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Aug 26, 2010 10:05 PM

What is the most definitve Indian Cookbook

I realize the diversity and the many different regions, but is there any Indian cookbook on a par with Fuschia Dunlop's for Sichuan style? I would appreciate any suggestions.

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  1. My mom uses two sources: 500 Easy Recipes by Nayak, and the booklet that came with her Hawking pressure cooker. There's a third, a purple book with orange motifs - will get the name from her tomorrow and post.

    1. I'm not Indian. But as an aficionado, I find that Julie Sahni's Classic Indian is the best for me:

      Also recommended is Sahni's Classic Vegetarian & Grain Cooking as it is so emblematic of indian cooking. Both are great cookbooks.

      1. This might help:

        My post referring to Khris Dillon's book would be unchanged.

        1. Just as the Dunlop book is specific to Sichuan style, not 'Chinese cuisine,' one can find many books that are dedicated to regional cuisine, but there is no one tome that deeply explores all regions (although there are many books that touch on regionality, Madhur Jaffrey's A Taste of India is a good one to get a basic understanding of regional foods). The regional cuisines are too distinct from each other to really lump together. For Northern cuisine, Julie Sahnie's Classic Indian Cooking is a great way to get to understand methods and ingredients and to learn common dishes and recipes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: luckyfatima

            Thanks for the suggestions and links. fatima, that's what I was trying to convey, albeit not too well...that I realize the diversity of Indian cooking is comparable to Chinese and I was wondering if their was "a" definitive book. I used Dunlop's as a touchstone for "definitive" rather than representative of the scope.

            Along those lines though, what are the best Southern Indian cookbooks?

            1. re: JThur01


              I haven't ever seen this book myself but another chowhound recently recommended it to me and the reviews look very strong. It seems to focus on the vegetarian cuisine of Tamil Nadu. Just to clarify, the Southern foods are very regional as well, and they are not all vegetarian cuisines either. But it looks like a great way to learn about vegetarian Tamilian dishes (I can't tell from where in Tamil Nadu specifically).

              Maybe someone else could comment on this book or recommend another.

          2. Try an author called Tarla Dalal.She is popular among Indians too.Her recipes are fairy easy and good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: shakkar

              Tarla Dalal is great, and she is a real ground breaker in terms of her career and what she does. But personally I think she and others like her (e.g. Sanjeev Kapoor) who are popular in India have mass appeal among Indian housewives who want to change up their daily recipes with unique ideas, but reading her booklets is not the best way to get to know regional Indian food. She does have regional booklets as well, but they are superficial in terms of introducing the cuisines in real depth. I also think the way that her recipes are given are not easy to follow for people who are not familiar with Indian food. Her website as well as Sanjeev Kapoor's can be googled for perusal (although I believe you have to pay for full access).

              1. re: luckyfatima

                I think LuckyF has said it very well, including the comments on Tarla Dalal, Sanjeev Kapoor etc. Indian cuisine is so regionally and culturally varying, that it is just about impossible to find one definitive cookbook.

                Madhur Jaffrey's Taste of India gives a brief introduction that scratches the surface of all the regional diversity. Maybe start there to read about regional variation, then pursue each region in depth with cookbooks specific to that region ....