I've really enjoyed Bal Arenson's Spice Goddess cooking show on TV, enough so that I've looked up a few of her recipes online to make for dinner. When I found that the library had a copy of her new cookbook, I grabbed it. I'm glad I did.
Most Indian cookbooks (and ethnic cookbooks in general) make a big deal about teaching you to cook authentic dishes, just like Mom used to make. Sometimes they take shortcuts for time or because we can't get the same ingredients, but the expectation is that we are approximating a "real" Indian dish. What I like about Bal is that while she celebrates the spices and flavors of India, she is happy to use North American ingredients. (You may need to go shopping for some of the spices, but most of them are available mail order, and I'm lucky enough to have a Penzey's Spices store nearby.) Her attitude seems to be, "If salmon was available in India, this is what we would have done with it."
The author also puts a lot of emphasis on making the food healthy and, if not precisely "ready in 30," at least easy to put together on a busy weeknight. If you have a complete spice pantry (mine is 5 feet high, in what was built to be a DVD wall unit), you only need a few items for a tasty dinner. For instance, "coriander tuna with broccolini" uses crushed coriander seeds as a crust on the fresh tuna, served with steamed veggies spiced up with toasted mustard seeds.
There's a good balance of meat, fish, and vegetarian options. So far, the only dish I've made from the book is "chicken with almond butter," which met my criteria for a healthy midweek meal. (She notes, "Almonds are a good source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium.") In addition to the chicken breasts and 1/4 cup of almond butter, it uses garlic, a tablespoon (!) of fenugreek seeds, coriander, and a cup of chopped tomatoes. It went together very quickly and was a solid YUM.
Next up on the What To Make For Dinner list is "maple cardamom salmon," served with bok choy and ginger. Or maybe it's "eggplant and sweet potatoes with cherry tomatoes" (seasoned with fresh ginger, cumin seeds, and garam masala). Hmm. These are fun choices.