Home / Arts & Life / What to Read Before Heading to Kerala

What to Read Before Heading to Kerala

In India, many young people are embracing the spices and signature dishes of the southern state of Kerala. Here are three books about Indian food that will prepare your palate for the trip.


A Memoir of a Childhood in India
By Madhur Jaffrey
320 pp. Ebury Press. (2006)

In this memoir of growing up in the final years of colonial India, the chef recalls her memories as part of a large, colorful family living in Delhi. Food is a thread that runs throughout the book: Jaffrey and her cousins climb mango trees and dip the sweet fruit into a mixture of salt, pepper, red chilies and roasted cumin; she describes chaat, hot and savory snacks that were brought by a man called the khomcha-wallah; and she recounts trips to Old Delhi’s Lane of Fried Breads with her mother. Jaffrey also includes some family recipes for dishes like tamarind chutney and split-pea fritters. Our reviewer wrote that considering how family-focused this memoir is, it’s surprising “just how much it reflects India in general and its culinary culture in particular.”


The New Indian Cuisine for Fearless Cooks and Adventurous Eaters
By Ismail Merchant
312 pp. Hyperion. (1994)

Merchant, a former film producer who passed away in 2005, published his first cookbook in the United States, “Ismail Merchant’s Indian Cuisine,” in 1986, and it was well-received for its originality and easy-to-follow recipes. In this second book, he offers more recipes for Indian cuisine that do not require “spending hours in the kitchen,” as he said in an interview with The Times in 1986. He recalled growing up in India, where it was common for servants to spend hours toiling in the kitchen preparing time-consuming recipes. His approach was to innovate and maintain the essence of Indian cooking while embracing some Western ingredients — like Dijon-style mustard or rosemary.


By Asha Gomez, with Martha Hall Foose
288 pp. Running Press. (2016)

The two Souths in this book’s title refer to Kerala, India, where Gomez was born, and Atlanta, Ga., where she now lives and owns a restaurant called Spice to Table. She infuses Southern recipes with Indian influence, like breakfast grits with yellow lentils or chocolate tart infused with bird’s-eye chile. Gomez does not have classical training, and our reviewer wrote that this makes it so she “intuits the needs and desires of the home cook,” which is part of what makes her cookbook “delightful.”

Continue reading the main story

About admin

Check Also

Hear the Best Albums and Songs of 2023

Dear listeners, In the spirit of holiday excess and end-of-the-year summation, we’re about to make …