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Best Palestinian: Falastin at Amazon
"This book features 120 recipes that have been shaped by Palestine’s history."
Best Indian: Chetna's Healthy Indian at Amazon
"The book features vibrant recipes that are based on what she cooks at home for her family."
Best Korean: Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking at Amazon
"Comes with a photographic guide that outlines how to shop for the right Korean ingredients and kitchenware."
Best Sichuan: The Food of Sichuan at Amazon
"Includes details of the Sichuan region's 23 flavor combinations and 56 cooking methods."
Best Italian: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking at Amazon
"Takes home cooks through ingredients as well as recipes that traverse Italy's diverse regions."
Best Southern: Meals, Music, and Muses at Amazon
"Takes readers through the history of the links between food and music in African American culture."
Best Mexican: The Baja California Cookbook at Amazon
"The 60 recipes dive into the region’s street food classics and meals for a posher night in."
Best Vegan: Vegetable Kingdom at Amazon
"Specializing in Afro-vegan cooking, author Bryant Terry covers basic techniques anyone can learn."
Best Legumes: Cool Beans at Amazon
"Has more than 125 different recipes inspired by global cuisines for bean-centric sides, snacks, and soups."
Best Plant-Based: Ottolenghi Flavor at Amazon
"Adds Mexican and Italian influences to his Mediterranean repertoire in more than 100 recipes."
With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting our access to restaurants, we might all be getting into a little bit of a cooking rut. When it comes to expanding your cooking repertoire, a new cookbook always helps shake things up a bit, whether it’s a book featuring new twists on old favorites, a cookbook that connects you to your own roots, or one that expands your purview with new lessons about the history and gastronomy of other countries and cultures. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite cookbooks for the home kitchen, from new releases and best-sellers to classic introductions to a cuisine (some include cocktails, too!).
Read on for our picks of the best cookbooks from around the world.
Our Top Picks
Best Palestinian: Falastin
Chef Sami Tamimi, who has Palestinian roots, is the executive chef and partner at Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants. In this book, he and co-author Tara Wigley combine 120 recipes from Tamimi’s own background that have also been shaped by Palestine’s history, showing beautifully how much the country’s past and food are intertwined. They spent time with Palestinian chefs and home cooks to develop the recipes, which include desserts like labneh cheesecake with roasted apricots, honey, and cardamom; savory musaqa’a; roasted cod with a cilantro crust; and sweet tahini rolls.
Best Indian: Chetna's Healthy Indian
This cookbook from Great British Bakeoff semi-finalist Chetna Makan, who was born in Jabalpur, India features flavorful, vibrant recipes that are focused on being easy, requiring minimal ingredients (without compromising flavor), and keeping costs budget-friendly for weeknight cooking. In fact, the book is based on what she cooks at home for her family. Its 80 recipes include paneer and cavalo nero saag, Tandoori pan-fried sea bream, and baked cardamom and pistachio yogurt pots.
She also has a sequel of sorts to this book, which is a collection of vegetarian recipes following in the healthy footsteps of her first book. Featuring recipes like zucchini kofta curry, red lentils and roasted cauliflower soup, and coconut and chana dal stuffed parathas, it’ll turn even the most hardcore carnivore into someone who’ll accept a few more veggies on their plate.
Best Korean: Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking
Korean-American YouTuber and author Maangchi draws on her past cooking with female relatives growing up in South Korea (her family was in the seafood industry). She got into YouTubing after growing frustrated with English-language tutorials about cooking videos that were full of mistakes. In this cookbook, she explains everything from how she’s Romanized Korean words to how to shop for the right ingredients and kitchenware, complete with a photographic guide. This cookbook isn't just for those learning about Korean cuisine for the first time though—there are recipes for all levels of familiarity. Plus, the cookbook is divided into themed chapters including “Korean Buddhist Temple Cuisine,” “Meaty,” and “Good Stuff From the Ocean.”
