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The Art of Cooking Vegetarian Dishes — Book Review of The Book ‘Vibrant India’

Updated: Apr 17

Original Article was published in my Medium Page

Photograph of the Book, ‘Vibrant India’ by Chitra Agarwal taken from Amazon Kindle

Cooking food is an art. The way a food is cooked with the spices to adorn the Cuisine, adds to the culinary taste of an individual. Spices ornate a food dish. For many of us its effable to write the taste of the deliciousness which our taste buds experience. Most of us at some point of time had the opportunity of doing some cooking ourselves.

The way a food is cooked is also based on local traditions and the type of climatic conditions or geographical terrain, where the food is being cooked. Most of the type of food is based on availability of the type of ingredients those are available in a particular location. For example people who reside high up in the mountains, need to intake diets which require them to heat their bodies. So, if the food contains much of chilies, it helps to keep the body warm.

The book ‘Vibrant India — Fresh vegetable dishes from Bangalore to Brooklyn’ written by Chitra Agrawal is a collection of recipes, where one can learn ways to cook South-Indian Vegetarian Foods with fresh Spices having great health benefits. There is significant difference in the North Indian Dishes, the East Indian Dishes and the South Indian Dishes. Use of Spices like Black Master Seeds, Asafetida, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Saffron, Turmeric and Chiles like Fresh Green Indian chilies etc. forms a key components during cooking of dishes in Southern part of India. These added with Cilantro, Curry leaves, Ginger, Plain Yoghurt etc. is something, which are mostly used in traditional dishes.

These book has lot of information about a variety of South Indian Dishes and is mostly connected with the author’s personal learnings from her mother and grandmother. After reading this book, I tried connecting with my chandler to get the type of Spices which was advised for cooking a particular dish. It was fun.

Sometimes, many people had a doubt in mind as how come a vegetarian food supply proteins. To this the author writes in the book;

‘As a lifelong vegetarian, I have answered many questions from people about where I get my protein & whether I get enough of it in my diet. Though it may not fit into the traditional meat-and-potato model of western cooking, the combination of rice, legumes, vegetables and yoghurt that I grew up eating on a daily basis forms a complete and satisfying meal and is just packed with protein.’ ….
(excerpts taken from the book ‘Vibrant India’ by Chitra Agrawal)

The author has beautifully described the difference between a North Indian Cuisine and a South Indian Cuisine. She said that Garam Masala is one of a key ingredient in the North and Saarina Pudi or Rasam Powder is a key ingredient of the South. The author also said that Amchur, a dried green mango powder is used as a souring agent in some North Indian dishes while Tamarind is mostly used in South Indian cuisines.

Garam Masala is a unique Spice whose use was also heard during the 13th Century, as per some food critics. Garam Masala is taken to be hot but it’s more of a warm blend of various spices which has the capacity to raise the temperature of the body through quick metabolism. Some even say that Garam Masala may have come from Persia to India. But then, I have seldom noticed use of Garam Masala in South Indian Dishes. May be the North Indian people needed to keep their body warm from the Cold in the north which led to more use of this Spice.

This book teaches us to cook many vegetarian dishes starting from my favorite Masala Doshas, Kosambri, Cucumber, Sprouted Mung Bean & Pomegranate salad and many mouthwatering dishes.

The language of writing the book is easy on the vocabulary. Hence many people will not have to open a dictionary regularly, to understand the essence of the statement. One can rejoice on the thought of wonderful dishes, which is likely to crave the brain to smidgen a portion of the food in reality.

If I have to rate the book on 10 stars and 10 being the highest, I will give the book 8 stars.

As per the book, while living in Brooklyn, the author began writing her Food Blog, The ABCDs of Cooking, as a way to document her family recipes and stories.

(Please Note: The above are my own personal thoughts after going through the book. Your views and opinions after reading the book may differ)

Thanks for visiting the Book Review Website:

Thanks and Regards:

Mainak Majumdar, Book Critic

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