Cookbook Profile

Mangoes & Curry Leaves
Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent

by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Mangoes & Curry Leaves

Part explorers, part culinary anthropologists, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid have "invented a new genre of cookbook" (Gourmet). Whether in Kathmandu poking through baskets of dried chiles in the bustling markets or on an exhilarating rickshaw ride through the verdant countryside of Sri Lanka, their appetite for exotic cultures and food is endless. Previous titles by the husband-and-wife team, Hot Sour Salty Sweet, Seductions of Rice, and Flatbread of Flavors, received numerous awards and critical acclaim. Here, Alford and Duguid present another stunning compilation of their wanderings with Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent.

The authors document their adventures in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives with breathtaking photography, candid story-telling and authentic recipes that are intriguing in taste but uncomplicated in method. The vibrant cultures, flavorful foods and striking geography of the Great Subcontinent are presented in more than 200 spectacular color photographs and about 200 recipes, grouped into chapters ranging from Chutneys, Salsas & Sambols, such as the refreshing and simple Mint Sambol or Hot Sweet-Date Onion Chutney, to Street Foods, Snacks & Drinks, including Flame-Crisped Papads and Hunza Apricot Nectar.

Each chapter is peppered with personal accounts of the regions, people and experiences Alford and Duguid encountered along their journeys. Their warm recollections serve as a colorful thread weaving together recipes collected from all across the subcontinent, from home cooks to street vendors. Red Onion Sambol is a classic recipe from Sri Lanka, in which flavors are ground together using mortar and pestle to form a paste that is spicy and addictive, perfect as a late-night snack. Aromatic Pumpkin and Coconut combines the sweet tastes of pumpkin and coconut with the savory flavors of coriander and chiles in an intriguing Bengali dish with hearty flavors to enjoy after a day of hard labor. Slow-Cooked Wheat Berries and Lamb with Fresh Mint, a native dish of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, has the complex flavors of cardamom, ginger, coriander and cayenne with the familiar tastes and textures of wheat and lamb—comfort food on a rainy day.

While the dishes may sound exotic in their names and origins, recipes use ingredients found in most supermarkets, such as coriander, cumin, black mustard, fennel, cinnamon, tumeric and chiles. Substitutions are offered for ease of preparation or for varying flavor combinations. For instance, brown sugar or honey makes a perfect substitute for chopped jaggery in the Sweet Yogurt Sundae with Saffron and Pistachios, while arugula or baby spinach leaves are an ideal stand-in for fenugreek leaves in Zinet's Chicken with Tomato and Greens.

More than a collection of recipes, Mangoes & Curry Leaves is also part travel guide, with advice from Alford and Duguid's 30 years of traveling the great subcontinent such as:

• The great subcontinent is a blur of rickshaws, street food vendors and tea shops, all of which accept small denominations so best to carry small bills and coins—and lots of them!

• Custom dictates eating without utensils and using one hand, a sensual experience in dining. Styles differ from region to region.

• Expensive doesn't always mean better food. Some of the most memorable and delectable meals can be found in simple neighborhood hamlets or village homes.

At the heart of Mangoes & Curry Leaves is the personal memoir of Alford and Duguid—their story of the Great Subcontinent, told through images and tastes, that is as colorful as it is moving. From the stillness of dawn at the Ganges river amidst pilgrims bathing and making holy offerings to a spirited mass of food stalls and trinket vendors. "This book is but a taste of one of the most extraordinary culinary regions of the world, served with a little slice of life on the side," Alford and Duguid write in their introduction.

About the Author

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid have been traveling regularly to south Asia for 30 years, creating cookbooks that "transcend the category and become something larger and more important" (Los Angeles Times). Mangoes & Curry Leaves is, once again, such a book. The authors live in Toronto with their two well-traveled sons.


Buy the Book!


Mangoes & Curry Leaves
Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent

by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Hardcover, jacketed, $45.00
384 pages, 200 photographs, over 200 recipes
ISBN: 1-57965-252-2
Information provided by the publisher.


Mangoes & Curry Leaves



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This page created January 2006