Our Favourite Cookbooks!
Rafi Fernandez, our founder was a renowned author of cookbooks, and her works are still popular, filled with wit, wisdom and helpful cooking hints.In 2016 Lee and Kevin, Rafi’s sons, decided to honour her legacy by writing their own contemporary take on British Indian cooking with The Rafi’s Spicebox Cookbook, a labour of love that Lee said was intended “to show that Indian cooking can be healthy, varied and easy, as well as being utterly scrummy!”.
In honour of World Book Day, we asked the Rafi’s staff for their recommendations for their favourite cookbooks (excluding The Rafi’s Spicebox Cookbook, that would have been too easy!). So, here are some of our favourite cookbooks, with a couple of recipe suggestions thrown in!
Pinch of Nom
“My go to cook book is Pinch of Nom. It’s my bible and it’s got loads of low calorie dishes which taste amazing and it’s great when I’m meal planning.”
Maria - Knutsford Booths
“My favourite go-to book (other than Rafis!) is Fresh India by Meera Sodha. She was born in my hometown so the book is heavily influenced by Lincolnshire's Agriculture and is very seasonal; I love knowing how to use local produce in new ways! Her family of origin came from India and she grew up eating traditional Gujarati food-which is primarily vegetarian - so the majority of the recipes are perfect for me. A favourite of mine is: savoy cabbage, black kale and potato subji - Savoy Aloo Gobhi. Lincolnshire's main crops are potatoes and cabbage so it’s perfect!”
Lauren - Leeds
Mowgli Street Food
“My Favourite cookbook (apart from Rafis obvs) is Mowgli Street Food, by Nisha Katona. Nisha was born five minutes up the road from here and gave up her career as a barrister, as she searched for authentic Indian home cooking and felt it was time to share recipes passed on by her ancestors; she then opened her first restaurant in Liverpool also called Mowgli and went on to open a further ten as they have proved so successful,with another two due to open this year.
I love everything I have tried, from the Fenugreek kissed fries to the Mowgli Penicillin cocktail. They are quick, easy and fun to make and taste out of this world. My fave recipe is Vegan Bunny Chow; an alternative to Bunny Chow which was a dish devised by railway workers who used to carry their curry to work in a hollowed-out bread loaf. This is one of my favourite dishes to do if I have friends around.”
Gail - Burscough Booths
My current favourite cookbook is the Thug Kitchen cookbook. Easy and healthy vegan food with no frills and ALL of the taste! Every recipe I've made from this book has been a winner, from scrambled tofu breakfast burritos to hearty red lentil and lemon soup - however, it's not for the mild mouthed, this is a cookbook you can swear by...
Jasmine - Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator
The Art of Fermentation
As a lover of stinky foods, this was an eye opening and fascinating book. It delves deep into the world of slowly rotting, but incredibly delicious food. It is not a typical modern cookbook. It doesn't have artfully staged food photography. It is not the sort of coffee table cookbook you casual flick through before ordering a takeaway. There are no rigid recipes to follow, but explorations of concepts to inspire experimentation. From simple krauts to sour tonics it embraces culture and community, both microbial and societal. It is a book to savour. A book to devour over time.
Ian - Project Manager
Radiation New World Cookery Book
Looking along my array of cookbooks, the one I feel fondest of is the least assuming. Apart from its title, that is: the Radiation New World Cookery Book. Inherited from a 96 year old neighbour, it hails from a time when people suddenly had to cook without servants and they didn’t much care how the food tasted so long as it turned out edible. It is a tremendous reminder of how far the culinary scene in our country has come, and how quickly, and I find that fascinating. It’s also a trusty sidekick whenever I want to invent a new dish based on old principles.
I don’t have a favourite recipe from this book, but I do have a favourite section - ‘Invalid Cookery’. Including such gems as ‘Avoid highly-decorated china. Plain china or china with a coloured ring on the ring is most suitable’, and a recipe for ‘Egg Nog (Invalid)’, it has actually proved to be useful on the odd occasion - if only because it’s entertaining to read when under the weather!
If my house is on fire and I was disobeying safety protocols, this is definitely the book I would grab. That way I could console myself with coddled eggs.
P.S. To date, I am unaware of having been irradiated by any of these recipes. If you’re curious about the name, I believe it comes from the British Radiation Company, who produced the ‘New World range of gas cookers the book accompanied in the 1920s and 30s.
Hannah - York Shop
Hering's Dictionary of Classical and Modern Cookery
I have the Hering's Dictionary of Classical and Modern Cookery. My dad gave me this (a very careful lend) as it was his when he studied professional cookery at college thirty- five years ago. I love it!
Jade - Regional Manager
The Happy Pear
I would highly recommend The Happy Pear by Stephen & David Flynn. We were given this vegetarian cookbook years ago, as a housewarming gift. My husband and I are not vegetarian or vegan, but at the time we were becoming more aware of what we were eating and keen to become healthier. It was a thoughtful and timely gift.
I really love this book as it has an excellent range of recipes that are unfussy, practical in a user friendly format. I also love their ethos! Promoting plant based lifestyle choices in such a positive way. They are easy to follow, with simple instructions, nothing is ambiguous. I have most of the ingredients already in the cupboard. All the dishes I have made have turned out perfectly. All have tasted so good and typically go over and above what I would expect from a meat dish every time. The meals are very hearty and substantial so you never feel unsatisfied.
You can tell these twin brothers have spent a lot of time constructing the recipes to taste amazing every time. They seem to use a really interesting and clever mix of spices, herbs and flavours often without any oil or fat. My favourite recipe is: Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry - very hearty and delicious with squash, aubergine, black beans and turmeric... The almond and scallions on top also add a ton of texture and flavour. This book has really made us eat more veg, the twins have really brought me into their world.