Book Review: The Lucknow Cookbook by Chand Sur and Sunita Kohli



ISBN: 978-9386021601

Genre: Non-Fiction / Cookery

Publishers: Aleph Book Company

Price: Rs. 499/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
Behind the Book

Lucknow’s famous Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb—a melding together of influences—is seen in its art, architecture, dance and music. But nowhere is this tehzeeb better represented than in its food, redolent with the tastes of Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan, and infused with the flavours of Sindhi, Parsi, Punjabi, Nawabi, Mughlai and British food.

When Sunita Kohli’s parents, Chand and Inder Prakash Sur, first settled in Lucknow after having to leave Lahore following Partition, they brought with them only the memories of home. In The Lucknow Cookbook Sunita Kohli and Chand Sur bring together the taste and smells of home in these 150 well-loved dishes from their kitchens and from the kitchens of family and friends. These delectable kebabs and soups, biryanis, pulaos and raitas, mutton, chicken and fish dishes, paranthas and rotis, vegetables, sweets and puddings, cocktail snacks, chutneys and pickles are a taste of the fabled Lucknowi tradition of hospitality.

A celebration of the tehzeeb of Lucknow as well as its nazaakat (elegance) the book is also a portrait of the city and its storied history.

About the Author

CHAND SUR was born in 1925 in Bahawalpur, Undivided Punjab, and brought up in Quetta. She is an inventive cook who places great emphasis on nutritious and healthy meals. Her lunch, dinner and tea parties are legendary. She has passed on her love of cooking to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. A voracious reader and an adventurous traveller Chand is deeply interested in other cultures and people.

SUNITA KOHLI is an interior designer, a reputed leader in historical interior architectural restoration and, since 1972, a manufacturer of fine contemporary and classical furniture. She is the first interior designer to be conferred the Padma Shri in 1992. She developed a passion for cooking from her mother and enjoys trying new recipes. Widely travelled, Sunita brings influences from different cultures into her architecture as well as her cooking.

With a mouth watering cover like this, the foodie in me couldn't wait to delve into this treasure trove of recipes the moment I received the book. Like I have mentioned in my previous reviews, I love stories that revolve around food and the secret recipes that go around the family for centuries. Such books always make me feel as if I am a part of an insider circle, a part of the family now. This book was no different.

It starts with a heartwarming narrative which talks about the backdrop including the Partition, the movement of people across the borders for relocation and the memories they brought along. Those memories also included recipes and traditions. Gradually it all amalgamated into one large thing called India now. Accompanied with black and white pictures, this introduction moved me. It is so touching to see how cultures merged and people strive to adapt. I loved the letters shared, known for my love of letters , the ones shared in the book are like a window to a different world altogether. Mysterious, captivating, loving and private, that world is inviting as the author tries to recreate that time in her words.

Neatly divided into different segments like mutton, chicken, potatoes, kebabs, desserts etc the book proceeds to share the various recipes of the famous Lucknowi cuisine. With large photographs next to the next, these delicacies can easily be called an appetizing read. If the names are not enough to tempt, I would strongly recommend you flip through these pictures. They are sure to tickle your taste buds and make you want to gorge on them right now!

I enjoyed the simplicity in each one of them not only in language but also in steps so that a novice like me can also follow them easily. The complicated methods have been broken down into smaller steps just for the sake of clarity and to avoid confusion. Some known, some completely unknown these recipes are a delight. I can't wait to try some of them like steamed yoghurt (dessert), Aamras aur aloo ka salan, Aam Salai (dessert) and anaar ka raita.

This is a perfect gift during this festive season for someone who not only enjoys cooking but also for someone like me who loves knowing about other cultures and food traditions, apart from eating those yummy delicacies!  A recommended read, for all the good, aromatic and delicious reasons.

Foodie Verdict

 This book is like Kesar malai ka doodh - looks simple but is full of surprises.

Source: Archana's Kitchen