Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Showing You My Cookbooks

Favourites imply choices, and choices imply taking a stand. Does not having one absolute favourite make you an irresolute person, and is that opinion further compounded when I say that even the books I choose to mention here are not my only favourites? Or does it signal my catholic nature and fair disposition :) - a cookbook is chosen to suit a mood, an appetite, a craving; at the very least, it’s chosen for its easy accessibility in a deep bottom shelf filled with rows of several of its ilk, so how can I choose one, or a few, and dismiss the others?

But choose some I must, and I have. As you can make out from the picture, I own many, and only a few have been ignored routinely, principally because the ingredients are hard to come by. I have, on a couple of occasions, lugged a few of them to work and given them away, but am unable to part with the rest even though they are impractical for the Indian situation or my eating habits. All of us own things like that, don’t we?



To get down to the subject, one of my regular books is the Telugu ‘Kantamani Vantakaalu’ – the purplish one on the left, in the foreground. I resort to this most often when I’m beset with doubts about everyday food. Does Bengal gram go into the tempering, or am I imagining it? Do I temper the vegetables going into the chutney and then grind, or do I grind and then temper? This book is good to deal with these doubts.

It’s for similar reasons that I like Cooking At Home with Pedatha. This is the only book I’ve noticed that tells us exactly how to temper a dish – what goes in first, the mustard seed or the urad dal, and it’s fail-proof.

At the back, there’s Hyderabadi Cuisine, by Pratibha Karan. I love it for its looks, and I’d better – I waited years to buy it, mooning over it every time I saw it or went to see it in the store, always reaching out for it but holding back, and finally, buying it. It’s so expensive my lending library still hasn’t bought it, after all these years, and I have. (I’ve bought several other books that the library has resolutely refused to, but that’s another issue altogether.) Anyway, this is a book to possess, and the word is not being used idly, but with most of the associations, connotations and implications that possession denotes. Yes, it’s a trophy book, but not a b/himbo as far as I can see – I’ve tried a couple of recipes from that book, and they work.

Next to that, you see the Readers Digest 30-Minute Cookbook – it has even more h/bimbo appeal, not to mention substance; it’s a pleasure to cook from provided you get all the ingredients in India. And it was gifted to us by an uncle, who seemed to have ordered it with us in mind.

This post is being sent off to Nags of For the Cook in Me for the event Show Me Your Cookbook – I’m certainly not shy, I haven’t shown you myself but I’ve shown you half of my cookbooks, and would show you the rest if only I could figure out a way to take a 360-degree picture of this pile!

38 comments:

  1. ah! am finally glad to know there are many cookbook junkies like me...i have heard some good reviews on the cooking with pedhatta....i think i will buy that next ;)

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  2. Wow! thats quite a collection of cook-books you have!

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  3. That is clever to put all of them in one pile.I did 4 separate books!:P
    Looks like a great collection. Hey, love the 30min book too.Hyderabad book sounds so good.It's very hard get many Indian books here unless Amazon has it.
    Good post sra,loved it.I would grab all of those and read for days if I could! I just got my reading glasses today from the Doc! YAY!!
    Blogger has new Video attachment too, did you notice next to the Photo uploader? You can do 360 too if you can figure out how to put it in the Picasa.I have Video too in my camers,it's easy!:)

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  4. Gosh Sra, i thought i owned too many books! Now i dont feel so bad :-)

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  5. Sra, this is not fair aren't we supposed to see the face of the book owner too.wow what a book collection.so what goes first into the thadka mustard or urad dal ?

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  6. That is quite a collection! I still have to get my hands on "Pedatha"...maybe soon...good to know that you have used it and loved it.

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  7. do u have these many cookbooks for real.....thats just amamzing....very soon u can have ur own library only for cookbooks...u r right, everyone has a something like that

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  8. wow thats a hug collection :)

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  9. Nice to see 'Usha's Pickle Digest' in the pile - what a treasure trove!

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  10. that is half your stack????? Dude... I am not feeling guilty anymore... :)

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  11. That looks very good...you have a good collection...btw when you are not shy why not pose with them?..:)

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  12. Bee, thanks for noticing - they have lovely pale pink, grey and green motifs on them!
    Rajitha, yes, am trying to get de-addicted now!
    Musical, I had 150 at one time, I probably have 125 now.
    Asha, you got your reading glasses, great! I too have video, but am v tech challenged, forget it!
    Latha, glad to be of comfort, ha ha!
    Sreelu, don't you want to sleep peacefully? As for tadka, it depends on the dish, that's what I like about Pedatha.
    Nupur, it's a good book, you'll enjoy using it.
    Bhags, yes, all mine, I have scraps of paper cut from books, Femina recipes bound into two volumes ... and I've given a few books away!
    Roopa, yes, sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I feel it's clutter
    ET, I used it after a long time recently, to make some mango-ginger pickle, but it developed fungus, sadly!
    Sig, no, that's it! And I'm trying to let go of some.
    Srivalli, I'm not shy but I'm realistic - and don't want to give you nightmares. HA HA!

