COOK BOOKS Gems from 2018 that’ll shape what we eat in 2019
3. Asma’s Indian Kitchen by Asma Khan (Pavilion)
2018 has undoubtedly been a big year for cookbooks, with Jamie [Oliver] Cooks Italy; Yotam Ottolenghi, the man who regularly has us scouring supermarkets for sumac and pomegranate seeds, publishing Simple; Nigella Lawson rereleasing her seminal 1990s work How to Eat; and Tom Kerridge having us all lose weight for good.
But what of the cookbooks that didn’t have an accompanying TV series that nevertheless have been slowly and subtly affecting our palates? Let these recipe collections pique your interest and tastebuds now and into the new year. Here are our top three not to be missed.
1. Black Sea by Caroline Eden (Quadrille)
This is less a cookbook, more a selection of lyrically named, seductive essays (Jam on a Roman Road, Jazz and
Russian Lace), interspersed with food that comforts and soothes (onion soup, sea bass stew, black sesame challah).
It charts Edinburgh journalist Caroline Eden’s journeys along the coast of the Black Sea, focusing in particular on the cities of Istanbul, Odessa and Trabzon, and what people there eat. She captures historical changes and their culinary impact, explores how traditional cuisines have morphed or stuck and inserts snippets of menus (from Tsar Nicholas II’s Constanta imperial gala, for instance), poetry, stories and musings.
2. Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan (Bloomsbury)
Zaitoun is former human rights campaigner Yasmin Khan’s second book, in which she noses gently into the kitchens of Palestinians, at all times infusing her writing and recipes with political awareness and sensitivity.
Fresh herbs abound – whether in bulgur wheat salads or deep-fried aubergine and feta kefte – there are zingy pickles and roasted, spiced meats, alongside Khan’s discoveries and experiences of a region both fraught and filled with fragrant cooking.
Asma Khan swapped Calcutta for Cambridge and, after finding herself in tears over the distance between herself and ghee-fried parathas, started a supper club which has become a restaurant, Darjeeling Express. She serves the kind of ordinary food eaten in homes in India, which is separate from the heavy, creamy dishes you’d generally order from the takeout.
Asma’s Indian Kitchen is built around recipes that are straightforward and uncluttered, where every ingredient has its place.
There are muted-yellow potatoes with cashew nuts; pureed aubergines smoky with chilli and perked up by ginger; bright pink beetroot raita, green beans dancing with cumin seeds and golden masala omelettes. It is calming, thoughtful and reassuringly filling food.
But don’t forget these books either:
•Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings: The new Taste of German Cooking, Anja Dunk, 4th Estate
•A Long and Messy Business, Rowley Leigh, Unbound •Taste: A New Way to Cook, Sybil Kapoor, Pavilion
•The Modern Italian Cook, Joe Trivelli, Seven Dials