Quick and Easy Indian Cooking with Anjum Anand

Anjum_Anand_Quick_and _Easy_Indian

The stars are aligning, and in a irresistibly Indian kind of way. Six months ago I was sent on a food-writing assignment to India with British chef and television personality Anjum Anand; a friend recently gifted me a ticket to an Indian film called The Lunchbox starring, you guessed it, Indian food; I’ve just been asked to review a batch of Sydney-based Indian restaurants; and Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian recently landed on my desk for review. It’s a tough life, but I’m coping – one curry at a time.

I’ve long been besotted with Indian cuisine. I cook it often, and from scratch, devoting entire afternoons to making pastes, pounding spices, and fashioning tricky, triangle-shaped samosas out of ghee-laden pastry. Nothing brings out my fighting spirit more than a plate of poppadums and a bowl of raita, and don’t get between me and a well-blistered naan.

On that trip six months ago Anjum taught me the distinguishing factors of Punjabi food, which spices to mix for particular masalas, and how to balance complex sauces. Six months later the lessons continue, this time through the pages of her latest lovely book.

Bright, paisley swirls adorn a white hard-backed cover which packages page after page of quick, healthy recipes. Anjum propels traditional Indian cooking into the health-conscious, time-poor 20th Century with recipes such as tandoori roast salmon tacos; quick masala dosas – the traditional crisp, spongy pancake cleverly replaced with rice paper wrappers; and Parsi poached eggs on potatoes. The pages are punctuated with time-saving tips.

So-long laboursome Indian cooking, hello Anjum’s “30-Minute Suppers” (other chapters include Indian Tapas, After Work and Quick Sides). Her “tangy near-instant prawn curry” took about 20 minutes to make (including peeling and deveining a tangle of green prawns) and boy it was a beauty. Her “near-instant grilled naan” (do you see a theme here?) studded with nigella seeds was soft and light and the perfect accompaniment to the saucy prawns. The “quickest ever tarka dal” may refer to the quick cooking time but could equally relate to the eating – it was gone in under 10 minutes, mopped up with Anjum-inspired Indian bread.

“Everyone I know is busy. This generation fills each moment of every day. Even our weekends are stuffed with plans … This book is the perfect way to help you spend less time in the kitchen – if you know what I mean,” Anjum writes in the introduction. She’s not wrong.

Tonight dinner is Anjum’s “20-minute Indian west coast baby squid”. I’m off to roast some poppadums: don’t get in my way.


Anjum Anand’s Tangy near-instant prawn curry

Tangy near-instant prawn curry

Serves 4

2–3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

8–10 fresh curry leaves

3 fat garlic cloves, grated

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped or blended

4 tbsp sun-dried tomato purée, or to taste

½ tsp chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp roasted ground cumin


500g raw king prawns, shelled and deveined

3 tbsp crème fraîche, or single cream

large handful of chopped coriander leaves

To Cook

Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and, once the popping subsides, add the curry leaves. Follow quickly with the garlic and cook for one minute, or until the garlic smells cooked.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, ground spices and some salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the masala has released oil on the base of the pan.

Add the prawns, crème fraîche and a good splash of water and simmer until the prawns are cooked through, a matter of three to four minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, stir in the coriander and serve hot.




Filed under Book Reviews, Chefs, Cuisines

16 responses to “Quick and Easy Indian Cooking with Anjum Anand

  1. Mmmmm, I’m smelling those spices! How was the film ‘The Lunchbox?’ I was given a ticket for a SydFilmFest screening but it conflicted with a whacky Italian soccer film unfortunately. Interested though.


    • I really enjoyed the film, Ambra – however my friend who accompanied me thought it was too much focussed around the love story and less around the food, which was a good point. But it was a very intoxicating film nonetheless – some lovely witty moments; whimsical ones, too. I hope you get to see it, one day.


  2. Liz Posmyk of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things

    Aw, I love a good prawn curry, Rachel and this one hits the spot! Envious of your Indian adventures, but well done you!


  3. Oh my, what a wonderful year for you! This curry sounds just like what we’ve been looking for. Did you enjoy the film?


    • This curry is awesome – very quick to make and hits the mark flavour-wise. I loved the film – focussed very much on the tiffin trade and a lunchbox that goes astray – leading to a bit of a love story. It was more focussed on the love story, than the food. But I was salivating when lunches were being tiffin-boxed up … goodness i love Indian food!


  4. Sounds like a fab cookbook. Indian has such a wonderful complex layering of flavours that having “fast and effortless” recipes is very enticing for the home cook!


  5. I’m really keen to go to India. One day… In the meantime will just eat a bit more Indian food. Love the look of that curry. Shame my beloved is allergic to prawns 😦


  6. curries are good in a hobart winter! i haven’t made one in such a long time, but mmm, i need to change that!
    i never think of curries as quick or instant – unless they come pre-made in a sachet – so i’m keen to check out this book.


  7. Clicking over to Amazon now to look for that book! It sounds fabulous, almost as good as that prawn curry looks!


  8. Oooh that does look good! Great post! I make a prawn curry that’s a pared down version of this but you had me at mustard seeds! Must try Anjum’s recipe, it’s easy to see it would work spectacularly.

    I loved The Lunchbox. Indian cinema is so heavily dominated by “jhatka” sensibilities it was a visual and auditory relief to watch a movie that was restrained, quiet and happy to measure its pace. I agree though with the above poster, that the food could have featured a bit more.

    On that note, have you watched The Hundred Foot Journey. Probably some of the best filming of cooking I’ve ever seen; special mention about the omelette. Chef is another, totally food, over the top, melting-cheese-toastie loving movie.

    I’ll shut up now!!!


    • Oh – The Hundred Foot Journey … I must keep an eye out for it. Chef is great … and I love your description of it being a melting-cheese-toastie loving movie! Gotta love a good food theme in a film or novel (fiction). Let me know how you go with Anjum’s prawn curry. It’s a winner in our house.


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