I am always happy to get new cookbooks in the mail. When it’s the second cookbook from an online friend, and the first cookbook contained nothing but incredibly delicious recipes, well, that’s a really good day. I loved Rinku Bhattacharya’s first book, The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles. Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors looks equally delicious. While The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles taught me about the author’s heritage, Spices & Seasons shows me her current family life in Westchester, NY; what she grows in her garden and cooks for her two children and husband.
Layout and design:
The hardcover book has a glossy color exterior, so it will hold up to years of cooking in busy kitchens. The book includes the following chapters: Essentials (Indian cooking), Appetizers & Small Plates, Salads Condiments and Chutneys, Soups & Lentils, Eggs Paneer & Tofu, Vegetables, Fish & Shellfish, Meat & Poultry, Holidays, Rice Grains & Pasta, Flatbreads & Crepes, Desserts & Sweet Drinks, Tool Chest. The layout made sense to me, and the recipe layout is user-friendly. I would not have used the lightweight sans serif font the designer chose for the body copy, as it’s a bit difficult to read, but otherwise the design works for the reader.
Nearly every recipe features a full-color photograph, offering a glimpse into what the finished dish might look like in your kitchen.
I used one of her fish curry recipes as a starting point for a quick dinner, and it was delicious. (I adapted it to my diet, so I can’t really say I “tested” it, but I would definitely make it again with my changes.) There is a huge variety of dishes to choose from: fritters, crepes, dals, puddings, all using fresh local ingredients. I have bookmarked: sweet potato soup with saffron, sage, and nutmeg; comforting slow-cooked chickpeas with tomatoes and ginger; coastal coconut and tamarind fish curry; lamb curry with mint and apricots; herb and spice roasted chicken; and crispy spiced lentil crepes. Each recipe is clearly labeled if it is vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free at the top.
What I liked about the book:
Nice layout, wonderful collection of dependable recipes, and even gluten-free and vegan/veg recipe indices at the back!
I wasn’t so keen on:
Without nutritional analysis, I can’t say whether these are suitable for low-sodium diets.
Anyone wanting to learn how to make fresh Indian food; celiacs, gluten-free eaters, vegetarians, vegans (see next note)
Not recommended for:
Migraine sufferers; as there is no nutritional analysis included, I can’t say whether this is suitable for low-sodium diets. Vegan recipes are labeled and even have their own index, but if it will upset you to have a cookbook that includes meat dishes, pass on this one.
A note about my cookbook reviews: In the past, I tested at least three recipes from each book, took photos, and described my experience. Due to my dietary limitations (extremely-low-sodium for my Meniere’s Disease and trigger-free foods for migraine relief), it is no longer possible for me to test the recipes and do them justice.