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Have you noticed how negative reviews invariably get more helpful votes than positive ones. When I checked out the reviews for this much-awaited and celebrated book by Ottolenghi, the first one that popped up was by somebody from the UK who called it 'disappointing' but had 193 helpful votes. There were no reviews on Amazon India and I decided to go with my gut feel about this book and the fact that except for his book NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi has yet to disappoint me.
And boy, am I glad that I bought it. I think it has to be one of his best books. Apart from bringing in his usual Middle Eastern touches, he has cleverly used Indian spices and techniques, such as tempering with curry leaves and mustard seeds etc to add another layer of flavour to many dishes. I tried his Potato Gratin last night - the addition of coconut cream was masterful and added such a depth of flavour to an otherwise ordinary western dish. His hummus uses ginger in addition to garlic, not only as part of the paste but also as a fried aromatic along with onions, cinammon and red chillies to add on top. His sweet potato and yogurt and lime mash recipe is clever and now a family favourite. I could go on and on. At the end of the book, his menu suggestions for everyday cooking and feasts are very useful. In this book, all recipes, except for three or four, have accompanying pictures. His section on 'Flavour bombs' is particularly useful - there are 23 different marinades, sauces, condiments, pickles, nuts and sprinkles that you can make that can lift the flavour profile of any meal.
What doesn't work is the layout which is segregated into processes (charring, browning etc), pairing (sweetness, salt etc) and produce (mushrooms, alliums etc). There are some pages wasted on explaining what each of these items means. Maybe this is needed for newbie chefs but experienced cooks might become impatient with it. I recommend this book without hesitation for any cook who loves to try new flavour combinations. This is mostly a positive review and I bet I don't get many helpful votes if any at all.
I was really looking forwards to the new Ottolenghi book as I particularly enjoyed Jerusalem, Plenty and Ottolenghi.
I am however disappointed with this book as I haven’t been excited by the recipes. There are very few recipes I want to cook. Also there are some very unappetising recipes like one with a soya-cured yolk and the potato and butter bean stew which looks like potatoes in a bowl of mud.
The book starts of listing 20 essential ingredients: 1) Aleppo chilli 2) Ancho chilli 3) Anchovies 4) Black garlic 5) Black lime 6) Cascabel chillies 7) Chipotle chilli 8) Fish sauce 9) Gochujang chilli paste 10) Ground cardamom 11) Hibiscus flowers 12) Jarred butter beans 13) Mango pickle 14) Masa harina 15) Miso 16) Red bell pepper flakes 17) Rice vinegar 18) Rose harissa 19) Shaoxing 20) Tamarind paste
The book is then divided into three sections: 1) Process 2) Pairing 3) Produce
Which are then broken down further:
Process: -Charring -Browning -Infusing -Aging
Pairing: -Sweetness -Fat -Acidity -Chilli heat
Produce: -Mushrooms -Alliums -Nuts and seeds -Sugar, fruit and booze
I’m sure there will be some die-hard Ottolenghi fans out there who will like it, though this one is not for me (and I have all his other books)
This is an inspiring book, not only from a methods perspective but combinations of ingredients and why didn’t I think of that moments, aubergine dumpling parmigiana, such a great idea, I’m doing that today with regular meatballs too....dumpling roulette! Swede I tend to mash and roast only but now will definitely be making the steak and gnocchi. I’m growing celeriac and now have 3 new recipes that I can’t wait to make! Spookily I had purchased mushroom growing kits earlier this week before the book came out, so glad I did! Lots of new recipes for mushrooms, baked ragu looks amazing. I am also a massive onion fan and to have new recipes I have not tried (and I have tried a lot) is great.
I really like how this book is organised as quite often you find yourself fancying something smokey or charred or acidic or sweet, to have the recipes organised this way really helps.
