Indian food can be made in 30 minutes, with Great British Bake Off star Chetna Makan's new book
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There are a lot of misconceptions around Indian food: that it’s a ‘cheat’ meal from your local takeaway, or can only be made at home if you spend hours slaving over a hot stove, writes Prudence Wade.
These kind of stereotypes make Chetna Makan’s eyes roll. “People think it will take hours or sometimes days where you soak and you ferment – which is all true, but it’s not how we cook every day,” she says.
Although it’s seven years since Makan appeared on The Great British Bake Off, she’s still roundly referred to as a ‘Bake Off favourite’ – and now she’s onto her fifth cookbook: Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian. It’s her latest challenge to preconceived ideas around Indian food; in 2019’s Chetna’s Healthy Indian she turned the idea that “Indian means greasy and unhealthy” on its head, she explains.
There was also another huge driving force behind her latest book: the pandemic. Like so many cooks, Makan noticed a shift in our approach to food over the past year or so.
She says her new cookbook was “written in the first lockdown [in 2020], completely at home. There was a big surge of trying all these amazing sourdoughs and breads at home, and what I saw with my friends was it started with a bang – and then after a few weeks, everyone was just like, ‘I don’t want to cook, and I don’t want to spend so much time in the kitchen!’”
This got Makan thinking more deeply about what kind of food people actually want to cook, and she had a lightbulb moment: “Maybe it’s a good idea if I could do something in 30 minutes,” she mused. The idea of whipping a delicious dish up in just 15 minutes makes her belly-laugh, but it would seem like 30 minutes is the sweet spot.
And no, Makan says, it’s not just a book of curries. There are some delicious curry meals catering to all different spice levels, but it’s got recipes for “everything – a bit of starters, a bit of snacks, some big meals, some small meals, for all seasons”.
Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian by Chetna Makan, photography by Nassima Rothacker, is published by Mitchell Beazley, priced £20. Available now.