A Taste of India: The Definitive Guide to Regional Cooking
By Madhur Jaffrey


I just love a bargain, so when I found this book for only £3 (HK$35) at an Oxfam shop in London, I grabbed it. Even better, it had a recipe for a delicious dish I tasted many years ago, and which I've been searching for: a cold salad of tomato, onion and yogurt flavoured with asafetida, mustard seeds and chilli powder.

Whether this book is "the definitive guide" to Indian regional cooking, as the title claims, is arguable. But it does at least give a good introduction to the food served in various parts of the country. A person who has eaten at a generic Indian restaurant outside of India can't be faulted for thinking everyone there subsists on food cooked in the tandoor, chicken tikka masala (which might have been "invented" in England) and vindaloo, but, as Madhur Jaffrey points out, the cuisines of each state are distinctive. Recipes include chickpea-flour stew with dumplings, from Delhi (where Jaffrey is from); carrots with dill, from Uttar Pradesh; chicken with apricots and potato straws, from Gujarat; Maharashtra minced ground chicken fritters; Kashmir walnut chutney; potatoes with poppy seeds, from Bengal; and green peppers in sesame seed sauce, from Hyderabad.