Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Pinch of This, A Handful of That - A Book Review

There is something about a recipe book, isn't there? The joy of leafing through the pictures, checking to see if you have all the ingredients, the frustration of not having some, the anticipation before the final product. The whole whirl of emotion that one book can make you feel.

When the people at India Book Store asked me to host a book review, I was more than willing to oblige. Go on, read the review and also pop over to their blog, it is quite awesome.


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This is a book that lives up to its name. A Pinch of This, A Handful of That has recipes from here, there

and everywhere; some everyday, some exotic; some easy, some extremely complicated.

I don’t rightly know whether this book should be classified as a cookbook. That definition is both

restrictive and untrue. Because this book is much more than that. Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal is a food

blogger who is passionately interested in cooking, and this passion spills out in her stories. Every section

in the book begins with a food story. Moti Mummy ordering all the women of the household to make

a year’s worth of tomato ketchup because tomatoes are at their cheapest, Maharaj, her family’s cook

who makes the best Mohanthal, Rushina the enthusiastic new bride stocking her kitchen to feed twenty

instead of two, and later, as a young mother, taking a leaf out of Calvin’s (of Hobbes fame) mom’s book

by giving gory names to simple homemade fare – those are the stories that stay with you, long after

you’ve glanced through the recipes.

Taken strictly as a cookbook, I have mixed feelings about the book. The book contains such varied

recipes; Gujarati, Sindhi, Italian; vegetarian, non-vegetarian; desserts, snacks, main courses; that unless

you plan to randomly dip into the book and cook whatever turns up on the page (which may not be

very easy to do, considering that some of the dishes feature exotic ingredients that may not be readily

available in your neighbourhood supermarket) the book may leave you feeling a bit clueless. Neither

does it have a detailed table of contents. How am I to know, for instance, that the book contains a

recipe for Rainbow Chard Saute?

That being said, dipping into the book is a bit like putting your hand into Santa’s bag of goodies and

waiting with bated breath to see what you’ve landed. If, like me, you think you’ve exhausted your stock

of recipes and want to surprise your family or friends with something unexpected, this book is the cure.

The individual recipes are explained in a simple manner, and I tried a couple of things for myself, to

check them out (the Chhole and Nairobi Butter Tawa Prawns) and both tasted great. I feel inspired to try

some of the more exotic recipes; the Undhiyu, for example, and the above-mentioned Rainbow Chard

Saute!

I suspect the book is aimed at people who read Rushina’s blog. I think it could have been organized

better; into sections based on the type of cuisine, for example. On the other hand, as I said before, the

book might be the perfect antidote to kitchen boredom. Pick a page at random and try something new!

- written by Mugdha Wagle

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