Yorkshire-born Amandip Uppal is set on making Indian cooking accessible. She grew up on feasts of beloved, generations-old recipes, which she has since translated into simple, contemporary terms. The result of her labour is Indian Made Easy, one of our best Indian cookbooks for its bright and breezy approach to traditional classics. Here, Amandip shares what inspires her in the kitchen, the London restaurants we have to try and how we can bring Indian cuisine to our home
Which key ingredients could you not live without?
“Having a wide range of condiments and spices helps you to develop and play around with amazing flavours… A good selection of whole spices, so I can make up my own unique blends; fresh chilli and garlic and a variety of fresh herbs; tomato paste adds instant depth and body to a dish; and finally, the very best extra-virgin olive oil, coconut butter and homemade, organic ghee.”
Describe your kitchen personality…
“In the kitchen, I’m very free spirited. I don’t think too much—I just let my emotions take over. I’m not precious about mess or wear and tear… I treat my kitchen like an artist’s studio, which is pretty much what I’m like in real-life situations, too.”
Do you have a favourite dish?
“It really depends on the mood, and whether I feel like eating comfort food or something unique. I do love a well-made authentic laksa or delicious handmade ravioli. I love pub lunches and fish & chips up north near the coast.”
What are the easiest recipes in Indian Made Easy?
“I’m going to choose four: Squid with Shallots, Ginger & Chilli; Chicken Pulao; Steamed Green Beans in Tomato and Mustard Oil Dressing; and Plain Roti—I always urge cooks to try making their own bread.”
Favourite Indian restaurant in the world?
“That’s very hard to answer. I never tire of watching live cooking with its intoxicating smells, and eating street food and delicious meals at the dhabas (roadside restaurants) in India. But London has had a revival. Chefs have stripped back the regal layers associated with Indian cuisine, making way for a new casual approach to cooking and eating: Some celebrating what their mothers and grandmothers taught them; some advocating traditional and regional classics; and some knitting together the richness of our blended British heritage. London’s leading chefs such as Atul Kochhar of Kanishka, Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express, Rohit Ghai of Kutir, Will Bowlby of Kricket and, the Godfather, Cyrus Todiwala of Cafe Spice Namasté are all telling their story and pushing the boundaries.”
Where do you shop for ingredients?
“I’m lucky to live in northwest London where a large number of the Asian community have settled, and there are plenty of places to shop for Indian ingredients. There’s a huge range of spices from all over India, along with exotic and unusual fruits and vegetables. For buying spices, flour and oils, there are some great online shops such as Red Rickshaw or any major supermarkets.”
Where is your favourite place in India?
“Rajasthan for its romantic pull, the colour clashes and the way the light changes on the buildings and landscapes from dawn to dusk. As a child, I was mesmerised by the beauty of Kashmir and look forward to going there one day soon. And, as always, I love the lush greenery and backwaters of Kerala.”
Amandip Uppal’s Indian Made Easy (Murdoch Books, £14.99) is available from all good bookshops.
Feature images © Lisa Linder