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Cookbook of the year: Tasting India

In a competition first, an Australian chef took home the award for cookbook of the year at a major food publishing event in New York this week for a cookery book that takes readers on a gastronomic journey through India.

books Updated: Apr 04, 2012 07:05 IST

In a competition first, an Australian chef took home the award for cookbook of the year at a major food publishing event in New York this week for a cookery book that takes readers on a gastronomic journey through India.

In addition to taking home the culinary travel award, Christine Manfield’s Tasting India was also singled out from hundreds of other titles as the best of the year at the 26th annual International Association of Culinary Professionals awards night April 2, which recognized the best in English-language food publications.

The title by Manfield, a celebrity chef back in Australia, beat cookery books by other gastronomic heavyweights like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Nathan Myhrvold -- whose culinary encyclopedia Modernist Cuisine has been described as the most important cookbook since Escoffier -- and Jacques Pépin.

Manfield's 448-page hardcover offers 250 recipes collected from the people – mothers, grandmothers, daughters and brothers -- she meets throughout her travels in the country.

Recipes include everything from Bengali garam masala, dal-stuffed pastries, cabbage salad, spiced goat curry, Punjabi spiced chickpeas, and Kingfish steamed in banana leaf.

Along the way, Manfield shares her insights and perceptions of the country that inspired her to pen a book, a country she describes as a living theater, visual feast and gastronomic paradise that seduces visitors with its food and hospitality—and disparities. “It's a land of paradoxes, contradictions and contrasts, of highs and lows, of beauty and despair, of joy and sadness, of wealth and poverty - India has it all in unequal measure," she writes.

Tasting India is Manfield’s sixth cookbook among a string of publications which also take inspiration from strong, punchy flavors like Fire: A World of Flavor, and Spice.

Other big winners of the night include Gilt Taste, which picked up a slew of culinary writing awards as well as the award for Best Culinary or Brand Website. Modernist Cuisine took home the award for best cookbook in the category of Professional Kitchens, in addition to a special 'Visionary Achievement Award.'

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