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  13. Is that all? Or there is a sequel to this post?

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  14. Thats a quite huge collection :) But is the owner of the books not in the pic :)??

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  15. Ha, I thought I'd cheated by mentioning 4 cookbooks instead of just one, but I think you may just have outdone everybody at cheating, with this pile of books! :D I have loads too but I'm still envious of your collection :) I really need to get that "Cooking with Pedatha" - only it isnt available in the UK, not even on Amazon UK, would you believe it!?

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  16. what the %^&*$£".... oh my god!!! never in my life i have seen so many cookbooks pile (except library and bookshops)... girl, post video of 360 deg shoot of ur cookbooks;)

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  17. What a collection Sra. You sure enjoy cooking

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  18. wow! what a lovely collection :)

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  19. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am short of words!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  20. Suganya, no, no sequel, as it is, I said too much!
    Cinnamon, no, the owner wants to ... er ... preserve the mystique!
    Shyam, where do you think I looked for inspiration? {Big wink}
    Sia, c'mon, it can't be THAT big!
    Sandeepa, yes, I do. Once I'd like a long, involved recipe, not any longer, though.
    Richa, yes, it's a varied collection, though you can see only the Indian ones, mostly.
    Mishmash, nice way to express it :)

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  21. hey if you are planning to give away some please do let me know:) you have got a HUGE collection:)

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  22. Yeah, you just have a couple of cookbooks :) Not!

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  23. ooh my godd!!!..u've got a real huge plie out ther!!!

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  24. Yeah you are like me.
    I too love buying cookbooks. If i go to a book shop, the section i go first is to the cooking book.
    You do have a good collection

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  25. OMG!!!!!! (a very big gasp)... just look at that lot!!!!

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  26. Sharmi, sure, when the urge to de-clutter strikes me next time, you'll hear from me!
    Cynthia, LOL!
    Scientist, :). Thanks for dropping by!
    Happy cook, I too make a beeline for the cuisine section!
    Sunita, yeah, it's big, but not huge :)

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  27. Sra, are you saying that the other half of your collection is hidden from the camera entirely or just hidden behind the first two columns of books? Either way, impressive and scary! (I should talk; our home has floor-to-ceiling bookcases all over the place. ;O ) Seriously, I would love to explore those stacks further - great treasures in there, I'm sure.

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  28. what a great collection! I think Pedatha will join me soon...

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  29. Susan, not just behind the stacks in front. I used to have a room like yours as a child and teenager, then i moved away. Now I buy books when I can't find them in the libraries, but in my apartment, I find most of them a burden.
    Padma, good for you, it's a good book to have

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  30. Susan, not just behind the stacks in front. I used to have a room like yours as a child and teenager, then i moved away. Now I buy books when I can't find them in the libraries, but in my apartment, I find most of them a burden.
    Padma, good for you, it's a good book to have

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  31. Wow thats a great collection Sra.. I have very few cookbooks and that too in India. I have one or two only here with me. U have got a good collection..

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  32. OMG thats quite a lot.

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  33. I don't feel like such a cookbookaholic now... ;)

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  34. hi
    what a collection!!!
    i really feel like visiting you to go through all your books as i love cookbooks as much you do i am sure.
    PLS INVITE ME!!!!!

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  35. Mahek, you're invited, welcome to my blog!

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  36. Heloo Sra,
    I just bought Pratibha's book, and feel on top of the world! ;)
    But, my only gripe is, she gives no measurement tips at all....just a glass here, and a cup there...I wonder what to do.
    Can you help me in figuring out how much a glass and a cup is, for the recipes in that awesome book?
    Oh, and that is one whopping collection of books...I have the tiny life-saving book( Dawat-e-Hyderabadi) too...did you try any recipes from that?
    Keep on collecting recipe books, you've a good collection already....
    Best wishes....

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  37. Amarnath, a cup is 250 ml in volume, I would imagine glass is a more casual measurement. I have to go back and look at the book to see what I'd have done/did with those recipes but I usually am comfortable with a recipe specifying cups and grammes. Moreover, if it's not a very new or complicated recipe, I wing it. You can buy measuring cups and spoons in sets of four from most stores, as far as I know.
    We use the Hyderabad cookbook quite a bit, The Spouse more than I, he likes it a lot and says it's quite simple.

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