I love this man and I am not afraid to say it. Really, I'd do anything he'd ask me to. No. I take that back. I actually do anything he asks of me. I don't improvise, I believe in what he says and follow it to the T.
Because he is awesome. Yes, you read that right - Awe-frikkin-some. And you know why? Cause he is one of most brilliant but underrated chefs in the world.
Yotam Ottolenghi doesn't just create recipes, he creates magic. He can turn the humble eggplant into a velvety salad, cauliflowers into saffron-scented yumminess and beans into burgers with just moving a couple of ingredients around.
He's the man who has converted my meat-eating, vegetable-not-so-much-liking husband into a happy vegetable eater. He's the one who has changed his opinion about aubergines. He's the one who has inspired the best chocolate cake that I ever knew existed.
All this considering, he's quite the carnivore and was at his wit's end when The Guardian asked him to do a column on vegetarian recipes. But the way he has treated vegetables - with so much respect and appreciation and love - that this sensational cookbook is as exciting to read as it is to cook from.
And just look at the pictures!
So fresh! So alive that you want to eat it. Such beautiful pictures, that will inspire you into creating some of the best meals. At least it did that for me.
You see that eggplant on top - that's one of my favourite recipes ever. It's a luscious boat of grilled eggplants which has been spiked with thyme and filled with a tangy garlicky buttermilk and topped with sweet pomegranate pearls. They taste absolutely wonderful and make such a pretty picture too.
Then there's the mushroom and herb polenta. I'd never made polenta at home until this recipe and even then I couldn't stop licking my spoon.
Another one of my favourite recipe is the Meditteranean tart - a tart so chock full of vegetables including pumpkin, zucchini and eggplant, that you'd be surprised how sublime it actually is.
Or just look at that recipe above- it's roasted parsnips with sweet potatoes and onions in a caper vinaigrette. Ottolenghi asks you to treat this recipe as the blueprint of an infinite number of roast vegetables. I am not even going to describe how this tastes like because truly there are no words.
The thing is, this is a book for every man. The recipes are overly cheffy. The ingredients are simple. In fact most people who like cooking will have at least 90 per cent of the ingredients in their pantry. The book itself is divided into chapters that are easy to work around. And it offers a whole range of skill-sets, bordering mostly on easy. No super easy.
Since Ottolenghi is Israeli - most of his recipes are also inspired from that part of the country. He's used cereals, pulses, polenta and fruit and cheese to create amazing recipes. Have I eulogized him enough, or do I have to go on for you to buy this book already!
Available in India, US and UK