Witness momentous events through the eyes of a 9-year-old in Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop (Calkins Creek, $17.98). Based on teacher Almella Starks-Umoja’s personal recollections, fictional protagonist Lorraine describes her family’s experiences at home, at church, and on the march after the deaths of two sanitation workers lead to a strike, boycotts, protests—and even more tragedy. One day after giving his stirring “Mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. R. Gregory Christie’s acrylic-gouache paintings heighten Alice Faye Duncan’s fresh perspective on this epoch, with bold colors and dynamic compositions reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence. Ages 9-12.
At last, the secrets of palak chaat are revealed! The crispy fried spinach with tomato, onion, tamarind, and yogurt has a fanatical following at Rasika (and Rasika West End). Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj (Bombay Room) opened Rasika in late 2005, and brought chef Vikram Sunderam from London to create its innovative dishes. It instantly became a D.C. sensation. In Rasika: Flavors of India (Ecco, $34.99), written with David Hagedorn, they invite you into the kitchen and share the thorough grounding (and the professional secrets) that will help you cook these delicious dishes. Yes, you will shop for ingredients which cannot be substituted for (example: curry leaves and Kashmiri chiles); you will spend time making the foundational pastes and sauces to freeze (ginger-garlic; caramelized onions; kadi and korma); and have a restaurant-worthy mise-en-place. But then you’re ready to cook a long list of tantalizing appetizers; vegetable and rice dishes; fish and seafood; meats and poultry; and plenty of dals, naans and parathas, chutneys and desserts. Chef Sunderam even shows you how to configure your grill to make a good tandoori oven—and how to make easy microwave basmati rice. The best part is you can always go to Rasika to see how far you’ve come with your at-home lessons!
Jim Lahey is known for his revolutionary “no-knead” breads—slow-rising with natural leavening, baked in a very hot oven in a covered pot—which result in crackling, crusty loaves with a tender, airy interior. They are at the center of his recipes in The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook (W.W. Norton, $35), written with his wife, Maya Joseph. At the Bakery, he complements the breads with breakfast and lunch dishes, “Italian-ish,” with one or two ingredients being the stars. There are chapters on the masterful breads, pizzas, morning pastries; slow-cooking and roasting; and delicious sandwiches and condiments (quick pickles, and fermented “original mustard” and hot pepper sauce). The sequential, how-to photos are very helpful—you will never get lost in the mixing, rising, folding, and assembling. And basic recipes can make a variety of breads. For example, the brioche can turn into buns, a chocolate-swirl loaf, or bomboloni (doughnuts). Finally, in the dolci section, bake a beautiful panetonne (did you know you hang a freshly-baked one upside down to keep it from collapsing?). I’ve already made the olive-oil cake with orange zest (delicious!); I’m already feeding my starters—in short, I’ve never been so excited to begin baking!