Book Review: Around the World with the Tadka Girls

A good addition to any budding cook’s collection of recipes to reach for.

A cookbook that begins with a quote of George Bernard Shaw’s is one that definitely gets my attention! And when a closer look shows that it has a clearly laid out Table of Contents which allows the reader to pick from breads, breakfast and brunch, pastas, soups and salads, sweet treats and more, as well as a helpful “how to use this book” page, I want to dig in. Around the World with the Tadka Girls by Ranjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujam, co-authors of the Tadka Pasta blog, is an easy to follow, well laid out and pithily written cookbook. Whether you are a regular in the kitchen looking for new and interesting recipes to try, or a novice or once in a blue moon cook wanting easy to understand and easy to execute dishes, this book will serve your purpose and be a nice addition to your collection.

For those who just want the recipes without the stories (every section and each recipe has a write up preceding it with how the ladies came upon that recipe, as a reaction or ode or take on something eaten during a trip or at a restaurant, when we were growing up tale, etc.), head straight to the ingredients lists and how to parts. For those with the time and inclination, you can get the whole experience. My only kvetch would be that some of the titles are overtly cutesy (“groovy green skewers on the grill, “a chic chocolate-caramel affair”) but then, in a world where creativity diminishes on a daily basis, perhaps having cute or alliterative titles for every single recipe and section is a feat? Personally, it was just a little too much of a good thing.

There is a handy Glossary at the end that does the translation from Hindi to English of both ingredients and relevant words like “kadhai”. There was also, right at the beginning, a Measurement Cheat Sheets and Oven Temperatures page, giving conversions for teaspoon, tablespoon, ounces, pounds, etc, and Celsius and Fahrenheit. I really liked that the ladies suggested ways to dress up leftovers into new dishes, as well as pointed to their healthy cooking recipes, and the ones that are quickest to put together, As you read, it feels like this is not just a cookbook with recipes listed, but rather a helpful guide that will help you in your kitchen hour of need, whether that need is when you’re in a tizzy, needing inspiration, or just going about the regular business of cooking for the family.