Bilal Cooks Daal

Salaam Reads. Jun. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534418103.
PreS-Gr 1–Bilal is excited to introduce his favorite food, daal (South Asian lentils), to his friends. As the story unfolds, it maintains a flow of events that keeps readers in step with the time it takes to cook the dish. The anticipation builds throughout the story and keeps the interest focused on the result. The author uses food as a way to create common ground and bridge cultures. The illustrations are charming and the facial expressions of the children are endearing. The relationship between the dad who enlists his son for assistance in preparing the dish is beautifully captured. The book also shows that the deepest flavors come with ingredients that simmer gently; this teaches patience to youngsters. The story can prompt discussions about friendship, expanding one's palate, measurements, and spices. A fun introduction to cross-cultural sharing but any South Asian cook will testify that it takes no more than two hours to produce the perfect daal, not four to five hours as stated.
VERDICT A warm and inviting story, perfect for sharing before or after enjoying some home-cooked daal. 

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