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My Bombay Kitchen

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My Bombay Kitchen. Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking. By Niloufer Ichaporia King. Foreword by Alice Waters. (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2007. Pg. 384. 8 b&w Photographs, 50 Line Illustrations, l Map.) ISBN 13: 978-0-520-24960-8.

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - June 4, 2007

The Parsi's are a people descendant from adherents of Zoroastrianism who fled to India, from Persia, after the fall of the Sassanian Empire. These early Parsi settled in Sanjan, and adopted Gujarati as their native tongue, a language that they still speak toady. In My Bombay Kitchen: Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking, Niloufer Ichaporia King not only offers up 165 mouth-watering recipes, but also provides a fascinating glimpse into Parsi history and culture, as well as the history of King's own family.

Paris cooking has strong Persian overtones, seasoned with Indian and European flavors. The recipes in My Bombay Kitchen are accompanied by detailed instructions that will enable even novice cooks to successfully make these delightful dishes. As for the ingredients, most of the recipes call for easy to find items. However, some do call for some more exotic items such as husked split pigeon peas. Don't fret, King includes several alternatives for such items, such as, in this case, you can also use red lentils or mung beans.

Most of the recipes in this collection are preceded by an informative introduction that explains some aspect of the recipe, such as its history, cooking tips, or an idea of what the finished product should taste or look like. King has also included a handy selection of sample menus that will enable you to plan your own Parsi-styled meals, for your family, or for your next gathering.

The recipes themselves are organized into eleven thematic sections covering: There is also a twelfth section that deals with basic cooking techniques associated with Parsi cooking, the equipment you'll need, an intriguing glimpse at what a typical Indian kitchen is like and how it is used. This section also includes a selection of recipes for basic ingredients, such as Khana Jiru (a mix of spices), which are commonly used in Parsi cooking.

If you are a cook looking to expand your repertoire, a fan of reading cookbooks, or a social historian looking for some background information on Parsi culture - you can't go wrong with My Bombay Kitchen! The recipes in this collection run from the sublime to the exotic, and you will be hard pressed not to discover several new favorites that you will find it impossible to do without.

Here is an example of the range of recipes that you find in this fascinating cookbook:
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