Although the subcontinent of India is equal in size to Western Europe, for too long many people have been happy to consider its cuisine under a single heading. In '50 Great Curries of India', Camellia Panjabi aims to change that, offering a greater understanding and appreciation of the many and varied dishes from that part of the world. As well as opening the Bombay Brasserie in London in 1982 and introducing regional Indian cooking to the UK for the first time, Panjabi was also responsible for creating restaurants for the prestigious Indian Taj Hotel group, again featuring little-known regional offerings.

In '50 Great Curries...' Panjabi delves into the roots of the cuisine. Although necessarily brief, her writings on Ayurveda, an ancient body of knowledge about health which is hugely influential in India, succinctly explains the complexity of the Indian meal - a spicy-sour taste mix, a yoghurt-based item, a dash of hot and bitter pickle, and a sweet addition. Correspondingly, this book includes recipes for rice, rotis (Indian breads), yoghurt or raitas, chutneys and desserts along with several suggested menus for well-balanced Indian meals. She also delves into the details of spices, herbs, chillies and other necessary ingredients for adding taste, aroma and colour to curries, demystifying the unfamiliar and educating the reader.

Useful hints and shortcuts sit alongside Panjabi's basic recipe for a simple, homestyle curry which you can practice before moving on to the more intricate - but still not difficult - fragrant Kashmiri Aab Gosht (Lamb Cooked in Milk) or White Chicken Korma (Safed Murgh Korma), a traditional Muslim court dish from Agra. Fish in Coconut Milk or Fish Molee, is an Anglo-Indian recipe from the west coast of India; Bori Curry (Kaari) blends the coconut, sesame seeds and curry leaves of Mumbai with the Moghul richness of nuts in a dish from the Bori Muslim trading community; Malbar Prawn Curry (Konju Curry) is an aromatic mustard seed and curry leaf-infused recipe from a woman in Kerala. Reading this book is as much a geographical lesson in the regions of India as it is an education in the variety of food on offer.

A short DVD also adds to the visual experience of a book with striking photographs of ingredients and finished dishes opposite recipes, which are bordered with images of Indian textiles. '50 Great Curries...' is the book for anyone who is interested in gaining a greater appreciation of Indian food, in all its regional, religious, seasonal and traditional variations.

Caroline Hennessy