Cookbook Review: Provence to Pondicherry

Born in London to a Greek-Cypriot father and Finnish mother, Tessa Kiros developed an interest in the food of different cuisines and travel from an early age. After growing up in South Africa, she left home at eighteen to travel and cook, working in restaurants in London, Sydney, Athens, and Mexico. She now lives in Tuscany.

Provence to Pondicherry begins, well, in Provence, where Tessa first fell in love with French food, and explores the Mediterranean region’s links between the indigenous ingredients, flavours, materials, and traditions. She then follows the path of the early French explorers, traveling to the island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, Vietnam in South East Asia, Pondicherry in India, and the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion, before finally returning to France, in the region of Normandy, whose cuisine is so different from the South of France.

In each destination, Tessa delves into the history and culinary traditions of the place, discovering how French cuisine has become entwined with local ingredients and traditions. The result is an intriguing collection of recipes that will appeal to anyone with an interest in food and culture.

Provence to Pondicherry: Recipes from France and Faraway is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.


Poulet au Mangue (Mango Chicken)

Photograph by Manos Chatzikonstantis

Serves 4

 

3 tablespoons oil

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 large red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

6cm (2.in) piece of peeled ginger,

roughly chopped

2 small chillies, finely chopped nutmeg for grating

3 pinches of ground cloves

2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 ripe mango, peeled, stone removed, flesh cut into big chunks

2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Heat the oil in a large, wide pan. Add the chicken and fry over a high heat until golden all over. Towards the end, add the onion to the side of the pan, frying until golden also.

With a pestle and a mortar, pound the garlic, ginger and chillies to a pulp, then add to the onion in the pan. Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper and a good grating of nutmeg. Add the cloves to the onions.

Add the tomatoes to the pan and stir, pushing them down around the chicken so they are touching the bottom of the pan. Cover, lower the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

Check regularly as there is no extra liquid here; I like that the chicken gets a roasty kind of look. Turn the chicken pieces over once or twice.

Add the mango to the pan, gently mixing some through the sauce and also dolloping some here and there over the chicken pieces. Cover and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes, until the chicken is deep golden and tender and the mango is very soft and broken down. If necessary add just a few drops of water to stop anything from sticking and burning, and to make a little sauce. Scatter in the coriander and remove from the heat.

Leave to stand with the lid on for 10 minutes or so before serving warm, or at room temperature.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books.

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