Book Review by Nirmala Garimella
This is a well researched, culturally enriching and tantalizing cookbook by Smita and Sanjeev Chandra, a Toronto based couple. As one of the commendations at the back of the book cover says"A welcome introduction to the multispiced history,stories and regions of a civilization as richly varied as its cuisines”. The authors cover a variety of regional cuisines from various parts of India at different time periods and there is a exotic blend of the traditional as well as the modern fusion cuisine. I found myself in fact reading interesting anecdotes at the beginning of each chapter of the historical significance of each region and its culinary peculiarity.You have tales and legends from Bengal to the Konkan and from Kashmir to Kanyakumari along with the delicacy of the region. There is a wide range of both vegetarian and meat and seafood dishes.
I found the chapter under Mughals very fascinating. It tells how the food slowly evolved among the Mughals, the Rajputs and the Kashmiris because of the influence of one over the other in the course of history. For instance, the author writes that the moghuls not accustomed to the heat of the Indian plains traveled to the verdant valley of Kashmir and tradition has it that as Jahangir lay dying his last words were "Kashmir,only Kashmir. ‘Meals included the finest creations: Pulaos and Biryanis made from rice,roast spiced meats such as Kebabs and tikkas, stewed meats such as Yakhni and the famous do pyaaza. In this section you have exotic recipes like Shah Jahani Makhani Dum Murghi,Bhindi Jhinga Masala and Saag Kofte.
The authors have also catered to the western palate by combining western spices and ingredients for a few of the dishes. There is an entire chapter devoted to Fusion Cuisine where east meets west. The book also describes the impact of other cultures - Middle Eastern, Asian and Europeon which makes Indian Cuisine flavorful and exotic.
There is a glossary of ingredients and beautiful illustrations throughout the book. Mostly the dishes listed here are main courses. There are not many desserts or sweet dishes. So just remember, that when you set out to the kitchen to try out a new recipe you may end up reading on the kitchen stool instead.
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