Thursday, 10 July 2014

Book Review – Vicky Goes Veg by Vicky Ratnani


'Chaat, to lick, so you know what I mean. Crunchy, healthy and sexy. This is how I look at and interpret today’s eating habits and trends,' says Vicky Ratnani.

Now, I am the kind who calls buttering my bread cooking. My gas cylinder lasts me months, and when my oven is switched on it is to warm food which was cooked to celebrate something special the previous day – say, Messi’s goal, 100,000 hits on the blog, and so on. For all other times, I work up … a meal, somehow! May sound a tad hyperbolic in keeping with my Punjabi roots, but really, this is as close as it gets to my culinary truth. And so, I had to laugh out loud when I was asked to review none other than Vicky’s latest book. I agreed to, but with a rider attached - that I will not furnish my own versions/recipes of any of this Master Chef’s dishes. Because, dear reader, I simply cannot.




About the Book

Vicky Goes Veg’ is vegetarianism made mouth-watering and fun. The dishes hail from all over the world but come with an Indian twist. So you will find Braised Plantain with Thai spices sharing green space with Hing-roasted Pumpkin, Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie, and so on. A lovely mix of countries and ingredients, with pinches of Vicky’s special masala combinations. From salads and soups and party starters, to one-pot meals and sweeties, the book leaves no course unturned. My favourite ones from the collection were - Minted Chickpeas and Crispy Orka, Roasted Red Pepper Soup, Stromboli, Green Chilli and Raw Mango Risotto and Lemon and Basil Panna Cotta.

At your coffee table, you will sit turning the pages and savouring the recipes way beyond the last drop in your mug is consumed, not just because the dishes are interesting for someone who likes cooking vegetarian food but also because the book presents them as nothing less than gorgeous. This is not pocket sized cook book with procedures in black and white. ‘Vicky Goes Veg’ carries some wonderful photographs – be they of Vicky’s well-known-on-TV expressions or of food and ingredients. Each page is designed to delight. What caught my eye the most were pictures 'from the old world subzi mandis to the new vegetable bazaars' and of the 'people behind it'. Vicky believed in turning the limelight on the grass roots even as he cooked roots and grasses in his well-known kitchen. I found this personal touch endearing and one which added character to this compilation.


Apart from the presentation and graphics, the content of the book – the methodology of cooking each dish - is put in a simple, step-by-step manner. The language is more conversational than scientific and dotted with Vicky’s ready wit and homely analogies. The dishes, even to my green eyes, seemed earthy, fuss free and easy to make, enough to give a home-cook-sans-caliber like me confidence to try them. What added to the experience of learning were tiny coloured boxes floating on each page – carrying anything from tips and tricks to trivia from across the world. Even suggestions like 'pass this recipe on to the bhutta wallah – he’ll simply love you for it!' for BBQ Corn with Chilli and Lime Butter. 


About Vicky

If you watch his cookery show on television, you will in part know already what Vicky Ratnani stands for. I find him fun, endearing, casual yet meticulous, super talented and making you believe exactly that about yourself too. In tees and jeans he’ll use hands more than ladles and make you feel at home with his comfortable style of cooking. And, as luck would have it and culinary Gods willed it, I found someone who knew him in person to tell us more about Vicky Ratnani. 


Ramanjeet Singh is a chef at his family's Green Hotel and Restaurant, in Pathankot. Some questions that I mailed him to cash in on this coincidence got the following replies:

Q: How do you know Vicky Ratnani?
I have been a great admirer of Vicky for the last many years and never missed a TV show of his in my life. I met him for the first time through social networking. Gradually, over shared interests and professions, we became good friends. I consider him my professional idol and am glad to have him around as a friend and a guide. 

Q: What sets him apart as a celebrity chef?
Vicky is first a chef and then a celebrity. He loves his job more than the flood lights of fame on him. He is humble beyond measure and it amazes me. It is this that gets reflected in every dish that he creates. They are honest, practical and of course, delicious. 

Q: Do you make Vicky’s signature dishes in your restaurant?
Many. I serve many of Vicky’s creations regularly to serve my customers. Some of the popular ones are Cafe O’ Latte, Chicken Escallops, Sloppy Joe and Mango Pepper Cheese Cake. The last dish is my all-time favourite from his kitchen; that is, till now. He is constantly inventing and I am sure I will have a new favourite soon. 

