The books that are cooking

From shoestring dinner parties to lavish meals worthy of a nawab, this year’s cookbooks have you covered for every eventuality


Perhaps the only time I miss Delhi, where I lived before moving to Bengaluru a few years ago, is when a new book releases. Forget the big-name fiction and non-fiction authors who regularly mark the arrival of their newest babies out with wine and cheese, even “unintellectual” cookbooks – those sure-shot bestsellers that publishers once brought out in a flurry towards the end of the financial year, to make their bottomlines look good – are accessed far quicker by my colleagues in New Delhi than I can aspire to here in Bengaluru.

Okay, rant over. Of course, the book that triggered this post is not just a run-of-the-mill cookbook. The Indian Accent Restaurant Cookbook (Viking), by ace chef Manish Mehrotra, promises to bring home the delicate, refined food hitherto available only at the otherwise-obscure Manor Hotel in New Delhi’s Friends Colony. While I wait for that book to make its way to me, here’s a list of the other cookbooks and food books that I’m looking forward to this year.

Roomies/Foodies: Fun ‘n Easy Cooking For Desi Students Abroad by Meghana Chaudhury Joshi and Lakshmi Ashwin (Bloody Good Book)

An idea that’s been long time coming, frankly, it promises to be the one book you can’t leave behind when you board the plane for that degree abroad. The book contains 60 easy recipes, from healthy breakfasts to shoestring dinner party specials. An iOS and Android app makes it even more user-friendly. (p.s. recipes in The Quickie Breakfast section are free.)

Already available on Kindle, the print edition is to hit stores soon.

Five Morsels of Love by Archana Pidathala (to be self-published)

The revised and standardized translation of Pidathala’s maternal grandmother Nirmala Reddy’s Telugu cookbook Vanita Vantakalu, it looks set to tick most of my cookbook demands: homegrown recipes, a little-explored locale (Rayalaseema, in this case) and great production values. What’s not to love?

Out in April

Happiness is a Stomach-Full: Honest-to-Goodness Kerala Cooking by Sreeja Jayaram (Westland)

Taking its title from the old Malayalam proverb ‘When the stomach is full, sleep comes easily even under a banana plant’, this book balances obscure gems like the muringa poovu thoran (drumstick flower thoran) and pachha parangaandi thoran (tender cashew nut thoran) with coastal specialties and standards like appam, puttu and paal payasam – all of it embedded in family stories.

In stores

Dining with the Nawabs by Meera Ali (Roli Books)

This promises to be interesting simply because this is not just a Lucknow book (the author is married to filmmaker and Lucknow champion Muzaffar Ali), but rounds up nawabi recipes from across the country, uncovering the myriad ways Mughal influences melded with regional staples. A follow-up to the lavish Dining with the Maharajas )by Neha Prasada (Roli, 2012), this one is sure to be a visual treat.

Out in September

The Biryani Trail by Shoaib Daniyal (Westland)

That the biryani is arguably India’s most popular dish should surprise nobody. But this book, by journalist Shoaib Daniyal, looks set to be the definitive reference for the dish, a compilation not only of biryani’s metamorphosis across the country but also fun stories that underline its place in our cultural fabric.

Out in October/November

Tirumala: Food of the Gods by Acharya Ramana Dikshitulu and Kota Neelima (Roli Books)

In a country where food – or the abstention from it – marks virtually every religious celebration, this is a book long overdue. Political journalist-turned-author Kota Neelima is aiming at a comprehensive study of the holy offerings of food to deities in general and at the temple of Sri Venkateshwara at Tirupati in particular. Can’t wait.

Release yet to be scheduled

READ MORE