Simply Gujarati explores the culinary prowess of Jigyasa Giri

by Pritya Books on September 14, 2007


“A Chennai-based Gujarati passionate about Gujarati delicacies and traditional recipes of Andhra Pradesh” – This is the way Jigyasa Giri is introduced in an article in Simply Gujarati.

Simply Gujarati features vegetarian cookbook


Her kitchen is redolent with a profusion of tastes and fragrances – there’s a handvo in the baking oven, the delicious aftermath of freshly tempered Gujarati dal, and the irresistibly spicy aroma of pappu charu alias rasam, the popular south Indian soup.

Helming the dishes single-handedly is Jigyasa Giri, a Chennai-based Gujarati who is as passionate about authentic Gujarati delicacies as she is about traditional recipes from Andhra Pradesh, the state her husband hails from.

Like most Gujarati women, Giri loves cooking. But her claim to fame is not just her culinary prowess. Early this year, she created a stir when her book Cooking at Home with Pedatha bagged the Best Vegetarian Book in the World at the World at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Co-authored by her Marwari friend Pratibha Jain, an editor, translator and research scholar from Chennai, book is a treasure trove of “vegetarian recipes from a traditional Andhra kitchen”. Specifically speaking, a delectable discovery of age-old recipes by 85-years-old Subhadra Krishna Rau Parigi, Jigyasa’s oldest aunt-in-law (Peda means old and Atha means aunt in Telugu) who, incidentally, is the oldest offspring of former president V. V. Giri.

The story around Giri’s book is almost as interesting as the recipes that occupy pride of place in the 87 pages of the detailed and colourful cookbook. “I love Andhra cuisine”,explains Giri,and I would keep asking my mother-in law for recipes. One day, she said, “why don’t you meet Pedatha instead?” That was in 2002, when Pedatha lived in Bangalore. “Call it destiny or what you will; I had just started travelling to Bangalore every month to further my Kathak skills, says Giri, a trained Kathak dancer and choreographer. “And it so happened that my friend Pratibha was also frequenting that city a lot those days on work.” Together, the duo called on Pedatha every month, feasted on her simple but lip-smacking fare, and meticulously noted down recipes.

At the end of the year, their file was bulging with over 60 recipes, Giri and Jain went hand-on with their debut project, which involved endless hours of transcribing and many a time even transliterating Pedatha’s recipes so they could appeal to a pan-Indian audience. “For me, it was a fascinating cross-cultural experience,” she says. “As a Gujarati, I had to acquaint myself with an altogether different culture; so there was a lot of unlearning and re-telling grandma’s kitchen secrets to both Telugus and non-Telugus” to the fact that she was both an insider, and outsider. “And to Pedatha, of course,” she adds.
(As featured in Simply Gujarati, Sept 2007)


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