Our London Cookbook Club met last month for its last meeting before summer, when London empties out and becomes a delightfully empty and gorgeous city for locals and a sweat-streaked nightmare for tourists from around the world. This time, we journeyed virtually to the streets of India with Meera Sodha’s Made in India. Meera Sodha is a food personality here in the UK, with numerous cookbooks and television appearances under her belt.
Have you ever heard of a Cookbook Club? It’s basically a book club that meets to chat about a cookbook, but instead of talking about themes or motifs, we all bring dishes that we’ve made from the selected cookbook’s recipes. That way, we all get to try a bunch of dishes at once from the same cookbook without having to cook all of the recipes ourselves!
Made in India Recap
At this month’s meeting, we had a full house. In total, members made 18 recipes ranging from a spicy, tangy garlic pickle to a hearty paneer (Indian cheese) with spinach simmered in tomato sauce. Our meetings are always family friendly, which means that kids come along to dive in and try the food right along with the adults. As a result, many of our member cooks made their dishes milder to account for young palates, but the recipes from Made in India held up well with plenty of flavorful spices.
Our members all agreed that having a Cookbook Club motivates us to try our hand at a range of recipes, including handmade naan (flatbreads) and chapattis (whole wheat savory pancake-like breads). A version of homemade bread is almost always a fixture no matter where the country or cuisine, and there really is nothing like a ripping a fluffy, chewy piece of bread to mop up the remnants of a flavorful gravy or sauce.
So How Do I Start a Cookbook Club?
If you’re thinking of starting your own cookbook club but not sure how to kick things off, it’s easy! I started out by inviting a few of my fellow foodie friends to my house on a day that worked for most. It’s a good idea to e-mail out a Google spreadsheet to sign up for dishes just so no one duplicates efforts. As the host, I always try to prepare 2-4 recipes so that there’s enough food to feed hungry (ahem, growing teenage) bellies.
To make hosting easier, I use paper plates and utensils for serving. The focus is on the food, and frequently members will bring both sweet and savory dishes, making having multiple plates necessary for sampling and eating. I also make sure to have a copy of the cookbook available for us to review and refer back to recipes during our meeting for those moments when someone inevitably exlaims, “This _____ is SOOOO good! I need to know what’s in this RIGHT NOW.”
I also tell our members that if they arrive early enough, I’ll photograph their dishes for this blog. I think it’s a nice way to recognize the beautiful efforts that went into preparing all of these amazing foods.
So what do you think? Will you be starting a cookbook club anytime soon?
For recaps on other London Cookbook Club meetings, check these out:
- Chapter 1: The Really Quite Good British Cookbook
- Chapter 2: Persiana
- Chapter 3: Ceviche
- Chapter 4: Tartine
- Chapter 5: Tasting Georgia
- Chapter 6: Chicken and Rice