Now regarded by many as the world authority on Indian food, Madhur Jaffrey is an award-winning actress and bestselling cookery author. Her first book, An Invitation to Indian Cookery, was published in 1973 and her series for BBC television 'Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery' made her a household name. She has appeared in over 20 films, including Merchant Ivory's Heat and Dust, and written over 15 cookery books, including Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible (2003), published by Ebury Press.
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian has become ny cooking bible. This book will show you how to create authentic flavours of world cuisine, usually very cheaply, and the results are always utterly delicious. I cannot count the number of people who have asked me for the recipe of some dish or other. Even as I speak I have little bags of prepared spices for Madhur's Sri Lankan Curry Powder ready to send to two friends - along with recommendations to buy the book! So many dinner parties have been provided by this wonderful book...and no-one has ever noticed that there isn't any meat involved! Buy the book and don't worry about the price - it'll save you a fortune in food...
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141 of 146 people found the following review helpful
A Very Important Book for Learning about Food. Buy It!16 Mar. 2005
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`World Vegetarian' by leading authority on Indian cooking, Madhur Jaffrey is one of those books you can tell after reading a page or two that it is worth your time and money if you are interested in learning new things about food.
It is important to note that the notion of `vegetarian' in the title does not mean that the book is all about vegetables, just as a vegetarian is not a person who eats only vegetables. A vegan or vegetarian is someone who avoids meat and, to some extent, products derived from animals. Some people whose vegetarianism is based on respect for animal life go so far as to avoid vegetables like root vegetables whose harvest may entail the death of insects or worms or other subterranean living animals. Ms. Jaffrey is a partial vegetarian, based more on Indian culture and tradition than anything else. And, her book includes major chapters on dairy products derived from milk and eggs.
This is a very big book, with very long chapters on all the big vegetarian topics. These are:
Dried Beans, Dried Peas, Lentils, and Nuts -122 pages
Vegetables - 200 pages
Grains - 186 pages
Dairy - 64 pages
Soups, Salads, and Drinks - 82 pages
Sauces and Added Flavorings - 54 pages
Equipment, Glossary, and Resources - 32 pages
Even with 200 pages and 200 recipes, this very large section does not match the depth of books dedicated entirely to vegetables such as Jack Bishop's `Vegetables Every Day' or Elizabeth Schneider's encyclopedic `Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini'. In fact, Ms. Jaffrey has just 31 sections dedicated to different vegetables, while Ms. Schneider covers over 130 different named vegetables, but Ms. Jaffrey gives us some insights on vegetable cookery which I believe cannot be found elsewhere. It may not be that other books don't cover the same thing, but Ms. Jaffrey seems to have a way of putting things which makes them stick in your memory a lot more firmly than other writers' coverage does. For example, in dealing with the baking of red beet roots, Ms. Jaffrey says that baking white potatoes in tin foil leads to thoroughly unpleasant soggy skins and dry flesh, but the same technique is exactly what you want to do with beets, as the skin of beets in inedible.
Another way in which her facts are presented in an effective manner is when the section on greens discusses fourteen (14) different varieties of greens together so that similarities and differences between methods appropriate to each variety can be discussed.
Ms. Jaffrey is certainly true to her book title in that her recipes come from all over the world. She gives us the service of stating beside each recipe name the country or cuisine from which the recipe grew. While this may only be important to nitpickers like myself, she is careful to point out when recipes are from a purely Italian or Chinese source or from a hybrid recipe developed by Italians or Chinese who are transplanted to the United States.
The chapter on `Grains' is dedicated as much or more to dishes made with flour grains and meals, as in noodles and porridges as to the grains themselves, as in rice dishes. One of the clearest signs of Ms. Jaffrey's background is the fact that very little space is dedicated to yeast breads. Only five (5) recipes contain yeast and two of those are for pancakes. All other bread recipes are for flatbreads or breads with a chemical leavener. These recipes are welcome, as few appear in conventional books on bread, and I do not miss a fuller discussion of breads, as there are easily a dozen excellent books on bread which come to mind.
