Friday, November 22, 2013

Cookbook Review: World Vegetarian

Remember me? The one who promised to post a few recipes a few weeks back? The Lord had other plans for me than spending time on this little blog. I haven't forgotten about those recipes, but I first want to review a cookbook I've been enjoying--before I have to take it back to the library.

World Vegetarian: More than 650 meatless recipes from around the world
Madhur Jaffrey
Clarkson Potter, 2002

Whether or not you're a vegetarian (or vegan), if you enjoy vegetables, it's worth checking out and/or owning a few vegetarian cookbooks. There are so many interesting recipes for vegetables in them that you can easily make into a side dish for meat lovers (or add meat to--as in a stir fry--if need be). We enjoy lots of meatless meals, and we enjoy ethnic food. World Vegetarian was a win-win.

My library copy has lost the first 20 pages or so, so I don't even have a table of contents or the introduction to look at. So I can't speak to philosophy and organization as much. That being said, the index in this book is excellent, even including headings for countries represented. The majority of the book is Asian, Indian, or Middle Eastern in inspiration; there are a few Mexican, South American, African, and European recipes thrown in as well.

Jaffrey includes great information on specific vegetables in the "Vegetables" section, describing how to buy, store, and prepare (the basics). She also includes a small intro to each recipe, a feature I always enjoy. Many times she gives an extra preparation note or tells what the particular recipe would work well with.

One "test" I have for vegetarian cookbooks is the number of meat-substitute recipes they include and/or the number of heavy dairy recipes they include. This passes on both accounts. Because the recipes are ethnic in origin, they are not mere attempts to replace the standard "meat and potatoes" fare with "tempeh and potatoes." Instead, there are simply lots of plant-friendly recipes. There are definitely egg- and dairy-based recipes, but they are an appropriate number given the sheer size of the book.

I have only tried a small fraction of the actual recipes, but the ones I've tried have been outstanding! Even my kids ate the stir-fried bean sprouts. Impressive. If I were to buy this book, I'd have to give another cookbook the boot since my shelf is overflowing. But I've enjoyed it enough that I've actually been eying its competitors lurking on my shelf. It might be worth it.

To sum up: it's a great choice for those who, like me, enjoy vegetables and ethnic fare. In particular, when you belong to a CSA or have a garden, it's nice to have extra ways to prep some veggies when they're in season and you have exhausted your usual repertoire.

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