Fish, Indian style by Atul Kochhar

10 July 2008
Fish, Indian style by Atul Kochhar

Fish, Indian Style
Atul Kochhar
Absolute Press, £20
ISBN 9 781904 573838

The restaurant world has known about Atul Kochhar for some years - ever since 2003 when, as head chef at London's Tamarind restaurant, he became one of the first Indian chefs to net a Michelin star. He built on that reputation when he opened his own restaurant, Banares, in Berkeley Square.

However, it has been his appearances over the past two years on the BBC's Great British Menu that have won him wider recognition. And in this, his second book, the culinary skills that were spotlighted so successfully on that series are once again in evidence.

The book is centred on fish and contains not only classic Indian dishes, but also British - and sometimes European - staples, given a contemporary twist with subtle spicing. Fusion cooking, if you want, but of the highest order, created by a chef with a discerning palate.

So, in its pages you'll find recipes for watercress soup with salmon kofta, a fish bubble and squeak (spiced with cumin, turmeric, ginger and chilli), chilli-fried potted shrimps, and oyster fritters with a chilli apple jelly.

There's even a take on fish fingers - whiting goujons with onion raita as a side dip. And look out for Kochhar's take on fish pie: devised for his daughter's school dinner menu, it gets curry leaves, turmeric, garam masala, coconut milk and fresh coriander to flavour the fish inside, and a pastry lid instead of potato mash on top.

The book's target audience is the home cook, so the recipes that Kochhar has included in the book are maybe a degree or two less complicated than you would see in his restaurant. But they are none the poorer for that as, in less skilled hands than his, complex spicing can easily be heavy-handed. As they are, they would still sit easily on any gastropub, brasserie or contract restaurant menu.

Structurally, the book has six main sections - soups and stews, starters, salads, fish for every day, pushing the boat out, from friends and family - and a useful back section with basic pastes, stocks and chutneys (gooseberry chutney sounds tasty) and some information on basic spices.

In short, there's lots to inspire if you want to move fish cuisine on a notch or two.

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