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BBC Books, £25
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Rick Stein is a TV presenter, cookbook author and brand. This book is a tie-in for his current BBC Two series of the same name. Much in the same way as Jamie Oliver, the immensely likeable Stein isn’t able to be an expert on every subject, or do all his own research or recipe testing but he’s great at finding the right people to work with him.
This latest food and travel hardback (following on from ‘Far Eastern Odyssey’) is a collaborative project involving first-rate on-the-ground research by Indian food experts (such as Roopa Gulati) and recipe editors (Louisa Carter), matched with beautifully atmospheric photography (James Murphy), pulled into a book format by the strong publishing team at Ebury Press. The book is expensively produced, and the results delicious, whether it’s Chettinad chicken or pork curry with green chillies and tamarind (two dishes from opposite coasts of the subcontinent). The ingredients are not diluted in terms of authenticity – for example, mustard oil is used where it should be.
What’s missing from the book is any deep insight into Indian culture, or how the dishes reflect the regional, religious, or cultural backgrounds that they originate from. It is the impressionistic snapshots of an outsider, and doesn’t attempt to present an overview of the complex foodways of the Indian subcontinent (if you are looking for insider knowledge, you’ll do better with the books of Madhur Jaffrey or Camellia Panjabi). But for lip-smacking recipes such as prawn curry with kokum to spicy scrambled eggs, Stein has delivered once again.
Guy Dimond, Time Out London Issue 2234 July 2-8, 2013
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