Eves touch features the food festival of our vegetarian cookbook on Pedatha’s family recipes in an article titled “Grandma’s Secrets”.
HERE IS A TRANSCRIPT OF THE ARTICLE:
The Park hotel was abuzz with activities one afternoon, as its restaurant 601 geared up to host a three-day food festival of Andhra Vegetarian Thali dinners. The recipes were from a traditional Andhra Kitchen that featured in the cookbook Cooking at home with Pedatha, authored by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain. The book is more than a recipe book. It is also tradition revisted, an oral tradition of an illustrious family, an heirloom preserved and passed on from one generation to the next. For the inspiration for the book is the culinary genius of 85-year-old Subhadra Rau Parigi. Fondly called Pedatha (short for peddha Atthayya, which means father’s sister in Telugu). She is the eldest child of India’s former President, V.V.Giri.
Pedatha was present that afternoon, of sharing her cooking secrets and reminiscing about her father and a generation gone by. “He knew The Vicar Of Wakefield by heart,” she enthused, “and Nehru would visit our house and order the cook as if it were his own. Those were the days,” she mused. While we took up our forks and knives to attack delectable looking thali she chided her saying, “South Indian food always tastes better eaten with the hands‘’. And so, taking our cue, we set out to attack with out fingers the rice and the various side dishes and curries, such as majjiga pulusu, Dondakaya veppudu, Banana stem perugu pachadi, Maamidikaya annam, Mammidikay pappu and pedda chigudukaya koora, accompanying the thali, were indian famous Andhra accompaniments like the gongura and aavakai pickles, the carrot and ginger pachadi, the podi chutney and gummidikay vadam (crisps), all homemade. Pedatha mixed some of these herself and come up with delightful concoctions, feeding us with her own hands. To top of the scrumptious thali, were Andhra dessert specialities that included pesarapappu paya.
Pedatha charmed us with her wit. When the hotel’s chef came up and said ‘’It is delightful to have you here,’’ she grinned impishly and said, ”No, it’s my pleasure entirely after all I get to be in a company of so many younger men!”
A passionate cook, Pedatha’s recipes are much sought after by friends and relatives. Her cooking has remained unchanged in the face of changing times, retaining the traditional, old world flavours. Cooking at home with Pedatha is a photo glossary, a recipe with a picture on every page, interesting variations of many recipes, a write-up at the beginning of each section, special tips by Pedatha throughout the cookbook, step-by-step guidelines in tempering and cooking and a simple translation scheme for pronunciation of Telugu terms. Say the authors Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain, “While most people are so guarded and secretive about their recipes, Pedatha is amazing – she just dint feel the need to hold back and readily and happily parted with all her secrets”! They published the colour rich, 96 page book themselves because we didn’t want to compromise on the quality of the final product.” The book is priced at Rs.450.
A kathak dancer, Jigyasa Giri has trained under the tutelage of the late Guru Shri Krishna Kumar Dharwar of Banaras Gharana. She has taught in Bangkok and Mumbai and has now been teaching in Chennai for the past 7 years. She has continued her learning process and is at present learning the Lucknow Gharana from Guru Maya Rao who lives in Bangalore.
Pratibha has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Madras. She has taught as a guest lecturer in the department of philosophy of her alma mater from 2001-2004. Apart from her interest in philosophy, she is a writer who has written articles, short stories and plays in Hindi. She has translated many of the audio titles of the Karadi Tales series into Hindi, as well as short stories and religious texts from English to Hindi and Hindi to English.
Through a journey of love and learning, the two authors have taken the initiative to capture Pedatha’s culinary legacy for posterity and produced an aesthetically pleasing as well as memorable tribute to Pedatha and her generation.
(As featured in Eves Touch)
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