Sunday, August 11, 2019

East - Meera Sodha

Blackberries are ripening on the hedges, and in a few short weeks (on September 5th to be precise) half the books I've been anticipating since spring will be published - Autumn is coming. Half the books I've been anticipating are also coincidentally cookbooks, and then there are the ones I didn't even know I wanted... awkward at a time I need to be saving against the impending redundancy.

Meera Sodha's 'East' was one I didn't know I wanted until both my Twitter and Instagram went crazy for it on Thursday (it's publication day). If it hadn't been for the recommendations I wouldn't have picked this up - I'm not good with chilli (it's a heat that registers with me as pain, M&S roasted red pepper hummus turned out to be hotter than I like). The chilli thing is a pain in the arise when you live in a city like Leicester.

I tend not to buy vegetarian books either, I have an uncomfortable suspicion that because I'm not a vegetarian I feel like they're not for me, which is silly. Anyway, a proper look at 'East' persuaded me that it would be worth the investment, so here we are. 

It's a 120 vegan and vegetarian recipes from Bangalore to Beijing, and also "fuss free food made from British ingredients". The second part of that is particularly attractive. Because of where I live Chinese and Indian ingredients are easy to find. Korean and Thai not far behind, some things (like black Venus rice which sounds delicious, and spelt flour) might be a bit harder to find, but everything else ought to be more or less on my doorstep. 

The joy of this book is that it's full of flavours and combinations that I wouldn't normally cook, because of that when I'm reading through them I don't find myself thinking about meat, or feeling that it's in any way missing (that's decades of conditioning to think of vegetables as a side dish rather than the main event, I know it's not true, but it's an unconscious bias I'm finding hard to shift). More than that, things just sound delicious.

Beetroot and ginger soup, overnight soy eggs, paneer spinach and tomato salad, caramelised fennel and carrot salad with mung beans and herbs, udon noodles with red cabbage and cauliflower and so much more. The desserts look amazing as well, with some beautiful sounding vegan cakes.

Given that my whole frame of mind is focused on change at the moment, this feels like the perfect cook book for my current mood. So much of the food sounds fresh, vibrant, (though I will probably scale back the chilli somewhat) and colourful. Just browsing through it makes me feel optimistic. 


  1. I have been pondering on this book too; Diana Henry is a big fan of Meera's methods and I am a big fan of Diana. I can't take chilli either but I got some Aleppo Pepper flakes (from which are more aromatic than hot and I start off with a quarter of a teaspoonful.

    I can do without meat unless I get a craving for bacon but that is done and dusted after one meal of it. I find I can get more flavour variety using vegetables and herbs/spices or some ready made sauces. I expect you will enjoy the experience of using the book.

  2. Same for all of the above, although I do eat quit a lot of meat. I want to cut back on that, and try and think differently about food. This looked like a good place to start.