It’s always a fun surprise with Book Exchange, but this year one of my books came with a second extra surprise. Manga Cookbook appears on the surface to be a cookbook based on manga as in Japanese graphic novels given both the title and the cover illustrations.
It turns out that “manga” is also an Indian word for “mango”, and it is this definition which is intended. Nearly all of the recipes feature some sort of mango. I say ‘some sort’ because I do not know the difference between Pacha mango, Manga Inji, kili-mooku mango (aka ‘totapuri’), or regular mango. The book doesn’t tell me either; I suspect that this book was probably produced by running a family collection through Google translate or speech recognition software because you see things like “1 Tablespoon Coconut Σil” or “chilly powder”. I like Indian food, and most of the recipe ingredients (besides the mango varieties) are things I know how to find, including asafoetida, fenugreek, and jaggery. You do have to pay close attention though because the first time something is mentioned (for example ‘curd’), there is a note with the recognizable equivalent (‘yogurt’).
The other reasons I suspect a non-traditional publication journey is that Recipe 24 in entirely untranslated. Google Translate is no help either because it variously identifies things in the ingredient list as being in Hausa, Croatian, Finnish, Chinese, and Indonesian. Lastly, there’s the font which sometimes involves σ for ‘o’.
Quite a few of the recipes are for spiced raw fruit or pickles, but there are some entrée types of things, mainly curries. For example, Recipe 18 is for “chakkakurua, manga, muringakka curry”. It involves jack fruit, lentils, mango, chili powder, salt, grated coconut, cumin, garlic, coconut oil, mustard seed, dried red chili, and curry leaves. I have to admit, I’m not sure what “2 nσs Drum stick” means, but I suspect it’s meant to be the main protein?
Besides the main surprise of what the book actually features, I’m also a little surprised at the lack of sweet applications. I know a lot of cultures don’t do dessert the way a lot of western Europe/ the US does, but even then, there’s usually things like fruit heavy jellies or custards at least.
Finally a word on the author; theirs is no one person named or credited ever. There is though first person narration is some of the recipe introductions (“I’m sure that just a few mom’s I know can relate to that.”) and one recipe attribution (“Recipe by Otometeo”).
I do plan to try some of these things, so we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out. If nothing else, it’ll be an adventure.