Thursday, February 7, 2008

Indian Cuisine Book - Updated review

Haven't had much time or mindspace for cooking lately, with Puddi's illness and hospitalisation. But she's fine now, back to being the family dog ( i.e. begging for scraps off everyone's plate, no matter what they're eating!) and her usual zany self. I celebrated her return home by brewing up a pea soup with spinach greens sauteed with garlic, but haven't done much else.

But I came across this interesting book which I started reading while nursing Puddi in hospital. It's by an Indian food writer settled in the US ( Chitrita Banerji) who specialises in Bengali food but was on a self-imposed quest to find out more about the origins of the different styles of cooking in India. Her chapter on Bengali food, especially that served at weddings made me slurp deliriously, even though I'm vegetarian. I of course immediately turned to the chapter on Karnataka food which I admit was a bit of a let-down because it hardly mentioned the varied types of cuisine and was not informed or knowledgeable enough, in my opinion.

Sadly, the book mysteriously vanished after I had completed these two chapters and I could neither find it in the hospital room or at home so I assume it's vapourised into that great library in the sky. I'll have to buy myself a new copy because I found the little that I dipped into quite intriguing...
Finally found it in a mixed bag at home and finished it. I found it a little disappointing, to be honest, because while the quality of writing is good and the descriptions evocative, the author has a tendency to relate everything back to Bengali cooking, which really was not the point. Even when she goes to have Karnataka cuisine in Bangalore, she spends more time marveling at a Bengali sweet shop which has been there for a while. It was an interesting one time read but certainly not a re-reading type of book. for that, I prefer Madhur Jaffrey's Tastes of India, where she covers different regions in great detail, telling us about their cooking, the evolution of those styles and then shares recipes from people who are from those regions, so that they are authentic.


Reeta Skeeter said...

Next up for me that!

Itchingtowrite said...

hey, thanks for dropping by
interesting space to share your book reviews
pls do a recommended book reads for the month/ week list giving plot review (eithr self or linked from some other reader) and defining the kind of audience who wud like reading this (like for kids or for indian fiction freaks or for thriller freaks or for those who like da vinci code will like this...)
do it pls.. i often miss buying books becoz i don't know wha it is abt or who is the target audience

bird's eye view said...

Reeta - Well...I was kind of disappointed in this book. Too much focus on comparisons with/ finding bengali food joints in other places...It was a let down and I prefer Madhur Jaffrey's Tastes of India, which is richly detailed.

Itchingtowrite - Thanks, and that's a great idea. I'll get together with my friend who runs a book-club and get something up by next week.

dipali said...

Hi BEV- very late on this blog. Chitrita's other book, Life and Food in Bengal is perhaps better written, though I did enjoy Eating India, as you say,a one-time read. Have you read Madhur jaffrey's memior, "Climbing the Mango trees"?