This book is stuffed with the best looking people around. The author, Bulbul Mankani, introduces us to the glamorous world of the Indian film industry and it has a dreamlike quality. These actors and actresses are almost too good to be true and if you believe that they eat these wonderful dishes every day then I for one will sign up for the Gulab Jamun Diet. But more of that later.
I confess, dear reader, that I don’t know much of Bollywood and its films. They seem to be a confection of colour, vibrance, song and dance, and probably preferable to the offering of blood and guts which is so often the genre of choice for western film-goers.
Bollywood films have elevated film stars to superhuman and sometimes god-like status so it’s no surprise that there is a market for a cookbook to allow us a little peek into the eating habits of these famed folk. It’s not just the stars that look good; the food is mouth-watering as well. You wouldn’t expect the beautiful people of Mumbai to be tucking into chip butties, would you?
The sign of a well-loved dish
Although I can’t reel off the names of Indian film stars as if I was reading the local telephone directory, I can at least recognise a few of the most celebrated of the 19 or so featured in this volume. The Kapoors are perhaps one of the most famous dynasties and they offer Chicken Haleem and Yuglee Mutton. Another clan who has made film their business is the Bachchan family, who present us with Hara Channa Masala amongst others.
If you are a non-film-going European you might still recognise the name Shilpa Shetty. Didn’t she do rather well on one of those “reality” shows? Shilpa has a taste for Sukha Lamb and Spicy Beans. But for me the best recipe has to be from Raveena Tandon. Gulab Jamun is a dessert of melt-in-the-mouth balls of sweet syrup-soaked sponge and to know them is to love them. Raveena is an expert at making these and can recite the recipe from memory. That is surely the sign of a well-loved dish.
The Bollywood Cookbook has authentic Indian food aplenty. The 75 or so recipes are divine and not over-taxing for even a British home cook, and this is a book of style and excitement. I already have friends who want to borrow it and I suspect I’ll have to fight to get it back.
The Bollywood Cookbook
Author: Bulbul Mankani
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018