Life Extension Magazine®
Bag of turmeric found in Indian cuisine with health benefits

Issue: Jul 2018

India Cookbook

Indian cooking uses a wealth of herbs and vegetables to create a delicious, healthy cuisine. In India Cookbook, historian and journalist Pushpesh Pant collects about 1,000 recipes from all of India’s food regions.

By Garry Messick.

Pushpesh Pant is a 71-year-old Indian who is an intellectual, a historian, a retired professor of international relations, and a journalist specializing in all things food related. His true vocation in life, however, is as an advocate for Indian cuisine.

What you need to know

The new India Cookbook is 815 pages and contains about 1,000 recipes based on 25 years of research.

That passion led directly to Pant writing India Cookbook, a huge 815-page compendium of about 1,000 recipes, collected from all ten of India's basic food regions.

Upon publication, India Cookbook was a major success, a best-seller that was heralded in the New York Times list of best cookbooks of the year.

"I was fortunate to have parents who recognized food can bring about change because it's a mood manipulator," says Pant. "Food becomes your body. It intoxicates you, poisons or revives you."

Pant explains that he was "taught to think of all Indian food as my cultural heritage," and he credits his mother for giving him a wide-ranging, secularist view of his native cuisine. When he was growing up, most families cooked meals that were strictly within their specific regional, religious, and caste traditions. But Pant's mother liked to create pan-Indian meals, which required her to regularly go to great lengths to collect the necessary, often far-flung ingredients.

In his comprehensive India cookbook, which is based on 25 years of research, Pant prefaces his recipes with a history of Indian food and an overview of India's food regions. He also provides a brief note on Ayurveda, the traditional Hindu system of medicine, and explains its relationship to diet.

Life Extension® here collects some sample recipes from Pant's monumental work. All feature ingredients known for their health benefits, such as nuts, turmeric, garlic, cumin, ginger, and tomatoes.

—Garry Messick

Bharwan Bhindi

Stuffed Okra

Origin: Punjab • Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes • Serves 4


  • 500 g / 1 lb., 2 oz. okra, topped and tailed (trimmed), cut in half lengthways, then de-seeded.
  • Salt
  • For the filling
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground black cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon amchoor
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  • 125 g / 4 ½ oz. (1 small) onion, sliced
  • 750 ml / 1 ¼ pints (3 ¼ cups) natural (plain) yogurt, whisked

To make the filling, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Fill the okra with equal quantities of the mixture and set aside.

To make the sauce, mix the chili powder and turmeric in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons water.

Heat the oil or ghee in a deep, heavy-based pan over low heat, add the onion and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent and glossy. Add the chili powder mixture and stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes, or until all the moisture has evaporated, then add the stuffed okra, increase the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in the yogurt, and season with salt. Return to the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, but carefully, for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is quite thick. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Kaju Khumb Makhane

Mushrooms with Cashew Nuts

Origin: Rajasthan • Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes • Serves 4


  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 125 g / 4 ¼ oz. (½ cup) ghee
  • 150 g / 5 oz. (1 medium) onion, grated
  • 1 teaspoon kalonji (nigella) seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 ½ tablespoons ginger paste (see next page)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons garlic paste (see next page)
  • 250 g / 9 oz. (1 large) tomato, chopped
  • 175 ml / 6 fl oz. (3/4 cup) natural (plain) yogurt, whisked
  • 500 g / 1 lb. 2 oz. (7 cups) mushrooms, chopped
  • 75 g / 2 ½ oz. (½ cup) cashew nuts, roasted
  • 75 g / 2 ½ oz. lotus puffs
  • Salt
  • 1 large sprig coriander (cilantro), chopped, to garnish

Put the ground spices in a small bowl, add 4 tablespoons water and mix together.

Heat the ghee in a large, heavy-based pan over medium heat, add the onions and fry for about 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the kalonji and cumin seeds and stir-fry for about 1 minute, or until they start to sputter. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and stir-fry for about 1-2 minutes, then add the ground spice mixture and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and fry for about 5 minutes, or until the oil separates out.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the yogurt. Season with salt, then return to the heat and pour in about 250 ml / 8 fl oz. (1 cup) of water. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the mushrooms and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Add the cashew nuts and lotus puffs and stir to mix well. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and garnish with chopped coriander.

Subzi Panchmel

Mixed Vegetables

Origin: New • Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time 10-12 minutes • Serves 4


  • 100 g / 3 ½ oz. (3 small) new (baby) potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons mustard oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 baby corn
  • 400 g / 14 oz. mushrooms, stalks removed
  • 1 red (bell) pepper, cut into juliennes
  • 1 yellow (bell) pepper, cut into juliennes
  • 120 g / 4 oz. (1 small) tomato, puréed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds, roasted, then pounded in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, roasted
  • 1 x 2.5-cm / 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • Salt

Cook the potatoes in a medium-sized pan of water for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and fry for about 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and fry for about 2-3 minutes, or until the onions turn light golden. Add the baby corn, potatoes, mushrooms, and peppers, then increase the heat to high and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until the baby corns are cooked. Add the puréed tomato and stir-fry for a further 1 minute to ensure that the purée coats the vegetables evenly. Sprinkle over the coriander seeds, pepper, ginger, and season with salt, then stir. Add the chopped coriander leaves and stir again. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Pisi Adrak

Ginger Paste

Origin: Pan-India • Preparation time: 20 minutes,
plus chilling time • Makes about 250 g / 9 oz.


  • 1 x 14-cm / 5 ½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

Put the ginger in a blender, add 3 tablespoons water and process to make a smooth paste. Transfer to a container and chill in the refrigerator. This paste can be stored for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Pisi Lehsun

Garlic Paste

Origin: Pan-India • Preparation time: 15 minutes,
plus chilling time • Makes about 200 g / 7 oz.


  • 200 g / 7 oz. (about 5 heads) roughly chopped garlic
India Cookbook
Item #34139

Put the garlic in a blender, add 3 tablespoons water and process to make a fine paste. Transfer to a container and chill in the refrigerator. This paste can be stored for up to 3 days in the refrigerator

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

Reprinted from India Cookbook
(Phaidon 2010) by Pushpesh Pant.

To order India Cookbook, call 1-800-544-4440