How does she do it?

The Book

A Taste of India



Madhur Jaffrey



What it says on the back cover

A photo of two women sitting side by side sorting through a handful of chillis on the grass in front of a big wicker basket that is filled with the chillis that they are handling.

Is this book worth buying?

This book is an excellent way to appreciate the diverse food that is found in each region scattered around India. Written with care and love, Jaffrey takes on a journey of her homeland starting with an Introduction that tells us stories of her childhood, food memories and how the food she ate, was made. It then goes on to discuss Indian cuisine, the flavourings and seasonings that it uses and how the variety of food in India varies from one region to the next. It also shares with us some of the spices that may be found in an Indian cupboard, growing up in India and India as a nation, its history and restaurant food. The introduction also introduces us to other country’s food nearby, beverages and what each region of India has in common with each other. the breads, meats and so on. It looks at how Indian’s eat, the Indian medicine, history, before returning back to Jaffrey’s childhood and her memories, discussions on religion, vegetarianism, traditions in India, and regional cooking.

Regional Cuisine is a 9 chapter section of the book that starts in Dehli and covers the Punjab and Haryana regions and it ends in Kerala. Each recipe is given an English name and then a Hindu name underneath. The back of the book covers Basic recipes and General notes. Basic recipes contain recipes to make the side dishes that make up Indian cuisine. These include the breads such as pappadums, naan, roti, to name a few, the rice and Lassi, the yoghurt drink often found in our Indian restaurant menus but is popular with Indians as a snack or taken as part of their breakfast or lunch. The basic recipe page also contains two recipes for the dessert Halwa, a dish that is usually made with semolina.

The General notes page is more like a guide or a dictionary of the ingredients used in this book which are listed from A to Z and several photographs of some of the ingredients.

Finally the book concludes with a Recipe index broken into subheadings of meals that start with Soups and Possible Starters and finishing with Chutneys, Relishes, Salads and Sweets. The end of the book is rounded off wuth an index of the foods, recipes and illustrations highlighted in italics.

The reason for the title of this book is because Jaffrey is not only a cookery book author but she is also a well known actress. My book says that it was published in 1985, although when I checked online there are references to the same book saying it was published in 1988 but either way this book is one of several that Jaffrey has written over the years and I salute her for taking the time to write and act which must be a juggling act in itself or that she is excellent with her time management skills. I think its wonderful. But this book is an excellent way to introduce yourself to what makes up Indian cuisine and then once you have cooked your way through it, you can then decide which regions food is for you. Naturally you do not need to pick a region but they are all diverse, some are more hotter than others and some use different spices or do not use a particular ingredient. Once you have learnt which recipe comes from where, you can seek out other books that have other recipes that match that cuisine. This is the first of Jaffrey’s books that I have purchased. Not that I have had any problems with her books in the past but because it was affordable for me to purchase. One of my favourite cooks of all time will be revealed at some point but this book does a fine job of being a book that I enjoy. One that discusses some of my favourite topics food, culture, and travel. What more could I ask for?

No wonder the British felt at home here. They could hunt- there are plenty of wild ducks and migrating Siberian geese- and they could fish for the sweet-fleshed mahaseer or for trout which a nineteenth-century Scotsman had introduced to the streams- Madhur Jaffrey (1985).

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