The best cookbooks of 2021

In 2021, just like last year, home cooking had a heightened importance. These are the cookbooks we kept coming back to.
Left to right: Indian Cooking Class by Christine Manfield; Sambal Shiok by Mandy Yin; and Ottolenghi Test Kitchen by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi

Somehow it’s almost the end of the year. And in 2021, as in 2020, many of us spent an inordinate amount of time indoors. Thankfully, there were plenty of great cookbook releases to keep us entertained and well-fed. Whether you’re looking for a last-minute gift (Christmas is coming in hot) or you just want to add to your personal collection, one of these nine releases will be right for you. These are the best cookbooks of 2021.

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INDIAN COOKING CLASS by Christine Manfield (Simon and Schuster, $59.99)

From a humble thali plate to spice-laden banquets, Manfield brings her extensive travels and deep love of India’s complex flavours and culinary history to this extensive collection of recipes that is both creative and approachable.

SAMBAL SHIOK by Mandy Yin (Hardie Grant, $49.99)

Introduce the fragrant and fiery flavours of Malaysian cuisine to your repertoire with Yin’s vibrant collection of recipes, most of which were passed down from her mother, including a classic Penang assam laksa, flaky roti canai and beef rendang.

OTTOLENGHI TEST KITCHEN: SHELF LOVE by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi (Penguin, $49.99)

Dubbed as “Ottolenghi unplugged”, this flexible, everyday recipe collection is a lesson in how to make simple pantry items shine. It’s low stress, low fuss, with the usual flair we’ve come to expect from Ottolenghi.

One, Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones (Harper Collins, $49.99); Wild Sweetness by Thalia Ho (Harper Collins, $39.99); Recipe for a Kinder Life by Annie Smithers (Thames & Hudson, $32.99)

(Photo: Alana Landsberry)

ONE: POT, PAN, PLANET by Anna Jones (Harper Collins, $49.99)

As a guiding voice on modern vegetarian cooking, Jones celebrates plant-based cooking in a pragmatic yet joyful way. With chapters arranged by tray, pot and pan it manages to be both a weeknight saviour and a sly sustainability champion.

TODAY’S SPECIAL (Phaidon, $79.95)

In this eclectic collection, 20 leading chefs ask 100 emerging chefs to share their signature menu, providing a delicious snapshot of the world’s up-and-coming culinary stars. Diverse, tasty and sure to inspire the younger generation.

WILD SWEETNESS by Thalia Ho (Harper Collins, $50.00)

There’s a novel escapism present in Ho’s recipes, courtesy of her poetic prose and captivating, ethereal photography. Across 95 recipes exclusively for sweet treats, Ho infuses nature’s rhythms and reactions as themes for each chapter.

RECIPE FOR A KINDER LIFE by Annie Smithers (Thames & Hudson, $32.99)

Home by Stephanie Alexander (Pan MacMillan, $59.99)

A COOK’s BOOK by Nigel Slater (Harper Collins, $55)

Slater documents his life in the kitchen (from baking with his mum, to his love for Japanese pickles) and the recipes he cooks at home every day. With over 200 to try, this will be a favourite among food writers, cooks and those hungry for the story behind every bite.

HOME by Stephanie Alexander (Pan Macmillan, $59.99)

With 18 books already under her belt, Alexander’s Home is her most personal and introspective yet. The much-loved cook breathes life and context into each of the 200 rustic yet staples recipes by sharing memories and rituals, proving this book is for old and new fans alike.

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