Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Cooking with my Indian Mother-in-law" - Review

When I do not get time to visit the library, I just browse through their web catalog and order the books online. One such day, I noticed a new book "Cooking with my Indian Mother-in-law". Without even reading the details, I ordered the book, thinking it's a joint venture of mother-in-law & daughter-in-law team. How interesting, I thought. But when the book arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to read it was actually mother-in-law & son-in-law team. Mrs. Roshan Hirani a.k.a. Rose and her British son-in-law, Mr. Simon Daley have written this beautiful book which represents traditional Bohri cuisine.

Mrs. Hirani in Indian Bohri muslim with roots in Africa. Her recipes are simple. The son-in-law claims that he fell in love with his co-worker (now his wife) who used to bring delicious food made by Mrs. Hirani. and thus this culinary journey began.

Due to their Bohri heritage (as they speak Gujarati), some names were very familiar and the methods (pounding garlic with salt) are quite similar to that of my own MIL. But I can't imagine any non-vegetarian preparation in my MIL's kitchen. So when I read the fish, chicken recipes with Gujarati names, I giggled. Even some vegetarian recipes have very unique name like posho nu shaak for green beans stir fry (we call it fansi in Gujarati at our home) or janjara nu shaak for Rajma.

Just the way recipes differ from home to home, the simple dhoklas and handvos made in our home are different than those mentioned in the book. But we all know that "traditional" food really changes from family to family.

I also loved the photos with Mrs Hirani's beautiful dress in the background.

Some of the recipes that I have tried so far -

Chora nu saak - Our chora nu shaak always has red pumpkin in it and we make it on the auspicious days like new year. Thus we call it "Sukun nu shaak". But Mrs. Hirani's version was different with onion & tomatoes, but it was delicious nonetheless!


Janjara nu saak - I didn't know rajma is called janjaru in Gujarati. I learn something new every day.


Soneya nu saak - I really giggled when I heard this name for prawns. Non-vegetarian food is a strict no-no in my MIL's kitchen. So the name soneyu for prawns was totally different for me. In Parsi Gujarati, they call "kolmi" which is similar sounding to Marathi kolmbi. So this sonyu was totally a new discovery. :-D


Kaarela nu saak - Onion-tomatoes add a different flavor to this curry. Mr. Daley invites you to try it if you love strident flavors.



Spinach and red pumpkin was totally a new combination for me. Worth a try.

Peas pulao - Green peas, eggs, and rice make this dish very tasty. I loved their step by step pictures too. I added more veggies than just green peas.

Check out the book to understand the secrets from the Bohri kitchen. Check it out also for a wonderful culinary tribute to a mother-in-law from her son in law.

Update - A reader, Naina shares the origin of the words posho and janjaro which are in fact, Swahili words.
She says -
"Hi. I too have this book. The words 'posho' and 'janjaro' are in fact swahili words. Swahili is spoken in Uganda and Kenya (E. Africa) where a lot of Indians come from (including myself). Quite a lot of swahili words have become incorporated into our spoken gujarati."
Thanks Naina for sharing this information.

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