05 March 2009


One Man’s Attempt to Cook His Way Home
by Hardeep Singh Kohli

Text Publishing Canongate Books. Biographical. Adult Non-Fiction. Hardback rrp $39.95

This is a book that jumped out at me from the shelves. The cover is bright, fascinating and funny and then my eyes went to the title. Hmm. I like Indian food, and I like to cook. Maybe there is a story within the hard brightly coloured, hand drawn covers… perfect for me. And yes, there was.

Kohli is a presenter on the BBC hit programme The One Show, but as I don’t reside in England and have never seen the show, I had no expectations of what Indian Takeaway would be like.

Kohli describes himself as “… a Punjabi Sikh Glaswegian who also feels some empathy with being British. That’s how I feel today, on my way to New Delhi.” The problem with Kohli is he doesn’t really know where his home is. He was born in Scotland of Indian parents. He has spent his life feeling he is torn between two different types of heritage and since he loves to cook – and eat – he thought the best way to help him understand this heritage was to cook English food for Indians in India.

Inside the covers of Indian Takeaway is a wonderful travel guide of India. I have never ventured there but in my mind I have always thought of it as a very busy metropolis, always hot, dusty and dirty. Kohli has instead taken me to some beautiful unexpected places and I haven’t even left my home.

I now want to travel India but, unlike Kohli, I want to taste all the foods he describes when telling of his childhood and his travels throughout India with his father.

This is a travel book, a cook book and a self-discovery book. It is funny, quirky, and, as is always the case when you travel, very interesting. I have learnt a lot about India and now possess the inside information on how to cook the perfect fish and chip! Page 252 if you want to find out! For that secret and so many more, thank you Mr Kohli.

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