GET THAT APRON ON

Samin Nos­rat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat of­fers read­ers a mas­ter class on the fundamentals of cook­ing

India Today - - LEISURE - —Farah Yameen

Les­son one: throw that iodised ta­ble salt out. You food will taste metal­lic. Wait, what?! Samin Nos­rat breaks down cook­ing into its pri­mary el­e­ments, and like an ex­cel­lent teacher, takes you through the physics, chemistry and magic of de­li­cious cook­ing. Among her myth-shat­ter­ing tips: do not skimp on salt and never melt your but­ter on the stove for bak­ing cakes. Other gyaan: use acidic in­gre­di­ents to bal­ance your cook­ing and pull your meats out of the oven a few min­utes be­fore they’re com­pletely done to al­low for ‘car­ry­over time’. Nos­rat writes with the el­e­gant lu­cid­ity that in­spires star chef dreams in ab­so­lute am­a­teurs.

Il­lus­trated deliciously by Wendy MacNaughton, this book teaches you ev­ery­thing you need to un­der­stand about the sci­ence of cook­ing. And like in school, once you know the ba­sics, you can make ev­ery­thing look easy. Her en­deav­our is to de­mys­tify recipes as hal­lowed sacra­ments and al­low room for play. From flavour charts for spices, acids and fats from across the world, to in­struc­tions for whether to blanch, sauté, roast or grill a cer­tain veg­etable in a cer­tain sea­son, this book ven­tures into ter­ri­tory that is ab­so­lutely novel and tested over Nos­rat’s nearly two decade long ca­reer as a cook, which be­gan at Chez Panisse in Berke­ley. The recipe break­down of a Cae­sar Salad, the sources of acid (which in­cludes, quite hi­lar­i­ously, LSD), the an­gles at which to slice or dice an onion il­lus­trated in wa­ter colour are all it takes to awaken the culi­nary itch. Like her food, which Nos­rat in­sists must ap­peal to all the senses, her book is a de­light to the eyes and the mind, and if you have the imag­i­na­tion, to ev­ery other sense. With MacNaughton’s il­lus­tra­tions it is hard not to imag­ine the tex­tures, smell and taste of the food Nos­rat de­scribes.

If you cook, as­pire to cook, can break an egg—even if you only know what a kitchen looks like—this book is an ex­cel­lent teacher. It does not come to In­dia for a few months but that is no rea­son to not beg friends and family com­ing down from the States to deal with that ex­tra bag­gage. This is a cook­book like no other.

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