The season of festivities commenced with Raksha Bandhan which translates into more food and gifts. For both, the buck stops at books which released recently. Here’s a selection of festive recipes, global dishes and temple cuisines infused with history and lore.

What do Gods eat?

Bhog Naivedya by Sujata Shukla Rajan, Rupa Publications India,  300

The book embarks on a journey of temple foods from four corners of India. Author, Sujata Shukla Rajan travels from Kanyakumari to Amritsar and Guwahati to Gujarat and finds that temple foods embrace the nuances of regional cuisine and seasonal produce. There are minute details such as which vessels to use, how grains are washed and intricacies of the cooking process which are often guarded by the priests. The recipes are perhaps the most thrilling aspect for readers. In the introduction of the book, the writer says, “I sincerely hope this book will contribute to filling the gap between what we think of as temple food and what is actually offered behind those closed screens.”

Time-saving Indian cooking

Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian by Chetna Makan, published by Octopus Publishing, distributed by Hachette India; 1,911.29

YouTuber and author of five cookbooks Chetna Makan has found genius ways to simplify Indian cooking. Be it biryanis or mithais, each of the 80 recipes in Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian can be cooked in under 30 minutes. Last week, Lounge excerpted two recipes—chocolate coconut laddoos and besan barfi—from this book. It makes for a great festive gift.

Inspiring stories

Recipes For Life: Well-Known Personalities Reveal Stories, Memories and Age-old Family Recipes by Sudha Menon, Penguin Random House India, 256 pages, 399.

From Shashi Tharoor to Vidya Balan and Mary Kom, the author spoke to 33 known names to dig out family food stories and heirloom recipes. For instance, Tharoor talked about his mother’s food column for Femina, and shared her recipe of Malakushyam which is a preparation of spinach and bottle gourd leaves with tomatoes. Lounge excerpted the chapter on Mary Kom’s childhood dishes. Her parents were landless labourers and she shared heartwarming memories of foraging for vegetables, nurturing a kitchen garden and relishing simple meals with her family.

With love from Sicily

Sicilia: A love letter to the food of Sicily by Ben Tish, Bloomsbury Absolute, 408 pages, 883

British chef Ben Tish wears many hats. He is a restaurateur, food consultant and food writer. In June, he released a book about dishes from Sicily for easy home cooking. He says the dishes may stray from being truly authentic, but they will transport the reader to Sicily. While researching for the book, Tish found a variation of a pesto recipe made with pistachios instead of pine nuts. It is not merely a cookbook, as Tish dives into the various influences—Arabic, African and European—that shaped the cuisine of Italy.

The celebrity kitchen

The Pepper Thai Cookbook: Family Recipes from Everyone's Favorite Thai Mom by Pepper Teigen, Clarkson Potter, 256 pages, 1799

This book by Vilailuck Teigen—popularly known as Pepper Teigen—comes straight from Hollywood. She is, afterall, the mother of Chrissy Teigen. The senior Teigen migrated to the United States from Thailand as a young girl. Over the years, her kitchen churned out hybrid variations of Thai-American dishes. Consider the tea sandwich, which is in the book, and combines Thai chilli jam with cheese. The recipe of the lip-smacking, versatile chilli jam is also in the book. It’s 250 pages are packed with ideas on how to make the most of ingredients and to not shy away from experimenting