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This review is from: Mangoes and Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent (Hardcover)
The seven countries that make up the modern-day subcontinent - Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and The Maldives - are brought together for a sensitive, collaborative culinary journey between what can be relatively similar yet dissimilar styles and dishes at the same time.
This is a book that coffee tables were designed for. A heavyweight tome full of wonderful full-page images, inspirational and aspirational text and a lot of very interesting recipes to boot. The only problem is you might break your kitchen's book-holder should you try and prop this book up whilst "in action".
First off, it was interesting to note that the author took the initiative to suggest some typical dishes that could be suitable for various meal situations, from snacks to the more formal. Sometimes, when presented with a mass of different recipes that all look interesting yet unfamiliar, it can be difficult to know what to try first. At least with this help there is a bit of an avenue to gingerly tread along...
Recipes are split by type (rather than country) so you are able to browse by at least something possibly familiar. At the end of the book there is a great glossary, bibliography and index. There is even a little bit, a tiffin one may say, about photographing in the subcontinent. Each recipe is surrounded by lots of scene-setting and background information. At many times the recipes almost appear as an afterthought - with no criticism intended - such is the quality and breadth of the supporting information.
This is a book that the reader can find themselves falling into and at the next moment you realise just how much time has elapsed and note that no food has even been prepared. In many ways this would be an excellent book for the beginner due to its range of recipes but on the other hand the sheer awe-dropping scale of this book means that it might be a little too off-putting at the start. This is no negative thing. In many ways it would be a good solution for the beginner to use this book, at first, as a sort of educational resource and pick up a cheap regional cookery book for its step-by-step beginner-friendly recipes. Combine the two and you will have something that you can refer to in the lounge and take the "ABC"-style book to the kitchen and cover with sweat, ingredients and see it bent beyond recognition with stress. Once you are a calmer, more experienced cook then you can take this special tome closer to your kitchen's heart.
A few years have elapsed since this book was first published. It is still available as a new book from outlets such as Amazon and it holds its second-hand value as well. That, if nothing else, should say something in this ultra-competitive world of cookery and recipe books. If you have anything more than a passing interest in food from this region, this book should be given strong consideration. You might need stronger bookshelves though first.