Our vegetarian cookbook on traditional andhra recipes has been reviewed by The Week in an article titled “Soul Curry & Spice” on 1 January 2006.
HERE IS A TRANSCRIPT OF THE ARTICLE:
The best way to judge a recipe book is to try one or two recipes out yourself. Conscientiousness pays, you think. But, if the recipes are Andhra fare, you hesitate because of all the baggage associated with it. Will you be able to sit down post meal, is the major worry. But a gastronomic adventure beckons and you throw caution to the winds and plunge bravely into what the authors promise is ‘a fiery experience – the famous brown coconut chutney’. You survive to tell. How, is what the book is about.
Breaking Andhra myths and aiming straight at your olfactory senses is Cooking at Home with Pedatha, a beautifully presented 87 pages labour of love. It is an idea that many of us remind ourselves we must do, but most often don’t – record and document Grandma’s recipes for posterity. If one day your grandchild were to turn to you and ask how Nakka dhosakaya pachchadi is made in a traditional Andhra kitchen, you have the answer now.
The word tradition is the key. For the inspiration of the book is 85 year old Subhadra Rau Parigi, aka Pedatha (short for peddha Atthayya, which means father’s sister in Telugu), white haired, wise and repository of recipes taking back to five or six decades. As the eldest daughter of former President, V.V.Giri, Pedatha imbibed her art from her mother Saraswathi Bai Giri. One page in the book shows the favourite Andhra meal enjoyed by the late President, laid out in his plate.
Pedatha has, over the years, fed an army and continues to be an enthusiastic hostess. The authors have done her proud by presenting her skills with a thread of warmth.
In an age where culinary expertise stretches of how deftly we spoon out instant mixes from flexi packs, the art of traditional cooking, as Pedatha says, survives when you “don’t look at the time, look at the pan.” Her homilies dot the pages making the experience totally wholesome. The only shortcoming is the absence of non-vegetarian recipes.
P.S.: If you wondered why Andhraites are able to sit down after a meal, the answer is in the dollop of ghee, a must in every dish. That and buttermilk. Otherwise, stand thay must.
(As featured in The Week)
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