What’s the USP? Globally-inspired dishes that can be put together within the happy confines of a roasting pan – ideal for the sort of person who would rather spend their Sunday afternoon planning their next holiday (whenever that might turn out to be) than up to their elbows in dirty dishes.
There have been a lot of these roasting tin books recently, haven’t there? Absolutely – and most of them have been by Rukmini Iyer. This is the fourth in her Roasting Tin series, which has had annual installments since debuting in 2017, selling over half a million copies in the process.
As well as Iyer’s books, the lure of the one-pan dinner has inspired several other cookbooks over the past few years, from Sue Quinn’s excellent Roasting Tray Magic to a forthcoming National Trust title. Even the Hairy Bikers have been drawn in, with last year’s One Pot Wonders.
So what makes this one stand out from the pack? Roasting Tin Around the World is a decidedly international take on the genre – though it’s fair to say the dishes are generally inspired by specific cuisines, rather than an authentic attempt to recreate the local dishes. Brazil, for instance, is represented by black beans and rice (spot on) with added avocado and radish, neither of which are common plate-fellows in the country. Not to start a riot, but the baked paella recipe absolutely features chorizo.
Iyer is pretty open about the dishes being her take on what is often little more than a loose idea of each nation’s favourite dishes. Like a supermarket ready meal, or Heinz’s frequent attempts to cash in on Britain’s burgeoning taste for international flavours, dishes are listed as ‘Cuban-style’ rather than ‘Cuban’. These dishes have been designed for accessibility, and Iyer seems to have that in mind on every page.
Will I have trouble finding the ingredients? Not at all – the major benefit of the book’s loose approach to each cuisine. The international flavours of each dish are generally summoned by the vegetables and protein rather than niche local ingredients. In fact, across the entire book there are, by my count, only half a dozen ingredients that you’d struggle to find in a big Asda. Given the range of nations and flavours on offer here, that’s something of an achievement.
What’s the faff factor? Unsurprisingly, it’s all tremendously easy. Iyer’s writing is unpretentious (ingredients lists might call for ‘pointy peppers’), and the joy of a roasting tin dish is, of course, the sheer ease of chucking everything in one place and watching it come together.
Will it make good bedtime reading? This is the one big failing of the book – besides a relatively unexciting introduction, there’s not much to sit down and read here. Recipe intros are short and practical – though bonus points for the repeated championing of Niki Segnit’s incredible Flavour Thesaurus.
Should I buy it? This all depends on what you’re looking for from your cookbooks. This is a fantastically practical entry point to international cooking – if you’re looking to expand your cooking repertoire on a weekday night, and have potentially fussy family members to worry about, this is the book for you.
If, however, you’ve already got a few international cookbooks on the shelf, some of these recipes might feel like a step backwards. Though the roasting tin angle does afford some functionality to the recipes, the truth is a basic understanding of cooking combined with any of the specialised ingredients you’ve picked up for other cookbooks, and you’ll like be able to knock up something equally delicious and potentially a little more authentic.
Suitable for: Beginners
Cookbook Review Rating: Three stars
Buy this book
The Roasting Tin Around the World: Global One Dish Dinners
£16.99, Square Peg
Review written by Stephen Rötzsch Thomas a Brighton-based writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @srotzschthomas.
Cook from this book
Slow Roasted Peppers With Chilli, Lemon and Garlic Beans by Rukmini Iyer
Slow-cooked pork pibil with pink pickled onions by Rukmini Iyer
Peach and Dulce De Leche Cake with Meringues & Cream by Rukmini Iyer