Chef Joe Thottungal makes South Indian cooking easy.

By Tara Cox
April 01, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Coconut Lagoon Recipe Book
Photography by Peter Ardito
| Credit: Photography by Peter Ardito

For a great primer on South Indian cooking, pick up a copy of Coconut Lagoon by Joe Thottungal, chef-owner of the Ottawa restaurant of the same name. The book celebrates the flavors of his native Kerala, a region known for its spices, chiles, and coconut-filled dishes. In the past, Indian recipes intimidated me with their long ingredient lists and complicated steps. Thottungal knows this and has built in lots of support for home cooks. A glossary helps you navigate the wide world of spices; a resource page makes it easy to track down hard-to-find ingredients; and an index organizes recipes based on dietary requirements. The recipes themselves were simpler than I expected: Other than cutting the slippery fruit, making the Mango Pickle was a snap; Shrimp Mango Curry was super easy and tropically delicious. Even the Kerala-Style Veggie Stew, which has quite a few ingredients, was straightforward. The end result was pure cozy, spicy comfort, and it was so delicious I even impressed myself!