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Nov 4, 2010 06:32 AM

Pushpesh Pant Indian Cooking Guru -- Knows His Stuff?

There is a new book by Pushpesh Pant simply called "Indian Cooking."
It is all regions, with ingredients, history, techniques unique to each. I have many Indian cookbooks, but this looks so comprehensive.

Have you tried cooking from his books before? What do you think about his clarity? Does he deal a lot with the historical and geographical "drivers" for the many regional cuisines?

This looks like it might be a "must-have." Please let me know if you've had a look at this book at Phaidon in NYC or London.

Here's a wee video on the photo shoot:

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  1. Pushpesh Pant is a well known political analyst and is also an author and authority on North Indian cuisine. I own this amazing book by him:

    It is recipes along the Grand Trunk Road from Kabul to Kolkota. I love that book because it is one of the few English language cookbook sources for Pakistani recipes, plus it covers some of my favorite regions in Indian cooking, and is just a beautiful book. All of the recipes are simple, authentic to their locale, and good. It includes a few iconic dishes of every city along the GTR. It is not extremely in-depth or comprehensive, though.

    I have not seen this book you are asking about, but I have high hopes for it based on the GTR book. I would not call Pushpesh Pant a "cooking guru" because that brings to mind some other faddish and well loved but more gimmicky Indian TV cooks. He is more of a food historian and authority and an enthusiast about cuisines from his own native region as well as surrounding areas or of large groups of immigrants to his region.

    4 Replies
    1. re: luckyfatima

      thanks, luckyfatima. coming from you, that is high praise, indeed!

      the book is soon to be released, i understand, but i just don't know exactly when.

      1. re: alkapal

        The Grand Trunk one is super cheap on Amazon. Maybe I get...

      2. re: luckyfatima

        Just to self correct, I wrote "includes a few iconic dishes from every city alone the GTR" and of course that is not possible for such a slim mistake...I should have written every major city, not every city.

      3. He also did a TV series with Jiggs Kalra called Daawat and a companion cookbook. Lots of new (at the time 2001) takes and interpretations of regional Indian cuisine. each episode (chapter) has a well known guest chef.
        Good glossary, clear directions and generally well writen

        3 Replies
        1. re: chefj

          Here is a link to the Daawat online, it is currently out of print.

        2. Hey alkapal!!! I got this book. I found it at Costco for $30. I am sooo pleased with it. Gorgeous recipes which specify region, and has a plethora of regions. Pics are beautiful, too.

          Some thoughts on it: recipes are very authentic, homemade type stuff, look very good. I love it and can't wait to try out a few recipes.

          Some negatives:
          Paper is very thin, it feels like the books which are published in India which don't have the highest quality printing or paper. Has a glossary of ingredients with good descriptions, but for foreigners and new cooks one must have pictures of the ingredients! NO PICTURES! That is a major flaw. Some of the ingredients are new to me (like Cambodge petals???) and I will have to use google to assist me. Also, I prefer when books give the Hindi name next to the English name so I can be sure I know what the item is…instead some items are named in English, others in Hindi, and others in Tamil if they are for South Indian ingredients. That is the biggest flaw of the book, the glossary of ingredients.

          I know you know your stuff already and this is great to expand your repertoire and learn more. Definitely NOT for beginners, though.

          3 Replies
          1. re: luckyfatima

            thank you for the good review, lucky fatima. if you say the recipes are authentic, then i know that it is true! you have costco where you are? (EDIT: oh, ok, i see you are back in texas now).

            you should email phaidon with your critique. they should know these flaws.

            and i agree about food glossaries: you need pictures and name translations. (without those, you still gotta google!).

            best wishes!

            1. re: alkapal

              I'm thinking about this as a Christmas gift for our SIL now, based on luckyfatima's appraisal.

            2. re: luckyfatima

              I got this book at Borders about a month ago (came in a little cloth sack) and mine had photos in their own sections, though not displayed alongside their recipes. I've tried twenty or so recipes, and agree with some of the comments when they say there are little errors here and there. Occasionally you create a paste and set it aside, never to be told when to integrate it into the dish. Little things like that. But to me these are minor flaws. I bought the book to learn as a complete beginner, and I'm absolutely thrilled with it. (I got a Madhur Jaffrey book the same day, which is also great, but I use this one more.) I don't want to memorize recipes so much as learn what goes with what, and how much. This book is just great at that. So many recipes, with like grouped with like, in parallel columns. If you're just beginning to learn about Indian cooking, the layout of this book is very useful for side-by-side comparisons. It even has built in cloth bookmarks, which i find very helpful for this. I wouldn't mind if the commentary in the book were longer. The general overviews are very well written and informative, but brief. Anyway, I just love this book. The "minor flaws" to me make it like an eccentric friend, rather than a normal old boring one. Though I respect luckyfatima, I would disagree that this book isn't for beginners. I find myself drawn to it like a magnet. By the way, as a beginner, I'd say my success rate is roughly three-quarters so far, which is one of the reasons I like the book so much. Batting 750 is pretty good for me any time.

            3. I happened to find the book immediately after it was released. The book was in a muslin sack that looks just like a Basmati rice sack. I think you have to get it at the store to get the sack. It has all the Phaidon printing. But there is no mention of it on the Phaidon site. It looks very cool!

              I love the book, so very thorough! Afterwards I even bought his first book, used, from Loved it as well!

                Amazon is selling it for a wee bit less (it's on my Christmas list


                This is another book I love on Indian sweets.