If you are the sort who finds yourself dining at Mainland China and wishing you could eat that food at home, help is at hand. Random House India has just published The Mainland China Cookbook, a collection of recipes of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Divided into seven sections, the book encompasses everything from sauces and marinades to desserts.
At the beginning of the book, Anjan Chatterjee, the founder of the Mainland China chain of restaurants and the author of the book, introduces the various regional cuisines of China—Peking, Shanghai, Sichuan and Guangzhou. The recipes are the result of Mainland China’s experiments with authentic Chinese and its adaptation to the Indian palate. “Crackling spinach, one of our signature dishes, is a variation on the well-known Chinese dish crackling seaweed that is not easily accessible in India. The book reflects this approach, giving you a sense of the varied riches of Chinese dishes and also teaching you how to cook Mainland China’s signature dishes,” he says.
As a ready reckoner on Chinese food and cooking methods, the book is fairly comprehensive, with details of technique, utensils and ingredients. It also covers the basics, including recipes of stocks, dipping sauces and must-have essentials such as chilli oil.
The recipes—written in the same font as the menu card—are fairly comprehensive. You can find most Mainland China favourites there. The soup recipes are a revelation; they are fairly simple and it seems rather easy to source ingredients and cook. But as you progress through the sections, they tend to get a bit complicated—with long lists of ingredients and very time-consuming preparation methods. The dessert section is rather bare, with only four recipes. The last few pages of the book is a list of stores across the country where you can buy most of these ingredients.
If you are a culinary show-off and want to replicate the dishes at your next dinner party, the book makes a good addition to your kitchen shelf. If you aren’t worried about being a part of the dish before it’s plated, it’s just easier to head to the restaurant.
The Mainland China Cookbook by Anjan Chatterjee
Random House India
196 pages, Rs499.