4 Inspirational Cookbooks by South Asian Women

Seema Staff

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Pic courtesy: Mae Mu, Unsplash.

Generations upon generations of South Asian women have passed down their culinary traditions, changing the ingredients and methods as they migrated to new lands, acquired new technology, and adapted other culture's methods as their own. The resulting delectable fusion of flavors are as new as they are familiar. And now, thanks to the treasure-trove of South Asian cuisine these four cookbooks offer, the recipes are ours to explore and enjoy.

Each of the female authors has added their flavor to favorite childhood meals from their family homes in places such as India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Using contemporary kitchen appliances, a variety of cooking techniques, and the world of recently accessible spices, their take on tradition is sure to please most palates.

At Home with Madhur Jaffrey

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Madhur Jaffrey

Lauded as the progenitor of Indian cuisine in the Americas, Madhur Jaffrey is an accomplished food writer and actress recognized throughout the world for her deep love and extraordinary knowledge of South Asian cooking.

Jaffrey's debut cookbook, An Invitation to Indian Cooking, was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Cookbook Hall of Fame, and she has since published numerous bestsellers including the beloved At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka: A Cookbook.

This soul-soothing, heartfelt collection of easy-to-follow recipes was born straight from Jaffrey’s childhood in India. The legendary chef displays her personal connection with each and every dish within these pages, whether it be a family staple from her young life in Delhi or an inspirational meal from the beginnings of her culinary career.

Inside this cookbook, readers will find simple dishes that require few ingredients. Jaffrey takes us into her kitchen to create heartwarming meals that can be easily shared with friends and family. From an honest plate of poached eggs over vegetables to fried Sri Lankan fish, each recipe is designed in a way that any home cook can complete with confidence.

Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary, Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook

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Sahara Rose Ketabi

Bridging the ancient holistic systems of Ayurveda with the modern world, Sahara Rose Ketabi has compiled more than 100 contemporary recipes in Eat Feel Fresh with the intent of bringing wellness through the food we eat. Deepak Chopra said, “Sahara Rose is a millennial thought-leader who is taking the torch of Ayurveda and burning it brightly.”

Though Ayurveda methods date to 6,000 BC, the plant-based, gluten-free, and dairy-free recipes in Eat Feel Fresh are crafted with modern palates in mind. Sweet smoothies and fluffy pancakes are just a taste of what the recipes have to offer.

Through this cookbook your repertoire will gain more than a few new dishes. You’ll also learn how to identify which foods are best for your body, and come to understand that your own taste buds can be as powerful as a nutritional tracking app in determining what food is healthy for you.

Summers Under the Tamarind Tree

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Sumayya Usmani

Sumayya Usmani is a Pakistani-born teacher and food writer who showcases her passion for the delicacies of her homeland in Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes and Memories from Pakistan.

More than a simple cookbook, Summers Under the Tamarind Tree tells the stories behind the recipes and their chief ingredients. Usmani entices readers with tales of her childhood and complements the country’s various foods with wonderful musings about Pakistan’s diverse geography and multicultural traditions.

Over 100 recipes harken back to Usmani’s own gleeful youth in the kitchen and fields with her mother and grandmother. Traditional Pakistani meals starring fish, poultry, vegetables, desserts, and drinks fill the pages, with each resplendent dish more mouth-watering than the last.

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen

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Software developer turned food blogger Richa Hingle found her passion for food and cooking while recovering from traumatic brain surgery when food photography “worked a bit like Tai-chi” for her eyes.

In Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen: Traditional and Creative Recipes for the Home Cook, Hingle combines traditional and modern Indian recipes to create an eclectic mix of contemporary dishes. She emphasizes that experimentation and creativity are essential to the evolution of food, and encourages her readers to try new spices or methods whenever they feel creative.

Hingle also provides alternative spice recommendations and food preparation methods whenever possible, often incorporating new kitchen technology and widely available spices. As the cookbook title indicates, all of the included recipes are vegan, and many provide options for removing allergens, soy, and gluten.