From India

Lovers of Indian food will gravitate to this book because of its wonderful pictures and the immediate impact of the variety and freshness of the recipes. This is not a Punjabu Indian restaurant's menu presented yet again, and we can all sigh with relief at that.

However, this book is more - much more.

Clients of Kumar's Sydney award-winning restaurants, Aki's and Abhi's will recognise many of the recipes as old friends. They're dishes they have eaten and grown to love over the twenty-plus years since Kumar began to show us that there is so much more to Indian food.

But this is a book about love as well.

As a southern Indian, when the time came, his parents consulted an astrologer and his marriage was arranged. In this very personal book, he and his wife Suba share their journey to loving each other dearly and working closely together in their restaurants which are named for their two sons.

As you read, it's apparent that just as important as his strong family bonds is Kumar's love of food and of sharing it with others.

Raised in India, Kumar grew up as a vegetarian (and Suba is still), so he had to make many adjustments to his palate and mindset to accommodate new flavours and textures into his cooking.

Those who have eaten his food will see the talent and skill behind his dishes and marvel at how he has achieved this.

As rich and glowing as a silk sari, this beautiful book is made more fragrant with anecdotes throughout.

"This was my grandma's favourite dessert" he says about a rice pudding recipe using the tropical jackfruit.

Kumar loves sweet things because they have a special meaning for the couple. He met his wife over sweets - pineapple kesari (semolina cake, with its recipe on page 205). It is traditional for the bride's family (remember this was the couple's first meeting!) to serve this dish when meeting the groom and his family.

You could simply read this book for a glimpse of Indian life then and now. There are enough stories and sprinklings of family photographs to keep you captivated - but that would be such a shame, because the authentic recipes are truly magnificent, simply expressed, beautifully illustrated, and for anyone who loves Indian food and cooking) completely irresistible.


From India, by Kumar Mahadevan and Sunba Mahadevan, (photography Mark Roper) published by Murdoch Books, 2013, hardcover.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond

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