Best Sichuan: The Food of Sichuan
In the early 1990s, Fuchsia Dunlop was the first foreign student enrolled at Chengu’s Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine, and while it’s said among locals that the Sichuan region has 5,000 dishes—impossible to fit into a cookbook—some really excellent traditional ones have made their way in here. In The Food of Sichuan, Dunlop walks home cooks through how to prepare and cook recipes from the Sichuan region, including details of the region’s 23 flavor combinations and 56 cooking methods.
Best Italian: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
Marcella Hazan’s primer on Italian cooking remains one of the most trusted in the cooking world—and for good reason. This bible combines her two best-sellers, The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking, into one volume, with an additional 50 recipes thrown in for good measure. It takes home cooks through both techniques and ingredients as well as recipes that traverse Italy’s diverse regions and include dishes like polenta and squid braised with white wine and tomato.
Best Southern: Meals, Music, and Muses
Harlem-based Alexander Smalls’ Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes from My African American Kitchen draws parallels between the world of music (where he’s a famous opera star) and the world of food (where he’s a famous chef and James Beard-award-winning cookbook author). Smalls takes readers through the history of the links between food and music in African American culture, and weaves in beautiful reflections on the intersection in the introductions to each chapter, each named after a type of music. Dishes draw on his Southern upbringing with a dash of European influences from his decades as an opera singer in Europe—think icebox lemon pie, prime rib roast with crawfish onion gravy, braised oxtails, turnips, and okra.
Best Mexican: The Baja California Cookbook
David Castro Hussong is the son of the family who runs Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico—where the first margarita is said to have been mixed. After training at places like Eleven Madison Park, he returned to the area where he was born and now runs Fauna Restaurant in Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe, a region known for making 90 percent of Mexico’s wine and a hotspot for incredible food.
In this book, he lovingly tells the story of the land, its people, and his family’s history there. In the 60 recipes, the chef dives into the region’s street food classics like chicharrones, and meals for a posher night in like grilled steak in salsa negra. The seafood section is also impressive, while highlights between chapters focus on an essential ingredient or technique of cooking (“On Beans,” “On Deep-Frying at Home”). There’s also a whole section on wine country dishes like duck carnitas with mussels and crostini.
Best Vegan: Vegetable Kingdom
Bryant Terry is a food justice activist, and this collection of recipes—presented in a casual style approachable for families—is great for vegans, the vegan-curious, and omnivores alike. Terry’s specialty is Afro-vegan cooking, and his book of more than 100 recipes use fresh produce for dishes that consider spices to be essential and put flavor on a pedestal. Think recipes like millet roux mushroom gumbo, citrus and garlic-herb-braised fennel, and jerk tofu. Cleverly, the book’s organized by ingredient (which is great if you want to use up something in the fridge), and he also covers basic techniques—like how to assemble a stunning salad and how to cook soups—so anyone can get cooking.
Best Legumes: Cool Beans
This might not be the time to splash out on recipes involving dishes like lobster and saffron, but there are a lot of things you can do with beans, which tend to be a reasonably priced source of protein—and better for the planet than meat, too. James-Beard Award-winning food writer Joe Yonan, the grandson of Assyrian refugees and the food and drink editor for the Washington Post, has put together more than 125 different recipes inspired by global cuisines for bean-centric sides, snacks, soups, and desserts. He starts by giving you a base recipe to cook any sort of bean three ways: in a slow cooker, Instant Pot, or on the stove, and beautiful photographs allow you to get to know different types of beans. Dishes include smoky black bean and plantain chili, crunchy spiced chickpeas, and yellow bean and spinach dosas.
Best Plant-Based: Ottolenghi Flavor
You can expect vibrant flavors to burst forth from any and all of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes, and here in Ottolenghi Flavor, the London chef teams up with Ixta Belfrage to add Mexican and Italian influences to his Mediterranean repertoire in more than 100 recipes (half of which are vegan). The technique he teaches here is paying attention to the “Three Ps”: process, or the reactions that happen during cooking; pairing, how to accentuate vegetables’ flavors by matching them with great flavorings; and produce, or being able to name what makes vegetables’ flavors really come to the forefront. Dishes in the book include spicy mushroom lasagna and vegetable schnitzel—and you can expect the photography throughout the book to be just as stunning as the cover.