Go global and whet your appetite with exotic grub.

Copyofstr2_cookbookfeb17_abirami_1~1Zen Kitchen: Easy Japanese Recipes for Home Cooks

Author: Adam Liaw
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Price: RM139.90

Adam Liaw is not Japanese (he’s a Penang-born Chinese, actually) but this Masterchef Australia winner’s latest cookbook is on the cuisine because he makes Japanese food a lot at home. That could be because his wife is from the Land of the Rising Sun but he also says it’s because Japanese home-cooking is easy to prepare.

Unlike its restaurant offerings, Japanese home food is not at all intimidating. Liaw’s step-by-step instructions and explanations of Japanese food philosophy make Zen Kitchen an accessible introduction. Readers only need to get some basic ingredients to get started on Liaw’s Japanese home dishes which are healthy and easy to prepare.

With a homecooking book, the test is in trying out the recipes. I tried his aubergine and green capsicum stir-fried with miso dish. The dish didn’t look as good as the photo in the book but it was a tasty combination. I also liked his salad dressing recipes – Liaw has a video tutorial on his website and it’s as easy as he makes them out to be.

So, if you are keen to explore Japanese homecooking, it’s a good book to follow. – Ivy Soon

Copyofstr2_cookbookfeb17_abirami_2Grape Olive Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture

Author: Matt Goulding
Publisher: HarperCollins
Price: RM143.90

This fascinating book traces the ins and outs of Spain’s famed food culture, based on the author’s varied travels around the country.

Goulding is an American who fell in love with Spain (and eventually a Spaniard as well). He has lived in the country for six years now and his appreciation for the food of his adopted homeland continues to grow.

His gastronomic anecdotes are ripe with flavour and verve, from the tale of his first date with his wife Laura at the famed El Bulli to his entertaining narrative about the lives of iberico pigs, to his precise formula for the perfect paella.

The book is divided into chapters about different cities such as Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid, but each chapter reads more like epistles about Goulding’s observations and exploits, rather than a what-to-eat guide.

So you’ll find yourself drawn into the lives of pig breeders and chefs, fishermen and bakers, all of whom serve to flavour and nuance Goulding’s in-depth anthropology of Spain’s culinary scene.

In the end, you’ll come away from this experience – and yes, reading the book is an experience – enthralled, mesmerised and raring to head to Spain for a slice of what Goulding is selling. – Abirami Durai

str2_cookbookfeb17_abirami_1Taste Of Persia

Author: Naomi Duguid
Publisher: Artisan
Price: RM150.00

Every kid learns of Persia through tales of the Arabian Nights. So the mint oil and saffron water of the region are forever tinged with a bit of myth and magic.

Once the biggest kingdom of its time, Persia is part of modern day Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kurdistan.

This book is a fascinating journey into the belly of the Persian kingdom between spoonfuls of herbed yoghurt soup, mouthfuls of crusty Persian rice, lamb kebab, walnut paste and peach compote.

In Georgia, Duguid landed in a cheese and bread paradise and learnt how to make khachapuri, flatbread filled with cheese.

In Armenia, she shared their frustrations of having to live with Armenian coffee being called “Turkish coffee” by others.

In the mountains in Iran, she encountered nomads and the sheep head and shank stew, kaleh poche.

Across the region, the cuisine segues across borders; recipes use a lot of spices, herbs, walnuts, cheese, meat, vegetables like beans, eggplant, cucumber and tomato, and dried fruits.

Soups are glorified the most, with an envious variety including dried apricot soup with wheat berries, and pomegranate ash with meatballs.

Photographs dance on the pages, bringing to life the dishes, ingredients, places Duguid had visited, their culture, and the people living their everyday existence.

Each recipes has an introduction to the dish, and sometimes a little snippet of what she experienced or what history she knows. Taste Of Persia is part cookbook, guide and travel journal to places once in the kingdom of Persia. – Asper Goh

Copyofstr2_cookbookfeb2017_abirami_1Life In Balance: A Fresher Approach To Eating

Author: Donna Hay
Publisher: Fourth Estate/HarperCollins
Price: RM189.98

THE new Donna Hay is slimmer by three dress sizes, and she wasn’t even on a diet – “I’m not a diet kind of girl,” she says in the book. The secret is to find a balance with the everyday feel-good recipes she’s sharing in this book.

It’s all about the new healthy eating embracing the so-called superfoods and on-trend ingredients: kale, watercress, cauliflower, quinoa, chia seeds, coconut milk and oil, tofu, raw cocoa, ancient and whole grains, etc.

White flour has been banished; the new pie has a crust made of wholemeal and spelt flour, and phsyllium husk.

If a crispy crust is called for, it’s not your usual panko or white flour, but there will be quinoa flakes, chia seeds or puffed amaranth snucked in.

The book captures the essence of modern food by using trendy and healthy ingredients and also combining vogue and virtuosity with ethnic cuisines.

Vietnamese rice paper roll is filled with freekeh, avocado, cucumber and pink radish.

The new “green curry” gets its green from a herb and green chilli paste cooked in coconut milk and coconut water.

If like me, you wish to cut down on meat and carbs, and eat more exciting greens and healthy grains, you will find plenty of inspiration between the covers – this book has moved from my bookshelf into the kitchen. ­– Jean Michel Fraisse