From Publishers Weekly
Because tofu and other vegan mainstays are part of their larders, and since they tend to be dairy-free by design, Asian cuisines lend themselves naturally to vegan cooking, and this handy cookbook does a beautiful job compiling attractive, tasty and uncomplicated vegan recipes from India to China and beyond. Take Japan's Simmered Mixed Vegetables, a deceptively straightforward preparation made complex with a sauce of soy, sake and dashi, a kelp-based stock that's the Japanese equivalent of chicken broth; exotic vegetables, including taro and lotus root, come alive in the salty-sweet braising liquid. Thailand's Sweet Corn Cakes are another example of simple-on-the-outside, intricate-on-the-inside vegan cookery, an addictive spin on traditional corn fritters spiced with ginger, garlic and coriander, and served alongside chili sauce and cucumber relish. Unfortunately, the cookbook is a bit confusing; the recipes are separated by country rather than, say, main ingredient, and the fine, full-color photographs of the dishes are all crammed in the middle of the book. Though cooks may spend extra time searching for ways to use up surplus zucchini, it's an appealing browse full of tasty diversions.
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Chef-author India-born Parekh, now headquartered in Tokyo, learned to cook defensively upon her marriage, after enjoying a Jain childhood of vegetables, lentils, and pulses. She selects the best, most familiar and comforting dishes (200 of them) from eight Asian countries; readers will recognize such favorites as Indonesia’s nasi goring, Korean kimchi (in many varieties), China’s Kung Pao in vegetarian mode, and the well-loved naan and chapati breads of India. Instructions, although relatively brief, are highly reliant on other recipes, like spices, sauces, stocks, and condiments (for instance, tofu mayonnaise, spicy soy-vinegar sauce, and Vietnamese vegetarian stock). Many also demand ingredients not easily found outside major U.S. metropolitan areas—tamarind juice and coriander roots with stems, to name two. Yet gourmet adventures beckon; it’s hard to resist preparing different kinds of meals after seeing a centerfold full of glorious after color photographs. --Barbara Jacobs
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