Cooking is something I enjoy doing. After a grueling day at work the interactions with my pots and pans are like stress busters. So when I saw the book Southern Flavours by Chandra Padmanabhan up for review, there was no way I could not try my luck to get my hands on it. Blogadda did not disappoint and voilà in a week’s time it was at home waiting to be read.
The wise men say, never judge a book by its cover, but I loved the way the book looked. Food they say is eaten with your eyes too and the presentation in the book lives up to it.
Southern Flavours includes the kind of authentic food cooked daily in various south Indian homes . It is a kaleidoscope of flavours from the four southern states and show cases the variety you can cook up with vegetables. The original names of the dishes and their English translation makes it easy for any reader to interpret. The small nuggets of information of where the author procured the recipe breaks the monotony that creeps in some recipe books.
The book is divided into various sections. The first one is the basic recipes which is helpful for novice cooks like me to learn the recipes handed down for Sambhar powder, Rasam powder etc rather than depend on the store bought variety.
The next section is called Sambhar and Kuzhambu. Kuzhambu is usually a stew or broth with vegetable, tamarind and dal. The Rasam section enlightened me that there were so many ways to make the good old rasam.
The Poriyal and Kootu section is the various ways you can make your stir fries or sides for a meal. As a south Indian, I sometimes run out of ideas for vegetarian dishes and this section is a big help for the same.
Next on the menu is the must have in all meals for all south Indians, the rice dishes. From the humble Thayir Sadham to the more complex Bissi Bele bhaat, the rice dishes become a complete meal in themselves. The best part of this section is the notes which suggest the accompaniments with each dish.
The snack section is lip-smacking to say the least. There is an assortment of regular snack like Idlis and Dosais and not so regular snacks like Ragi vadai and Moru appam.
What better way to end the meal but in a sweet way. The sweets especially the carrot payasam caught my eye and is definitely on my to make list for the next special occasion.
The accompaniments include the standard coconut chutneys to some rare dishes which have lost their place in the modern kitchens like Cabbage Chutney (Muttakos Thuviyal).
The test of a recipe is in its taste. I normally use the Puliyodharai (Tamarind Rice) mix available in stores. This was the first time I made it from scratch and it turned out absolutely delish.
The next dish I tried was Rava Dosai with Vengaya Thuvayal. It was polished off too.
The best things I liked about this book are
The simplicity of the recipes
The accuracy of measures even for the tempering and garnish
The homely feeling that each recipe brings with it
The notes accompanying each recipe suggesting alternate ingredients and the best combination for the dishes.
The variety it showcases
The not so good part is that I found the oil content in some recipes a little higher than what I normally use. More recipes from Kerala could have been included.
A beautiful book and I really look forward to trying more recipes and adding it to this post.
A big thanks to blog adda for giving me this treasure house of recipes from grandma’s kitchen.