Indian Sweet Cookery Book Review


Several readers requested more sweetmeat recipes just before Diwali 2011. Unfortunately I was unable to find most ingredients needed to make popular Diwali Sweets. I will make up for this next Diwali. In preparation I have been looking into a few books about Sweet Making. Unfortunately there is a limited selection of books on the subject of Indian Sweetmeats. One of the most widely known is Indian Sweet Cookery by Jack Santa Maria. 


Book Details
Name: Indian Sweet Cookery
Author: Jack Santa Maria
Original Publication: 1979
Publisher: Hutchinson and Co
ISBN: 0 0 1397316


The 143 page book – older than I am (published in 1979) provides over 200 recipes of bon bons, halvas, fudge, biscuits, pastry, pudding and drinks. The compact 15.5 x 23.5 cm notebook is user friendly. Category pages contain hand drawn illustrations and recipes are legible with unnumbered yet methodical instructions. Instructions are simple but not explanatory- perhaps better suited for more experienced cooks. Ingredients are listed in per cup measurements with conversions to Metric and Imperial systems. Many of the recipes are listed with English names while translations of vernacular names are found in the Glossary.


The book appears as a pedagogical view of Indian Sweet Cookery but it fails to deliver on this level. (Note to self – never judge a book by its cover). The art of Indian Sweet Cookery remains one of the great mysteries to novice cooks. Why does burfee or coconut ice not set? How do you make Jalebis that don’t fall flat? or Gulab Jambos that are not drenched in oil? Unfortunately Indian Sweet Cookery by Jack Santa Maria does not provide such insight. Nor does it give you any contextual information regarding the origin of the recipes although it does boast to have a selection of over 200 recipes from ‘all over the Indian sub continent’. What it does do is provide you with accurate measurements – and simple instructions to make Indian Sweets.


  • U.S.A. from $ 0.01  (As advertised 6.12.2011). 
  • U.K. £ 3.00 (As advertised 6.12.2011).


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