hyderabad Food

How this meet-up in Hyderabad and Pune celebrates all the pages of cookbooks through potlucks

Some of the dishes prepared in the Cookbook Nook meets  

Ever flipped through the pages of a cookbook and thought, ‘I’d love to make this lamb roast... or this pumpkin pie... or this rainbow cake?’ but never actually wound up doing it? The pages of the cookbook remain glossy while the cookbook itself becomes nothing more than a centrepiece. Meha Desai had enough of this and that’s how Cookbook Nook started shaping up.

Meha came to the realisation about two and a half years ago, when she was living in Pune, “We used to invite guests over for dinners and despite having way too cookbooks, I’d find myself cooking the same things over and over. We naturally go by what people want, right? The biryanis, the tikkas, etcetera.” So she decided to kick off a unique kind of potluck which made the most of cookbooks — a pleasant switch-up from YouTube cooking tutorials.

While a lot of potlucks do have different cuisines as a set theme, Meha wanted to focus on a different cookbook each time instead. “Three months in, we were like ‘it’s mango season, let’s find a cookbook around that!’ which is how it picked up. I do make sure people get their hands on a e-version of the cookbook if it’s just easier for them.

How this meet-up in Hyderabad and Pune celebrates all the pages of cookbooks through potlucks

Down the line, Meha moved to Hyderabad with her husband and the popularity of Cookbook Nook garnered some interest here too, so she decided to bring it on. “We have a lawyer, a home baker... all sorts of people in the small group and we all learn things from each other. Plus here in Hyderabad, the food-lovers are extremely different, so I welcome the challenge. In Pune, they were a lot more experimental. In general, they have a preference for Indian cuisines and it’s as though every restaurant has to have that in their menu.”

The vibe at these meetings was a major game-changer for Cookbook Nook. “It was always important that Cookbook Nook never had this ultra-formal ‘we must meet on this day,’ but I do believe that commitment to a meeting if it’s already agreed upon by the whole group is important. I’ve been big on sustainability in food and I want to avoid food waste as much as possible. We do distribute the responsibility equally while planning.”

Bringing Cookbook Nook to Hyderabad served as an ideal means to socialise for introverted Meha, but more than anything, it meant she continued her love for cooking.

Meha and the Cookbook Nook group in Hyderabad have referred to these so far:

  • Zaitoun and The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan (Middle Eastern)
  • The Vietnamese Market Cookbook by Anh Vu, Van Tran (Vietnamese)
  • The Slanted Door by Charles Phan (Vietnamese)
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat (General American and very customisable)
  • Authentic by Rick Bayless (Mexican)
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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 5:12:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/meha-desai-cookbook-nook-in-hyderabad-from-pune-is-a-commitment-to-fun/article29373204.ece

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