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Gift Ideas

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I am looking for recommendations for a gift. I want to give a cookbook on Indian food to

someone who is a relatively sophisticated cook but knows very little about Indian cooking.

He works full time (not as a chef) and cooks mostly for his family. Thus, he is not going

to want recipes that take a long time to prepare. Suggestions?

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Hmm, there are many Indian cuisines of course, but one common thread is that there is a fair amount of prep work involved. That said, it's possible to make masalas, pastes and other basic ingredients in advance and that saves some time.

I keep buying Indian cookbooks but over and over again I come back to two:

- Julie Sahni - Classic Indian Cooking. The focus is mainly on northern Indian - basically Delhi and Mughal cuisine. No pictures, but the recipes are solidly and consistently delicious to a degree rare in any cookbook, and the chapters on ingredients and especially techniques are invaluable. The section on brown-frying onions is a small masterwork of food instruction.

- Madhur Jaffrey - A Taste Of India. The only cookbook I know that covers the variety of regional cuisines of India without overwhelming the reader. Beautifully illustrated with photographs - you "get" the various regions and why the cooking, food traditions, preparations and ingredients differ. The one catch is that it's out of print. If you can find it secondhand, it would make a very special gift.

There are other good cookbooks by Jaffrey, but I've found that they're either too Westernized (Madhur Jaffrey's Cookbook), or too similar to Sahni without the useful basics (An Invitation to Indian Cooking). I also made the mistake of buying one that was written for UK cooks - measurements in weight, etc., which could work for your friend if he cooks that way.

Of course, there are other great Indian cookbooks, but they are either vast and encyclopedic (Neelam Batra's 1000 Indian Recipes, Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine), or they are focused on a specific style or region (Maya Kaimal's Curried Favors, focusing on southern Indian and particularly Kerala, is a good example).

I'd avoid the various "50 Indian Curries" and the like, unless you're just looking for a collection of recipes.

I'm sure others will have more suggestions - and I'm eager to hear about them myself.

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Nobody else has any suggestions for the OP? I was sort of hoping to start an interesting discussion here :laugh:

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I have a copy of India: The Cookbook: Pushpesh Pant, and while I like it, do a search on here as after I bought it a lot of people pointed out duplicate ingredients / missing ingredients and a whole heap of other errors. It's probably not so bad given the massive ammount of recipies.

I would still recommend it as a gift, it's so nicely published as most Phaidon books are and Pushpesh Pant is an noted Indian academic / food critic.

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Nobody else has any suggestions for the OP? I was sort of hoping to start an interesting discussion here :laugh:

Actually, no, because your recommendations were spot-on, including the alert about the prep--real Indian cooking takes time (and ingredients/spices, which I would recommend would be a nice accompaniment to the gift).

I do have a book that I really like with the totally misleading/marketing name of "Best-ever Curry Cookbook" by Mridula Baljekar, but in addition to covering the regions of India, and breads, relishes, rice dishes, etc, it covers Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

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