The year that was, in cookbooks
2022 was a brilliant year for cookbooks. In terms of quality, range, depth and sheer ‘interestingness’, there was so much talent out there on proud display. So, there, I’ve found it: something positive that can be said for a year that many of us would probably prefer to forget.
But there were books that I’ve enjoyed immensely but didn’t quite have space to include elsewhere, and that have taught me a lot (and fed me well).
One such is Parsi: from Persia to Bombay, the debut book from Farokh Talati, head chef of St John Bread and Wine in London’s Spitalfields. It’s an exploration of Parsi culture and cooking, a satisfying mix of the historic and the contemporary.
There are lots of eggs dishes, classic Parsi recipes such as patri ni macchi (fish cooked in a banana leaf with coriander and coconut chutney) and offal dishes including aleti paleti (chicken livers and gizzards, which is often served at Parsi weddings).
There’s also a recipe for spiced game pie (very St John…) – and Talati’s recipe for keema is easily the best version I’ve ever had.
Another is Ayla, the debut book from chef Santosh Shah, who grew up in Nepal and went on to compete on the BBC’s ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’. Momos aside, the food and cooking of Nepal is pretty much terra incognita to me, and now I want to cook every recipe in this book, starting with kacho kera ko tarkari, a plantain curry from Santosh’s hometown. (I previously had absolutely no idea that plantains were grown in Nepal.)
I also feel privileged to have worked with some amazing authors and publishers this year: Zuza Zak on Pierogi, Angus D. Birditt on A Portrait of British Cheese and Ben Mervis on The British Cookbook among them. It was not a year without its highlights, luckily.
Like many people, though, I’m pretty much over living in ‘interesting times’. My New Year wish? That 2023 will usher in a more peaceful, contemplative time.
Happy reading and happy cooking.