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Indonesian Cuisine Book Reviews

Eat Smart in Indonesia
by Joan and David Peterson

Authors Joan and David Peterson have written a comprehensive and practical source book so that others can add immeasurably to their enjoyment of a foreign country and its cuisine. Eat Smart In Indonesia is the third in a series of culinary adventures around the world. The authors have traveled throughout Indonesia, researching cuisine and sampling the extraordinary foods in the markets, in restaurants, and in Indonesian homes. There is a quick, easy-to-use menu guide, a helpful list of foods and flavors, tips on how to shop the fascinating food markets, useful phrases in Indonesian when ordering or buying food, a collection of recipes to try at home and more. If you are traveling or moving to Indonesia, take this book with you!


Indonesian Regional Cooking
by Sri Owen

Sri Owen, the author of the incomparable The Rice Book has come out with a book about her native land, Indonesian Regional Cooking. It may well prove to be the definitive book on the amazingly varied cuisine of this country, what Owen calls an "endangered cuisine" like many ethnic diets. She writes of the history of the dishes and the land, as well as her own history in relation to it. Books like this and The Welcome Table by Jessica B. Harris are important in that they help keep these recipes and traditions alive in a modern world where the increasing smallness of the planet threatens their demise.


The Spice Trail
by Sandeep Chatterjee

Breaking out of our egg-salad-on-white culinary convention, Americans over the last decade have taken to the hot and spicy foods of Asia like greedy children to F.A.O. Schwartz. Throughout this land, there's been a virtual explosion of Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian restaurants. But it's one thing to go out for Asian, quite another to make a successful chicken curry dish in your little ol' kitchen, especially when exotic ingredients are involved. For those of us who can't tell a chunk of galangal from a teaspoon of ghee, there's The Spice Trail: One Hundred Hot Dishes from India to Indonesia by Sandeep Chatterjee. Here's where to learn how you can make heads or tails of the enticing mix of spices and curries that comprise Asian cuisine. In his introduction, the author acknowledges that even to someone who knows his or her way around a roasting pan, distinguishing the culinary characteristics of each nation in this region is a science unto itself, especially when it comes to curry sauce. May of these dishes look the same and include similar ingredients (onion, ginger and garlic) writes Chatterjee, but "their method of cooking and the choice of additional, often colorful, ingredients make each unique." Thus, Thailand's Chicken with Potato and Onion is seasoned with its native Kaffir lime leaves; India's Chicken Coorgi with an unusual blend of tomatoes, coconut and pepper that's particular to the cuisine in the far south. With The Spice Trail, you may discover the key ingredient that was missing from the Calamari in Red Curry you tried to reconstruct from a hazy memory of your last dinner at your favorite Thai place. But better still, you may also gain the confidence to prepare something you've yet to taste at any Asian restaurant, and make it your own.

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