Desi cookbooks worth tucking in to

Published: 16th December 2012 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th December 2012 10:00 AM   |  A+A-


While Indian ingredients and cooking practices have been written about in our ancient Sanskrit texts, it is surprising that very few cookbooks were printed in India until the mid 20th Century. Some that came out in the fifties and sixties were written by housewives and have become classics, like Sumaithu Paar, the authoritive book on Tamil cuisine by S Meenakshi Ammal, Rasa Chandrika for Saraswat Brahmin food, 500 Easy Recipes, Narayani Nayak’s definitive Konkani Cook book and Recipes, a mish mash of Indian and international dishes written by the members of the Time and Talents Club, Bombay. Contributors to women’s magazines, like Premila Lal, became famous and their recipes were prized, cut out and preserved.

All that has now changed and recipes for Indian food of all kinds abound. Pamphlets, books and magazines on Indian food are available everywhere.

Suddenly everyone wants to cook Indian and many of the recent cookbooks are geared to a western audience, written by a person of Indian origin but not necessarily living in India. Last year there has been at least one book published  on Indian food every month.

Here is a list of the tastiest.

Flavors First: An Indian Chef’s Culinary Journey by Vikas Khanna (Jul 16, 2011), Publisher:  Lake Isle Press, ISBN: 1891105477

Vikas Khanna, an alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, has authored The Spice Story of India,Modern Indian Cooking and Holy Kitchen. His new book has some excellent easy recipes but what makes it special are the heartwarming stories of his life in food.

 My Indian Kitchen: Preparing Delicious Indian Meals without Fear or Fuss by Hari Nayak (August  10, 2011), Publisher:Tuttle Publishing, ISBN: 080484089X

Hari Nayak’s cooking comes from his origins in rural southern India. In his new book, preparation and cooking techniques have been simplified to save time without sacrificing any of the authentic flavour.

Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country by Suvir Saran (December 2011), Publisher: Chronicle Books, ISBN-10:0811872335

Suvir Saran, restaurateur, chef, TV personality and author, is chairman of Asian Culinary studies for the Culinary Institute of America and a well known speaker on healthy eating across the US.

All his cook books have received awards and been on best seller lists—deservedly so. Saran sees the kitchen as a culinary as well as a spiritual sanctuary and it is this attitude which informs all he does and creates. He lives on his American Masala Farm with partner Charlie Burd and raises heritage breed animals with love and dedication. Each chapter in the book begins with a delightful and charming tale about farm living. Needless to say this is one of my favourite cook books of the year.

 The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook: Flavours and Spices of India  by Sereena Kaul, Alexa Kaul and Priya Kaul (June 1, 2011), Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK, ISBN-10: 0857200275

Another nostalgic journey into childhood has inspired this book  from three sisters. An exploration of Indian food with an emphasis on Kashmiri style.

60 Great Recipes for your Baby (Baby Food Recipes) by Roma Sharma (Apr 12, 2012), Amazon Digital Services, kindle edition, ASIN: B007QVHWDO

A neat little ebook to help those helpless first time mothers on their own, without mother or grandmother around to lean on and with no idea what to feed the baby.

Quick-Fix Indian: Easy, Exotic Dishes in 30 Minutes or Less by Ruta Kahate (May 15, 2012), Publisher: Andrews McMeel, Publishing ISBN-10: 1449409776

Ruta’s second book seems well on the way to becoming as popular as her first one. Featuring easy to fix, common and popular dishes, which children and adults will love, it makes cooking Indian food a breeze.

Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes by Anupy Singla (Jun 12, 2012) Publisher: Agate Surrey, ISBN-10: 1572841303

Here is a follow up to The Indian Slow Cooker, Singla’s runaway best seller, using all vegan ingredients. She has developed many of these recipes herself and writes in a distinctive and engaging style.

The Settler's Cookbook: A Memoir  of Love, Migration And Food by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (July 5 2012), Publisher: Granta UK, ISBN-10: ISBN-10: 1846270847

Yasmin’s family moved from India to Uganda seeking a better life. From there they had to flee to the UK in 1972, during Idi Amin’s rule. This story is interwoven with her culinary journey and is revealing, emotional and touching.

Anjum’s Indian Vegetarian Feast by Anjum Anand (September 2012), Publisher: Quadrille Publishing, ISBN-10: 1849491208

Anjum Anand is a food celebrity of note in the UK. Here is her take on Indian vegetarian food based on the tangy tastes of street food.

Keep an eye out for many more Indian cook books coming up in the next few months. Some promise to be excellent!


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