Love Asian food? Love to entertain? Love to keep your home beautiful, and deck up your table when you have guests over? This book is such a refreshing change from the usual Indian recipe books. It goes beyond recipes to let the reader in on little known secrets of entertaining the Indian way. Highly recommended!
It's been several months now since my copy of 'Entertaining from an Ethnic Indian Kitchen' by Komali Nunna arrived in the mail. I have been enjoying it thoroughly, reluctant to post a review until I had gone through the entire book. That meant an objective look at the food presentation, seeking professional help when I was not sure of a particular cooking term, and asking a certified chef friend of mine (who wishes to remain anonymous) for his comments on the recipes. I know you will appreciate the fact that my reviews are always honest:).
Let's begin with the recipes, because that's what the book mainly is about. They are well written, carefully researched and well put together. You know the best thing? Recipes are grouped in a novel new way - not the way you would find them in other cook books; no siree, this is an entertainment guide, and I love that the author has grouped them as per occasion. So you don't have to go back and forth if you are looking for say, a Navrathri menu or a Christmas menu. They are all right there, from starters to drinks to the main course and the desserts.
Coming to the recipes, my chef friend declared them very authentic, and gave the author a 10 on 10 for the way they were written out. He tried the Fish Fry and the Moti Mushroom Pulao in the New Year's Eve Bash chapter, the Dappalum in the Sankranthi Bhojanam chapter, and the Onion Chutney in the Nawab's Daawat chapter. The Master Recipes at the end of the book consisting of chutneys, pickles, syrups and curry pastes add to the authenticity, and give readers an opportunity to cook Indian cuisine from scratch if they wish to. The author's fool-proof yoghurt recipe is a must-try! The glossary is comprehensive and informative, just the way a recipe book glossary is supposed to be!
I don't really consider myself a great cook, but I surprised myself when I tried out the Kheema Kofta in the Punjab chapter. The koftas were soft and delicious and the gravy was just right. My compliments to Ms. Nunna for making a chef out of me! Encouraged by the outcome, I went on to try the Palak Ghosht from her Garden Party menu and the Lamb Vindaloo from her Elegant Dinner menu. I simply loved the way the book is usefully divided into these menus. It makes a hostess's job so much simpler. I had guests over one day and I had lychees in the house, so I dared to try the Rabdi with Lychees, another instant hit! The rabdi was creamy and light, just as it's meant to be.
On to the entertaining tips. Anyone who has dreamed of entertaining with an Indian menu and theme, will truly appreciate the author's attention to detail. The tablescapes are gorgeous and easy to imitate, the serveware and her tips on how to collect and store decor pieces are wonderful! They will help you make any celebration truly special! I love the warm, from-the-heart intro's to each menu that show the author's love for food and entertainment, and the easy way she communicates her thoughts, ideas and tips.
I loved everything about the book. However, there's one little (forgiveable ) grouse I have. I wish her Recipe Index was more comprehensive. Why do I say this? Here's an example. I was searching for a simple dal recipe, and under Dals, I only saw Dal Makani, and the reference to Dals in the glossary. So I presumed there wasn't a Tur Dal recipe. Days later I found Tur Dal under T. If only items were cross linked a bit, it would have added value to novice cooks, and even those struggling with Indian terms and food names. Well, like I said, I will overlook this factor as the recipes, the presentation and the easy flow of words more than make up!
Key Bunch Verdict:
A must-have reference book for every host and hostess!
Labels: Book Review, komali nunna, recipe book