Wednesday, January 11, 2012

'Thinner Dinner' - a Cookbook with a difference

Most "how-to" books have a very difficult job - they have to establish credibility BEFORE the person actually buys the book to try out the mentioned tips. You have to hand it to the author of Thinner Dinner - Shubhra Krishan does that wonderfully.

The first point of grabbing the eyeballs come by way of the declaration that the author IS NOT a nutritionist. OK, you ask then, what's in the book that will interest me? The answer to that comes pat with another gasp-worthy declaration - that she lost close to 20 kilos with the help of these tips. Oh yes! We have your attention now, don't we?

Unlike most cookbooks, this one does not have a boring list of ingredients and another boring set of instructions. This one comes with nice, glossy pages, colorful illustrations - not only of the food, but also some smile-worthy cartoons (and let me warn you, some of them are humorous enough to make you laugh even a few hours later, just thinking about them.). If I were to give this book a personality, it would look like a cross between a humorous, suave Will Smith (MIB types) and a Penelope Cruz ( the 'Woman on Top' type) - sensuous passion for food stirred in with a generous helping of humour and style.

There is a lot happening in the book, with the author giving snippets of insight into life in Delhi, the colorful joints from various cities of the world. (here I can't help but compare the writing to that of Vir Sanghvi - the way he mentions in a single breath the dhaba and the London Square with equal ease)

The other stuff that works well for the book is that the tips and tricks mentioned in the book are written with such sincerity that one thinks "Hey! What do you know - this thing just might work for me too!". The author manages, by quoting examples and other self-realizations, to create a sense of deja-vu with almost every woman battling the girth. Then there are references to staple Dal-chawal, a few tweaks to even packaged soup, a few substitutions for food that we love - like cream and potatoes, that make reading this book really worthwhile.

But what doesn't work for me, is that this seems to be targeted at a single woman. Sigh! Not that I wouldn't give an arm and a leg to come back home, kick my shoes in the air, and whip up a delicious salad and soup mentioned here....... But wait-a-minute! What happens to the hungry 4 year old and the famished 8 year old in my household? Not to mention the 'will-turn-grouchy-if-not-fed' man of the house? See what I mean? I would have loved to see some 'for-the-big-fat-Indian-family' recipes too!

I was tortured into studying foreign food names for three years in the classrooms of a Hotel management institute, which explains how I can understand some of the ingredients mentioned in the book. This may prove to be quite a deterrent to many other readers, who do not fancy googling for the 'brie and cammembert' or the 'rocket leaves'..... would have been excellent if there were some desi options for such ingredients as well.

And can there be something called 'too simple'? Well, there are times while flipping through the recipes that you wonder - 'I knew that one, and whats so special about this one?' But even the 'too simple recipes' come with the signature flourish that the author has - so it can be ignored.

In a nutshell, 'Thinner Dinner' is more than just cooking healthy. It sells a concept. It works on the wholesomeness of eating - feasting with the eyes, and flirting with textures. It is clearly written for people who have always had romantic interludes with food (like me). And for sure, it is written with a passion - both for food, and for style. And in the process of all the feasting and flirting, lose a few kilos - like twenty maybe? Heck - who wouldn't like that?

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


  1. Ok! Sounds like a very interesting book. I'm still a cook-book virgin. Because I cannot follow recipes and cook. I don't understand 'half spoon of this' and '10 ml of that'. But this one mught just work because I'm on a healthy-eating quest these days. AND I'm single. So it might help me out.
    Awesome review. :)

  2. Nice review Nirvana. This might work for me too, since it's just me and my husband, I think I'll give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion :)

  3. hmmm well for a foody like me this is awesome :) I need to get hold of this book ..


  4. @Spaceman ... yeah me too ... I never can follow cookbook rules. But this one is different - no measurements!! And funny!

    @Sumitra ... oh yes! there is a lot of exotic dining ideas too - if you are the 'eat with your eyes' kind.

    @Bikram .... thank you ..

  5. So ultimately, it's worth a buy, Nirvana? Would you recommend me to put my money on it? :)

  6. @Vinitha .... well, it is priced at 350 Rs, and it is a nice colorful book to read. But it is a one time read, and then you can share it with loved ones. So yes, I think its worth a buy.