The other side of the coin is in the dairy chapter that includes recipes for homemade cheeses which I simply have not seen anywhere outside of Diane Kennedy's most recent book on the Mexican pantry. Among these recipes are homemade Indian cheese, unflavored and flavored with pepper or herbs; Latin American cheese (`Queso Blanco'), Italian mascarpone cheese and Syrian Cheese. And, just to be sure none of this effort is wasted, there are several recipes giving us things to do with our homemade Indian cheese. This chapter also contains a wealth of egg recipes that you will simply not see anywhere outside of a book dedicated to egg recipes or a large book on Indian cuisine. With a rather long headnoted homage to Julia Child, Ms. Jaffrey gives us an excellent recipe for the classic French omelet. You will succeed with this recipe, but mastering the technique may require a consult with Ms. Child's book or Jacques Pepin's book on technique.
All this means is that Ms. Jaffrey's decisions on what to include in this book and what to leave out is impeccable.
It may seem presumptions on my part to evaluate Ms. Jaffrey's recipes, but I did check out her vegetable stock recipe and found it agreed with all my experts' opinions on how and for how long to cook a vegetable stock. The only deviation from classic doctrine is that she includes a diced potato, but not until the broth has been brought to a boil and reduced to a simmer, so, I suspect the spud has no chance to make the stock cloudy.
In a sense, this book fulfills the promise of Jeanne Lemlin's `Vegetarian Classics' without padding it with cliched recipes for macaroni and cheese and pasta Puttanesca. Very, very few recipes in this book are familiar to me, in spite of the fact that I have walked my way through close to 400 cookbooks in the last 18 months.
This book is highly recommended for your armchair library when you are out of the kitchen, searching for new ideas and dishes.
61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Excellent cookbook28 Nov. 2003
- Published on Amazon.com
OK, yes, this could use more pictures. And I'll be honest, some of her techniques are too complicated and time consuming for me, so I make up my own shortcuts. Soak beans overnight? Heck, it's 6PM, I just got done working & I have a preschooler to feed NOW, so canned beans work FINE for me. But this is GOOD food. I've made about two dozen recipes out of this cookbook so far, two of which were total flops and one of which needed some tweaking but was good the second time I made it with my tweaks in. So no, this isn't for the inexperienced cook, and not every recipe is as good as it sounds. But when you have a few extra minutes to cook or want something special, try the Sri Lankan Sweet Potatoes with Cardamom and Chiles, or the Middle Eastern Stew of Chickpeas, Potatoes, and Carrots. If you only have a minute, throw together the Yogurt with Herbs or the Korean Soy Dipping Sauce and top your veggies with it. You won't regret it. In short, while I don't pull out this cookbook every night, the flavors in it are good enough that I pull it out at least once a week. Give it a try - if the first recipe you try isn't a favorite, try another before you give up. Not everything is going to be to everyone's taste, but everyone is bound to find something they'll like!
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Extraordinary Cookbook - Not Just for Vegetarians29 Feb. 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
Madhur Jaffrey is a renowned author of numerous cookbooks, often focusing on Indian cuisine. "World Vegetarian" is one of her most ambitious works, covers over 200 vegetable and non-meat recipes from around the globe. Although a relatively large portion of the recipes are from India or China, recipes from around the world are well represented: Mexico, Greece, Jamaica, Cyprus, Italy, Trinidad, Japan, France, Morocco, the United States and Native America, Costa Rica, Korea, Cuba, Indonesia, Africa, and Lebanon. Jaffrey also integrates a few recipes that she's developed herself, often borrowing from traditions of several different cultures. The cookbook is divided into 6 main sections, with major ingredients organized in alphabetical order: 1) Dried Beans, Dried Peas, Lentils, and Nuts (azuki beans to urad beans); 2) Vegetables (artichokes to turnips); 3) Grains (barley to wild rice); 4) Dairy (eggs to yogurt); 5) Soups, Salads, and Drinks (cold soups to sweet soups); 6) Sauces and Added Flavorings (chutney to spice mixtures). Each ingredient is discussed in detail as are basic cooking and preparation instructions, such as peeling daikon, sprouting mung beans, and making basic polenta. As with all her cookbooks, Jaffrey's recipes are written clearly and easy to follow. In addition, each recipe has an introductory paragraph, where she explains some of the ingredients, tells why she loves the recipe, gives hints about good accompanying dishes, and so forth. Reading her recipes is like being in the kitchen with a good friend. The final section is an extensive glossary that describes needed equipment and foreign ingredients. Finally, Jaffrey includes a one-page summary of places to find unusual cooking resources. Overall, "World Vegetarian" is one of the best cookbooks specializing in non-meat dishes that I've ever seen. Although it will be most appreciated by vegetarians, this cookbook will find a welcome home with anyone looking for diverse vegetable dishes or trying to cut back on meat consumption. Most highly recommended!
