I am embracing 2017 with a lot of inspiration from Monisha Bharadwaj's latest book, The Indian Cookery Course. I was one of the privileged attendees who got to hear Ms. Bharadwaj share her acumen and passion for Indian cuisine at the Mumbai launch of this book held by Pan Macmillan India and Title Waves in association with Rushina M. Ghildiyal's APB Food Book Club.
A few minutes into the session and so enthralled was I with what the book held as culinary wisdom, that I could not wait to grab a copy for my possession. This book is Ms. Bharadwaj's 15th book exemplifying various nuances of the Indian gastronomy and in its lucid literary style is apt for even a person trying to just start his/her learning of the diverse Indian cuisine.
This 1,27,000 word book commences with the statement, 'The highest demonstration of love in India is to feed someone', which perfectly captures the essence of Indian cooking. The pages that follow provide an eye-opening understanding of how different dishes have evolved in different geographies of the country by giving a crisp explanation of culinary styles of North, South, West, East and North East India.
It then briefly sheds light on the six 'rasas' recognized by Ayurveda - sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. In elucidating so, Ms. Bharadwaj puts forth details of foods falling in each category and how they work on our body.
The book then progresses to double up as a mini encyclopedia on Indian cooking. A beautiful pictorial journey of 40 master classes on basic cooking techniques, quintessential food components and some lip-smacking delights simplifies Indian cooking to a great extent. For example the book has detailed out simple procedures like making dairy products like butter, ghee, grinding masalas, kneading dough, extracting coconut milk, carrying out tadka/tempering and much more.
Categorised under fifteen different headings that include rice, flours, vegetables, lentils, poultry seafood, pickles, eggs, dairy, desserts etc, the book is a ready reckoner of 300 delicious recipes that are popular preparations from diverse ethnicities across the various regions of India. This book does not merely focus on teaching one how to cook Indian food but also imbibes them with a lot of details pertaining to origin, purchase and reason for use of ingredients like spices, vegetables, lentils, dairy products in different regions. For instance the book provides you simple tips on how to buy and store green coriander, mint, fenugreek leaves etc.
I am indeed in awe of this book that is so simple yet so rich in gastronomic insights and would recommend it to all those who love Indian food and wish to enhance their knowledge about it.
Till then, HAPPY READING...
- Regional Indian Food & Travel enthusiast