I have received feedback that this open thread about cookbooks by women of color is exoticizing and tokenizing. My intention was to celebrate, but I missed the mark, and I apologize. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being held accountable for this, and I promise to read more, listen more, and strive for improvement.
Surprise Thursday OPEN THREAD!!!!
I’ve been thinking a lot about whose voices get prioritized in the cookbook (and broader food media) world these days. Who gets recommended over and over again, and who…doesn’t. So here’s a space for everyone to share the cookbooks they love by women of color, below. I’ll share mine in the first comment.
BONUS POINTS: share the specific recipes you make again and again.
(Apparently you can’t link in the comments, I’ll collect the recs and link to places you can buy them in a future newsletter.)
Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin. Recipe: Braised Summer Squash with Onions, page 190. I have also learned sooooooo much from this book about how to write reported cookbooks, and also the importance of cookbooks as historical documents.
My Two Souths by Asha Gomez. Recipe: Southern-Style Pork Vindaloo with Green Bean Verakka and Cardamom Cornbread, page 74.
The Enchilada Queen Cookbook by Sylvia Casares. Recipe: Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde, page 71.
Baking at Republique by Margarita Manzke. Recipe: Any of the muffins but especially the bacon-cheddar-jalapeno muffins, page 157. MY WORD.
I was gifted Pastry Love by Joanne Chang by my sister in law for Christmas this year because I just moved to Boston. Everything I've made has been delicious, and it's a beautiful book to boot!
Eat Mexico by Lesley Téllez
The Cripsy Carrot Tacos pg. 115
Chicken Tinga pg. 33
Zoe's Ghana Kitchen by Zoe Adjonyoh
Plantain Pancakes pg. 43
Three-Bean Salad pg. 63
Tiffin by Sonal Ved
truly everything, over 500 regional Indian recipes, what more could you want
Cilantro Chutney Chicken from Meera Sodha's Made in India is a BANGER. I would eat it every week.
Jubilee is so great. One of my favorite modern cookbooks. The potato rolls and baked barbeque beans have been on rotation.
Indian-ish by Priya Krishna has become one of my weeknight go-to's. Especially the Pav Bhaji on Potato Rolls. I've been itching to make the Saag Feta but my partner has a feta-aversion so tbd.
All of Andrea Ngyuen's books -- lately Vietnamese Food Any Day is another go-to.
Eat Mexico by Lesley Tellez (chicken tinga SO GOOD) and The New Southern-Latino Table by Sandra Gutierrez. Also love Sandra's Empanadas book.
The first Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang is my go-to for any big baking project - her triple layer cake with lemon curd and raspberries is awesome. Robin Ha's Cook Korean comic book is a joy to read, and the chicken stew with gochujang is super easy and delicious on a weeknight. And shout out to all the amazing women who have made me better at cooking Indian food: Madhur Jaffrey, Meera Sodha, Maunika Gowardhan, and Priya Krishna. (Meera Sodha's pistachio yogurt curry is my default dinner party dish - it tastes incredibly fancy, but the method's super simple.)
My go-to peanut butter cookie and snickerdoodle recipes are from Joanne Chang’s book Flour. Get your scale out!
Balaboosta was my first introduction to Einat Admony's brilliant cooking. Her mom's chicken with pomegranates and walnuts in particular is a huge winner in my apartment.
I also recently inherited Carmen Aboy Valldejuli's Puerto Rican Cookery from 1983. I know it's not a modern read, but it's given me essential insight into my own culture's cuisine.
Michelle Tam’s Nom Nom Paleo books are full of good recipes. I’ve made her Sunday Gravy and Macadamia Crusted Sriracha Ranch Salmon many, many times.
The Atlanra buttermilk peach lassi from Asha Gomez’s My Two Souths is one of my faves.
The Brown Betty Cookbook by Linda Hinton Brown and Norrinda Brown Hayat is amazing! This mother/daughter team has created the most fantastic baking cookbook full of African-American classics and their unique family recipes. It is beautiful photograph and layered with interesting family stories behind the delicious recipes. I love the Sweet Potato Pie recipe and the Hey Thelma Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Caramel Coconut Fulling. Paula, as a woman of color and food blogger I can’t thank you enough for your inclusive content. You are appreciated!
