J is for Jaffrey

December 2, 2009

I have three Madhur Jaffrey books in my collection, because I love her. She’s precise, but not in a finicky Delia sort of way, her recipes are always accompanied by interesting and informative notes, and they always turn out well. First up is ‘Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery’, a BBC book published to accompany a TV series. My copy was once owned by someone called Barbara Deane. It was first published in 1989, a whole 20 years ago, when you couldn’t find sushi rice or kaffir lime leaves in your local Tesco – pity the poor, ingredient-impoverished inhabitants of 1989.

To today’s reader, the translated recipe titles are sometimes more unusual sounding than the original (fermented bean paste soup with bean curd? Oh, you mean miso), but the book is nevertheless a pretty useful guide: there’s an ingredients glossary and even photos of the ingredients so you can identify them, a techniques section which talks you through cleaning squid and deboning chicken legs, and detailed introductions to the countries featured. It’s fairly ambitious in scope, covering Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea and Japan, but all the favourites are there: pho, yakitori, tom yum, thai green curry, as well as lots of other tasty sounding things which are, apparently, Madhur’s own favourites. And I trust her.

I leave you with this quote from a satisfied Amazon customer: “As a Far Eastern, I have tried to be especially critical of this book. It took me awhile to write the review because I wanted to be ABSOLUTELY certain that I left no stone unturned. But the plain fact of the matter is : I just cannot find anything wrong with this book.”


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