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News, Blogs & Press Releases » Book review – Manju’s Cookbook

Book review – Manju’s Cookbook

by Maz Linford-Platt, tutor at COOK! with the Vegetarian Society

Manjula Patel owns and runs Manju’s, a popular restaurant in Brighton that serves traditional vegetarian dishes from the western Indian state of Gujarat, the western Indian state where she was born.

Manju’s Cookbook is a very readable book, with an introduction about the enduring presence of vegetarian food in Manju’s family history. The restaurant’s cooking principles, recipes and techniques have passed down through generations, lending great authenticity to this Gujarati cookbook.

I loved the snack section. It is totally my favourite area of anything! Making freshly cooked Sev Gatiya is most definitely on my to-do list, and Manju even recommends the best affordable piece of equipment to help do this.

The street food section is complemented by a variety of delicious chutney and pickle recipes, making it a complete resource for scratch cooking. The pictures are so vivid and fresh, you can almost smell and taste the dishes.

I really enjoyed the ‘Palak Bhajia’ recipe. This protein-rich dish is often fried but here it is steamed, making it much more appealing for everyday eating. It can be quite a technically challenging dish, but the book provides clear instructions that make it surprisingly easy to prepare.

I had a great time cooking up Manju’s Chana Dal. We eat a lot of dal in my house so I was really looking forward to trying a new recipe. Recipe steps and techniques are all well explained making the cooking seamless. There is an impressive array of spices but well worth the effort with each spice lending a different element; it is well balanced and flavour-packed – delightful. The inclusion of Tadka adds a further authentic touch, completing the Gujarati flavours.

Overall, Manju’s Cookbook is a detailed exploration of Gujarati foods and a great book for anyone. On first look, many of the recipes contain a long list of ingredients that will be unfamiliar to western cooks. Do not be daunted. Manju will show you the way! You don’t have to be an expert to start cooking from this book, but you might be by the end of it.

Manju’s Cookbook by Manju Patel, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£22)

Photography by Clare Winfield © Ryland Peters & Small

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