Spices & Season: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya – a review.
I know, I know, a cook book isn’t very geeky. But, here’s the thing – I love to cook. And I love Indian food. Our main edict here at WGN is anything can be geeky if your passionate about it. I also love books. So it’s only natural that I love cookbooks. That’s a lot of love for just the opening paragraph but, hey, that’s the kind of review this is going to be because I love this book.
The Nuts and Bolts
The book itself is lovely (ok..I’ll stop now with the “love”). I grew up in a print shop so I notice things like binding and layout and the overall physical qualities of a book. This is a durable well crafted book. The photography is excellent, and the font and general layout is warm and inviting.
The actual structure is great too. It starts with good introduction that is interesting and informative about the methods and tools behind Indian cuisine. The multiple indexes is a great approach that many cookbooks lack. It breaks the book into gluten free, vega, vegetarian and then the entire book. From there recipes are broken down into ingredients, names AND style. So, whether you are looking for a way to use up that last bit of cabbage, or searching for something new it’s a breeze. The author Rinku Bhattacharya adds small anecdotes or descriptions in each recipie but doesn’t hit us over the head with it. They are simple and easy to ignore if you want to just get right down to cooking.
Sure it looks nice but what about the food!? Tell us about the FOOOOD!
A pretty book is a nice thing to have but when it comes to a cookbook there is only one thing that matters. How does it taste?(the food…not the book) The recipes are fantastic. If you go in expecting it to taste just like the restaurants, you’ll be a bit disappointed. But it you just want to absolutely delicious home cooked meal – this is a winner. It has a great variety of dishes. Classics like Chicken Tikka or a pork Vindaloo are all present but so are some lovely gems like brined turkey with pomegranate Apricot glaze.
Part of what sets Indian cooking apart is the unique usage of herbs and spices. There are a lot of recipes that will call for things you don’t readily have. In preparation for this review I went out and stocked up on new spices. It was a little pricey, especially for the saffron. However, once you get past that initial cost the rest is simple and totally worth it. The book covers the essentials and gives advice for substitutes. Meaning, you don’t NEED to go all out and get every spice under the sun (but boy does it make a difference) My family enjoyed a lot of the new foods and over the past month I have positively gorged myself on curries and biryani (talking lunch and dinner here people.)
For you fans of the instant pot I will be reviewing another of Bhattacharya’s cook books next month – all indian instant pot recipes.