Much like "essential" music compilation CDs, which usually are anything but, some cookbooks are touted as the only resource you'll need in the kitchen to become a superchef. So, some may approach Pushpesh Pant's India Cookbook with trepidation, the words "The only book on Indian food you'll ever need" emblazoned on the cover inviting cynicism.
However, this 800-plus-page offering, doesn't make the claim lightly. There are more than 1000 recipes here, with few — well, OK, none — resembling the tikka masala from your local takeaway.
Interspersed with glossy photography, what follows is a cornucopia of food from regions both familiar (Punjab, Hyderabad, Kerala) and less well-known (Awadh, Tamil Nadu), the chapters progressing through snacks and appetisers, main dishes, pulses, breads, rice, desserts and drinks. Helpfully, most have a heat rating — as in, chilli — as a guide and many dishes can be adapted to personal tastes. You might not, for instance, fancy making the Kondapur Koli Thalna (chicken legs in chilli sauce) with the 125 grams of dried red chillies in the recipe, as your head could explode.
For good measure, guest chefs — including the Sydney-based Vikrant Kapoor, Ajoy Joshi and Anil Ashokan — contribute menus and recipes. Fortunately, there's also a glossary of ingredients; some will be unfamiliar so an explanation is vital. (Chironji? Cambodge petals? Mizo anthurium? You possibly read it here first.)
Tackling the book in chunks can feel somewhat overwhelming, particularly if you tend towards indecisiveness. Still, there are worse things than being spoilt for choice.
If you wanted to make everything here, perhaps just a dish a day, you'll still be working your way through it in three years and learning plenty along the way. The only Indian cookbook you'll need? There's surely a good case for it.
In store now.