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London, Nov 25 (PTI) An Indian-origin author of a new cookbook, which is targeted at busy people who want to recreate a true taste of India in their kitchens, believes there is no reason to shy away from shortcuts.
Mallika Basu's 'Masala: Indian Cooking for Modern Living', which was launched in the UK a few months ago and in India this month, takes a fresh look at family favourite recipes, simplifying and updating them for busy home cooks.
"I openly recommend ready shortcuts like packs of roti, jars of pickle. When you're rushing around you need to pick your battles. There is no shame in that," the London-based communications professional-cum-food writer says.
"I have divided the chapters by moments like quick fixes, slow feasts, big platters and, of course, brunch, in a nod to our nation's love of breakfast. You don't have to be an expert at all – in fact I am quite honest about my failings in the kitchen. I am a home cook who is trying to get wholesome recipes, simply and as often as possible on the table," she says.
Basu, the granddaughter of former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu, has been writing about Indian food for over a decade and found herself simplifying recipes to fit with her busy life and modern kitchen.
"So many Indian cookbooks are based on nostaligia and what our grandmothers and mothers did, and yet our lives have changed so much. I wanted to create a cookbook that reflects the way we live, cook, eat and entertain today, and a very contemporary Indian design aesthetic," she explains.
The dishes chosen for her new book are favourites from her family home in Kolkata, and her mother's Delhi and Afghani heritage, as well as some newer ones she fell in love with on her recent travels to India.
The dishes are from all over India, with simplicity being the key factor that binds them together.
"The book is a very personal one that mirrors my own upbringing and learning. I was brought up in an unconventional home with flavours from around India and beyond making it into our kitchen. All of this unconventional thinking, deep love and detailed understanding has made its way into 'Masala'," she says.
In reference to Britain's own love affair with Indian food, Basu welcomes the increasing appreciation of the food of different parts of India but admits a certain limited view of the complexity of the country's cuisine.
She says, "There is still a giant post-colonial hangover in the way Indian food is described and viewed...there is no such thing as curry in India, it simply means gravy/sauce, and that the curry house and 'Indian' takeaway food you get in the UK bears little resemblance to what we eat. In fact, it was developed specifically for the British palate and is British food rather than anything else."
Basu's cookbook is packed with practical tips and tricks from busy everyday cooks, including recipe hacks that save time and effort, clever ways to incorporate vegetables into meals, creative ways to use grains and pulses, tips on fermentation and an extensive troubleshooting section.
After the promotion of here in the UK, Basu is now preparing for a series of talks and book signings in India in January 2019. PTI AK SCY