India Cookbook

Pushpesh Pant, Phaidon, $49.95 (816p) ISBN 978-0-7148-5902-6
With a quarter-century of culinary study and travel under his belt, this professor–cum–Indian food scholar offers up a mammoth work that encompasses every region of the country and provides 1,000 recipes. Fifteen pages of the introduction are given over to the 10 major culinary food locales of India, and it makes for an enlightening read. We learn, for instance, that the cuisine of Kashmir is influenced by central Asia and Tibet, while Bengal is big on sweetmeats and fish curries. Nicely labeled color photos adorn each of the nine food chapters, highlighting various snacks, entrees, breads, and desserts. However, the presentation of the recipes is another matter. Comprehensive to a fault, but with no commentary and all the welcoming charm of an auto parts catalogue, most are presented two to a page with boilerplate listings of origin, cooking time, ingredient list, and basic directions. For fanatics, some dishes require more than two dozen ingredients, such as the chicken pulao made with ghee and full of onions and chilis. Simpler options run the gamut from lamb in milk sauce to fried spicy carrots. A glossary and brief resource directory are much welcomed, and a short chapter of signature dishes from 11 Indian guest chefs from around the world provides a nice coda to the work. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
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