Complete Book of Indian Cooking: 350 Recipes From the Regions of India
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., Dec. 4, 2009
Complete Book of Indian Cooking: 350 Recipes From the Regions of Indiaby Suneeta Vaswani
Robert Rose, 480 pp., $34.95
Texas author Suneeta Vaswani lives, writes, and teaches Indian cooking in Houston, with occasional forays into Austin for seminars and guest chef cameos. I was fortunate enough to sample her cooking at the Stonehouse Vineyard luncheon during the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival this past spring. She prepared her chicken tandoori salad as the first course of the sold-out luncheon, and I wasn't the only person to collar her afterward and plop down the cash for this comprehensive and gorgeous cookbook, her latest, and most likely her magnum opus.
Vaswani grew up in India, living there until her children were in their teens, and has continued to travel to India frequently over the years, to visit family, to research her books, and most recently to conduct culinary tours. Because she regularly teaches Indian cooking to American beginners, her recipes are literally foolproof. Clear, concise, and simple to follow, they produce dishes so fresh and authentic that it just may ruin Indian restaurants for you, because you will be able to easily do better at home.
Each region of the vast Indian subcontinent is unique, with differing climates and folkways, which Vaswani illuminates with her vivid commentary that, like her recipes, is concise and never overwhelming. The recipes are also masterfully arranged; though grouped in sections such as "Appetizers" and "Seafood," each of the 350 recipes is color-coded to designate which region produced it, deepening the cook's understanding while mastery of the cuisine is achieved. The Complete Book of Indian Cooking also contains more than 100 stunning photos of Indian dishes, produce, farms, and markets to inform the text.
This book makes a fabulous gift for anyone interested in Indian cuisine. Suitable for beginners as well as advanced cooks, it far surpasses most other Indian cookbooks in both scope and usability.
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