I adore Ani Phyo.
To me, Ani is like that friend who has a connection at all the best spots in town, can make a fantastic outfit from the clothes you’ve been starring at in your closet and knowns exactly what to say to brighten your day.
Ani has taught me about ingredients, introduced me to amazing teachers, showed me how to make delicious creations out of what I already had in my pantry, inspired me to live a more balanced life…and we’ve never even met (although we’ve chatted together on a couple of podcasts).
Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen was the first book that introduced me to raw food cuisine. It was Ani’s recipes that opened my mind to the incredible potential for nourishing, healthful meals made from fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Through her subsequent titles (Ani’s Raw Desserts and Ani’s Raw Food Essentials) I learned to make raw crepes, raw nutella, raw tiramisu, raw oatmeal, and so much more.
So, with that kind of history when Ani comes out with a new book, I’m first in line to give it a try.
Her newest title Ani’s Raw Food Asia, contains recipes inspired by the cuisines of India, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Hawaii, Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Although I know that many of these cuisines traditionally contain a higher percentage of raw, fresh foods than the standard North American diet, many of the raw recipes books I own focus more on raw pasta marinara or pizza than coconut curry. This collection of recipes contains more heat, more ginger (yay for me!), and way more vegetables than any other book on raw food that I’ve ever seen.
As always, Ani introduced new techniques that expanded my repertoire and had me playing with familiar ingredients in a whole new way. The pineapple coconut wrappers and cashew jicama rice recipes alone are worth the cost of the book. They are both used in a myriad of recipes from savoury to sweet and offer a unique flavour and texture that must be experienced to be believed.
There are a few things I particularly love about this book:
1. The emphasis on vegetables. I love fruit – probably even more than the next guy, but I eat a lot of it. I was really excited to play with the different namuls and curries in this book and expand the variety of vegetables I consume on a regular basis.
2. The simple ingredient lists and straight-forward directions. I’ve always loved Ani’s focus on short ingredient lists. Her recipes produce incredibly flavourful meals without requiring two pages to explain the process or list the spices.
3. The comprehensive introduction to raw food cuisine, ingredients, techniques and lifestyle. The book stands alone. It would be a great addition to the library of a kitchen novice or a certified raw chef.
Here is what Ani’s Raw Food Asiainspired in my kitchen: