Book review: World Food Café Vegetarian Bible, by Chris & Carolyn Caldicott, published by Francis Lincoln, £20
Anyone who has dismissed meat-free food as boring should pick up a copy of this new book from husband and wife team Chris and Carolyn Caldicott.
From the vibrant orange and yellow cover to the final double-page spread, this 384-page tome is packed full of colour, culture and life. Even the most cynical critic of a vegetarian lifestyle could not fail to have their spirits lifted by the verve and vivacity which springs from this book.
It's no surprise to discover that Chris Caldicott's background is as the expedition photographer-in-residence at London's Royal Geographical Society, as the book is packed full of the most gorgeous colour images of Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Central and South America, which provided the inspiration for a collection of more than 200 recipes.
Together, Chris and Carolyn, an accomplished cook, collected a host of ideas on their travels which they went on to serve at the World Food Café in London's Covent Garden, which launched in 1991.
While the book features the cuisines of nearly 40 countries, it is not a comprehensive guide to the cooking of the regions covered, but rather a reflection of the dishes enjoyed by the Caldicotts as they journeyed around the globe. Some of the foods are familiar, such as the tabbouleh from the Lebanon and falafel from Egypt, but many more are new to me, such as the East African wilderness sweet potato patties served with a piri piri sauce, or the Indian dish of kichuri, a vegetable rice dish traditionally served with egg curry.
As someone about to embark on a trek in Nepal, the recipe for panch kol, which combines cauliflower, carrots, spinach, peas and radish with a rich garlic and spiced-tomato gravy, sparked my interest.
For readers who cannot live on vegetables alone, several recipes which would traditionally use fish or seafood are usefully highlighted.
This book, which includes a helpful introduction to each country visited, would look equally as good on the coffee table as it would be useful in the kitchen. My preference would be to keep it by the stove as there are a great many recipes here to inspire vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
If you like this you might enjoy these:
- World Food Café: Quick and Easy: Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey, by Chris & Carolyn Caldicott
- The Global Vegetarian Kitchen, by Troth Wells
- Vegetarian, by Alice Hart