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August 2007

Cookbooks for Children

For years I have looked for a colourful, attractive cookbook for children in India, with easy to follow recipes that any child from about 7 years up could follow. Without luck.

I just came across a little book published by Puffin in India called, simply, "Cookbook". and it is an example of all that is wrong with a kids cookbook. Written by Sonia Mansata and published in 2003 , it is illustrated by Sudeepa Ghosh. Strangely enough it has very few Indian recipes. You have Lassi, Aloo Chaat, how to make cumin powder, and a glossary of a few ingredients in Hindi. For the rest most of the recipes are standard chocolate cake, gazpacho soup and such. The illustrations should be larger and should be perfectly clear in their purpose. The ones in the book are more for decorative reasons, looking cute without clarifying any of the steps . The writing can do with an editor ....can you imagine telling a beginner cook to 'slice the eggs neatly"? Puts you off the whole enterprise pretty quickly.
I'm not sure what age group this book is intended for. Several instructions need an adult to interpret them and an adult's help with other fiddly things. The point of a cookbook for children is that they can produce something edible and attractive with  minimum intervention by an adult.

Mary_aldens_cookbook

This book by Mary Alden was my very first cook book. It was perfect. I could follow it without referring to any adult. It opened my eyes to the magic of baking and I spent many a happy afternoon making delicious corn bread which, with the addition of lashings of butter, was polished off at teatime by my hungry siblings. Thanks for the photo Hillary. I remember the book with fondness. Published in 1955...yes!...it was a gift from my mother who knew how valuable it was to me. Books for children were not thick on the ground in the India of my childhood.
Meanwhile  the search for a good cookbook for children  in India continues. Any cook book writer listening?


Has Indian Street Food become history?

Would India be the same without the sights and smells of the street vendor ? A photographic journey winding through the  culinary food pavements (not courts) of the nation seems to suggest they are going, going, gone!