At any given time there are a dozen or so cookbooks that Sky and I want. It’s no wonder then that for almost any holiday, we will be gifting each other a book or two. The best thing about it is that you are giving a gift to your spouse that you know you will also be able to take advantage of, by either stealing it occasionally for yourself, or by being the taste tester for your significant other as they attempt a little something new. I recently bought Sky NOMA, which you can check out a review of here. So for Christmas I received the From India cookbook, gifted by my love who was just as eager as I to flip through the beautiful & colorful exploration of modern Indian cuisine. We were both in for a surprise. From India is not only a cook book, it’s a very personal reflection of the Mahadevan family’s journey to the pentacle of success they have now reached.
Rather than reading a sterile list of ingredients and generic information about kinds of food, every page unfolds like a poem, visually illustrating the life story of the two forces behind Abhi’s and Aki’s restaurants, husband and wife, Kumar and Suba. The whole book works to show the passion of not only their food, but their happiness, which comes from their family life. Each recipe starts out with some personal information about their connection to the recipe, and you get the feeling you are cooking a dish that has a history behind it, as if your neighbor is sharing with you a family tradition. I find Indian food to be particularly difficult to make due to the range of spices and ingredients, yet the From India cookbook somehow demystifies the ingredients and is written in such a way that even the complex curries feel achievable. I made the Lagan Nu Cushter (Parsie Wedding Custard); it was not only easy to make, but it turned out phenomenal, with a crispy top layer and then a rich and flavorful custard beneath.
From India Cookbook
On the photography side, the colorful images work beautifully with the simple design, stealing the attention of the viewer on each page. I love that many of the props are either personal photographs, or look as if they are family heirlooms. Again, the photography and design work together to communicate the overall idea, which is the intimate story of the family. I read one review of the From India cookbook online which roughly said the book was so beautiful that it was impractical as no one would actually take it into the kitchen in fear of getting it dirty. I almost fell out of my chair. They missed the whole point of the book, and of cookbooks in general. When I die, I want my daughter to get my cookbooks. She is going to open the pages and see the coffee mug rings, she is going to see the flour laced thumb prints, and the dog eared pages. The recipes on the pages will not represent the food created by a random author or chef, many of them will have such personal memories attached to them; the times we used to sing and cook together in the kitchen, the foods I made for holidays, and the wedding custard, the first recipe I made in this book which will become a family favorite.
Lagan Nu Cushter
All the love we share in and from the kitchen. I say buy the From India cookbook! Then take it into the kitchen, where it will have an opportunity to be integrated into the family; where you will be able to make memories out of someone else’s story; leave your loved ones well used tokens of all the love you showed them through your food. The fact that the From India cookbook is so personal & beautifully produced should not be a detriment to buying it, but rather make it a more attractive future heirloom.