As always with Nandita, author of three bestselling books, this is so much more than a book with recipes. She analyses what makes India’s communities vegetarian, detailing how geography, cropping patterns, influences from migrations, invasions, trade and colonialism have all worked to enrich the cuisine, starting 2,500 years ago. “A thali,” she writes in the introduction, “is a coming together of thousands of years of civilizations, societies, world trade, migration, invasion, domestication of crops, agriculture and seasons, all these accommodated in a circle of twelve inches diameter or less.” A full thali, she details, has four to five ‘side dishes’ – vegetable curries, dals, legumes, green leafy vegetables , buttermilk or a yoghurt-based dish – centred around a starch component (rice, wheat or millets). Adding colour ànd variety are condiments, and, on special days and festivals, a sweet.