The steady flow of cookery books and food columns suggests that cooking is not just a fad with a generation which loves to experiment

Hollywood hottie Gwyneth Paltrow has recently authored a cookbook titled “My Father's Daughter” in memory of her late dad. The actor's father Bruce Paltrow died in 2002 from pneumonia after battling throat cancer and she launched the book because she feels close to him when she is making new dishes. Sydney Morning Herald recently quoted the Oscar-award winning actor as saying “Health food was never really on the agenda, it was about fun and deliciousness and togetherness. The most striking aspect about his cooking was how much joy he derived from feeding the people he loved. I mean, genuine, bursting happiness….”

Well, one doesn't always need such stimuli to write a cookbook. At least, that doesn't seem to be the case with the Indian cookbooks the monsoon season is showering us with.

Lasting success

Wisdom Tree, Roli Books, Rupa and Co. have been courting this genre for a long time. One of the publishers attributes the success of this genre to the exposure a well-heeled Indian is getting these days. Availability of varied cuisines at home and the world contributes to the cause.

Kapish Mehra, Managing Edior, Rupa and Co. says, “The thing with cook books is they don't register high sales at one go but consistent sales over a period of time like Camilla Punjabi's ‘50 Great Curries of India' which has been doing well for such a long time.” No wonder, Rupa & Co. came up with three titles last year and is working towards a few more like “Cook Easy Non Greasy”, “Anti-Aging Cook Book”, and “Hyderabadi Cuisine” scheduled to be released next year.

There are novel ways to reach the end user. If eminent academic Pushpesh Pant's newspaper column on the past and present of different cuisines finds a varied readership, thorough bred journalists like Vir Sanghvi and Vinod Dua also have a perspective to offer. Mallika Basu's cookbook “Miss Masala” launched by HarperCollins recently stemmed from the author's popular blogging site www.quickindiancooking.com. The granddaughter of former late West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, the writer reveals secrets for cooking Indian food. Spicing up her recipes by giving them quirky twist, she has interspersed them with her equally hilarious tales from her high-flying city life as a director of a PR firm.

“Miss Masala” is also an endeavour to clear some misnomers about Indian food that it is spicy, unhealthy and a time consuming affair. Releasing the book, Basu had remarked, “This book is for anybody who lives away from home and loves the Indian food and likes to cook for themselves especially for those who are juggling for a busy social or professional life.”

Perhaps, it is because of the ability of these books to simplify the seemingly complicated recipes that more and more readers are finding themselves drawn to them. Kapish says, “People have become adventurous. They enjoy not only eating good food but also cooking it and the nuclear families are sans elders. Who would teach the new generation to cook?”

The zeal to try out not just the world famous recipes but also indigenous recipes with a twist has led publishers like Wisdom Tree to come up with books like “Vegetarian Kebab” and “Chatpata Khana”. .

Top notch Chef Sanjeev Kapoor who has to his credit titles like “Tandoori Cooking @Home”, “Flavours of The Orient” “Sanjeev Kapoor: Kitchen Library – Vegetarian Collection” and many more feels that the reason for them to be doing well is that “one can have a book with him/her all the time.”

Now be it low-cal cooking, ayurvedic cooking, seafood dishes, an individual's collection of recipes passed on from one generation to another, regional cooking or a restaurant's assortment of signature dishes, there is a whole deal out there for the buyers to choose from. Last year Penguin India released “The Moti Mahal Cookbook: On the Butter Chicken Trail” which was replete with the original recipes of the restaurant's signature dishes.

And there is a world beyond the staple staid cook books as was made amply clear by Roli Books' “The Emperor's Table: The Art of Mughal Cuisine” (Rs.660). Food, culture and miniature paintings…author and Persian scholar Salma Husain combined different elements in the tome to trace the history of the Mughal emperors vis-à-vis their fondness for food and contribution to the growth of recipes.

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