Favorite Omni Cookbooks Review
I like to get new ideas for food from "regular" cookbooks that I borrow from the library. I've decided to review the cookbooks as I go.
This is an interesting and helpful thread. I have loads of cookbooks that aren't vegan and also use them for inspiration. I'll have to add some reviews too. The coffee cake cookbook sounds really good! Thanks for the review. The Bread Bible is a great book. How did your sourdough starter turn out, Humboldt Honey?
Here's a review I wrote some time ago, Humboldt Honey. It's a very interesting book that I picked up at a library sale for 50 cents. It's out of print, but still available on Amazon at various prices.
Himalayan Mountain Cookery by Mrs. R.M. Ballentine, Sr.
This is a great little spiral bound book I picked up at a library sale back in September. The recipes are easy to cook from and the book has taught me about the foods of Northern India and Tibet.
Utensils and Cooking Oils
Spices and Herbs
Basic Plan for a Balanced Meal
Relishes, Chutneys and Raitas
Beverages and Soups
Glossary and Index ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've really enjoyed reading this older vegetarian cookbook. It's a great introduction to foods and dishes from the region it covers. Thirty-one pages in the beginning give a great description of the ingredients and utensils used as well as how to plan a menu that is balanced. The chapter describing the spices used is particularly interesting. Along with describing the flavor, what parts are used and what sorts of dishes the spice is generally used with, the author also notes what medicinal and nutritional properties the spices exhibit. (Oddly, in this chapter there are two pages 19 and 20.) Tips on how to use American appliances like pressure cookers, or how to make meal preparation quicker are noted in the menu planning section.
Each main ingredient chapter begins with an introductory text describing the ingredients and giving basic preparation instructions.
The recipes are one per page and are easy to read. All text is in very dark brown. Preparation times and number of servings is given, too. Short, usually single sentence head notes introduce each recipe. The recipes are written as a hybrid of the newer style format with the ingredient listing followed by instructions and the old, paragraph style where the ingredients are woven into the narrative. The main ingredients are presented as a list at the beginning of the recipe; throughout the instructions, spices are listed when used in the cooking steps.
Because of the large number of spices sometimes used, this system works surprisingly well for me. It does make it slightly harder to see at a glance if you have everything you need to make a certain recipe, but if your spice cabinet is well-stocked, you only need to check the main ingredients list. The spices are printed in all capitals, and in bold, so they do stand out somewhat. I did find that it was easier to keep track of the spices when cooking by having them, along with their amounts, listed in the instructions.
I found the recipes to be simple, straightforward and very well-suited for everyday cooking. The ingredients, beyond some spices, are all easy to find ingredients you are likely to have on hand already. The dahls use mostly mung beans - split or whole - and they're available in many supermarkets even. Vegetables that are American staples like broccoli, onions, green peas, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes and green beans are called for. I'm sure other vegetables would be used in India, but using ones we have readily available makes all the recipes accessible.
The only ingredient I can't find adequately described is soy powder. I'm not sure exactly what she is calling for. It's in a few recipes, but I didn't see a description of it. I suppose soy protein powder from the health food store is probably what is intended. Anyone think it may be something else?
There is an interesting quote on the back of the book where the author's biography is printed: "Grounded in the cooking tradition of rural South Carolina, where rice, corn, local beans and peas and leafy vegetables are staples, she found the food of Northern India a familiar terrain." Interesting idea.
The first recipe I tried - Potato and Onion Subzi - was great. It was, for me, a unique way to prepare a favorite combination of onions and potatoes. The only change I made was to boil the potatoes instead of using a pressure cooker.
Some recipes I have also tried, or would like to try include: Vegetables with Celery; Kashmiri Sag; Kaccha-Pakka; Peas Palak Paneer; "Brown Rice" (white rice colored with browned onions); Pullao; Khichari; Green Rice; Whole Mung; Quick Doshas; Dahl on Top; "Chocolate" Dahl; Garbanzo Stew; Crisp Chapatis; Leaf Cake; Indian Style Tea; and Spiced Tilk. The recipes that are not vegan already can easily be converted, usually with only one substitution.
Book Title: Himalayan Mountain Cookery
Author(s): Mrs. R.M. Ballentine, Sr.
ISBN: 0893890154 - although this same ISBN on Amazon.com shows a different cover (and it's a paperback) than the one I have
Publisher: Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy
Publisher address: 1505 Greenwood Road, Glenview, IL 60025
Date published: 1976
Description: soft cover, spiral
Illustrated: sketches at chapter headings
Retail price (at time of publication): US$3.50