, she learned to grind fresh flour through a heavy grinding stone and pound spices using a large mortar and pestle. What started out as an obligation early on in her childhood later turned into her lifelong passion, as cooking and food became a channel for my mother to express her creative passions.

My parents moved to Canada in the early 1970s, and my mother’s love of cooking continued to grow. Over the years, she developed her skills as an Indian cook, learning to create curries according to traditional family recipes. She gradually understood the intricacies and nuances of spices, using this knowledge to cook delicious curries and dals that quickly became family favorites. She churned out complete Indian meals—savory appetizers with delicious chutneys, traditional Indian flatbreads prepared fresh and piping hot, fragrant jeweled basmati rice, and, of course, delectable Indian sweets for dessert. My mother experimented with international and Indian recipes and treated us to delicious home-cooked meals every single day.

During a Canada Day celebration in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1993 while we were volunteering for a fundraising initiative for a women’s charity, we sold a variety of Indian snack foods like pakoras and dal wadas (lentil fritters) to help raise money. After receiving numerous inquiries asking how to make these savory Indian treats at home, I recall my mother offering ad hoc cooking instruction on the spot, enthusiastically explaining how to make these tasty appetizers with only a few simple ingredients. The adventurous people kept asking if there was somewhere they could go to learn this. It was at that very moment that my mother diskovered how much she loved to teach people how to cook Indian food, so she began setting up a business to start teaching Indian cooking classes that coming fall.

Since the very start of her cooking classes, my mother wanted to demonstrate how to prepare healthy Indian meals at home with easy cooking methods using simple ingredients and fresh spices. She called her cooking classes Healthy Gourmet Indian Cooking, and her approach was always uncomplicated. She taught about spices and how they could be used to cook curries of depth with bold, layered, and delicious flavors. She also added a gourmet flair to traditional Indian foods, presenting them a little differently, more elaborately or upscale. Cooking-class participants delved deeply into spices, the cornerstone of traditional Indian cooking. In her eight-week Indian Beginner’s Cooking course, participants learned about the storied history of spices, how spices are grown and cultivated, how they are used and stored in an Indian kitchen, and, most notably, that quality spices and ingredients are essential for the best-tasting Indian foods. During these classes in the early 1990s, I assisted my mother in her cooking school every step of the way (most of the classes were held on weeknights and weekends at various locations across the Greater Toronto Area), taking in all the cooking knowledge along with the students, who were also eager to learn.

My mother and I travelled to the exotic spice-growing regions of India and Sri Lanka to see and learn firsthand how spices are cultivated, harvested, and brought to market, meeting passionate farmers, traders, and spice merchants along the way. In the mid- to late-2000s, we took our students to India through guided culinary tours. Around this time, our students, noticing the freshness and quality of spices being used in our classes, often asked to purchase these spices directly from us. They also sought advice on how to make Indian cooking even easier, which prompted my mother to mix together a few key spices into a batch of masala (meaning “spice blend”) for her students to try. She started stocking premixed roasted and ground garam masala and chai masala at the request of her students. The masalas became so popular among the students that they requested that we bring them to market.

During this time, I was pursuing my Master in Environmental Studies at York University and received a small amount of funds to start a small business. Inspired by the Food Network’s show Recipe for Success, which profiles entrepreneurs who were successful in bringing a family recipe to market, my brother Paresh and I launched Arvinda’s Indian spice blends. With a slight amount of savings in hand, we started grinding small-batch spice blends in a modest industrial unit in Oakville, Ontario, that we had converted into a food-production facility. We started marketing Arvinda’s masalas at trade shows in Toronto and won over the likes of celebrity chefs, who asked to buy food-service sizes for their acclaimed restaurants in Toronto—an exciting development for us right at the launch of the brand.

In 2005, when the company started, most customers and people in the grocery industry didn’t even know what a masala was, often mistaking the word masala for marsala, the famous Sicilian wine, and making it difficult to gain traction in the market early on. Over the next decade, Paresh and I worked tirelessly to introduce Arvinda’s blends to customers and educate grocery buyers on how to make healthy and easy curries from scratch using spices at countless cooking demonstrations, cooking classes, farmers’ markets, trade and consumer shows, and culinary events across Ontario and in Montreal, Quebec.

Now, with nearly 30 years of teaching others Indian cuisine and learning our craft of spice roasting, grinding, and blending through Arvinda’s Indian spice blends, we share with you all our Indian cooking traditions, knowledge, tips, and techniques in New Indian Basics.

Just as in our cooking classes, our goal is to encourage, inspire, excite, and empower you to venture into the fascinating cuisine of India so you can create your favorite Indian foods or try some brand-new recipes with delicious results for yourself and your family. Many of the recipes in this cookbook are some of our most-loved family recipes taught in our cooking classes, while others are inspired by our travels. There are recipes for all occasions and for everyday Indian meals. Some are rustic and home-style, while others are extravagant, to be enjoyed during the festival time of year and the holidays. There’s a little something for every Indian food lover in this cookbook.

Spices are healing. Spices are powerful. Spices tell a rich story. And spices taste incredible and are what make Indian food so delicious. In this cookbook, we pay homage to Indian spices, using them throughout and encouraging you to embrace them for their mouthwatering flavors, good health, and bold taste.

Cook with spice, happy life!