And the Winner Is… Our Cook the Books Winner for “Climbing the Mango Trees”

6 10 2010

Our judge for this round of CTB, fellow foodie and blogger Ann Luke from Split Pear-sonality  – A Cooking Journey, has carefully read and drooled over all of the wonderful entries inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s “Climbing the Mango Trees” and has selected a winner–in her own words below.

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First of all, many thanks for inviting me to be a guest judge for your Cook the Books club. I’m honored  to have been invited to the virtual party and it never ceases to amaze me how so many of us from far flung places can get to connect with each other through blogging and the Internet.
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While I cannot claim to be a complete Indian food expert, I have eaten a good share of it growing up and wanted to advocate how there are many other different flavors and types of food from India as a result of the different ethnic, religious and geographical regions that make up the sub-continent.
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Many people have an exposure to Indian restaurant food which typically profiles the food of Northern India/Pakistan, which was a point well noted by Foodycat in her book review. Typical restaurant curries are usually non-vegetarian and Moghul-era influenced with rich, cream based gravies. This, however, is not the typical fare eaten on a daily basis at many Indian homes.
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Jaffrey has done a quite a commendable job translating curries away from typical restaurant fare to the regular home kitchen and she is one of the pioneers among Indian cookbook authors. However, I hope the Cook the Book Club members, who if they have truly been intrigued by Indian cooking after reading Climbing the Mango Trees, will take the opportunity to try and savour regional delicacies from India like the Portuguese influenced foods of Goa, or the Syrian Christian and Muslim delicacies of the state of Kerala, to the spicy seafood preparations from Bengal or the traditional South Indian vegan thalis of Tamil Nadu.
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It goes without saying that I had a difficult time coming up with one winner for this event, everyone brought their own fantastic representation of the book to the dining table and I had a great time virtually savoring the entries.
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There were also those of you who wrote about your own personal experiences coming from a different culture to the US and looking at your classmates lunchboxes to see the different foods they had brought, to those of you who successfully used locally sourced ingredients or foreign cheese that may have never been used before in an Indian dish.
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To round up, I picked Kelly of It’s A Food Life as the winner for her humorous account of going shopping at an Indian store (oh dear, what are you going to do with that twenty pound bag of flour?!) and her fantastic recreation of a complete Indian meal – Rotis, Raita, Rice, a vegetable dish, a legume dish and a protein dish. Her meal of –Rotis, Cucumber Raita, Basmati Rice with Dill and Cardamom. South Indian Style Stir-Fried Green Beans, Chickpeas Cooked in Tea, and Salmon with Mustard Seed and Coriander is a veritable medley of flavors and textures and a great representation of an Indian feast, something I could easily see a family or group of acquaintances sitting down to for a special dinner. Aside from complex spices, Indian cooking can also be fairly labor intensive with its typical spice grinding, roasting, pan-frying, gravy-making and baking steps. One of my major gripes with all this activity is the overflowing kitchen sink that you end up with, which luckily can be blissfully forgotten when you reward yourself with the actual food! So hats off to you Kelly, I do not even want to imagine what a hive of activity your kitchen must have been for you to churn out this number of dishes!
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I also wanted to send a special mention to Foodycat for her equally elaborate and full course meal of mutton and spinach curry, spiced cauliflower cheese, dhal and naan. Again, this must have been a lot of effort to put together all these dishes and they all made for great menu choices for a complete Indian meal.
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Finally, I wanted to also give a shout-out to Heather of Girlichef for the eloquent way in which she recounted the book. Her description of what a monsoon may entail was beautiful and lilting. And to top it all off, she made monsoon inspired jelebis which while not from Jaffrey’s book itself, are a common and well-loved but very-rarely-attempted-at-home sweet!
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Thank you all for letting me be a part of your Book Club this month! Here’s to more splendid books and the untold inspirations that await us.
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Ann
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So congratulations to Kelly who wins her second Cook the Book challenge! (Kelly, along with Heather of girlichef and Joanne of Eats Well With Others) won for “The School of Essential Ingredients,” our last CTB selection). Kelly can proudly fly the coveted Cook the Books Winners Badge two times on her blog now! 😉 Congrats also to Foodycat and girlichef, our runners up for this round. And of course, many, many thanks to Ann for being such a wonderful judge!
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I now pass the hosting torch on to Johanna of Food Junkie not Junk Food as we explore life behind the scenes in Mario Batali’s kitchen in “Heat” by Bill Buford.
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Happy reading, cooking & eating! (Don’t forget to check out our next three book choices here!)
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Announcing Our Next 3 Cook the Books Picks!

4 10 2010

Aloha Cook the Booksters!

We will have the announcement of our winner from “Climbing the Mango Trees” very soon, but before I announce that exciting news and pass the hosting torch over to Johanna for our entertaining  October-November selection: “Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany” by Bill Buford, we thought we should let you know our next six months of book choices. We have another three wonderful books to read, be inspired by and cook from, and we are excited to share them!

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Cook the Book Selection: December-January 2010

First up from Rachel, The Crispy Cook, we have an excellent choice to tuck into when you need to calm down from the holiday hustle and bustle and move into January; Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojurn in Kyoto by Victoria Abbot Riccardi. “Untangling My Chopsticks” recounts the American author’s year spent in Japan, learning about the art of kaiseki. Kaiseki is the traditional and highly ritualized series of foods to accompany green tea ceremonies and involves a series of small dishes of exquisitely prepared and garnished foods. Rachel says, “I have read Riccardi’s book and want to delve into it again and bone up on Japanese cooking.”  We will able be able to find our zen happy place with this beautifully written memoir.

Deadline to read and post your entry for this selection is Friday, January 28th

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Cook the Books Selection: February-March 2011

For me, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, and my selection, we will sail away to the tropics, with “An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude” by Ann Vanderhoof. In the mid 1990’s Vanderhoof and her husband rented out their house and set sail for the Caribbean in a 42-foot sailboat to chase their dreams. During their two-year adventure, they visited sixteen countries and ate their way through all of them, so this book is a fun foodie-travelogue–with plenty of recipes for the delicious island-style food and drink they enjoyed sprinkled in. Crack open the rum, crank up the Bob Marley and get ready to chase your winter doldrums away with some Caribbean spice.

Deadline to read and post your entry for this selection is Friday, March 25th

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Cook the Books Selection: April-May 2011

Finally we head for Paris with francophile Johanna from Food Junkie not Junk Food and her pick of “Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes” by Elizabeth Bard. In Paris for a weekend visit. Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman–and never went home again. “Lunch in Paris” is Bard’s memoir, the story of a young American woman who fell in love not only with a man but with a whole culture. Through learning to cook French recipes, shopping in open air markets and battling bad-tempered butchers she discovers the beauty of a city and explores the secrets of the French psyche. Speckled with sexy recipes and a passionate love story in the world’s most romantic city, Lunch in Paris is sure to make your heart beat a little faster. Ahh…Paris in the spring….

Deadline to read and post your entry for this selection is Friday, May 27th

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So there you go, our next three selections and your reading list for the next six months! We hope that you join us in reading these great foodie books, cooking and eating some wonderful food inspired by them and of course sharing it all with good friends.

Your hosts,

Deb, Rachel & Jo

Note: If you are new to Cook the Books, welcome! We are a bi-monthly virtual book club, reading great food-related books and cooking and posting dishes inspired by them. Anyone is welcome to join our group. If you have any questions, you can find the details here, or leave a comment and we’ll get back to you.