When I received Manju Malhi’s cookbook, India with Passion, for a review, I couldn’t wait to brew myself a nice hot ‘cuppa Joe, and snuggle up on the couch with it. With photographs that are totally drool-worthy, the recipes just seem to pop out begging me to give them a try.
Written with utmost passion, the book is divided into four parts – North, South, East and West, with each section comprising of traditional and some not-so-traditional recipes from that region. With a wonderfully drafted introduction, detailing the kind of food eaten, various cooking techniques, and it’s history with the people, each section brings you a few steps closer to understanding the diversity that India offers and appreciating the effect it brought about to the Indian cuisine.
If I ever believed that classic Indian dishes could never be listed without missing a few in the process, this book has only sustained my faith. As you move through each section of the book, and undoubtedly through each recipe as well, it’s hard not to notice the change in cooking style and the flavours prominent in each region. While the North may be proud of it’s history with the Mughals and their love for rich creamy curries, the South doesn’t fail to enhance you with its love for the sweet coconut and pungent curry leaves. Where you may enjoy the sweetness of the West, there’s the spiciness of the East that could take your breath away.
When cooking for friends and family, I tend to not fuss too much with the traditional ways of Indian cooking. And I think that’s why Manju’s recipes struck a chord with me. Not a traditionalist herself, she happily suggests easy substitutions where ever possible. While some of the recipes are down-right classics, many of them were created in her own kitchen using everyday ingredients and enhancing the simple flavours we all love. Renowned for her simple, homely approach to Indian cooking, Manju Malhi has quickly become a favourite in my kitchen.