A reliable cookbook is that rarest of treasures. They are books for which folded down pages, scribbles in the margins and brutalistic splatters of tomato sauce are signs not of neglect, but of love.
And, by their very nature, cookbooks are designed to be re-opened and re-discovered for years — the perfect in-house tool to cater for everything from the unexpected onset of in-laws for dinner, to the lazy Sunday afternoon roast.
Nowadays, however, the cookbook aisle in your regular bookseller is bloated (if you’ll pardon the pun), with gastronomic volumes of any and all varieties. Everyone from meticulous Michelin-starred chefs, to the ‘everyman’ types (“just throw in what feels right — none of those pretentious weighing scales necessary!”) now line the shelves of a saturated market.
So, if you’re struggling to separate the half-baked from the hearty in the hardback aisle, read on for our curation of the best cookbooks to invest in this year.
For the man of the moment: Ottolenghi Simple
If you haven’t already got a copy of this distinctive bestseller taking pride of place in your kitchen, then you’re in the minority. The winner of last year’s National Book Award in the Food and Drink category, this book is bursting with colourful photography and standout dishes that will suit whatever type of cooking you find easy.
Whether you’re looking to get wonderful food on the table in under 30 minutes, use just one pot to make a delicious meal, or plan ahead for a flavoursome dish — the overriding theme here is (unsurprisingly) that each recipe keeps it simple, but seriously effective.
For bringing the restaurant home: Dishoom “From Bombay with Love”
If you’ve ever been to Dishoom, you’ll know the Indian’s restaurant modern, mash-up genius of Bacon Naan Rolls and Pineapple and Black Pepper Crumble. Well praise Annapurna — the Hindu goddess of food — for answering our calls to bring Dishoom to the masses, with the brand’s first cookbook: “From Bombay with Love”.
Eccentric and charming, there are over 100 recipes in the cookbook’s beautifully bound pages, from Jackfruit Biryani and Okra Fries to Chicken Ruby and the iconic House Black Daal. And that’s not all. With the pictures, informative passages and history of both India and foodstuffs in general, this is as close to an encyclopaedia as a recipe book is ever likely to get.
Dishoom “From Bombay with Love”
For some behind the curtain insight: Inside Chefs Fridges, Europe
What happens when culinary genius meets domestic reality? The authors of this revelatory cookbook visit the most daring and interesting chefs of today to profile their fridge contents, food habits, and favourite home recipes.
From Yotam Ottolenghi to Bo Bech, call in on the gurus of gourmet and bring their cooking secrets to your kitchen.
Inside Chefs Fridges, Europe
For a feast for the eyes: Modernist Cuisine At Home
From the creators of Modernist Cuisine comes a title that translates the art of fine dining to classic home dishes and brings restaurant quality delicacies to the amateur kitchen. Perfect for impressing your date, or simply enjoying an indulgent dinner for one.
This 456-page volume includes all the essential information to stock and run a modern home kitchen. Recipes, equipment guidance, and ingredient advice are illustrated with helpful step-by-step photos in all the quality and quirkiness that made this book’s predecessor such a hit.
Modernist Cuisine At Home
For the ultimate foodie companion: The Delicious
This is the book for those who recognise that eating is more than a pastime – it’s a party.
The Delicious takes readers on a mouth-watering visual journey to discover what’s cooking around the world. It compiles developments in today’s new food culture, such as health conscious cafeterias, contemporary fast food, and restaurants with cutting-edge ideas, as well as innovative catering and culinary events both public and private.
From experimental new dishes to modern interpretations of familiar classics, the featured examples will inspire you to broaden your food horizons.
The Delicious: A Companion To New Food Culture
For lifestyle inspiration: Nordic By Nature
Ok, we know we’ve talked about this before, but this beautiful volume really is the perfect investment for the gentleman looking for a practical guide that doubles up as a coffee table objet d’art.
Nordic by Nature, published by Gestalten, encapsulates the work of over 30 of the most original Danish chefs, who each share their distinctive recipes and provide insights into the uniqueness of the contemporary Northern cuisine.
Far more than your regular cookery book, Nordic by Nature is brought to life with vibrant imagery of the kitchens, forests, or castle gardens where inspiration is drawn, created and consumed.
Nordic By Nature
For a liquid lunch: Out Of The Jar
Distilling spirits is an age-old craft that is currently experiencing a renaissance. Out of the Jar presents a meticulously curated selection of the best and most unusual spirits from small manufacturers around the world, such as whiskey from Japan, pastis from Great Britain, gin from the Black Forest, and rum from California.
The book also tells the stories behind some of the featured examples, and introduces personalities who are cultivating rare varieties of fruit, herbs and spices.
Out of the Jar is a guidebook for professionals, gourmets, and all enthusiasts looking to enjoy a distinctive drink.
Out Of The Jar
For an exotic flair: Divine Food
For the gentleman looking to broaden his culinary horizons and try his hand at something new, Divine Food is a visually striking collection of recipes from local markets, Arab traditions, the nomadic tribes of the desert, and the hip restaurants of Tel Aviv.
From shakshuka to challah to baklava, regional recipes provide insight into the origins of historic and delectable dishes. The recipes compiled within Divine Food are clearly explained — so that wherever your dinner table may lie, these recipes can transport the aromas and tastes of the Mediterranean.
More of a diner than a chef? We reviewed Nathan Outlaw’s new restaurant, Siren…