Now click here to enjoy the film
We are in the kitchen with Mridu Thanki to taste a meal from her first cookery book, Feasts of India. On a cold Edinburgh day there are tantalising warm spicy smells coming from the pan and we are getting hungry. But it isn’t time to eat yet. While Mridu lines up red peppers, green coriander and creamy button mushrooms we are trying to capture the moment on film – hoping tummies do not rumble above the sound of sizzling onions, cumin and chillies.
Mridu seems undaunted by the cameras. (You have to remember that as a founder member of the World Kitchen in Leith she served delicious courgettes in tandoori masala during torrential rain at Leith Festival in June this year.) Her infectious enthusiasm for food overcomes most obstacles. “I love food, I love cooking food and I love feeding family and friends,” she explains in her introduction.
Friends and family love her cooking too. “Why don’t you write the recipes down for us?” they ask and that is how she comes to write a book which she says has been 40 years in the making. After all, cookery books were not part of her family tradition. As a child growing up in North India Mridu learned by watching and copying her mother and grandmother, absorbing the feel, colours and aromas of recipes which had been handed down for generations. As a mother bringing up two children in Britain she enjoyed experimenting with new flavours and ideas gained from her travels.
Now, adding a pinch of salt to the pan ( “to draw liquid from the mushrooms”) she describes how the idea for the book finally took shape in 1997 when she was running cookery classes for women in Latvia and sending recipes home to her daughter Priya and son Rahul.
The result is Feasts of India which is being launched at McDonald Road Library on Saturday 12th December at 12 pm. Beautifully illustrated by Sandra de Matos and designed by Calum Ross, it has the look and feel of a handcrafted book and the friendly conversational tone of a natural cook who simply wants to share the vegetarian recipes that she enjoys cooking. Like the delicious creamy mushroom dish we tucked into – along with the rest of the meal Mridu prepared earlier to demonstrate the nutritional balance of an Indian meal: black eyed beans with okra, white rice fragrant with whole spice, beetroot salad and minty raita of yoghurt and cucumber.
And the film? Well, that is on its way and will be nicely cooked by the beginning of January when fresh, healthy vegetarian food will be exactly what the doctor ordered. We will make sure you are the first to join us ‘in Mridu’s kitchen’. Pardon any rumbles!
illustrations by Sandra de Matos
FEASTS OF INDIA is published by Jaggnath
£17.99 + £2.00 PP
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