Choosing the right cookbook!

Why this post? …because I went for cookbook shopping last week after a long long time! And I was confused by seeing rows and rows of cookbooks and tens and hundreds of books under each category. Both me and Sikander catch cold fairly quickly, so last month we decided it was time to stop self medication and visit a doc. Apart from medicines, the doc advised to “add more soups in our diet”.

I have to admit that until last month, soups were limited to restaurant dining only, or to ready-to-cook packets at home. Making a soup from scratch was something I had not attempted till then. So I decided to buy a soup cookbook. I happily went to the nearby landmark store and as I had said earlier I was bombarded with choice!

I have, in the past, bought cookbooks on impulse… If a book has tempting pictures, it’s highly likely that I will buy it, but then it would simply sit on my shelf! So this time I thought I should choose carefully. I made my first round of selection on the basis of pictures and names and then sat down with 20 soup books. After almost an hour of browsing through them I bought two! Following is what I looked out for:

  1. Diversity of recipes: should have a good mix of different kinds of soups – hot, cold, veg, non-veg
  2. List of ingredients used: Whether the ingredients used are available locally or not. This is something that I always look out for if the book is not by an Indian chef.
  3. Ease of cooking: If most recipes are very elaborate, requiring a lot of time and effort; chances are I would use that book only once or twice. Recipes that are under 30 minutes, using simple everyday techniques are more my kind of recipes.
  4. Encyclopaedia: Stay Away! There are so many cookbooks that cover everything from salad, soup to drinks and desserts. I normally don’t prefer such books. I have one of this kind (again an impulse buy!)– What’s cooking ITALIAN. None of recipes in it have seen the light of day in my kitchen yet! I would rather that a book catered to one kind of meal. One the book will be more focussed and two it would be smaller and easier to handle. More chances that it will come off the shelf and on my kitchen slab.

I have already tried 5 new soups from the recipe books I picked up 🙂 Believe me fresh home cooked soups are so much better than any of the soup packet that boast of “home style”.

The Internet is off course a repository of millions and millions of recipes; and some might say that one no longer needs to buy an actual book when everything is online. But to find a recipe on the net, you need to know what you are looking for! You should at least know a combination of ingredients that you want to cook with and then it would suggest recipes accordingly. But many a times, I simply love to open a cookbook and find recipes that interest me… I will, then, go about procuring ingredients for it and not vice-versa. And I’m old school; I need an actual book to flip through real pages and not an eBook or a recipe website to navigate through…

I would love to hear your experience with cookbooks…What’s the tastiest book you have? What do you think makes a good cookbook?

To read some of my experiments in kitchen visit my weekend kitchen!

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