Indian Delights A Book Review

Since its first publication in 1961 Indian Delights by the Women’s Cultural Group, has retained pole position as the most comprehensive guide to Indian Food in South Africa. One could argue, the reason for this claim to  fame is that it is the only book in publication covering this topic. Despite the criticism Indian Delights is worthy of merit-be it the only  book on the subject of South African Indian Food or not. Filled with recipes and anecdotes, the book also covers home remedies and healthy eating ,topics which South Africans of Indian Origin can relate to- but also has global appeal with its simple  instruction of recipes.  

Indian Delights

Book Details:
Name: Indian Delights
Author: The Women’s Cultural Group
Editor: Zuleika Mayat
Original Publication: 1961
Last Publication: 1990
Publisher: The Women’s Cultural Group, Durban
ISBN: 0 620 056886


Indian Delights provides a brief introduction to Indian Cooking in the South African Indian Context, i.e. lack of resources and sharing recipes beyond the caste barrier-something most of us South Africans of Indentured Indian descent can relate to. The book features recipes from pickles and breads to curry's and sweet treats.

Recipes are listed in a methodical manner-except the method section does not contain any numbers-this may be a disadvantage when following a recipe step by step. Some recipes with increased level of difficulty show step by step images and varying methods of making them. Some recipes also provide up to 3 or four variations of one dish making this an excellent book for novice cooks or more experienced cooks who want to try variations of traditional favourites.

Ingredients are listed in per cup measurements with a metric table in the front of the book.The book contains a detailed Content's Page navigable by section as well as an Index Page at the back of the book.

Apart from recipes-the book provides motherly advice for the preparation food and entertaining- like when Amma used to prepare food-the house had to be clean before she began cooking just as the kitchen had to be cleaned when she was done cooking-similarly the Indian Delights book provides this sense of motherly advice-something more experienced cooks may already know but can serve as a few wise words of wisdom for the younger generation. Not just on keeping a clean household but also covers themes like preparing for unexpected guests-cooking for a crowd and storing food in the freezer.


A robust 21.5cm x 25.5 cm hardcover book that can stand the test of any kitchen or novice cook. Black and white type print with interludes of full colour photos. An illustrated key to dishes in the images is helpful in identifying the names of dishes.

Last Impression:

The preparation of foods, since our mothers made them-may be worlds apart from the manner in which food is prepared in the contemporary South African Indian Kitchen. Extend families are virtually nonexistent as are Indian housewives. Though socio- economic factors may have changed-the ability to prepare food like our mothers used to should not have to be superseded by the notion that  having the financial freedom to buy food instead of the ability to make it -is a greater achievement. A book like Indian Delights –apart from keeping these recipes alive -also reminds us that in times of hardship-having the ability to use ones skills and resourcefulness is far greater an achievement than having ones family go hungry because of a lack of it. If that is not reason enough to buy the book then perhaps you may be inspired that - profits from the sale of the Indian Delights books sponsors 25 bursaries each year for the tertiary education of girls.

Where To Buy:

 South Africa- you are likely to find a copy in Gorima’s Spice Shop or online at Kalahari.net.

U.K. Amazon.co.uk . Current Retail Price: £22.50 (As advertised 16.11.2011)
U.S.A. Amazon.com.Current Retail Price  $35.85(As advertised 16.11.2011)

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