Review: Tasting India by Christine Manfield

Eggs On The Roof Reviews

Tast­ing India by Christine Man­field
Pub­lished by Con­ran Octopus, Novem­ber 2011, £40.00
Pho­to­graphy by Anson Smart

Com­batants in the fight over e-cook­ery books versus prin­ted ones have new ammuni­tion. Or should that be heavy artil­lery. If you believe paper books take up too much room, you’ll no doubt point accus­ingly at Christine Manfield’s new book, Tast­ing India. It’s vast — the biggest, heav­iest and most lav­ish cook­ery book I’ve ever seen. Its tur­mer­ic yel­low sat­in cov­er embossed with vivid pink pea­cocks is just about as showy as it’s pos­sible to be.

Yes, it’s imprac­tic­al — one splash from an unruly, bub­bling pan of dahl and its gleam­ing golden jack­et would be ruined. And yes, its girth puts it in the super heavy­weight class. It’s not a book to amble through so much as rock-climb over. But, call me a romantic if you like, I’ve fallen in love with it.

The Aus­trali­an chef Christine Man­field has been vis­it­ing India for more than twenty years. Her rev­er­ence for the coun­try, tempered with a prag­mat­ic under­stand­ing of its faults, shines through the text. It’s part travelogue, part encyc­lo­pe­dia, part mem­oir, part cook­ery book. Where she’s been so shrewd is to avoid a ped­es­tri­an, dogged tramp through each region. That’s not how cuisine works, and cer­tainly not in India. As she says, ‘For me, part of the excite­ment of con­tem­por­ary Indi­an cuisine lies in the way each cook or chef car­ries the recipes and her­it­age of their home­land with them, wherever they hap­pen to find them­selves.’

Immerse your­self in the pages of this book — there are nearly 500 of them, so it will take a while. Mar­vel at the stun­ning pho­to­graphs by Anson Smart. Savour the recipes for tea-leaf frit­ters, scal­lops in spiced coconut, desert-bean koftas with onion curry and curd dump­lings soaked in saf­fron milk. Just ima­gine what they must taste like, or throw cau­tion to the wind and lug this book into the kit­chen and actu­ally cook from it. Either way it’s entran­cing.

14 thoughts on “Review: Tasting India by Christine Manfield

  1. Looks a stun­ning book and I’m sure the pho­tos in it are great, but on the evid­ence of one only I reck­on yours would give the pho­to­graph­er a run for her money.

  2. Love your new site design! But call me nos­tal­gic but I also miss the old 🙁 And I would love sit­ting on the sofa in the liv­in­groom cradling this beau­ti­ful book in my lap and read and read it! And maybe cook from it! I adore Indi­an food!

    • Jam­ie, I’m so happy you like the new per­sona. It still gives me a slight sur­prise every time I see it! I’m sure you’d love Tast­ing India — it’s beau­ti­ful.

  3. I love new tech­no­logy but I can­not ima­gine ever only using ebooks. I love my paper cook­books and this looks like a def­in­ite must have to me!

  4. I too have this book for review and I was a little taken with it too. I love the fact that it has a truly lux­uri­ous silk cov­er, it really brings the book to life and it’s quite unlike any­thing else I have. Def­in­itely a cof­fee table rather than a kit­chen book, but still lovely. xx

    • It’s inter­est­ing that since I wrote this review, I’ve referred back to the book many times. More for inspir­a­tion than for hard-core cook­ing, but there’s a place for that.

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