Jan 30, 2012

Book Review - 'Southern Flavours'

My Review of Southern Flavours by Chandra Padmanabhan for BlogAdda.



No matter what they say, I always judge a book by it's cover. The first impression of any book is very important to me specially if it is a cookbook. On first glance Southern Flavours has a warm homely feel to it. It has a classy hard bound cover photograph that combines two aspects of South India - Food and Temple Jewellery. The author of the book, Chandra Padmanabhan, is a renowned author in her own right. She has a three best selling cookbooks to her credit. This is they first of hers that I have read and may be the first South Indian cookbook I have ever gone through so thoroughly. Being a Tamillian myself, I never thought of picking up a South Indian cookbook simply because I come from a family of extraordinary cooks (which South Indian doesn't?!). So the most I would do is pick up the phone and call my mother or my grandmothers or my mother-in-law and ask for help.


So even before I read this one, I passed it off to my mom-in-law so she could do the first round of scrutiny for me. I wanted see this book through two different perspectives - from someone who has cooked lovely South Indian food all her life and from another South Indian who pretends to be one.


Let me start with what the seasoned cook thought about it. From the easy-to-handle, hard bound design to the way the recipes are explained so well, my mom-in-law was impressed. She thought the book is a perfect gift for someone who wants to learn a few South Indian recipes. She also remarked that the book not only covers recipes from Tamil Nadu and Kerala but also from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. She was impressed with the varieties of dosa recipes, the ingredient index and the menu options at the back. She also thought that it was important that the recipe names were given in original languages as they would be called from where they originated. She did mention that she missed a few more pictures, recipes of Neer Dosa, Avial and a few Kerala specialties but said that would be nitpicking.

I couldn't agree more. On first glance the book is a great resource for me since it has important recipes from all four states from what is considered to be the South of India. The book has basic recipes, sambhar and kuzahmbhus, rasams, poriyals, rice recipes, snacks, sweets, accompaniments and buffet spreads. The suggested Menus at the back are great for people planning to make an entire South Indian spread for a meal.

So on a sunday afternoon, I decided to try out two recipes from the book. I made Kothamalli-Pudina Sadam (Pg.93) and Alu Gadde Mosaru Kuzhambu (pg.38). Kothamalli-Pudina Sadam, or Coriander Mint Rice originates from Tamil Nadu according to the book. It involves cooking the rice separately and adding a cooked paste of coriander, mint, onions and green chillies along with vegetables and spices. I used some fragrant Ambhe Mohar rice and made the recipe completely oil free and vegan (it involved some ghee to fry cashew nuts). It had the right amount of spice and the fragrance of coriander and mint coming from warm rice on a cold afternoon was perfect.

Coriander-Mint Rice


The Alu Gadde Mosaru Kuzhambu or Curd Curry with Potatoes is from the Hebbar Iyengar Community of Karnataka. Luckily for me I had a batch of peanut curd at home which I used to substitute the dairy curd. The recipe is simple and is also oil free. It turned out really good and tasted pretty similar to what we Tamillians call Moru Kozhambu.

Vegan Peanut Curd (set using the tops of chillies)

Curd Curry with Potatoes 

I am forced to review this book in seven days (blogadda rules) and I surely won't be doing justice to such a great book. A review of a cookbook is an ongoing process and can take months till I try out every recipe. I will keep posting recipes that I try from the book, veganising them along the way.

A big Thank you to Blogadda!

Jan 16, 2012

Banana Strawberry Smoothie

Nothing can be simpler than this.

For the past few weeks I have been on a fruit breakfast. Initially it was tough. Once you are used to eating cooked foods in the morning switching over to fruits requires some dedication. There is always the devil inside you wanting to have a bite of that warm pancake or dosa with spicy chutney. The weather being so nice, you want to put something warm into your mouth. But once you learn (as I have at THAC) that fruits are the perfect foods for your body, you will only want to do good to your body.

As the title suggests, this smoothie only contains bananas and strawberries. No sugar, no natural/ artificial sweeteners, no nuts, no seeds, no nonsense. Do it with any fruit.

You need 2 Bananas and 12 strawberries. Blend it together, pour into a glass and serve. This will give you a thick smoothie, if you'd like it thinner use 1 Banana, 6-8 strawberries and half a cup of water.

It's exceptionally sweet and delicious!



Jan 6, 2012

Goa, how it always manages to surprise me!

Goa, the land of sun and sea. Our closest escape out of Maharashtra and where you will almost always bump in to someone you know. India's smallest state known mostly because of its beaches, Goa is India's most touristy state.

For me, Goa is divided into two parts - North and South Goa. North Goa is the more crowded, 'Boom Shankar' kind of place where you will find a mix of the young kids and families from Bombay, Pune and tourists from neighboring towns along with the foreign tourists of course. In the South, there are the seasoned Goa travelers (who prefer not to be stuck in traffic jams on New Years Eve), old Russian couples who are way past their bikini wearing days but still flaunt it like they got it, the seasoned foreigners who either live in Goa or have traveled enough through it and lots of south Indians from neighbouring states.

What you like depends on what kind of person you are. If you don't mind the crowds, then North Goa is the place to be. There are more places to eat at, more shacks on the beach to sip your poison and watch the sun set. If you prefer no one on the beaches at 8am or 8.30pm and like to pretend you are on a private beach then head down South. Having already covered enough of the North on a previous visit, we decided to stick to the South.

This post is a collection of a few pictures I took on the beaches of animals (including humans), the sun, and the lovely vegan food I had.

Fields and fields of Sugarcane en route NH17

Trucks packed with sugarcane headed to the factories



A pretty Kingfisher poses




Goa boasts two vegan/vegetarian restaurants Bean Me Up and Blue Planet. I was fortunate enough to manage to visit them both during my short trip. Both restaurants have many options for vegans and they are very different experiences in their own ways.

@Bean Me Up - Apple-Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothie. Yum!

@ Bean Me Up - Vegan 'chicken' Burger

@Bean Me Up - Tofu Brownie with Soy 'Cream Cheese'

@Blue Planet - Passion Fruit, Papaya Smoothie and Avocado Chocolate Smoothie

@Blue Planet - Vegan Carrot Coconut Cake with a Chocolate Topping

@Blue Planet - Wholemeal bread with Cashew Butter


We also ate at Palacio Do Deao in Quepem. It is a heritage house built in the 1700s being managed by an architect couple. They live in that house with their kids and invite you to sample a traditional Portuguese lunch cooked by the wife. It begins with a tour of the house by the husband where he describes how they went about restoring the house and the garden to look like it did. Most of the furniture and architecture is still intact from the original house. A traditional portuguese meal usually consists of a lot of sea food and meat, but you can inform them about your preferences before hand and they will accomodate. They went out of their way for my vegan request and made so many different varieties. You will see them on my plate.

The entrance to the mansion


Library

The Living Room

An ornate table in the living room

Antique fruit basket in the garden



Vegetable Fingers with Chutney 

 Sauteed Mushrooms

Lunch included a salad of Avocado and Lettuce, Sauteed Carrots and Basil, Beans and Coconut, Sauteed Daikon and leaves and some Kohlrabi

They also served us a Portuguese style Cauliflower in Coconut Milk Curry with local brown rice


@The Flea Market - A million flavours of tea! 


Sunrise  

Ahem! 






One of the many dogs I saw enjoying the water 

Beach Bum 

Fetched! 






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