Cookbook Love: World Vegetarian Classics

Meat-free week is in full swing, so this week’s cookbook is a vegetarian gem!

Celia Brooks-Brown’s World Vegetarian Classics.

In one sentence: An exciting, meat-free world on your plate!


What’s it about?

Vegetarian recipes from all around the world!

This book was my cooking bible at university. Back then I was vegetarian and I was craving exciting meat-free food. This was the days before Ottolenghi, when veggie food was mushroom risotto and goat’s cheese salad. Oh and pasta. Lots of pasta. Celia Brooks-Brown’s World Vegetarian Classics opened a new world for me – literally, as the recipes are from all around the world.

The book is divided into 11 chapters, all covering another area of the world. Starting with “North America & Canada”, the recipes kick off with baked brie with cranberry chutney and maple-roasted mushroom burgers, yum! “The Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia” has mouthwatering recipes like “Mango Yoghurt Curry” from South India, “Coconut Pancakes with Hot Coconut Relish” from Sri Lanka and, one of my favourites, “Matar Paneer – Cheese and peas in a spicy sauce” from Punjab.

Each chapter starts with a story about the food from one of the countries featuring in the chapter, as well as two pages explaining the key ingredients of this part of the world, which is quite handy. Not all recipes are illustrated with photos, the many that are, are really beautiful. Most dishes are easy to prepare, with clear instructions and a personal introduction to each recipe.

Flicking through this book brings back many memories, and has gotten me really excited about cooking vegetarian food again! Today, many years past my student live, I actually I live in the same area as the author, and  I’ve actually bumped into Celia Brooks quite a few times (in fact, we shared a glass of wine at a local Spanish tapas bar once). I can only say, her work is so inspiring and was key to my evolution as a student cook.


Most fascinating recipes in it:

I’m surprisingly most intrigued by the “Central, East and Southern Africa” chapter, which offers very exotic and tasty sounding recipes such as “Spiced Pumpkin in Broth” from Eritrea or “Spinach in Peanut Coconut Sauce” from Tanzania (pictured below).

I will also need to totally make the “Coriander Pea cakes in coconut curry” from Mauritius (pictured above).


Recipes I’ve made from the book:

I’ve made a hell of a lot from this book as a student – it really was my cooking bible at uni. My uni friends will probably spot a few regular favourites when flicking through it.

One recipe I’ve made over and over again is Japanese Okonomiyaki (a cabbage pancake with wasabi mayonnaise and a ketchup-based sauce – pictured below). Now that I eat meat and fish again, I love sprinkling bonito flakes over mine (dried, smoky tuna flakes, looks like fish-food).

I’ve also made the “Mixed Vegetable Couscous” from Algeria many times, swapping the celery stalks for fennel (as I don’t like celery at all!) and adding soaked sultanas to the couscous.


For what occasion can I use this book?

For everyday veggie cooking or for when you want to impress your guests with vegetarian world cuisine. Just like Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, this book offers exciting flavour combinations – but without the need to go out and buy 500 ingredients for one single recipe.

World Vegetarian Classics
by Celia Brooks
Pavilion Books
304 pages / 250 recipes
£14.99 UK retail price

If you live in Luxembourg, you can get hold of the German Version too. Here it is on Amazon.


March 25, 2015