Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pragmatic Cook Book Review 1 & 2

When you walk into the cooking section in a book store, you are first greeted by a whole wall of cookery and baking books. I always feel drowned by the choices laid out for me. It also makes me nervous and I fear that I pick up the wrong books. Finally ending up with a book that I hardly open and instead collects dust on my shelf. What I do when I go out to purchase myself a book I use myself practice theory,  the "Pragmatic Cook Book Theory". The first question I ask myself before I pick up a book from the cooking section is how "pragmatic" is the book for me?

So, I've decided to compile a list of reasons to consider before purchasing that book. I have used this technique on myself countless time before I purchase yet another book for my kitchen. Lets begin with REASON 1 & 2 for this week and I shall update next week with REASON 3 & 4.


I think everyone will agree, flavour is everything (apart from texture) when it comes to cooking. How do you find out the chemistry between ingredients with out wasting time and ingredients? This book here is your answer, The Flavour Thesaurus

This thesaurus is basically a chemistry book that matches all the most common ingredients you can find in the kitchen. For example, it gives you what ingredients are well suited with chocolate, citrus, fish and they even mention belacan into this book. Which I think is grand because belacan is not a very versatile ingredient as it really only caters to Asian recipes.
Lets not forget the design of this book! The author has classified each ingredient into a colour spectrum to give visual reference to the ingredients. So, for citrus like flavours are classified under the yellow streak and earth like ingredients are in the maroon coloured section. 

I would recommend this book to anyone because the matching of flavours is not restricted to only western dishes, it also matches Asian type ingredients for your taste buds. It also contains short recipes and handy tips for you to use around the kitchen. 

2. HOME COOKED (avoid hyped/celebrity chefs if you can)
For my local recipes, I usually get them from my family, whether it is my mom, dad, grandma, aunties, uncles, random makciks at the market so every time the share me a recipe I just note it down. One of the many reasons why I rarely purchase any local recipe books is really because of the hype that surrounds the chef that writes the recipe and their choice of ingredients which usually bastardises Malay food.

But this book is an exception for me, because I  love food from the northern part of Peninsular of Malaysia, I found that the recipe in this book is an A+, A Taste of Batu Gajah, Traditional Malays family Recipes. 

I purchased this book based on two recipes in the book, the Ikan Kembung Assam Rebus recipe and Nasi Goreng Batu Gajah. These are the two dishes that I love having at home and to find that the recipes use the exact same ingredients my grandma and mother-in-law uses, I can  be sure that all the other recipes inside this book are as honest and literally is the home cooked version of the recipe! If you are a novice in the field of home cooked Malay food. This book is most definitely a must have on your shelf.

If you have books you feel have been helpful for you in your kitchen, share it with us here at C.I.B., email it to cookinginbatches(at) Come by next week to check out REASON 3 & 4 of my "Pragmatic Cook Book Theory" and I will also share with you what other cook books I have on my bookshelf. 

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