I disagree that featuring cookbooks by women of color is exoticizing or tokenizing. These are voices that are too often lost in the noise of white women whitewashing ethnic recipes. Featuring cookbooks by WOC is no different than featuring a collection of fiction by Black authors, which pretty much every publisher and bookseller does during Black History Month.
What a great thread, Paula!
Here are some recent cookbooks by women of color that I've covered in the last six-ish months on our site. (porchlightbooks.com/blog)
The Delicious Book of Dhal by Nitisha Patel
Shuk by Einat Admony and Janna Gur
Oaxaca by Bricia Lee
Weeknight Baking by Michelle Lopez
Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin
The Art of Escapism Cooking by Mandy Lee
I also want to draw some more attention to Jerrelle Guy (aka "Black Girl Baking") whose food photography and styling in Jubilee is incredible.
100% agree that all of us in all parts of the industry can do better!
As another commenter said, Meera Sodha’s cilantro chutney chicken is a total banger. Made in India was the first cookbook I bought as an independent adult. I lived off of her Daily Dal (166) and her coconut fish curry (127). She also has a stellar vegetarian cookbook called Fresh India.
Lucky to have found a mint condition first edition of Madhur Jaffrey's classic A Taste of India at Green Apple Books in SF a month before shelter-in-place. Still working through the Dehli section, but the recipes work brilliantly and are so full of flavor. She clearly put a lot of work into testing each of these recipes. Despite being decades old, it feels like a modern cookbook, with well-written essays about India's food regions and recipe forwards that are helpful for contextualizing the different dishes.
Some of my recent favorite would be:
The well-regarded Joanne Chang, not for her Pastry Love book, but rather her savory-focused Myers and Chang At Home, from 2017. I love her Thai Ginger Chicken Salad (p. 123) and Korean Braised Short Rib Tacos (p. 151.)
Meera Sohda's 2015 book, Made in India, has all sorts of yummy stuff, like Cauliflower, Cashew, Pea and Coconut Curry (p. 65) and Gujarti shackshuka-like dish of Bombay Eggs (p. 145.)
I have greatly enjoyed Leela Punyaratabandu's book, Simple Thai Food. Spicy Basil Chicken and Fried Eggs on Rice is delightful (p. 147) and the Curry Noodles with Chicken (p. 125) is another favorite.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't sing the praises of Anita Lo's SOLO, "A modern cookbook for a party of one," reads the dek. Spaghetti with Burst Baby Tomatoes and Chili is a wonderful dish (p. 28) and I also make the Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage and an Egg more often than I should. (p. 50).
From a sheer reading perspective, I love Ruth Gaskin's A Good Heart and a Light Hand. It's a lovely celebration of the author, her family, and her community. From a cooking point of view, I think the Nom Nom Paleo books have really chartered new territory in how cookbooks and recipes are approached and presented rather than the traditional methods. Toni Tipton-Martin has been killing it these days too and deserves respect on so many cookbook levels, both culturally and recipe-wise.
Bottom of the Pot, by Naz Deravian - Sour Cherry and Feta Crostini. It was fun to watch the ladies of book club nudge each other out of the way to get more of these.
Flour, by Joanne Chang - Famous Banana Bread, Homemade Oreos, Rosemary Shortbread. Cornmeal Lime cookies were a surprising hit also.
World Vegetarian - Madhur Jaffrey. It is still the book I turn to for classic curries like Aloo Mattar.
Anything by Edna Lewis has to be on the list. And Madhur Jaffrey. And Joanne Chang.
From Carla Hall's Soul Food, Seared Okra and Baked Chicken with Pan Gravy (doesn't sound/look like much but it is insanely good, like one of my favorite chicken dishes ever).
From Black Girl Baking by Jerrelle Guy, the Sea Salt Butterscotch Tart and Sun-Dried Tomato and Seed Crackers.