I received a review copy of The Asian Vegan Kitchen, a vegan cookbook by Hema Parekh featuring vegan meals from India, Japan, China, Thailand, Veitnam, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Korea.
The cookbook is rather slim so you might not guess that it’s full of over 200 recipes. The recipes are divided by country and then subdivided by course. For example, there is a chapter for Burma with sections for Soups and Salads, another section for Main Dishes, another for Rice and Noodles, another for Side Dishes, and finally a section for Snacks. In the middle of the cookbook you’ll find a set of photos that’ll surely make your mouth water.
The organization is a bit strange. I expect cookbooks to be arranged by dish type, not country of origin. However, I quickly overcame my dislike of the organizational structure and have now decided I like it because it keeps flavor profiles together and helps develop the cook’s sense of spicing and flavor. (If there’s ever a reason to hang on to old meat cookbooks after you go vegan, this is the reason: to learn about spicing.)
I’ve tried a few recipes from The Asian Vegan Kitchen so far, including Aloo Gobi. All the recipes I tried are tasty, though the spicing is a bit different than what I’m used to from veganized versions of The Food of India and Ethnic Vegetarian. I had to buy a few extra spices to round out my set and complete these recipes. Luckily, everything I needed was easy to find.
In fact, Parekh seems to have designed this cookbook with Americans in mind. Each recipe is titled by an English name; the original dish name is in a small font next to the English name. Because I was reading the English title “Cauliflower and Potato with Spices,” I started prepping for Aloo Gobi before I even realized that’s what I was cooking. Funny.
Criticism: The font size is small. It’s too small, in my opinion. If your eyes give you trouble you may want to use magnifier with this cookbook.
Other than the font size, I think the cookbook is fantastic. It’s a great addition to my kitchen and I’m sure it will improve my cooking. I recommend this book to anyone interested in cooking traditionally vegan Asian foods.
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(Crossposted at ElaineVigneault.com)