I’ve always liked cooking but in the last year or so I’ve really been bitten by the bug. I don’t usually use or buy cookbooks but I prefer following cooking blogs. But the one cuisine I haven’t made much is Indian (the irony!) & I knew I had to start somewhere so I started to research cookbooks. And this cookbook stood out at once.

It’s was published by Phaidon who specialise in visual books, seemed very comprehensive & it won a Gourmand cookbook award too. I’m always attracted to well designed books & I’m very happy with this one. It’s hardbound & hefty at over 800 pages The cover is designed like a sack of rice with a ‘quality assurance’ red star & there are even some parts that look smudged for aesthetic effect (the blue on the top).

Best front end paper ever!  The author Pushpesh Pant is an academic who lives in Delhi. As a book created to represent the entire cuisine of India (very diverse!) it has been twenty years in the making. The introduction includes a brief history of India food, some information on the regions of India etc. The recipes are divided into 10 sections, namely Spice Mixtures and Pastes // Pickles, Chutneys and Raitas // Snacks and Appetizers (vegetable, fish & seafood, meat) // Main Dishes (vegetables, fish & seafood, meat) // Pulses // Breads // Rice // Desserts // Drinks // Guest Chefs  (recipes contributed by chefs at Indian restaurants around the world). And finally there’s a glossary, directory & index.

All the dishes do not have pictures. Instead there are beautifully photographed sections of glossy paper in the book showcasing some of the dishes.

This is what a recipe page looks like (two on each page).

As one can understand this cookbook isn’t really made for Indians but for foreigners interested in the cuisine. Every dish name is translated into English & some of them end up sounding quite comical. The one thing I dislike about the book is that the recipes are quite short & lack details. I understand that they had to make some snips to fit 1000 recipes in a book, but sometimes there aren’t enough details or quantities aren’t properly indicated, I really wish it was better edited.   But all in all I think it’s a beautiful, comprehensive & well researched book with a lot of great recipes & they’re probably not overstating it when they say that this is the only book on Indian food you’ll ever need.   I’ve heard people say that this isn’t an easy book to get hold of but then I do all my shopping online. So if you don’t, try searching on your favorite online. This book is worth some trouble.

Buy India: The Cookbook online.