A long while ago Aparna Jain wrote on a social networking site that she's putting together a family cookbook: The Sood Family Cookbook. When Skeeter finally laid her hands on the book it was all that was promised. A true family cookbook in soul and spirit. For one, it covers not only the nuclear family but also the widespread global family. An aunt in the hills, a cousin abroad, a baker niece and others have pitched in to send recipes which Aparna asked for and that enabled her to compile this cookbook. The book is dedicated to a brother who'd need recipes that would remind him of home every time he decides to cook in his kitchen in another continent. The family is a good mix of Kashmiris, Malayalis, Mangaloreans, Assamese, Sindhis, Punjabis and more. Hence, the diverse flavour of The Sood Family Cookbook. The book was first self-published by Aparna in a three ring binder before being formally published by Collins.
The look: The cover is a very simple, thought provoking bayaam/bharani, which is a ceramic pickle jar in an off-white colour with mustard stripes on the mouth of the jar. It is a heavy duty jar that Skeeter often spots in Punjabi households in North India as also in South India. One look at this cover image hits you with nostalgia. Moving on, the book has broken many a bar and gone for illustrations rather than some drool-worthy photography. Works likes a charm! A welcome departure. Sample this: Images of a bharte wala baingan being roasted on the gas burner directly, a fondue pot invoking warmth, the quintessential Indian pressure cooker, a kashundi bottle reminiscent of the Bengali love for mustard, old thick bottomed kadahis making you reach out for the forgotten one in your store, graters of various shapes and sizes and Skeeter could go on!
The recipes and usage: The book is reader friendly, with the numbering of recipes indicating a colour for its type: Red: Non-Vegetarian, Yellow- containing Eggs and Green for Vegetarians :D The 101 recipes are classified into Comfort food, Light and Healthy, Sood Grog, Anytime eats and so on.
Try making the Sindhi Sael Dabroti, the fiddlhead ferns (Skeeter was scouting for a recipe once after purchasing lingdu, the local name for fiddlehead from the hills and had no clue what to do with it), the khatti daal, the 80-minute kaali daal, Hanoi inspired salad, Chilli gulabi guava, Berliner spiked hot chocolote and many more! A few recipes are so simple that you'd question why were they included in the book? The answer is simple: It was written for people who would one day have no choice but get into the kitchen and cook!
And finally here's what Skeeter did with The Sood Family Cookbook
Skeeter was about to use her mom's recipe of the Sindhi kadi and found the recipe in The Sood Family Cookbook strikingly similar with a few changes. And it turned out well. Also, the Pahadi Hara Namak is a revelation and is the most easy peasy thing you can do to enliven a simple, casual meal.
Price: Rs 899 on cover. Amazon price: Rs 492. Go pick!