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by Madhur Jaffrey
Clarkson N. Potter, 1999
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Dec 8th 2002

Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian

Many vegetarians who enjoy food from Asia will be familiar with Jaffrey’s earlier books, such as the award-winning A Taste of the Far East, An Invitation to Indian Cooking, and closest to this the present book under review, World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking, which included recipes from India, Bali, Japan, China and both the Middle East and the Far East.  While her recipes in that compendious book were excellent, they often required ingredients that are hard to find in most supermarkets and are even difficult to locate in a specialty store.  World Vegetarian is even larger in scope than the earlier book, with recipes from all over the globe.  It is also easier to use since it uses ingredients that are normally available in good quality supermarkets and most International food stores.  

At 758 pages, with another 16 pages of color plates showing some of the meals and ingredients, World Vegetarian will be extremely useful to anyone with an adventurous palate who is interested in vegetarian food.  The book is divided into six main chapters organized by main ingredients, with a final chapter on equipment, glossary and resources, and a fair index.  Each chapter is organized by main ingredient, and for each ingredient, Jaffrey provides a page or two about the countries in which it is used, what forms it comes in, and how to cook it.  Each recipe is listed with its country of origin, its name in the country’s native language, a short comment on the recipe, a list of ingredients (using quantity measurements of cups, pounds, ounces, tablespoons and teaspoons, with vegetables mostly classified as small, medium or large), and instructions about how to prepare the food, along with a number of how many people the dish serves.  The preparation instructions are clearly written and so are easy to follow.  There is no information about the calories, fat content, or nutritional value of the recipe.  Most of the recipes are vegan. 

I can’t pretend to have prepared or even tried many of the more than 650 recipes.  Those that I have tried were excellent.  The variety of cuisines is somewhat overwhelming, and it helps to open the book already with some idea of what kind of recipe one is looking for.  For example, one might want to try some food from Pakistan (although I note that not all the Pakistani recipes are listed in the Index).  Or one might have a hankering for greens, and then one would go to the Vegetables chapter and browse through the greens section, which has 22 recipes, classified as being from India, Chinese-American, Italy/United States, Tuscany, China, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Spain, Trinidad/India, Japan/Korea/United States, and Greece.  Maybe one is in the mood for soup: Jaffrey gives many recipes, from a relatively simple Madras Curried Tomato Soup (India) or a Simple Red Lentil Soup (Turkey) to a surprising Cold Almond Soup (Spain), a light Indonesian Corn Soup, or a hearty Costa Rican Black Bean Soup. 

While this is probably not the best book for those just starting to cook for themselves, it is suitable for anyone with a little experience in the kitchen who is ready to experiment.  The collection of recipes is wonderful, and is bound to provide new ideas to even the most experienced cook.  For those who enjoy cooking and eating vegetarian food, World Vegetarian will be a delight.  Highly recommended.

 

Link: Page about Madhur Jaffrey

© 2002 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.

Buy the book from Amazon.co.uk: Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian (Pbk)