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  • American Masala
  • Written by Suvir Saran and Raquel Pelzel
  • Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780307341501
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American Masala

125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen

Written by Suvir SaranAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Suvir Saran and Raquel PelzelAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Raquel Pelzel

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In Indian Home Cooking, Suvir Saran introduced our taste buds, and our kitchens, to the wonders of cumin, coriander, cardamom, and curry leaves. American Masala takes the next step, marrying Indian flavors with American favorites to create dishes that are exotic, yet familiar; full of complex tastes, yet easy enough for weeknight suppers. Masala—the Hindi word for a blend of spices—is at the heart of Indian cooking. Whether toasted, ground, fried, infused in oil, or fresh, spices are used to layer flavors in simple but profound ways. Bring the same techniques to American classics such as meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, or roasted turkey, and the result is something truly special. Masala also refers to the excitement and vibrancy that come from a house full of friends and family. Simple recipes prepared with staples found in every supermarket mean less time laboring in the kitchen and more time spent enjoying the spice of life.

From snacks and starters and on to the evening meal, the Indian influence brightens the flavors in dishes like:

- Goat Cheese Pesto–Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- Tamarind-Glazed Turkey with Corn Bread–Jalapeño Stuffing
- Crab-and-Salmon Cakes with Spicy Cilantro Aïoli
- Crispy Okra Salad
- Bombay-Style Whole Snapper
- Honey-Glazed Double-Thick Pork Chops
- Pistachio-and-Cardamom Pound Cake with Lemon Icing
- Fried Eggs with Asparagus and Prosciutto

American Masala isn’t about traditional Indian food—it’s about adding new flavors to the great American melting pot, using spices to liven up the old standbys, and enjoying dishes that are as exciting and diverse as life in the big city, and yet as familiar and comforting as your mother’s cooking.


Goan-Style Shrimp Curry
Serves 8

Each region of the western coast of India has its own favorite shrimp curry, with no two cooks—even those who live on the same block—ever making the same recipe or revealing their family's secret. This recipe is inspired by a wonderful version that I had at a friend's home in Goa.

Sambhaar, especially when homemade, gives the sauce an amazing depth of flavor. Sambhaar is a spice blend that is the southern Indian equivalent to Garam Masala, a spice blend used often in northern India. The nutty flavor comes from the addition of channa dal (yellow split peas) and urad dal (small white lentils). I don't add the customary amount of fenugreek seeds as they can make the Sambhaar overwhelmingly bitter; if you crave a more traditional flavor, then double the amount of fenugreek. Add Sambhaar to soups, stews, and sauces or sprinkle onto meat before broiling or grilling.

There are times when I crave just the sauce of this curry so I make it without the shrimp and eat it with lots of rice.

For the marinade

• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground peppercorns
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
• 1 pound large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined

For the sauce

• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup canola oil
• 24 curry leaves, roughly torn (optional)
• 4 dried red chiles
• 1 teaspoon ground peppercorns
• A 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
• 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
• 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
• 1 teaspoon Sambhaar, or 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
• 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
• 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the Sambhaar (makes about 3/4 cup)

• 3 dried red chiles
• 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
• 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
• 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
• 1 tablespoon white lentils (urad dal)
• 1 tablespoon yellow split peas (channa dal)
• 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
• 2 teaspoons ground peppercorns
• 40 curry leaves (optional)

To make the marinade, place all of the ingredients in a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag. Add the shrimp, toss to coat, and refrigerate.

Set 1/2 cup of water next to the stovetop. Heat the oil with the curry leaves (if using) and chiles in a medium pot over medium-high heat until the curry leaves start to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ground peppercorns and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the ginger, onion, and salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is browned, about 8 minutes, sprinkling with water and stirring whenever the onion and ginger begin to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Add the garlic, coriander, and turmeric and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes to the pot. Cook, stirring and scraping the browned bits up from the sides and bottom of the pot, for 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the Sambhaar (see below) and cook for 1 minute, and then pour in the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and add the shrimp and any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are curled and opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

To prepare the Sambhaar
Place all of the spices in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toast until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the skillet starts to smoke, stirring often, 3 1/2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or coffee mill and grind until powder fine. Store in an airtight glass jar for up to 4 months.
Suvir Saran

About Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran - American Masala

Photo © Kathryn Noble

SUVIR SARAN’s Manhattan restaurant, Devi, has earned widespread critical acclaim including a Michelin star. His newest restaurant endeavor, the American Masala fast-food chain, will debut in 2007. He lives between Manhattan and his farm in upstate New York.


"This book is a warm, personal invitation to make fabulous food at home, all inspired by American and Indian favorites. How could anyone say no to vegetables so gorgeous and so easy to make. Nothing could be healthier. These dishes promise no fuss or drama and I love the descriptions that come with them. I'm convinced.
I can't wait to try them all."
- Marion Nestle, NYU Professor and author of Food Politics and What to Eat

"I actually hear the voice of Suvir Saran on every page, especially in the intimate recipe footnotes as he reimagines everyday favorite dishes of the American melting pot in his own kitchen, intensifying flavors with the fragrant spices of India. Buy this book for the secret of his rich-as Croesus macaroni and cheese, the crispy okra salad and, yes, the irresistible skillet cornbread borrowed from an America grandma. "
- Gael Greene , New York Magazine Critic and author of Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess

"Suvir Saran's American Masala is an exciting addition to American cooking. These recipes are simple without being simplistic and bring the vibrant traditions of Indian seasoning and spice to the increasingly diverse American repertoire. Perhaps most important, this book is filled with Saran's huge and generous spirit."
- Michael Ruhlman, Author, The Soul of a Chef

"I have cooked Suvir's recipes probably fifty times, never without delightful, fresh, inspiring results. When it comes to contemporary and traditional food, I trust him implicitly. American Masala is a gem."
- Mark Bittman, Author, How to Cook Everything and The Best Recipes in the World

Suvir Saran's American Masala is an exhilarating culinary journey. From Cardamom Roasted Cauliflower to sumptuous Crab and Salmon Cakes with a Spicy Cilantro Aioli, Suvir’s love affair with amazing flavors is evident in every recipe. My own personal favorites will always be his Spiced Pear and Better-than-Ketchup Tomato Chutneys, but I adore his pickles, too!"
- Sheila Lukins, Co-author, the Silver Palate Cookbook

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