From the moment I opened the parcel, I could tell it was going to be special. I’d expected a standard “how to cook book” but instead I discovered a dreamy journey to India, bound between hardback pages adorned with purple and gold.
Tasting India by Christine Manfield is clearly a labour of love.
With India, it’s difficult to know where to start, how best to capture its essence.
So reads the opening line of the book. But the same could be said about reviewing Tasting India itself.
Tasting India spills over nearly 500 pages, peppered with sumptuous photography from Anson Smart that captures the details of India. You’ll find accommodation listings at the back, a ribboned bookmark in the middle and pages and pages of beautiful essays about the regions of India, from Kolkata and Darjeeling to Rajasthan, Mumbai and Goa.
It’s a love song – or sonnet – to India and a publication that certainly stays far from the real-life grit and grime of the streets. Yet before I veer into discussing the portrait of India it paints, I shouldn’t forget to talk about the whole driving force behind the book: the food.
Tasting India provides recipes for almost every taste, although they’re not from the Quick Cheat’s School of Cooking, that’s for sure. I couldn’t find more than half the ingredients listed (although I was in Seville at the time,) so in the end I plumped for “sweet and sour tomatoes” for my first trial run.
With only two bullet points worth of instructions, the recipe seemed ideal for maintaining my “amateur” status, should making Indian (or indeed any) Food one day become an Olympic Sport. (Gymnastics, by now, is probably out of the question after all.)
But back to the tomatoes.
My tastebuds shiver at the memory of it. Fresh coriander, a sharp syrupy tang, an easy dish to make…I’m hooked. This would normally be the point where I should introduce a staggeringly mouth-watering picture of my own culinary efforts…but one look at the state of my kitchen could put you off food for life. I’m working on it. New Year’s Resolutions and all that…
In the meantime…Thank you Christine Manfield for introducing me to this wonderful piece of work and reawakening my enthusiasm, if not proficiency, for cooking – and for India.
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of Tasting India by Christine Manfield for review purposes on the understanding that I was free to review it independently. As usual. As always.
Tasting India by Christine Manfield RRP £40