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
The start of a beautiful friendship5 May 2005
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I have acquired a reputation because of this book. I cook for potlucks at church, my wife and I take leftovers to work the next day, and all over people rave about how good the food (so often straight from Madhur's recipes) smells and tastes.
But who cares what other people think, I just love the food.
Now, I learned to cook from this book as a new husband in charge of meals with a vegetarian wife. It's been about a year, probably close to 100 various recipes cooked (many repeated repeatedly), and I'm still excited to try new ones (Doubles is on the menu tonight) and I love going back again and again to find out what to do with asparagus when I find it on sale.
I cook straight from her directions and most often things have come out tasty and memorable and begging to be cooked again. In the beginning I stuck with things that looked pretty easy to me, like stews--I do have the luxury of having lots of time to soak and boil beans, which everyone talks about. Often time-consuming, sure, but I haven't found that the required culinary skills have taxed my limited experience and (limited) common sense. If you want to cook this food and are willing to put in the time and effort, you won't be disappointed.
Like I said, I just get the right ingredients (unfortunately fresh curry leaves seem to be one item I can rarely find, but tamarind, dried whole red chilies, mirin, etc. have all turned up on enjoyable visits to local ethnic food stores), leave myself time for prep and follow her instructions, and I get treated like a star. Hey, it's just a good recipe.
No, not everything has been earth-shattering. But I'm not sure of the heights plain bulgur and lentils could achieve, either. And some are forgettable, or worse. (But I don't think it was Madhur's fault that her adzuki/mung yin-yang bean dish left me and my wife in pain.) But for any of her recipes for (off the top of my head) charros, red lentils with zucchini, chickpea stew with six vegetables, spicy corn salad, bean curd salad/spread, spicy hash brown potatoes, kohlrabi salad, green pepper and cucumber salad ... you won't even remember the misfires.
I admit most people approaching this book won't take it as a first textbook on cooking, but sometimes I had to resort to other books to figure out a technique she was talking about, or I wish there was a little more concrete direction. (Again, maybe my lack of confidence, but I do like to have things spelled out to the letter. But I know no one else in the world cooks like that.)
I also tend to cut down on the salt and oil she recommends. Especially salt! And often adding time for things she sautes, reducing time for boiling--must be something about my stove.
I find the blurbs next to the recipes often sell me on cooking something I wouldn't try otherwise. (These are entertaining in themselves and make for good bed-time reading, though often I have to put it down to keep from salivating too much.) I have quite a list in my head of things I still want to try making, and that doesn't even get into the recipes I feel I'm not adequate to tackle yet.
I didn't know anything about Madhur Jaffrey before I got this book, so my feelings are entirely based on the exquisite smells and tastes I've experienced because of her recipes. I am very thankful to her.
123 of 139 people found the following review helpful
One of the best veggie books ever15 Jun. 1999
- Published on Amazon.com
I bought a copy of this book in London and have been waiting for it to come out in the US to send to friends. It's one of the most extensive, easy to use and satisfying vegetarian books out there; it's quickly become a staple.