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A Pinch of Magic – The Park ‘Thali’ Festival – Femina

by Pritya Books on March 29, 2006

Traditional Andhra vegetarian recipes from “Cooking at home with Pedatha” were showcased at The Park, Chennai in a unique Andhra food festival. Femina calls it ‘a pinch of magic’ in its coverage.

Femina covers the magic of traditional Indian Food Festival

HERE IS A TRANSCRIPT OF THE ARTICLE:

Cooking at Home with Pedatha is a far cry from other cookbooks, discovers Neeti Jaychander in a chat with the authors Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain.

The restaurants at Chennai’s The park hotel are abuzz with activity as they gear up for the Andhra vegetarian ‘thali’ dinner festival. But what’s unusual about this festival is that it is inspired by recipes from Pedatha, the 85 year old daughter of former Indian president V.V.Giri. Through their book ‘Cooking at home with Pedatha’, friends Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain have recorded a host of these recipes for posterity.

AN UNIQUE EFFORT

Ask them how the book came about and Jigyasa says “Both of us love interacting with the older generation, and Pedatha is one in a million. She happens to be my husband Giri’s aunt. Through our interaction with her, we discovered that she had a wealth of recipes and culinary knowledge. Of course, I already knew that when I married into the family fourteen years ago, but I have been in Chennai all this while and she is based in Bangalore. So we’ve had no real chance to interact. However, once we got started sharing recipes, one thing led to another and Pratibha and I started trying out these recipes at home.”

Adds Pratibha, “Our husbands were delighted when we prepared the first dish, I remember it was ‘thota koora koora’, which is basically ‘dal palak’, made in every part of the country. However, Pedatha’s recipes has that extra touch, that extra something that makes it outstanding and absolutely exotic!”

A LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Says Jigyasa, “The book just happened when we realised we had enough material to embark on such a venture. Pratibha has edited two cookbooks and translated one, so that helped with the recipe writing and detailing. We decided to go ahead and publish the book ourselves for several reasons. One is that we were complete novices; there were no names backing us to woo publishers. Secondly, we were interested in an all-colour product, whereas most publishing houses wanted it to be partly black and white so as to price it lower. We wanted to provide a picture of every dish, for which coloured illustrations were necessary.”

Pratibha adds, “Thirdly Pedatha is 85, and while we hope she’ll live for decades more, we wanted her to be around and enjoy the book as much as possible. Compiling the book took us two years, because we could only collect three-four recipes at a time, as Pedatha would tire easily.

“We’ve primarily tried to bring out a coffee table book as a tribute to another generation and have released the book in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. The response has been wonderful, especially considering we’re all unknown names.”

Most cooks are possessive of their little secrets, but not Pedatha! Says Jigyasa, “She just gave away everything so willingly and never felt the need to hold back.”

(As featured in Femina, March 29, 2006)

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