“Devnaa’s India: Delicious Vegetarian Home Cooking & Street Food” by Roopa Rawal will be a welcome addition to the cookbook collection in the kitchen book shelf of those in the UK and elsewhere who are developing a new-found taste for Indian vegetarian cuisine.There was a time when for most in the UK, Indian cuisine perhaps meant just the good old Indian curry considering that the British supposedly first came across this way back in the mid-17th century when they were trading in Madras in South India. Much water has flown down the River Thames since then. In 2013 when we speak of geography being history in a connected world without boundaries, it isn’t surprising that tastes have changed with greater exposure to different cultures in the UK as elsewhere.
Roopa Rawal is the young and dynamic co-founder of Devnaa who are well-known for Indian confectionery. You can get to know her better through this article in the Huffington Post. The book under review comes from her deep desire to share Indian vegetarian cuisine and more particularly Gujarati cuisine with a larger audience. The Gujaratis are known to love their food as is evident from the rich repertoire of recipes in the book. She covers the entire gamut of Indian cuisine from chutneys to desserts.
To bring the aroma of Indian cooking into your kitchen, Rawal’s recipes are categorized in different sections, making it easy for you to dip into whatever catches your fancy, without following the book in any prescribed sequence. However, do go through the “Indian Kitchen Essentials” before you dive into the book as it provides a quick overview of some of the essentials you would need.
The stunning pictures that accompany the recipes make them visually that much more appealing and greatly add to the attraction of Rawal’s book. She learnt many of these dishes from her mother who has over 50 years of cooking experience. She now teaches you how to cook these dishes in the same way that was taught to her.
Cooking is a passion for my wife, Shobana, who has a widely followed cooking blog. She helped me select some of the recipes we thought were outstanding in the large collection in the book. As they say tastes differ, and you might like some other dishes better, but here are a few we loved:
- Chilli & Garlic Chutney: lip smacking accompaniment if you like spicy stuff
- Khandvi: so essentially Gujarati, this snack is delightful while still being light
- Paneer Tikka: delectable , no wonder tikkas are amongst the most sought after Indian snack
- Pani Puri: a popular street food in which a plethora of flavours tickle your palate
- Kadhi: simple yet tasty
- Thepla: lightly-spiced bread which are versatile in that they can be munched almost anywhere at any time
- Saffron Semifreddo:this dessert was a new one on us and it was simply awesome
- Fennel Water: to end the meal we recommend this light drink said to have powerful digestive properties, apart from having a lovely taste which grows on one.
A small but important point: you do have an index at the end of the book to help you choose your recipes.
So if like us you love Indian food or know someone who does, this book could make a thoughtful gift for the festive season. Who knows? Your friend just might invite you to an Indian meal, thanks to Roopa Rawal!