Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Recommended Posts

the india trip is over--the orgy of eating has come to an end. i didn't just eat on this trip though; i also bought some cookbooks. among them are two from penguin's regional cookbook series: "the essential kerala cookbook" and "the essential north-east cookbook". i obviously haven't tried anything from them yet but i have browsed them and they look pretty good. both have nice introductions which provide both a sociological context for the food, detailed ingredient, tools and methods breakdowns, and, of course, recipes themselves. what they don't have is pictures--which is not a problem for me with the kerala book since i know what most of those dishes look like, but may be with the north-eastern book. the recipes seem clear, consistent and well-organized.

we've had some discussion on this forum of food from kerala, and a brief mention of everyone's lack of knowledge of north-eastern cuisines. the latter cookbook should go a long way to dispelling at least my ignorance--i've already learned a lot by just skimming the intro. as for the kerala book, i think it may start me on finally cooking some of my favorite malyali dishes at home, instead of pining for years between trips to india.

anyway: has anyone else come across these books or others in this series? have you cooked from them? if so, and if not, what do you think of them?

others: they're all available on indiaclub. i'd wanted to get the "recipes of the spice coast" book as well when in delhi but it wasn't available. i hesitate to buy it online now because of the hideous mark-up. ah well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mongo, I have the Parsi, Dehli, Calcutta, Andra, Anglo-Indian, Kashmir, and Goa volumes, and am trying to get the whole set. Among the ones I have, here are some highlights:

The Calcutta volume was co-written by the late Kewpie, and has chapters on each of the city's various communities.

The Dehli volume, by Priti Narain, features generous extracts from a wonderful old Urdu cookbook called Pukht-o-Paaz Shehzada Mirza Mohammed Baker Ali Khan Sahib Bahadur ke Daroga Bawarchi, Janab Sheikh Ahmed Ali Sahib ka (!)

The Parsi volume, by the overall series editor Bhicoo J. Manekshaw, has encapsulated within it pretty much a full tutorial on Parsi customs and rituals.

The Kashmir volume is pretty much recipes-only, and is a reprint of a volume published a couple decades ago by the late Krishna Prasad Dar, father of cartoonist Sudhir Dar, who has added illustrations.

The Andhra volume focuses primarily on Hyderabad, but does attempt to include some rural recipes as well.

I've got a few of them via Indiaclub, but when I have a lot to order, I go through Rediff Bookshop, which charges no markup, but adds on the actual cost of FedEx international shipping. What this amounts to is that the shipping cost usually exceeds that of the books themselves, but as long as you buy in large quantity each time it's still a lot cheaper than buying through a U.S.-based retailer.

Sun-Ki Chai

Former Hawaii Forum Host

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have all the books in the series except Kerala and they are all excellent. The authors (all women, I think) are very knowledgeable and write extremely well. I was so excited to buy the Northeast book recently, although I haven't 'tried the recipes. India's tribal population is asl arge as the population of France yet most people know or care little about their food. I visited Bastar many years ago and watched someone pound red ants into a very spicey pickle (which, I'm ashamed to say, I didn't try.) But we did imbibe vast amounts of sulfi, the local drink, which changed its character as the day went on!

Thanks for the wonderful report on Calcutta restaurants, Mongo. We will probably go there later this year and will certainly check them out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

like i said, i've only got two of the more recent books in the series and have only barely skimmed them so far. therefore what i am about to say may not apply to the series as a whole. but from what i've read so far in these two books i already see a very refreshing change from the average indian cookbook as produced in the west: there's very little exotica in them. no "charming" stories about weddings and religion; no anecdotes about entire villages getting together to pound spices or make pickles or what have you: just clean, simple recipes. i suppose that's the difference between an indian cookbook aimed at an indian audience and one aimed at a western one. personally, i'm always highly irritated by the highly dubious cultural glossing that goes on in the margins of almost every glossy indian cookbook published in the west, and also in articles about indian food. then again the western books have prettier pictures.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I have to confess to being one who enjoys the "cultural gloss", albeit not of the "highly dubious" kind. However, I do recognize that there is sometimes a certain preciousness to a lot of it and often the recipes take a backseat.

I would think that of all the cookbooks published in India, the Penguin series tends to have more cultural background than others, certainly more than a Tarla Dalal or Aroona Reejhsinghani book. That's part of what I like about the series.

BTW, here, I believe, is a list of all the books in the series, with live links to the publisher. Did I miss any?

Anglo Indian Food and Customs - Patricia Brown

The Calcutta Cookbook - Bunny Gupta, JayaChaliha, Meenakshi Das Gupta

Curry, Curry, Curry - Ranjit Rai

The Essential Andhra Cookbook - Bilkees Latif

The Essential Delhi Cookbook - Priti Narain

The Essential Goa Cookbook - Maria Teresa Menezes

The Essential Kodava Cookbook - C B Muthamma, P. Gangamma Bopanna

The Essential North-East Cookbook - Hoihnu Hauzel

Kashmiri Cooking - KrishnaPrasad Dar

Parsi Food and Customs - B.J.Manekshaw

A couple other regional cookbooks published by Penguin India but apparently not part of the series:

Flavours of the Spice Coast - K M Mathew

Great Goan Cooking: 100 Easy Recipes - Maria Teresa Menezes

Note: Edited because I posted prematurely!

