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India: The Cookbook Hardcover – September 17, 2010

69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With a quarter-century of culinary study and travel under his belt, this professor–cum–Indian food scholar offers up a mammoth work that encompasses every region of the country and provides 1,000 recipes. Fifteen pages of the introduction are given over to the 10 major culinary food locales of India, and it makes for an enlightening read. We learn, for instance, that the cuisine of Kashmir is influenced by central Asia and Tibet, while Bengal is big on sweetmeats and fish curries. Nicely labeled color photos adorn each of the nine food chapters, highlighting various snacks, entrees, breads, and desserts. However, the presentation of the recipes is another matter. Comprehensive to a fault, but with no commentary and all the welcoming charm of an auto parts catalogue, most are presented two to a page with boilerplate listings of origin, cooking time, ingredient list, and basic directions. For fanatics, some dishes require more than two dozen ingredients, such as the chicken pulao made with ghee and full of onions and chilis. Simpler options run the gamut from lamb in milk sauce to fried spicy carrots. A glossary and brief resource directory are much welcomed, and a short chapter of signature dishes from 11 Indian guest chefs from around the world provides a nice coda to the work. (Nov.)
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"India Cookbook, above all, is an inspiration and a testament to the glory of Indian cooking in all its incarnations. It's a call to the kitchen."―Saveur

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (September 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714859028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714859026
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 2.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

271 of 280 people found the following review helpful By S. Sandberg on January 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Phaidon should be ashamed of releasing this book in its current state (especially proclaiming "Quality Assurance" on the cover). Although, as other reviewers have pointed out, this book is beautifully designed, it is so poorly edited and indexed that each time I pick it up I encounter a new glaring error. Problems include:
- Recipes are printed twice, one after the other, e.g. Mirchi ka Salan (p. 319 & 320) and Matar Paneer (p. 315 & 316)
- Recipes do not appear in the index, e.g. Keeme ke Samose / Lamb Samosas (p. 209)
- Recipes are not indexed intelligently. Most types of dishes are not listed together in the index, for example you cannot look up "samosa" or "kebab" in the index and see a list of the different recipes for that type of dish, you will find only the recipes that begin with that word, e.g. Kebab Cooked on a Stone is listed under "kebab" but not Roasted Lamb Kebabs. In an 800 page book with 1000 recipes where the index is the only way to find recipes (there is no table of contents for each section) the terrible indexing job is unforgivable.

In addition, the author has made several mistakes that nearly sabotage what is obviously a labor of love and the product of a tremendous amount of research. First of all, the recipes are poorly written and have many oddities and omissions. Pigeon Peas in Rice Konji (p. 542) has no rice mentioned anywhere. As another reviewer pointed out, the recipe for Mirchi ka Salan / Stuffed Green Chillies is comically flawed: the chillies are never stuffed. This is even more egregious given that this recipe is pictured and it would be impossible to follow the recipe as is and produce something vaguely resembling the photo.
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90 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As an avid collector of Indian cookbooks in particular, I have rarely come across a collection that is encyclopedic, rigorous in sticking to the classic recipes as well as meticulous about pinpointing their regional origins. This book manages to do it all. I can't speak much about the author, as the traditional "about the author" section seems to be missing in this book, save for a 2-page color photo spread.

That said, the design, the weight, the color coding and the sparse and accurate descriptions are generally a pleasure. For the novice new to Indian cooking, you will find a good overview of the various regions, but once you dive into the actual recipes themselves, there isn't much guidance on the nuances of the techniques, other than the standard description of the method.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By fatimitapalomita on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I had heard about this book on chowhound.com and was very excited about it because I love Pushpesh Pant's food oriented work. I own another of his books, food Path: Grand Trunk Road from Kabul to Kolkota, which I love and have cooked from a lot. India: The Cookbook is excellent. The recipes are very authentic, homemade type stuff, and they look very good. I love it and can't wait to try out a few recipes. I am so sick of books which claim to be real-deal Indian cooking but the recipes are very restaurantish and not really what Indian food is like in people's homes, or books which claim to represent Indian cuisine, but it is clear that the recipes are very specific to how dishes are made in the author's region, yet this is never mentioned. The only way to really learn the myriad of Indian cuisines is by understanding regionality, and differences in cuisine within regions based on ethnolinguistic or religious community. India: The Cookbook doesn't really delve into ethnicity/religion in cuisine much, though is occasionally mentioned. But India: The Cookbook contains many, many recipes from all of India's major regions. Among the specific regions included in the book are Jammu-Kashmir, Punjab, Delhi, Awadh, Coastal (Pant lumps together the Western Coast states, occasionally specifying which), Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, Bengal, and a few others.

I am not Asian, but my husband's family is from Pakistan (originally from Northern India), so getting good, authentic recipes is very important to me, as I cook South Asian cuisine at least a few times each week and like to cook a large range of dishes rather than eating the same thing all of the time.
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