On the Curry Trail: Chasing the Flavor That Seduced the World

Workman. Feb. 2023. 208p. ISBN 9781523511211. $30. COOKING
Culinary educator, food entrepreneur, and James Beard Award nominee Iyer (Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked—and Fried, Too!) proffers his latest cookbook of Indian-rooted fare, this one specific to curries, which he describes as “saucy, brothy, gravy-rich, and stewy dishes.” It begins with an enlightening history explaining the evolution of curry and its global reach, which, Iyer concludes, resulted more from migration than from the spice trade; as people moved, curry flavors and techniques transformed to fit the regions where they settled. Iyer further makes this point with maps (labeled with recipes from the book) depicting how curry has traveled. Chapters are divided by continent, and each of the 50 recipes is identified by the country where it’s most commonly found. Recipes are preceded by one-page introductory essays including origin, anecdotes, and more. Instructions are clear, and copious helpful tips are also on offer. The illustrations, while attractive, don’t quite stimulate the appetite as photographs of the dishes might. Overall, this is a thoughtful work showcasing the diaspora of a dynamic flavor.
VERDICT Recommended for readers who want not only to make curry from a variety of cultures but also to understand the scope of this far-reaching fare.
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