COOK BOOKS Gems from 2018 that’ll shape what we eat in 2019

The Herald Magazine - - etc MARY CONTINI EASY COOKING AT HOME -

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

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