Critical review of the book titled “Zaika-Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine”
I was looking for good books on Kashmiri cuisine. At that time, I came across the Hindu Kashmiri cuisine book titled “Zaika-Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine”. I wanted to buy the book online. However, it was a futile attempt for me. The name of the author of this book is Sonya Atal Sapru. Somehow I got her contact info and called her. I told him about my interests in Kashmiri cuisine and my attempts to get my hands on his book. In a very polite way, she added that she had a copy of the book and that she might like to give it to me. Nothing could stop me now from going to her house, meeting her and getting the copy of the book. Finally, she gave me the book with her blessings. It took me almost five years to write the review for his book (I was pretty lazy). I have read it six times so far.
The book is not very thick. The total number of pages is 70. It was published in 1999. It was published by Harper Collins, India. The ISBN is 81-7223-341-8. The cost of the book is Rs.195. The cover page is a photograph with two frames combined – one with the photograph of Kashmiri Puloa and fennel seeds and the second is the photograph of a typical Kashmiri Pandit woman wearing a sari with a full blouse, jewelry typical of Kashmir with the characteristic long chain jhumkas and handmade fan in his hands. The back of the book is the stunning photograph of the author with her child on her lap. The author claims the authenticity of the authenticity of the recipes shared in the book. She thanked her mother-in-law -Smt.Gita Sapru- for her help and guidance.
The book has been divided into six sections and they are as follows:
A. How to plan a Kashmiri Meal (original contribution)? There are a total of four ways to set the menu for the day.
b. Kashmiri Garam masala (discussed separately throughout the book)
vs. 16 non-vegetarian recipes
d. 12 vegetarian recipes
e. 5 dals and 4 rice dishes
F. 2 Chutneys, 2 Raïtas and 4 Desserts
The strengths of the book are:
1. There are a good number of rare and unique family photographs exhibited in the book. These are old and black and white in color indicating the period in which they were clicked and shared not only with future family members; however, with every reader of the book. They are rich in showcasing the culture of the Kashmiri Pandit families. The author specifies “portrait of an ancestor and found in an old chest of photographs”.
2. The author has taken the time to mention the total number of servings, preparation time and cooking time for each recipe in the book.
3. She explained each recipe in simple English.
4. The manner in which she thanks her family members for their contribution to the publication of the book.
5. The best recipes are: mutton cooked in milk with green almonds, liver cooked in sour curd (khatti kaleji), meat cooked in plums (passande dum stuffed), mutton cooked in coriander powder (dhania ka shufta), jackfruit skewers (kathal kababs), fried pieces of lotus stem (nadru ki kurkuri), colacassia cooked in sour milk (khatti arvi), sour lentils (khatti arhar dal), a mix of vegetable biryani (sarvari), baria, kishmish raita and meethe chawal.
The weak points of the book are:
1. Very few recipes were shared and featured in the book.
2. Festive recipes are missing from the book.
Overall, the book is small and has few pages. It features the recipes and their contributors. The book is a blend of recipes and culture of Kashmiri Pandits illustrated by the rich and detailed photographs of the author’s family.