Tasting India by Christine Manfield A Book to Fall In Love With

By Abi King | On The Road

Jan 18

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.

Tasting India by Christine Manfield Varanasi

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.

Tasting India by Christine Manfield Recipe Page

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


JoAnna January 19, 2012

I LOVE beautiful books! And I just rekindled a love for Indian food. Everything about this book looks enticing to me. Unfortunately, I don’t cook well, but my husband is a stellar cook. I may have to check this one out. Thanks for the recommendation, Abi.

    Abi King January 22, 2012

    Dip in and enjoy!

Erica January 20, 2012

I really got into cooking before we left Austin and I miss having my spice rack. A mobile one just isn’t the same!

    Abi King January 22, 2012

    Have to confess I’m not sure what a mobile spice rack is. Some sugar sachets in a plastic bag with a bit of salt and pepper? Or is it something more useful than that?!

Monica January 20, 2012

This book looks beautiful. I love it when you find a cook book that is so much more than just a cook book. I’m going to India later in the year so this is definitely on my wish list.

    Abi King January 22, 2012

    Enjoy India – just don’t take the book with you. You’ll have no space for anything else ;)

Sounds like a wonderful tribute to India. It is great that there is such an emphasis on beautiful imagery.

    Abi King January 22, 2012

    Ha! Yes, gives something for those with no intention of ever cooking anything something to look at…;)

Abby January 21, 2012

You had me at “dreamy.”

    Abi King January 26, 2012

    Dream on then and enjoy!

Dan January 24, 2012

Hey Abi,
Great site! Keep it up,

Let us know if you ever feel like doing guest post. We’re always looking for new writers.

Abi King January 26, 2012


Mariellen Ward January 28, 2012

Thanks for reviewing this book — it looks gorgeous. I’m not really a foodie, but I am an Indiaphile, so I’d love to read it. I would also review it on my India travel blog, Breathedreamgo, if I can get a copy here in Canada. Cheers, Mariellen

    Abi King January 29, 2012

    Yep, this is a book for both eyes and tastebuds. Hope you manage to track one down!

Kieu March 31, 2012

Just finished 3 weeks in India. This looks like the perfect gift to preserve our India travel memories. The food was such a big an important part of the cultural experience. Plus I like how colorful the book is. :)

Robin Townsend April 17, 2012

Beautiful book! Arrived last week. I ordered it after reading your review. Photographed you in autumn with mushrooms in Gombren (Girona) for Agencia EFE wire service. Your work is great!.

    Abi King April 18, 2012

    I’m so glad you like it! Good to hear from you again – I never did manage to track down that photograph, so if you have any tips on where I could find it now, I’d love to hear them. Happy cooking (or reading at the very least ;) )

Lucy May 14, 2012

How are the recipes going? I imagine it to be really hard to create Indian meals – I should probably give it a go though before writing it off as too hard.

Linda June 23, 2012

I have already been coaxed into buying one book today as a result of shuffling around Twitter for too long (that said it was considerably cheaper than this one). I must say that if the book is an ode to India, then your post is an ode to the book. It’s going on my wish list!

Varanasi Pilgrims Ghats April 14, 2013

Photo which you selected for post truly represent India as India is known for its spiritual tradition and Varanasi is the one of the oldest holy city in India.

    Abi King April 20, 2013

    Interesting to hear that. I certainly have plenty of images (mental and otherwise) that show calamity and constant motion in India rather than peace and contemplation! A very mixed place…

Chris April 16, 2013

I just got this book last week. It’s really lovely. Now I’m working myself through. I want to cook as much as possible from it and – if possible – all of it.

    Abi King April 20, 2013

    I love it- though it’s quite a challenge to cook them all. The more I think about it, though, the better idea it seems. Once I get home, I’ll get started!

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