Category Archives: Food

Curry: A Global History by Colleen Taylor Sen

Curry - A Global History by Colleen Taylor Sen Title: Curry: A Global History
Author: Colleen Taylor Sen
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publishing Private Limited
ISBN: 9789386338839
Genre: Nonfiction, Cooking, Food
Pages: 144
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3 stars

I am a fan of Indian food, and but of course because that’s what I grew up eating. Give me a good portion of Butter Chicken and I am capable of forgetting the world. The same goes for Biryani (is it Indian though, I wonder?) and Desi Chinese. Books about food, more so Indian food have fascinated me. Whether it is Rude Food by Sanghvi or a collection of essays by Madhur Jaffrey, each book on Indian food brings a unique perspective, and so does Curry: A Global History to some extent.

Curry gives you a lot of facts about how “curry” came to be – in India and then how it travelled to the rest of the world, thereby now becoming a global dish so to say. The book speaks of how the East India Company officers took to the Indian cuisine, thereby carrying our food with them “back home” and cooks from India, who eventually settled in Britain and some of them opened restaurants. Of how Butter Chicken was invented and became a sensation. Also, me being a lover of food had no idea of the number of curries which this book names and speaks of.

My favourite section was the one on the United States of America and how our food travelled there. The book covers all ground and how our food travelled mainly because of the colonial rule and influence – Singapore, Trinidad, South Africa, Burma, and others. Curry provides an education into the humble curry, its types, the way it is cooked, the spices used for various curries, making it extremely engaging, and yet falling short on not being comprehensive enough and seems rushed in the process. Nonetheless, a great book to know more about Curry and its place in the world.

Tiffin: 500 Authentic Recipes Celebrating India’s Regional Cuisine by Sonal Ved

TiffinTitle: Tiffin: 500 Authentic Recipes Celebrating India’s Regional Cuisine
Author: Sonal Ved
Publisher: Roli Books
ISBN: 978-8193704967
Genre: Food Writing, Recipes
Pages: 496
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 stars

Okay, I have to say this right at the onset: This is book that should be owned by everyone who loves food – eating, cooking, or talking about it. Tiffin is the kind of book that may not seem unique at first glance. Sure, you have seen this format several times. Dishes from every part of India, and so on and so forth. Tiffin encompasses all states and union territories. Sonal’s research is spot-on and every recipe isn’t just a recipe, but a footnote of sorts to the world she opens up for the reader/chef/cook.

Tiffin 1

I have always wondered how does one review a book about food. Does one cook the recipes and talk about it? Does one just read and imagine the taste? Does one get it cooked through someone else and then talk about it, after tasting it of course? It could be done anyhow I suppose but taste you must and that’s what I did. I also then came to the conclusion that the styling of food in those pictures in books is way better than what you or I could at our homes. That being said, the taste is what matters. Isn’t it?

Tiffin 2

Tiffin ensures flavour in every bite. Sonal has chosen the recipes carefully – after having interacted with local cooks, chefs, and people who cook at home day in and day out. Of course the most obvious thing which I loved about the book is the depth of research done. The book of course speaks of the most obvious dishes – the butter chicken, the dhansak, dum aloo, etc, but what it also does most beautifully is go beyond all of this to truly discover Indian food across regions.

Tiffin 3

The book is divided into 6 sections – North India, Central India, West India, South India, East India, and Northeast India. Furthermore, it is then divided into these for every section: Appetizers, Poultry and Eggs, Meat and Pork, Fish and Seafood, Vegetarian, Rice and Breads, and Desserts. So the arrangement is very easy to follow and refer. Moreover, if you even go by index at the end of the book, that has its own charm – almost feels like jumping from one region to another.

Tiffin 4

Tiffin is also the kind of book that while it may seem that it caters more to an audience out of the country, that is not the case. I personally think that it in fact lends more to the people living in India and what we can learn from it – right from basic recipes (a wonderful section at the beginning of the book) to the intense heavy-duty cooking. Might I also add that Sonal is an accomplished food writer and food editor at Vogue India (something which I got to know only after I read this book). All in all, Tiffin is the kind of book that you must own – even if you don’t cook, especially if you don’t cook, so it can inspire you to step into the kitchen and cook something entirely different – from any part of the country.

Book Review: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan

Food Rules - An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan Title: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual
Author: Michael Pollan
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780143116387
Genre: Health/Nutrition
Pages: 140
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I was always interested in reading Michael Pollan’s small book of food habits and what to eat and how called, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”. I somehow never got around to it. Perhaps I was scared that it would all be clear – what I eat is unhealthy and maybe I would be forced to think about what I eat, how much I eat and how I eat. I was certain that life would not be the same after reading this book and I was right to a very large extent. At the end of the book, I wanted to change the way I eat and I hope I do.

“Food Rules” is a book that pretty much tells you what you already know. It deals with the basics or rather it gets to the basics of food and our dietary habits. The book is divided into three parts and each part tells the reader a little more towards healthy living. At the same time, Pollan does not discourage eating something sinful or pampering oneself, once in a while; however we need to understand that it is just once a while and not every single day. I guess that is where the major difference actually lies.

The basic premise of the book (according to me) is that eat what your grandmother or your ancestors would recognize as food. The idea is to rid oneself of processed foods or anything that comes in a can or a bottle. Eat fresh and eat plants and vegetables is at the core of the book and rightly so. There are sixty four rules in the book and one might even ask: Do we need rules to eat? Does someone need to teach us what to eat and how to eat? The answer to these questions in today’s time and age is probably a big, fat, YES! Pollan stresses on chewing food, eating smaller portions, eating together and simple food wisdom which he has observed from various cultures and applied over the years.

“Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” is not a ground-breaking book. However, it does make you realize how you have been abusing your body and mind with what you eat. It makes you realize that supermarkets aren’t the answer to all your food needs and neither eating more means that you are well-fed. It looks at the basic aspects of eating – how much to eat, and when to eat. It breaks the myth of different foods and what the concept of healthy and fit really is. Pollan draws from traditions and simple food wisdom, which I said before, we are all aware of more or less but forget to apply it somewhere down the line. May be that is why we need a book like this to keep informing or rather reminding us from time to time, about what we should eat and how. A must read for people who want to know more about food and its implications and how it changes lives.

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