Book Review: Cosmopolitan Vikas Khanna's Flavors First
An intriguing book for Indian cooking novices and aficionados who want to infuse Indian cuisine with Western tastes.
If you are looking for traditional Indian recipes, then take a detour.
This tall, dark and handsome Chef has the right recipe to attract Western foodies to Indian cooking.
With the Golden Temple in his heart Vikas Khanna has whipped up recipes for Presidents and celebrities; gaining tremendous popularity in just one short decade. Khanna’s new book, Flavors First, was recently launched in India by the food critic Vir Sanghvi. But that isn't why Flavors First caught our attention.
In Flavors First, Vikas Khanna discusses Western food in the Indian context. The recipes are proof of the culinary and personal journey of a simple chef from Amritsar who went on to live the American dream; it is also a collaboration with ‘creative cooks from around the world.’ The name of the book arises from Khanna's belief that the human spirit needs nourishment, and so does the food, by adding flavors first. He welcomes readers into this soul stirring journey of Indian food traditions mixed with exciting new ingredients and methods. So if you are apprehensive about Indian cooking and all the spices are a mystery to you, then Vikas Khanna demystefies traditional Indian recipes and writes them anew in a contemporary and novice-friendly style.
Original book price: Rs. 995
Online Book Stores:
HomeShop18: Rs. 597
Flipkart: Rs. 746
Bookadda: Rs. 774
Crossword: Rs. 995
Many know of Vikas Khanna's trials and experiences in the Big Apple, but his cullinary journey truly began in India; more specifically, from his grandmother, transforming the family catering service and taking it to new heights. Since then, Vikas Khanna has turned heads and has made American and Indian chefs sit up and take notice. He has appeared on MasterChef India and made several guest appearances on television; his cookery books have opened Western minds to Indian cooking. An advocate for food and taste universality, his favourite dishes are those that integrate flavours from different regions in India.
But it's not just a recipe book, Khanna serves each dish with a story. He weaves in the dish's history and his adaptation. The presentation of the book is easy on the eyes and mind; the ingredients and the methods are well laid out. The staccato style presents a clear cut method, which is excellent for a fresher in Indian cuisine. With a foreword by the iconic Gordon Ramsay, the book opens up to a rainbow of Indian spices. If you don’t know what a spice looks like or you don’t know the English translation of a spice, this is the book to read.
The book devotes sections to every aspect of Indian food. There are recipes for starters, rice dishes, breads, legumes, soups, salads, vegetables, poultry, meats, seafood, desserts and drinks. Khanna even makes a special mention of the importance of these sections in his life. But if personal flavor isn't your cup of tea, then note that each section also portrays the larger picture of the Indian way of life.
Flavors First is mostly directed to a Western audience; the ingredients may be easily available in India but there are some dishes that need lavender leaves, Riesling white wine, cremini mushrooms, spinach onions and Brussel sprouts - ingredients that are tough to find even in the most progressive neighbourhoods in Indian cities.
If I had to pick some dishes, I would definitely try out the Tangy Fruit Salad, followed by the succulent-looking Rubin Museum’s Curry Crusted Chicken or simply Bhattiwala Murg - grilled chicken with a rich, tangy taste. On a hot day, a Frozen Guava Spritzer with Lime Juice would be refreshing. Among desserts, the most exotic would be Chai-Infused Crème Brulee but Mango and Orange Mousse with Pomegranate is my favourite.
Through his writing, Vikas Khanna comes across as a humble boy from Amritsar who dared to dream big. He portrays this humility and love for Indian cuisine to perfection, and it takes just a few pages to realise that there's more to this chef than his charming smile. If you want to try something different this evening and are feeling adventurous, then we say go ahead and buy Vikas Khanna's Flavors First. And keep an open mind. We love Curtis Stone as well, but after reading this book, we've decided that Vikas Khanna is our take home chef for the month.
Flavors First is is exclusively marketed and distributed by Om Books International in India.