Book Review: Gujarati Kitchen by Bhanu Hajratwala

[singlepic id=1727 w=80 h=92 float=left]There are quite a few popular misconceptions about Gujarati food, including but not limited to, ‘Gujarati food is 100% vegetarian’. Gujarati Kitchen by Bhanu Hajratwala debunks this and demystifies Gujarati food for us (as I now realize) deprived folks. To begin with, this is one well brought up and focused book. It’s aware of it’s purpose throughout and doesn’t put on any airs, like that of a coffee table book for instance or perhaps a shining example of wannabe, culinary chick-lit as a recently reviewed book endeavored to be.

Being very much the well mannered tome, Gujarati Kitchen doesn’t come down to inane chatter at any point within, remaining sharply focused throughout. After a predictable introduction filled with interesting bits and pieces of trivia Bhanu goes on to multiple section of tips, cookware, ingredients and units of measure, which every cookbook really should have. Another appreciated area is the section on masalas (spice blends), that make the making of typical masalas fairly simple and are referred to in the book, shortening recipes and reducing their perceived complexity.

A most useful section is the index of recipes at the back. Every recipe is also laid out in an identical fashion (quite important for a cook book) that’s easy to read and refer to.

The photos remind me of the layouts used in Prashad, a book published a decade or two earlier. I couldn’t honestly describe any photograph as good nor any layout as innovative. The line drawings however, done by the photographer, will be very useful for most novices to Gujarati cooking.

Reading the non-vegetarian recipe, Chaamp ne Bataka Roast (roasted lamb chops with potatoes), I wonder if the author has kept in mind that the ‘fresh masala’ uses chili powder, turmeric powder and lemon juice… and so does the recipe for the chops. Since this is the first recipe I plan to cook from this book, guess I’ll soon find out.

Gujarati Kitchen is reasonably priced at INR 395, well worth the price and a must buy for your collection. I certainly would.