If you've wondered what Indian people eat at home, and suspected that Indian women must spend the entire day cooking just one meal, here's the cookbook for you.
Anu Canumalla's recipes are simple and straightforward, but subtle and precise. I've gotten the best results by following the directions as given. That's challenging for someone who treats recipes as experiments! At the same time, it means that anyone who can follow directions can easily make Anu's delicious recipes at home.
The only change I recommend in these recipes is reducing the amount of red chili powder or other pungent spices for those with a low intolerance for hot spicy food.
I also left out the onions and reduced the tomatoes because I don't like them and figure any recipe is improved without them. If you do that, then of course increase the liquid to compensate.
Cabbage Sauteéd With Green Peas is my favorite Paakam recipe. It's so simple, but because of my habit of getting creative with recipes, it took me four tries to get it right. I kept thinking there must be steps or ingredients left out, and kept adding more which didn't belong!
Other Paakam Recipes I Love: Vegetable Fried Rice, Jeera Rice, Split Moong With Spinach, and Curried Black Eyed Peas.
There are many more recipes on my list to make - such as Curried Lentil Soup With Amaranth, Vegetable Kurma, Tangy Green Chutney, and Carrot Spinach Salad.
The recipes I've mentioned are all vegan. Many of the recipes in Paakam are vegan, or can easily be made vegan by substituting non-dairy milk (e.g coconut milk), tofu or chickpeas for panir, and vegan sour cream for yogurt.
I do have a couple of quibbles with Paakam.
In a few recipes, there's a direction for an ingredient which isn't listed, or an ingredient for which there's no direction. (I've noticed that happens in a lot of cookbooks!) The cure is to use common sense. Read the whole recipe through first, as you would anyway. Then adjust.
The other quibble is that Paakam has no index. This being a short cookbook, perhaps the author thought that was an unnecessary extravagance. In my world, indexes are always necessary, but this is a small disadvantage in an otherwise well organized cookbook.
Features Which More Than Make Up For The Quibbles: Each recipe has nutrition facts at the bottom of the page. 22 pages of Paakam's introduction are devoted to a discussion of Indian cuisine, detailed descriptions of the spices and herbs used in the book - including a heat index - spice blending, and many more pages about all the other recipe ingredients. That alone makes it invaluable.
I highly recommend Paakam - Everyday Indian For A Vegetarian Lifestyle. It has become one of my favorite cookbooks since I got it two months ago - and it looks it!