Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: Chettinad Kitchen

Chettinad Kitchen
Alamelu Vairavan
Westland Books, Rs 350
Reviewed by : Kiran Manral

Coming straight from trip to a wonderful Indian restaurant called Chor Bizarre in Lavasa where I had the most scrumptious gravied Chettinad Chicken with Malabar Parothas, I reached home and grabbed this book which had been languishing on my too read list for a while now.
For a person who is a total non cook, but paradoxically a total foodie, a cook book is read not with the primary aim of attempting the recipes contained within, but rather to wander through the culinary
realm of Chettinad cooking and check out if there are dishes that I needed to investigate gastronomically.
The cover of this book is colourful, you see the primary ingredients of Chettinad cooking, rice, ginger, curry leaves all placed artfully on a grinding stone, and a bright pink gold bordered traditional saree forming the visual motif of what you instantly know is going to be traditional cooking as prescribed down the ages and generations.
This is the author, Alamelu Vairavan’s third book. She co-authored the Art of South Indian Cooking and Healthy South Indian Cooking. This time round, her book looks at the cooking of the Chettinadu region of Tamil Nadu known for its spicy dishes, guaranteed to get the tears rolling down the eyes of those with blander tastes. The recipes in the book are primarily non vegetarian, the book is matter of fact, with no pretty pictures, no concession to Western readers or milder susbstitutes of ingredients, but instead has the detailed lists of ingredients for every recipe including the traditional sambar, rasam,chutneys and tamarind rice, apart from the non vegetarian dishes. The language is simple, the measurements precise and the directions clear.
What more can one want from a cook book. If you love cooking, this book is a must read.

(Kiran Manral is a writer, blogger, social activist. She is also the Creative Head  at Karma Communications, Mumbai)

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