While much is written about food, cookbooks are usually not the best to find great prose. Great pictures, great recipes, even great murder weapons are often in good supply but prose;that's usually the province of food eaters.
It being a rule and all that, there need to be exceptions. When Rushina invites a bunch of dedicated, carnivorous bloggers to a veggie meal in Gamdevi, it certainly smells like one such. This time, we were faced with Yashbir Sharma and The Food Trails of Punjab – a book that is definitely a work of passion. Its hard to describe the book – a cookbook, a travelogue, a Lonely Planet of Punjabi Dhabas – picture, recipes, cook histories, dhaba tales, hotel recommendations all threaded together with honest, unpolished prose that makes for compelling reading. It is a true cookbook, because there are pages and pages of detailed recipes. It is also a great guide to the dhabas and other eateries of Punjab. Squeezed inside are stories of some of the men behind these dhabas and generous helpings of pictures of everything. One would call the style of writing distinctly rustic, but in a book about rustic foods and people that is hardy out of place. I devoured the book faster than the aloo tikkis that Rushina was handing out as starters.
Vikram Doctor came in late, praising Yashbir’s previous book. This turned out to be The Dhabas of Amritsar – and wonder of wonders, it is conveniently available online.