I really liked that at the end of the book there is a guide to which recipes can be done quickly, for a dinner party, in one pan etc so you can go straight to something you need and the flavour bomb guide to take you back to some of the dressings and sauces quickly, there are several dressings from previous books that we do all the time....so to have the quick reference is really helpful.
I will come back when I have tried more of the recipes, the problem I am having is which to do next, so many I like the look of!
So I have tried the aubergine parmiagana, and the comment was “the best tomato sauce ever” and I have cooked a lot of tomato sauces! The ingredients were roughly the same as other sauces I have tried, the method wasn’t, so must have made the difference. I have now also used this same tomato sauce recipe for pizza topping and a pasta salad, by stopping after first stage of the tomato sauce...3 for 1 recipe, inspired by the method, it works really well.
Spicy potatoes with the tahini dressing were a big hit, and I used the dressing again with the cucumber salad. I chucked in an avocado as there was one in the fridge which was not in the recipe, but it went well, I might throw in some microherbs next time too.
The roasted cauliflower in chilli butter was delicious, the method of roasting the cauliflower worked better than other recipes I have tried. I like the suggestion of roasting a chicken with this butter too, that is next on the to do list.
I am normally a great Ottolenghi fan, and a constant user of Simple, The Cookbook and Jerusalem. But the premise of Flavour is strange to say the least. Few dishes would make a main course, even for veggies. Most are extremely complicated sides that might be suitable for a restaurant but I can’t see them being made in many domestic kitchens. It’s not just the esoteric ingredients, but the methods. Even a main, such as Stuffed Aubergine in Curry and Coconut Dal would take at least two hours to make. Yes, there are lots of flavours and I am sure the food would taste marvellous, but most recipes need a kitchen brigade not a lone cook. Love the cover though.
Unlike some of the other reviewers, there are many recipes in this book which appeal to me. I have highlighted a dozen that I really want to try and that’s quite a high hit rate for me. Some look useful for using up unloved weekly vegetable box contents.
My only criticism is that the the waffle to recipe ratio is quite high. I only ever look at the recipes. Does anyone get round to reading the waffle? I suppose they think they have to fill it out to justify the price but I’d happily pay just as much for a slimmer, more focussed book.
Having been coverted to Ottolenghi recipes via the Simple book , so excited to finally get my hands on the Flavour book. And it hasnot disappointed.I love the extra info and tips on the ingredients themselves. Helps you understand more how the process of cooking improves the flavour of food. Already tried the Mushroom lasagne and Portobello Steaks with butter bean mash which didnot disappoint. It's nice to come out of your comfort zone and try different recipes with vegetables. Have also tasted the Hasselback beetroot with lime leaf butter at my daughters and it's to die for. Roll on more books.It has certainly changed my way if cooking ...for the good. Also cant wait to visit the shop in London to stock up. 5 stars for me👍
Have all Ottolenghi's other books which I love and have cooked from countless times. Was so looking forward to this latest book but I am afraid there are hardly any recipes that appeal or that I want to cook.
Most of the recipes in this cookbook have been published and can still be found on the Guardian website. This is rather disappointing. Then, to make things worse, promoting his book the Guardian published even those recipes which were supposed to be exclusive to this book. Wish I had saved my money and space on the bookshelves. Having said that, he does have a way with vegetables and the recipes are pretty good. Try his celeriac with Cafe de Paris sauce & if you wish to save your a few pounds, just find it on the Guardian website.
What an amazing book this is - again Ottolenghi pushes the frontiers of what’s possible with home cooking. Such a fresh and exciting collection of recipes. I have no clue what book the previous negative comments refer to - everything I was waiting for with this book has been delivered. Ottolenghi should be praised for a beautifully presented repertoire of recipes, influenced from around the world. He should also be praised for giving young Ixta so must trust and freedom to allow her influence to shine through - what a talented and inspiring chef she is. I have all his previous books, which I love, but this is definitely my new favourite - I want to cook it all right now! I thank you both for reinvigorating my shelf of cookbooks and taking my cooking to the next level.