My Bookshelf

My over burdened, ever expanding bookshelf :-)

Emotional Attachments:
Rasachandrika – Saraswat Mahila Samaj
My grandmother has one, my mother has one, my sister-in-law and I have one. It is the bible of Saraswat cooking and you will hardly find a household in this community that doesn’t have a well worn copy of the Rasachandrika on its shelf.

Ishtann – Padma Mahale
A charming little book with hand drawn illustrations, it includes recipes more common in Goa than Kanara. I found lots of forgotten gems in this one. However it is a hard book to find and as far as I know, available only in Goa.
Recipe - Sweet Potato Nevryo

On Food & Cooking - Harold McGee
My prize for winning the Great Lentil Challenge hosted by Brendon of Something in Season. The winning entry? See here.

The Best of Samaithu Paar – S. Meenakshi Ammal
This is a very recent purchase. I imagine Samaithu is to Tamilian cooking what Rasachandrika is to us. I find this book an utter delight for its authentic recipes and beautiful photography.

Jamva Chaloji 1 – Katy Dalal
Who can resist a good dhansak? This is the definitive book on Parsi cuisine; dhansak, patra ni macchi, lagan nu custard…its all here. You have to scale down each recipe though; Dalal is a caterer and most recipes are for 6+ persons.

Prashad (Cooking with Indian Masters) – Jiggs Kalra
I LOVE this book. It surprises me why it isn't more popular in and out of India. Every recipe I have tried has been a success. Don’t be fooled by the name; Prashad is essentially for non vegetarians. There is a dessert recipe with chicken just so you know!
Recipe - Paneer Tawa Masala and Hara Cholia Te Paneer

Indian Cooking - Madhur Jaffrey
My shelf would have been amiss without a book by the most recognisable authority on Indian cuisine. Sure the recipes are simple and cater mainly to the Western audience, BUT they are still delicious. Plus you can never go wrong with her classics such as rogan josh and biryani.
Recipe - Achaari Baingan and Garam Masala

Fool Proof:
The Essential Goa Cookbook - Maria Teresa Menezes
The Essential series of cookbooks cover almost all of regional Indian cuisines from Rajasthan to Goa to Kerala. Menezes' book on Goa is informative and includes most Goan favorites like xacuti, bebinca and sorpotel. The recipes are Christian Goan and often so authentic as to seem daunting!
Recipe - Goan Fish Curry

Twelve months of Monastery Soups
Twelve months of Monastery Salads – Victor D’Avilla-Latourrette

Soup is universal comfort food. In the book, Latourette (a Benedictine monk) follows the months of the year with recipes using seasonal ingredients. The soups are simple (no gourmet or expensive stuff here) but also diverse; you will find Polish Pearl soup along side the common Minestrone.
The salad book didn’t take long to become a favorite. A variety of greens, cheeses, fruits and vegetables are used in the recipes and there is the same emphasis on seasonal ingredients that made me pick up the soup book.
Recipe - Cream of Broccoli Soup and Spicy Bean Salad

Food Made Fast: Pasta - Williams Sonoma
You can't go wrong with any of the Williams Sonoma books. They are no fuss, well designed, clearly written cookbooks that fulfill their intention. This book for example is part of their Food Made Fast series and includes simple sauces that can be made ahead, great tips on freezing and a list of ingredients for a well stocked pantry. In short, exactly the pointers you need for putting dinner on the table quickly on weekdays.

Baker's Rack:
Bread made easy: A baker's first bread book - Beth Hensperger
Need I say where I stand in bread baking? This book is a wonderful guide for beginners. If the exact and often intimidating science of bread baking puts you off the first few chapters are sure to encourage you in the right direction. The recipes themselves are winners all the way.

Baking: From My Home to Yours - Dorie Greenspan
THE baking book of 2006. This one has received so many rave reviews that you shouldn't hesitate for a single moment if you want to invest in a good baking book. Quick breads, cookies, pies, puddings - Greenspan has covered everything in this well written, well designed tome (500 pages so it's definitely a tome!).

Guiding Light:
What to drink with what you eat - Andrew Dornenburg & Karen Page
On the one hand you have the utterly simple "red with meat and white with fish rule" and on the other you have the terribly pompous sounding talk on noses, bouquets, oaks, aging and what not.
Fortunately there is a book that seeks a balance between the two ends of the spectrum. This huge tome on what beverage to pair with your meal gives simple suggestions that even a novice on wine (or other drinks) can follow; chef's recommendations that make for good reading and a quite lengthy list of which drink to pair with everything from apples and salsa to pizza and yes, saag paneer.
It does not focus solely on wines but includes beer (do I hear cheers?!), tea, coffee and even water. Highly recommended if the subject interests you.

Didn’t Break the Bank:
Easy & Quick Thai
I know puritans frown on these but hey if I can get an authentic recipe for pad thai or green papaya salad, I can live with the step by step pictures!

Great Grilled Sandwiches
Of course I needed a good book to go with my new panini maker! This is a bargain buy with excellent recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And dessert if you want to get your money's worth from the panini maker ;-)
Recipe - Bagel with mushrooms & cheese


Blogger Ujwala Prabhu said...

you blog looks super fantastic now! Lucky you to have such a good friend :D I wouldnt mind a few tips on setting up a recipe index either (hint hint)

I'm going to add some of the cook books you've mentioned to my already large and burgeoning collection. I collect more than I try! The Goan ones sound especially interesting to me. I love the look of cookbooks and do like reading the recipes and looking at the lovely photographs too! I now have to get to the next step of trying them out :P

I just got back from a holiday in Kolkata with my parents. Ate lots of wonderful food - all my favorites were cooked. I felt like the Queen of Sheba! The week went by sooo quickly so much so that now i'm beginning to wonder whether it did happen?!

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


a great blog with many good recipes.

Regarding Rasachandrika, it is a publication of Saraswat Mahila Samaj, a society of Chitrapur Saraswats, known around Bombay as "Aamchis". They don't consider themselves Goud Saraswats or GSB. The CSB history shows that they were rejected or ostracized by the larger GSB community about 300 years ago and had to establish a separate Math at Shirali established around their spiritual guru.

This is a nitpick but I am passing it on for historical accuracy.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Hi Anjali - welcome to FFT.
I haven't claimed the origins of the book are GSB, just that it is
a bible to people in the community (come to think of it - maybe Christians might take offence to this!). 300 years is perhaps not enough to blur distinctions. Duly changed it to Saraswats. Too much emphasis on caste, too little emphasis on food is what I really think :)

12:36 PM  
Blogger Anu said...

Ashwini: your last post is -February 2008, just wondering why no posts after this date. Excellent presentation and dishes. I hope you will pickup where you left of.


2:31 PM  

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