I had read my first book on food back in 2020, called ‘Food & Faith: A Pilgrim’s Journey Through India’. I had never been interested in reading about food before this. Although I consumed the ‘Faith’ part more than the ‘Food’, food was still part of what I read. I am still not very interested in food or cooking, being an amateur cook. The best I can do in the kitchen is slice a couple of vegetables. I do it quite well, even if I say so myself.
‘The Flavor Equation’ by Nik Sharma is my second book on food. It is also my first encounter with a cookbook. ‘The Flavor Equation’ delves deep into the science of cooking, taste, as well as visual appeal. It explores, in detail, each component of what comprises the flavour, just as the name suggests. The many aspects of flavour form units, such as Brightness, Bitterness, Saltiness, etc. The chapters Fieriness and Richness are an essential addition, along with Pantry Essentials (for noobs like me).
What anybody might notice about this book at the first glance are the aesthetics. It is quite pleasing aesthetically, which it owes to the colours used throughout the book, including those in the charts and photographs. The text and its alignment too add to the aesthetics. The photographs in the book are quite amazing and reflect the experience of the author as a food photographer. He shares his knowledge of food photography through the book too, which is a plus.
About the recipes, there are only so many that I could try myself, so in this department, I rely on the author and my mother’s opinion. The dishes that the book contains the recipes for are done with a mixed approach of American and Indian styles, which the author says himself. The dishes, according to my mother, are some more or less generic dishes that are tackled with an unconventional method of cooking and that is precisely what makes it different from the already existing recipes. My mother cooked up some dishes from the book and they were already gone before I could even think of taking a picture. The dishes, however, did turn out to be quite delicious.
My major takeaway from this book is my discovery of a new blog, abrowntable.com, which belongs to Nik Sharma himself. I learned more about food photography from the book than the food itself, and I have no complaints. The book remains a prized possession on my shelf, for the same reason.
Although it does come with its difficulties when one does not know a lot of science, ‘The Flavor Equation’ remains a beginner-friendly cookbook and may serve as both, an entry point for emerging cooks to dig deeper into flavour or a good read for the more advanced cooks.
Thank you, HarperCollins India, for the review copy!
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