Synopses & Reviews
It was the aroma. The exotic scent of spices: rich, alluring, and almost magical. A scent that would sometimes overpower the freshness in the air and sometimes subtly mingle with it to create a tantalizing bouquet. A scent that would always bring me back to my childhood.
Growing up enveloped in the aromas of her mother's spice stall in Kuala Lumpur, Christina Arokiasamy developed an artist's sense of how to combine and use spices in traditional and innovative ways. In The Spice Merchant's Daughter, she shares her family's spice secrets, expertly guiding and enticing home cooks to enliven their repertoires.
Christina weaves evocative stories of cooking at her mother's side with real-world practical advice gleaned not only from working in professional kitchens but also from tackling the nightly task of getting a home-cooked dinner on the table for her family of four using American ingredients. She shows how easy it is to build layers of complex flavor to create 100 tempting Southeast Asian-inspired recipes, including Lemon Pepper Wings, Spicy Beef Salad, Steamed Snapper with Tamarind-Ginger Sauce, Cardamom Butter Rice with Sultanas, and Coconut Flan Infused with Star Anise. She unlocks the transformative power of homemade spice rubs, curry pastes, and sauces, as well as chutneys and pickles, enabling home cooks to bring new depth and dimension to their favorite dishes.
With lush photography and a chapter identifying and defining key pantry ingredients and aromatics, The Spice Merchant's Daughter both inspires and empowers, awakening the senses and unlocking the alluring world of spices.
"The perfumes of Malaysia practically float off the pages of this beautifully composed cookbook. With a Proustian nostalgia, cooking instructor Arokiasamy follows her nose back to Kuala Lumpur, where her mother ran a spice stall (and her great-great-grandfather transported spices for the English East India Company), mangoes were delivered to their home by bicycle and baths were enhanced with ginger-scented water. Her aim is to introduce turmeric, star anise and saffron to readers in a country where the term 'spice blend' usually refers to Colonel Sanders's secret recipe. Here, spices are the very foundation of cooking; Arokiasamy demonstrates how concentrated sambal made from shrimp paste or a garam masala can be prepared in advance to simplify dishes in a time-strapped kitchen. Recipes circle her native Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Though Braised Pork in Caramelized Soy Sauce and Rice Noodles with Seafood and Basil, for example, are densely flavorful, they are also relatively easy to make. Arokiasamy is a natural teacher, offering useful cook's tips with how-tos for makingrice powder and peeling shallots. Suggested spice pairings, a list of shopping resources and a chapter defining the components of a spice pantry give cooks the tools for improvising on their own. Illuminating her techniques with vivid personal anecdotes, Arokiasamy offers a tantalizing glimpse of a rich, vibrant culture and all its scents and flavors." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Arokiasamy] provides a good introduction to the spices and other essential pantry items, followed by a chapter on make-ahead spice rubs, pastes, and other seasonings." Library Journal
Growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Arokiasamy developed an artist's sense of how to combine and use spices in traditional and innovative ways. In this work featuring more than 100 tantalizing recipes, she shares her family's spice secrets. Two 16-page full-color inserts.
About the Author
Christina Arokiasamy, of Indian descent, was raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She began her culinary career working in her family's kitchen and spice stall before cooking in various Four Seasons resorts throughout Southeast Asia. Arokiasamy opened the Spice Merchant's Cooking School in the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her family.