Pumpkin-flower Fritters and Similar Stories

Sometime back there was a discussion amongst some food-blogger friends on cookbooks and their relevance in a world of food blogs and websites.  The topic was triggered by the surprising admission of some food-bloggers (aspiring writers at that!) that they only look at and rarely cook from cookbooks.  My bookshelf is lined with cookbooks I have been collecting since my teens; they are a weakness.  They are my insights into a new cuisine or deeper explorations of a favourite one. I put a moratorium on further cookbook purchases because I am constrained where bookshelf-real-estate is concerned.  That ended, as all fad diets do, in a binge.  With e-shopping only a click away, I was on Flipkart, ordering away.   I am no longer looking for cookbooks titled “All About Baking,” but seek out books that link food to a culture: “Gujarati Cooking”, or “Simply South.”

cookbooks

I have been searching for a recipe for the Goan Sambarachi Kodi ever since I tasted it at O’Coquero.  On the Web, I came across only one recipe, the one on the charming Goan Food Recipes blog.  While Googling for it yet again (I try to check multiple recipes before attempting a less-familiar dish), I came across a mention for it in Pushpesh Pant’s India: A Cookbook.  Now, I am usually weary of cookbooks that want to cover all of India in one book.  If you know anything about the diversity that is India, you cam imagine how daunting a task that is. In India, I assure you, we know nothing as “Indian Food.”  But Pushpesh Pant is a respected scholar and reading some of the recommendations for the book, I thought, well, his might just be the definitive volume, the exception. To his credit, it has a 1000 recipes and weighs in at over a kilo!  With those statistics I was expecting a tome of great research and insights.  As usual, I started with the section on the cuisine I know better than any other – Kashmiri.  That right there, is the cornerstone by which I judge a cookbook dishing out “Indian” Cuisine. Continue reading “Pumpkin-flower Fritters and Similar Stories”

Haleem and some Spice Sorcery

haleem

The internet is teeming with food blogs and other websites and one can get lost in the wonderful world of food seduced, in no small measure, by accompanying pictures that make it all look so, so delicious.  Many bloggers present food from their everyday-kitchens that make my everyday-cooking varied and interesting.  I love to cook traditional fare that home-cooks feed their families. Food blogs are a great resource for such recipes, with detailed explanations and step-by-step pictures.  Also thrown in is an opportunity for a conversation. Many times, the comments section becomes a resource in itself with much discussion about a recipe, methods, and variations.

Who need cookbooks, right? Ah, but I love cookbooks.  Especially those with a theme (most have one).  A good cookbook can teach you a lot about the food you are cooking.  It can be a guide when you are trying an unfamiliar cuisine for the first time.

Spice Sorcery

Presently, the Indian market seems ripe for cookbooks; I see so many new ones coming out on a regular basis.  Since I reviewed Bong Mom’s Cookbook, I find a Harper Collins’ published cookbook in the mail every now and then.  Few of them have made me want to try anything from their pages, honestly.  So, you haven’t heard about any.  This week I received Husna Rahaman’s Spice Sorcery which is about the Kutchi Memon cuisine, a cooking style I know little about.  The fact that the author is a fellow designer (she’s an interior designer) made me look through the book with even keener interest.

Continue reading “Haleem and some Spice Sorcery”