Cookbook Reviews From Around the World
Grab Your Passport and Apron and Join Us in a Whistle-stop Tour of My Top 3 Cookbooks, Chefs, and Cuisines of All Time
We can all get into a routine regarding food and what we put on our table. A crazy schedule often means that we have minimal time to plan our weekly menu, and we quickly find ourselves repetitively preparing the same meals.
Good food doesn’t need to take hours to prepare. Some of the best meals are created from simple ingredients and trusted recipes passed down from generation to generation—delicious meals prepared with love and shared with loved ones.
Here are my top three cookbooks that will have you cooking exciting and delicious food at home with just a little effort and enthusiasm.
All aboard! First stop, India!
My favourite ‘go-to’ chef for Indian food is the adorable Meera Sodha, born in the UK to Ugandan Indian parents. With her desire to keep alive the recipes of her ancestors, her first cookbook Made in India was published in 2014 and remains one of my favourites. Her style is contemporary and fresh with more than a nod to her heritage, and she makes home-cooked Indian food accessible to the modern-day cook. With an extensive range of irresistible recipes from Royal Bengal Fish Fingers and Mum’s Chicken Curry to Chana Dal with Garlicky Tarka (my favourite), this book is a delight for the tastebuds. Don’t take my word for it; the following is a comment by the amazing Yotam Ottolenghi “This book is full of real charm, personality, love, and garlic. Bring on the 100-clove curry! Not to mention fire-smoked aubergines, chicken livers in cumin butter masala, beetroot, and feta samosas. There’s so much to be inspired by.” Check out her website for more information and details of her other incredible vegetarian and vegan cookbooks; Fresh India and East.
Next stop, the complex and compelling flavours of Israel and the Middle East
Having mentioned the remarkable Ottolenghi, I would be remiss not to include him in this roundup of my top cookbooks from around the world. So, let’s hop on a flight to Tel Aviv and take the train to Jerusalem, his birthplace. His food is authentic but always with a characteristic “Ottolenghi” twist. His recipes are attainable to any home chef with access to the staple ingredients used in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Having written nine amazing cookbooks, Ottolenghi continues to create vibrant and innovative recipes. While Plenty and Plenty More remain two of my favourites, it is their younger sibling Flavour, that I turn to most often. In Flavour, unofficially referred to as Plenty 3, Ottolenghi shares his knowledge of the process, pairing, and produce. He expertly explains what to cook and how to elevate that vegetable’s characteristics to create the show’s star. From my favourite Aubergine Dumplings Alla Parmigiana, the ‘meaty’ Portobello Steaks served with Bean Mash, and Lime and Coconut Potato Gratin, every page bursts with colour, creativity, and Flavour. Check out his website to read more about his books and the many other outlets for his creative talents.
Savour the Saffron and the Fragrant Pomegranate and Rose of a Time Gone By
Our final trip takes us to Iran, the historic region of southwestern Asia historically known as Persia. The multi-faceted Persian meal is often the centre of any Iranian family. Naz Deravian aptly weaves the story of her own life with the secrets of her ancestors through the many nostalgic recipes contained in her cookbook Bottom of the Pot. Winner of the IACP 2019 First Book Award presented by The Julia Child Foundation (an accolade not to be taken lightly), Naz has succeeded in introducing her culture and cuisine to a large audience and has doubtlessly been instrumental in introducing the vibrancy of Persian food to many a home cook like me. Chelo Ba Tahdig introduces us to the art of rice making—perfectly steamed Persian rice with Tahdig is a delight for rice lovers worldwide. The Tahdig, the part of the rice that cooks in the oil and saffron at the bottom of the pot to create a crispy, crunchy crust, is divine. It’s something that I have tried to master over several years, and with Naz’s instruction, my attempts have improved. Another favourite is the Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi, a lamb stew fragrant with fresh herbs, saffron, and dried limes, one of the most popular dishes in Iran. I make a vegetarian version by switching out the lamb for sweet potato, which is equally delicious to me. If you’re a fan of desserts, try the Roulette Cake, a fruit and cream-filled rolled sponge topped with more fruit, crushed pistachio, and dried rose petals; it is a real treat and a great way to finish a Persian feast. Check out my review of her book in The Journal.
If you have a favourite cookbook or cuisine, why not share it in the comments below and let us know what you love so much about it. Perhaps others will share your passion, and you can swap recipes.
With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel. A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications. Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli
With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.
A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications.
Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.