Q: A secret about Vicky?
He is crazy about Mughlai food. And yes home-made pickles too. That's the way to Vicky's heart!

Vicky Goes Veg’ is one of the better cookbooks on my shelf. For all the reasons mentioned above and also because it's creator won me over with this - 'Don’t watch the calories when you eat. Trust me, these sinful calories are completely worth it. Enjoy your life!'

Now that fits my bill just right!

Title: Vicky Goes Veg
Author: Vicky Ratnani
Publisher: Collins
2013

[Tying this up with WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts. The prompt for today was - Earworm - Write whatever you normally write about, and weave in a book quote, film quote, or song lyric that’s been sticking with you this week.]

28 comments:

  1. He's one of my favorite celeb chefs! Something funny yet adorable about him. Also, his recipes are fuss free and simple to make.
    I'd love to take a closer look at the pics featured in the book here. Looks and sounds interesting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. His recipes are exactly as you describe them.
      It's a pretty book, Vinodini.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  2. I am pretty much like you in the cooking department. But the review does tempt to buy a copy :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pssk ... I can share my favourite ones with you anyway, Ghata. ;)
      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  3. Day to day cooking, totally is not my cup of tea.. I am on auto pilot when I do that. And special / experimenting is just once in a while..Vikky had a good TV show and i liked his continental stuff and the yummy dips. The book definitely sounds like a good buy !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Day to day cooking is not my cup of tea either, because most times I feel it as cumbersome as growing tea and not making it. :P
      I will definitely be trying stuff from this book though. Easy-breezy and ingredients which are readily available.

      Delete
  4. I love his show! He made everything look so simple! would love to take a look at the book too! thanks for the info :)

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  5. I would love to have this book considering I am a foodie and I love to cook. Perhaps, you can come over someday too! :)
    I like the way you've started the blog. "I am the kind who calls buttering my bread cooking". Well, it is called cooking if you just add a little black pepper and salt to it, toast it a bit and serve with ketchup!
    That's my 2AM meal! :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mean to deliver the book, to cook or to eat what you cooked? ;)
      Nothing but the truth up there, Shivangi. Hm, now you have nicely added a couple of extra steps to it. I will not call it a 5-course meal. :D

      Delete
  6. Perfect wedding gift for my cousin who knows absolutely nothing about cooking. The only tip i gave her was follow the recipe and don't experiment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a good book for vegetarian food.
      I knew nothing about cooking before my marriage. It was all about 'Call up your mom and cook as she gives running commentary'. I did make notes in a tiny pad and got them along though. :D

      Delete
  7. I find him funny and have tried his recipes too. So this book is on the cards :)

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  8. hmmm I think i will buy this one as i like to cook and learn new things .. its also because I love EATING and I eat a lot .. and since no one else will make for me I got to entertain myself :)

    this book will surly come handy

    Bikram

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It surely will, B.
      Thanks for stopping by!
      (PS - Please let me know your blog link. I want to read you but don't know where to go!)

      Delete
    2. In case you haven't received it so far: http://mannbikram.wordpress.com

      Delete
    3. No, I had not. Thanks, Pro! :)

      Delete
    4. :) Thank you so much.. glad you got the link Thank you PRO so muchhhhhhhhh :)

      I just read your latest post .. BUT my profile pic is not good looking he he he he I hope you got the hint :) :) :) :)

      Bikram's

      Delete
  9. Will definitely read this as I love vegetarian...good review...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, Shalet.
      Good to see you on my blog! :)

      Delete
  10. I've always admired the chutzpah that he exhibits and specially when it comes to his vegetarian delicacies. This one surely deserves a read. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a book you can keep. It won't bore you even after you have made all the dishes.
      Thanks, Tushar.

      Delete
  11. I rem watching his cookery show on TV, he was always full of energy & gr8 tips :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those tips make their way into the book too. I found them not just useful but interesting too.

      Delete
  12. "Now, I am the kind who calls buttering my bread cooking." That reminds me of a friend who said, "If you call opening a can of baked beans and heating it cooking, I do cook!"

    ‘Vicky Goes Veg’ sounds interesting, but I'll give it a miss. I get many easy recipes from ndtv.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will get lots of recipes there, yes. This is a lovely looking coffee table book which documents food as well as the journey of that lauki from farm to fork.

      I like what your friend said! :D

      Delete

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