Fresh India

Good Food Revolution: Hello there Mika, I trust that the fall/autumn is treating you well?

Mika Bareket: I can not stop buying vegetables right now. Make me stop.

GFR: Now this month I can certainly see a distinct trend in your choice of books… which is nice as there’s obviously some personal selection going on here.

So, we have another Indian cookbook… Meera Sodha’s Fresh India… and it happens to be vegetarian… again.

Why did you choose to recommend this book?

Mika Bareket: This is pretty embarrassing. Indian-based meals have been my go-to in these semi-vegetarian times, and I was feeling stumped for dinner ideas recently. I made a bunch of soupy and spice/pulse-based meals last winter and spring, but picked up Fresh India recently for ideas that are lighter and brighter. So far, I love this book. Feeling inspired to try everything.

GFR: I’m familiar with her previous book Made In India. How does this new one differ?

MB:  Fresh India has four chapters on vegetables and more health notes throughout, but no chapters on Meat, Poultry or Fish.

GFR: I have to say that I’m forever impressed by the plethora of imaginative Indian vegetarian dishes out… I must force myself to experiment with more of them.

I know that you have quite the eye for good art direction… how does this book measure up?

MB: They look beautiful spined together. Matte covers, high contrast colours, clean interior layouts. Plating is inviting. For incredibly practical books, these are handsome little devils. I’d give these books Oscars.

GFR: I found Made In India very much written for the home cook… does this new book follow the same route?

How easy are the recipes contained within?

MB: Yes, very similar sense of humour to both, and full of practical wisdom. Nothing is difficult, some recipes are daunting but tempting.

GFR: And do you have any particular favourites? and why?

MB: I haven’t experimented much with Fresh India yet. Made a cauliflower yogurt dish last week that was good hot or cold, and I have my eye on a mango ribbon salad made with a vegetable peeler. But I’ve made a few things (repeatedly!) from Made in India that I’ll be returning to now that it’s cooler: Bombay Eggs, Daily Dal… maybe I’ll sneak some smoked haddock into the house and make Grimsby Kedgeree.

GFR: I read that part of her inspiration for this book was some of the awful “Indian” food served in restaurants on Brick Lane in London. Have you ever eaten in any of them?

They have hawkers outside who offer you crazy deals like “one free bottle of wine AND two pints of lager for every couple dining”!

I’ve never worked out how they make a penny on deals like that?

MB: One time in a flurry because I was in London for a short time, and for the first time and was overwhelmed. They made me feel so invited to come in. It was not great.

GFR: I have a good friend who is obsessed with Indian desserts and sweets… have you ever experimented with any of those? and are there any such recipes in this book? (I’d like to impress my friend the next time she’s around for dinner!)

MB: I have the American edition of Made in India and the (much nicer) UK import edition of Fresh India. One has a chapter called Desserts, the other Puddings. Guess which is which! I’ve not made any, but Love Cake from Made in India looks enticingly dense, and there’s a recipe for Gulab Jamun in Fresh India which is easily one of my favourite desserts.

GFR: Thanks again, Mika.

MB: Bon Voyage

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And she’s convincing me to get into the veggie stuff.