Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Chakhle India Cookbook - A Book Review

The Chakhle India Cookbook is Aditya Bal’s first book based on his famous food show on NDTV Goodtimes anchored by him. This show has him discover various cuisines across India. Simplicity is the apt word to describe this book. This book showcases an interesting mix of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian in India.

Highlights of the Book:

The first thing which I liked is the presentation of ingredients in the Indian Pantry in an organized way. The ingredients have been classified into Aromatics, Souring agents, Spices, Herbs etc. Even the kitchen equipments have been classified into categories like chopping boards, knives, machinery, small wares etc. This brings clarity in the minds of the reader.

I also liked the cooking techniques given in the book.  The technique of Yakhni, searing was new to me. Each cooking technique has been explained in very informative and brief manner.  The basic processes like making coconut milk, ginger-garlic paste are given in a lucid manner.

While browsing through the recipes, I liked the way in which each recipe is presented. Each recipe starts with a brief description and its specialty. The ingredients and methods are also bifurcated which makes it easier for the reader to understand the recipe. 

About the recipes :

I was a bit disappointed while browsing through the recipes. About 75-80% of the book-volume contains non-vegeterian recipes.  There is only one section in the book that has all vegetarian recipes. This is quite disappointing for Vegetarians and Vegans.

But while going through the non veg recipes, I found that even Vegetarians can make those non-veg recipes by substituting the non veg ingredients with Tofu, Paneer, Broccoli, Cauliflower.  For eg, in Dhaniwal Korma, the meat can be substituted with Cauliflower or In Murgh Noorjehani, the chicken can be substituted with ‘Paneer’ to make it Paneer Noorjehani. 

I was also a bit disappointed while browsing through the sweet section. It contains very commonly known sweets like Gulab Jamun, Shrikhand, Shahi Tukda. The author could have included less known regional sweets like Daulat ki Chaat, Bombay Halwa, Gil-e-Firdaus etc.

 Some more expectations :

The first thing that catches our attention in any cookbook are the pictures of the recipes. I have a habit of going through all the pictures before going through the actual recipe. But in case of this book, I had a great disappointment with the quality of pictures used.  The images look like photography done an amateur photographer.

The book deals with main course, snacks and sweet recipes. But in many regions of India, a variety of breads / rotis are made. Also, Indian pickles and chutney are famous over the globe. The author could have included recipes such side-dishes and breads.

Another observation is about the index of recipes. Instead of usual indexing at the beginning, the book has been divided into Categories of recipes. The index is given at the beginning of each section which is quite an innovative idea. The index along with page numbers would have been more convenient for the readers.  Also, the contents are not properly aligned.  Is it a style or they have missed out on this.

The author could have also given the exact measurement in few Basic recipes. For example, for ginger-garlic paste, the proportion of ginger and garlic is not specified in the cookbook.

Lastly :
The book is published by Westland publication and is priced at Rs. 395. It contains approx. 24 vegetarian recipes (including sweets).  Hence, a good book for hard core non-vegetarians.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


  1. I used to enjoy his show when I was in India..would love to have his cook book.
    Even I have the same habit of going through the pictures first.
    Very nice and detailed review !

  2. Lovely review. After reaching india will try this book.

  3. I recently bought this book cos I like the way Aditya Bal steers the Chakh Le show, esp the new Kacha rasta series..I started reading this book today, so will deifinetely leave feedback on how it was :) and yeah, i am more of a non vegetarian myself, so I picked this book in the first place only cos it had more non veg recipes(maybe cos Aditya Bal grew up in Kashmir his early childhood and non veg is a staple there). Good review Amar and am so glad i found a fellow food blogger who's a guy. Good to see many more indian men in the footsteps of Sanjeev kapoor and Aditya bal now :)

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