Sun-Ki Chai

Former Hawaii Forum Host

Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess I have to confess to being one who enjoys the "cultural gloss", albeit not of the "highly dubious" kind. However, I do recognize that there is sometimes a certain preciousness to a lot of it and often the recipes take a backseat.

I would think that of all the cookbooks published in India, the Penguin series tends to have more cultural background than others, certainly more than a Tarla Dalal or Aroona Reejhsinghani book. That's part of what I like about the series.

i think there's a huge qualitative difference between the cultural background in at least the two books i have at hand and the exotica i was referring to in the general west-produced glossy indian cookbook. both the kerala and north-east books provide more of a sociological context for the food than vignettes that would sit better in an indian tourism ad.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the Calcutta Cookbook, it was pretty interesting reading, but then I do have a great fascintion for the origins of food and its evolution. I must get my hands on the others. Incedentally, The Strand Book Stall in Bombay and Banglore periodically has sales and their discounts are AMAZING. The Bombay branch is having a sale at the moment, at the Sunderbai hall near Churchgte station. I was in there the other day nd i think I spotted some of these books on sale. If you want to get your hands on any books you could ask someone in Bombay to pick them up for you. The last date is the 24th if I am not mistaken.

Also they have a very good website, that takes orders and mails stuff. I can't comment on costs of mailing etc because I live in Bombay but you could check it out, www.strandbookstall.com. I can vouch for them being really reasonable pricewise because they generally have 20% of on any book.

All the best.


PS I am looking for the book on the history of Indin cuisine by K.T. Achaya, any ideas on where I might find a copy?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By OliverB
      I just received a copy of "The Cook's Book - Concise Edition" edited by Jill Norman, and now I'm curious, what's the difference to the full edition? Supposedly it has 648 pages compared to 496 in this edition, and it appears to be much larger in size if the info on us.dk.com is correct. Other than that I can't find any info what the difference might be. It's a neat book with lots of photos about techniques etc, and lots of recipes. As with any DK book production values are high.
      If the contents are the same, I'm happy with the smaller version, but I'd really like to know what I might be missing on those 150 or so pages. If it's just filler, I don't care. If it's some fantastic recipes, I do care....
      Anybody here know both editions? Google was so far of no help. Lots of the full edition are to be had used as well, I'd be happy giving this one as a gift and ordering the full edition, if it's worth it.
    • By devlin
      Say you were rounded up with a group of folks and either had a skill to offer in exchange for a comfy room and some other niceties or were sent off to a slag heap to toil away in the hot sun every day for 16 hours, what 3 books would you want to take with you to enable you to cook and bake such fabulous foodstuffs that your kidnappers would keep you over some poor schlub who could cook only beans and rice and the occasional dry biscuit?
    • By mixmaster b
      I am interested in getting some cookbooks that cover the basics of pastry and baking--not bread, necessarily, but dessert, cakes, cookies, etc. I searched a few other cookbook threads but did not have luck on finding books on pastry.
      My interest is in fairly classic French and European style baking, and I need a book that covers technique. Pictures would also be much appreciated--I like both the step by step pix or great pictures of the end product.
      Right now, I have Desserts and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme. (I love these and have had good results from the recipes, but feel I should start with a more classic approach.) La Varenne Pratique has provided some good starting points, but I would like to find a book with more focus on baking.
      I was thinking about the Payard book. Any comments? Suggestions would be much appreciated! In case it applies, I am a home cook and am slightly more skilled than a total beginner.
    • By liuzhou
      Congratulations are due to Fuchsia Dunlop, whose "Food of Sichuan" has just been published in a Chinese language version - a rare honour here. I've ordered a couple of copies as gifts for local friends who loved the Engish version, but struggled with some language issues.

    • By Sheel
      Prawn Balchao is a very famous Goan pickle that has a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor to it. 
      For the balchao paste you will need:
      > 8-10 kashmiri red chillies
      > 4-5 Byadagi red chillies
      > 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
      > 1/2 tsk turmeric powder 
      > 1 tsp peppercorn
      > 6 garlic cloves
      > 1/2 tsp cloves
      > 1 inch cinnamon stick
      > Vinegar 
      First you will need to marinate about 250 grams of prawns in some turmeric powder and salt. After 15 minutes deep fry them in oil till them become golden n crisp. Set them aside and add tsp vinegar to them and let it sit for 1 hour. Now, make a paste of all the ingredients mentioned under the balchao paste and make sure not to add any water. In the same pan used for fryin the prawns, add in some chopped garlic and ginger. Lightly fry them and immediately add one whole chopped onion. Next, add the balchao paste amd let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the prawns and cook until the gravy thickens. Finally add 1 tsp sugar and salt according to your taste. Allow it to cool. This can be stored in a glass jar. Let this mature for 1-3 weeks before its use. Make sure never to use water at any stage. This can be enjoyed with a simple lentil curry and rice.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...