BOOK REVIEW: Real Food Fermentation, Revised and Expanded by Alex Lewin

Real Food Fermentation, Revised and Expanded: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home KitchenReal Food Fermentation, Revised and Expanded: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen by Alex Lewin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazon.in Page

Out: December 21, 2021

This is an expanded edition of a book that explores the process of fermenting a wide range of foods and beverages, including – new to this edition – sourdough bread. It’s a great book for a neophyte such as myself as it covers all the basics without getting too arcane (though it does include natto and some other regional foods that may not be widely familiar.) The book provides step-by-step instructions for making sauerkrauts (and variations such as Kimchi,) yoghurt & kefir, fermented fruit condiments, beverages (alcoholic and non-,) bases / starters (e.g. vinegar,) and sourdough products (including, but not limited to, bread.) It describes some of the challenges one may run up against as well as showing what equipment one will need. It also proposes some of the ways a curious person might experiment with variations.

Color photos are used to clarify the production processes as well as to show appetizing finished products that will whet one’s appetite.

If one is looking to get into a narrow domain of fermentation, e.g. making beer or other alcoholic beverages, one may want to look elsewhere for a more specialized and in-depth guide (of which there are many.) However, this book may introduce one to ideas for brewing adventures one wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

This book is an awesome choice for someone looking to get into or to expand their food fermentation activities. It’s well-organized, beautifully presented, and – as I mentioned – not overwhelming. With the mounting evidence of the benefits of fermented foods, this is a great guide to learn more about how one can best begin producing such foods at home.


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Learning Indian Cooking in Bangalore

I'm stirring the pot.

I’m stirring the pot.

The thing about Indian food–with its penchant for pureed gravies–is that I find it delectable, but often have no idea what I’m eating or how it got to me looking, tasting, and smelling like it does.

 

That is until recently. A couple of weeks ago I attended a cooking class at Manju’s Cooking School in RT Nagar in an attempt to rectify (or at least reduce) my ignorance. Manju’s offers a wide variety of classes (Indian and non-Indian, veg and non-Veg, cooking and baking, etc.)

 

I attended with a group of friends, and we constituted a class unto ourselves. We, therefore, got a quick and dirty introduction to a number of common / typical Indian foods (veg and non-veg, and both North and South Indian.) The menu we prepared consisted of two breads (kulcha and Malabar parota), dal makhani, paneer butter masala, and kadai chicken.

 

The class took 2.5 or 3 hours, and ended in a banquet of the foods we hand prepared.

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Some of the fun facts that I learned include:

-“Kadai” in the name of dish just means that it’s wok-cooked.

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-A Kulcha is essentially a naan of a different thickness.

-Dal makhani requires a lot of prep, even if you have access to a pressure cooker.

-There’s a lot of finely chopped onion in these gravies that often goes unnoticed.

-One can cook with the pot upside-down. This is how we cooked Kulcha. In a restaurant it would be cooked in a Tandoor oven, but at home you can cook it stuck to the bottom of a deep pot.

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-Lastly, the key to a the flaky goodness of a Malabar parota is lots of fat… who’d have thought?

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Me&Parota