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Modern Spice

© Simon & Schuster
Modern SpiceFirst disclosure: Monica Bhide is a close friend. Second disclosure: I love curling up with cookbooks to read them almost more than I do cooking out of them, so my judgments are often swayed as much by the chapter introductions and recipe headnotes as by the recipes themselves. So when I say that Monica's new collection of recipes and essays, Modern Spice, is one of my favorite new cookbooks of 2009, I have at least two causes for fuzzy judgment. But you don't have to take my word for it. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore and have a peek at some of Monica's stories, about how going through her oddball coffee cup collection helped her patch things up with her husband after an argument, or how cutting off the end of a ham reveals that certain recipe traditions don't always make any sense, and you may also fall in love. So don't say I didn't warn you when you also fall hard for her peanut and potato cakes and find yourself craving them at 3 a.m. on an occasional Sunday.

Check out Monica's favorite Mumbai restaurants here.