Papa Kazmi Pure Cook Book // Review
Pure Cook Book is more than a cookbook – it’s a story about a man surrounded by his family, united by a love for good food. The writing project began after Papa Kazmi opened his eatery in Delft’s historic center. Hills & Mills draws a mixture of tourists and locals and is well reputed for its adherence to simplicity in ingredients and wholesomeness in environment. I was thrilled to review the cookbook assembled by Papa Kazmi’s kids, developed in conjunction with the restaurant.
When working through this cookbook, I was reminded of the family aspect of the book by family photos and anecdotes from the authors. It was a pleasure to see a cookbook chock full of love. Crafting recipes that work is a trivial task compared to creating a visually appealing, fun cookbook with character. Pure Cook Book succeeded in being an approachable cookbook that describes the more complicated Indian ingredients, offers substitutes and provides a full range of recipes from the simplistic to the complex. Even with zero background cooking modern Indian cuisine, I was able to pick up the cookbook and put healthy food on my family’s table.
The cookbook begins with quite a bit of front material that includes Papa’s Values and notes on ingredients and equipment. The recipe chapters are arranged by topic: classic, day off, events, family and Hills & Mills (recipes from the restaurant). This arrangement was confusing at first because my menu choices spanned a few chapters, but I quickly bookmarked my favorites. When selecting recipes, I found that my tiny Dutch pantry does not contain nearly enough Indian ingredients. Most were easy to find at the local grocery store chain options in Delft (Albert Hein and Jumbo). I picked up the tandoori spices at the Thursday market in Delft centrum. The ingredients should be easily found in other EU countries too.
I normally use English units, but I did not have any trouble adjusting to the SI units in Pure Cook Book. My trusty digital scale did all the hard work for the dry weights listed in grams and my liquid measuring cups have millileter ticks. The cookbook lists both Fahrenheit and Celsius oven temperatures, which was nice.
This cookbook has a subtle feature that shines quite brightly. Each recipe lists tips and tricks at its end. These are usually pretty solid ideas that can spice up even the most basic recipe. They represent a collection of time-tested ideas that can really refine a dish. Other cookbooks have tips and tricks, but they are buried in the paragraph-style directions or are presented at the beginning of the recipe. I liked the Kazmi kids’ approach. Let me master a recipe and then tell me how I can make it just a bit differently.
For a winter evening’s feast, I prepared this menu: naan bread, mango chutney, matar pilav and chicken tikka. For a first-go, these dishes were a bit easier for me to handle than more complex Indian dishes. Everything turned out great. This menu was filling and flavorful. I had also bought ingredients for Papa Kazmi’s tomato salad and mango lassi smoothies, but ran out of time because my three-year-old was “helping” me in the kitchen. Maybe he’ll get the smoothies for breakfast!
So enamored by Kazmi’s down-to-earth approach, I decided to visit him at his restaurant. He was full of smiles and happy to help me with ingredient and recipe suggestions. I also met one of his sons and could quite quickly see why Kazmi’s life recipe works so well. He has surrounded himself with family and good food. What else could you ask for?
You can pick up his cookbook from his website.