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Nik Sharma’s New Indian Cookbook Breaks All the Rules

Seriously, try the caprese and popcorn chicken.

Right from the outset, Nik Sharma tells us that his debut cookbook, Season, isn’t a “traditional Indian cookbook”—or what most readers might think of as an Indian cookbook at all, really, even if the spices of his childhood in Mumbai are one of its main reference points. Released in October by Chronicle, the book doesn’t include a single recipe for anything that might rightly be described as an Indian curry. There is, however, curry-leaf popcorn chicken, a recipe inspired in part by the author’s husband, who hails from the American South. There’s a reimagined caprese salad, dressed with tamarind and jaggery. And there is a recipe for the delicately spiced turkey-and-mushroom hand pies Sharma used to buy from a local Goan bakery when he was in high school.

These are deeply personal, boldly seasoned dishes that speak to the author’s journey as a food writer and an immigrant who straddles two cultures, and whose curiosity and knack for culinary experimentation come across on every page. Sharma, who’s best known for his blog, A Brown Table, might be an even better photographer than he is a cook, and the high points of Season are the gorgeous food photos shot in his trademark style, against black backdrops—images that the food writer John Birdsall compares, in his foreword to the book, to 17th-century Italian still life paintings.

 

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco 

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