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So, there were 15 people.

We drew names at random.

That means everybody drew the name of one person who they’re supposed to send a gift to. And the recipient didn’t know who they were going to get a book from.

But instead of the gifts being completely random, each of us made a list of FIVE cookbooks (or books around food though not necessarily containing recipes). Our “Santa” could, then, pick one or more from the list (we had an upper limit on the amount one could spend on buying the gift).


I’ve been part of Secret Santa lists and gift-giving shenanigans for YEARS now. It’s a happy exercise. As someone who LOVES putting in effort to pack a gift well (handmade paper, maybe a box with some bits and bobs that make up a goody box/bag, a handwritten note, things that the recipient might personally connect with and genuinely appreciate), it can be a little disappointing when you receive a gift that seems far from it. You’re not going to express your disappointment, because let’s face it - you’re an adult, you know better than to react badly at something that was seemingly done with good intentions. And the flip side, of course, is getting a gift that you didn’t quite expect you’d get but you’d wanted ever so bad!


We just tried to do the best we could within this framework - the idea of knowing what a person likes, but leaving that teensy element of surprise in him/her not knowing what exactly he/she’d get. All of us got some pretty great books, I won’t lie. Some of us even sent goodies along with the books, just for the fun of it - a bottle of hot sauce, a jar of exotic spice, a food magnet, a hand-crocheted tea cosie.


It was nice. And everybody had fun. So I’m very glad the “restricted” format worked well and was appreciated by all.


AND I got two books that'd been on my wishlist for MONTHS and I'd thought of getting myself for my birthday (in January)! HAHA!





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I suck at many things. Cooking food is not one of them (or so I hope).

But keeping this website updated definitely is.

As is sending out timely newsletters - the last one I sent was in Jan 2023 - exactly when I last updated this space.

It’s always something I know I should do but never feel like getting around to doing - so I procrastinate - to the point where it’s just meaningless.

Come a fresh year, the thought resurfaces.


But then, I know that last year was complete madness in terms of my work life. So yeah, life WAS work life. And that’s never a good thing.


Things should be different this year.


I spent the first few months of this year moping, stressing a little, looking for a new job, all that. And now that I’ve (seemingly) settled in, I think I should be able to find the time to give the website the attention it needs (the newsletter as well, hopefully - but hey, one thing at a time, perhaps).


What happened in 2023?





We started cooking out of all books an author/chef has instead of just one. We hoped that would help us cook better because we had access to that many more recipes. But then, that’s what the drawback also was. Often times, there were too many books. And too many options. Some of us sifted through all the books at the beginning of the month and made a mental pick. And just cooked from that one book through the month.


About 6 months in, it didn’t seem to be working as well as we thought it would. So we came back to doing only a book a month.


That said, we DID do two books in February earlier this year, but the reasons for that we quite different (I’ll probably touch upon them/it in another post).


Here’s what 2023 was about:

Month

Author

Book(s)


January

Maangchi

-all-


February

Fuchsia Dunlop

-all-

March

Saee Koranne Khandekar

-all-


April

David Lebovitz

-all-


May

Brendan Pang

-all-


June

Vicki Bennison

Pasta Grannies (both)


July

Kwoklyn Wan

The Complete Chinese Takeaway Cookbook (primarily this one, but a few people cooked recipes from his other books too)


August

Karan Gokani

Hoppers


September

Luke Nguyen

-all-


October

Ixta Belfrage

Mezcla


November

Shamil and Kavi Thakrar (and others)

Dishoom

we’d done this book way back in 2020 as well - it was something folks loved cooking from them, it was loved even more this time around!

December

Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley

Falastin

it was our way of showing solidarity - a hope that things would get better with the beginning of 2024 - here we are - it enrages me, it should enrage everybody.

I thought I’d put some pictures from the Instagram feed to show all the fun things we cooked through the year - but scrolling over a few hundred posts, finding the right ones going all the way back until Jan 2023 (given that we’re in May 2024) wasn’t quite the smartest thing to do. So you can go to our Instagram page and check things out from way long ago if you must, haha!


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Updated: 19 hours ago

The last I updated this space was May 2021. We're in January 2023 right now.

Not to say the cookbook club hasn't been active. It has! More active than ever!

It's just that I stopped updating this space after a while.


And I think it's about time I change that now.


What I can assure you is that our space on Instagram is always updated. Anyway, I should and I will update the website every few months.


So, let's go over everything that's happened since May 2021.


What books did we cook out of? How did our experiences cooking out of these books fare?

There was a good amount of Asian food (no brainer, there)

  • Asia Express

  • Bowls and Broths

  • Rangoon Sisters

  • Asian Dumplings

And several books that covered regional Indian cuisine:

  • The Essential Konkan Cookbook

  • Cuisine from Coorg

  • Daastan e Dastarkhwan

  • Bene Appetit

  • Paachakam

And, of course, there were a whole lot of other books as well.


In terms of how enthusiastically these books were received overall:

  • Selina Periampillai's The Island Kitchen had us cooking the most out of it.

  • The Incredible Spicemen by Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh came a close second.

  • Parwana by Durkhani Ayubi did pretty darn well too.

  • Folks enjoyed cooking out of Rangoon Sisters, Asia Express, Daastan-e-Dastarkhwan and Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love too.

There was a post on every day of the month (barring a day or three left out) for each of these.


Through 2023, we're hoping to do things a little differently. Continue cooking out of books, yes. But just a teensy twist on how we pick the book/s.


Sometimes there are on-time authors whose books we love. Sometimes there are chefs, with a half dozen (or so... or even more) books where we're such big fans of the chefs, we'd be happy to cook out of any of their books. So, we decided to pick chefs/bloggers/youtubers who we really like and profile all of their books in a single month. You'll see just what I mean when I put out our selection for January 2023!




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