A kitchen secret


Once I was talking to my ex-boss, Archana Pai Kulkari, about the despair of deciding menus. She was the magazine’s editor for which I used to work as a sub-editor. I wanted a book that could help me in the true sense. No, I didn’t need any fancy photos. Didn’t want to bring exotic veggies or ingredients for a recipe as well. Essentially, I wanted a book that could give me recipe options that I could cook up with whatever I have in hand. Archana immediately asked me what cookbooks I have with me. And she highly recommended a book called Vegetable Delights by Malini Bisen. Now, it’s hard for anyone to put down a suggestion given by her. She’s that good. I wasn’t a fool not to follow her.

So, the next morning, I found a copy of Malini Bisen on some weird online bookstore, where I didn’t shop before. They promised to deliver the book in 15 days. May be it’s a rare copy, I happily thought to myself. I clicked the buy button.

When I received the book, and looked at its contents page, I knew exactly what Archana was talking about. Published by Wilco Publishing House, the book offers recipes for 51 vegetables. Plus there are many other varieties of recipes as well. It made my daily job in the kitchen simple. I couldn’t stop thanking Archana for this gem of a book.

In my kitchen, it’s all about authentic recipes. I rarely use packaged food or readymade food. In fact, I don’t even have a mircowave. I don’t mind working hard for hours on a dish and doing things like soaking and fermenting, if the recipe calls for it. It has become a way of life now. Being at home allows me more time, though. I get that. Whenever I have a job in hand and a cook in the kitchen, I’m no more creative with planning our meals.

There are times when I need to cook a dish in minutes, and here’s when a book like Vegetable Delights comes to my rescue. For a popular vegetable like potato, Malini has given 30 recipes in her book. For green peas, she’s come up with 11 recipes. And for a rare one like cucumber, she’s written five recipes. Who cooks cucumber? Certainly, Malini knows the vegetable world better.

The vegetables go alphabetically in the contents page, and believe me, there’s no easier way to use the book. I also go through the chutney section of the book many times. If you’re an eager Indian cook, or a lover of authentic Indian recipes, you must have this one in your kitchen shelf.

PS. I miss our crazy talks, Archana Meedem. Only if I had a time machine at my disposal.

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