Friday, November 30, 2007
Dinakaran, The top Tamil newspaper selling over a million copies had my interview in its Sunday edition and for the past two days I've been swamped by calls.
It takes a great civilisation to make a great cuisine. With our thousands of year old rich and vibrant culture, it is no wonder we have a rich and diverse cuisine. This book was written chiefly to share the wonder that we take for granted - Our rich South Indian cuisine.
It is humbling to know that South Indian Curries are virtually unknown outside India. It will be a pity if this vast treasure house of South Indian Curries is not shared with the world.
For those who can't wait, I've put up a soft copy online. In case you are unable to download, mail me ( siramki at gmail) and I'll try to send a copy. Click here to download 1001 South Indian Curries ( pdf file : 1 Mb)
Saturday, June 02, 2007
One Page Cookbooks
One page cookbooks offer a new, easy way to look at cooking.
For the reluctant cook
They are designed for the”don't-wanna-but-gotta-cook" people. No cooking terms are used and no knowledge is assumed on the part of the reader. The presentation is non -threatening. There are no complicated steps, no exact measurements and nothing to memorise.
Each recipe is broken into three easy parts- The base, the flavouring and the additives. These are prepared separately, then mixed and cooked together. This way, the chances of going wrong are minimised. Since all recipes follow this exact format, learning one recipe lets one cook thousands of other recipes.
A thousand recipes ?
The table lists recipes starting from 000 to 999 - a total of 1000 recipes. There is a recipe corresponding to each number, and many of them have never been cooked before - you have a chance to invent your own a unique recipe. In fact the table lists not just 1000 recipes, but 9!*9!*9! ( read Nine factorial cubed). You won't run out of recipes anytime soon !
Easy to refer
One page cookbooks are designed for easy reference. Hang it in the kitchen and thousands of recipes are right there, in front of you!
Focus on creativity, not manual skill
The core idea is to encourage creativity by not focusing too much on details or on manual skill. All recipes demanding a good deal of manual skill have been avoided. Only simple, easy to cook recipes are listed.
Cook on the first try
All recipes are designed to be cooked by a novice on the very first try. That said, this cookbook does not promise to create an overnight chef. The chief goal is to keep it simple, which occasionally leads to oversimplification. However I find it useful, when stuck with a cook's eternal question - What do I cook today ? I hope you do too.
Kerala curries are built on Coconut and Yogurt. Unlike North Indian curries, Milk /cream/ nut paste are not used as a curry base. Heavy use of coconut, fish, use of raw curry leaves and raw coconut oil for flavouring, Low use of Tamarind unlike other south Indian cuisines, use of Coconut oil for cooking & use of vegetables like raw banana and raw jackfruit, breadfruit ( kadachakka) are unique to Kerala curries.
Prepare base as per point 0 & flavouring as per point 0. Add a handful chopped tomato. Cook as per the master recipe.
2.0.0 Pulinkari (Tamarind curry)
Prepare base as per point 5 & flavouring as per point 0. Add a handful of chopped and boiled raw bananas and cook as per the master recipe.
3.8.0 Aviyal (Mixed vegetables in yogurt curry)
Prepare base as per point 3 & flavouring as per point 8. Mix all with half a handful of boiled mixed vegetables. Add half a spoon raw coconut oil and serve. No need to cook any further.
4.0.0 Plantain Erissery (Banana cooked in coconut gravy)
Prepare base as per point 1 & flavouring as per point 0. Add a handful of chopped and boiled raw bananas. Cook as per the master recipe.
5.7.0 Kalan (Yam cooked in Coconut – Onion gravy)
Prepare base as per point 2 and flavouring as per point 0. Add half a handful each of cubed and boiled yam. Cook as per the master recipe.
Prepare base as per point 6 & flavouring as per point 7. Add a handful of chopped spinach. Cook as per the master recipe.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Cooking for a crowd
Following a few simple steps you can create a meal for may people in under 10 minutes
Step 1: Keep the base cooked and ready.( Rice, pasta, bread or noodles).
Step 2 : For all south Indian dishes, have the boiled tamarind water and boiled tuvaram paruppu ready .
Step 3 : Keep some milk and fresh fruits ready. In a crunch you can atleast serve milkshakes / fresh fruits.
Step 1 :
The base is rice, pasta, noodles or bread. Have it cooked and ready. These can be refrigerated for up to a week. If you are particular about steaming hot rice, just sprinkle some water on rice and microwave it for a minute.
Keep cooked pasta / Noodles ready. You can cook them to a south Indian taste by the following steps.
1. Heat oil. Add some kadugu, ulutham paruppu, vara milagai, perungauam, karuveppilai, onions. Stir fry for a while and mix with pasta or noodles to get a pasta uppuma. Tastes great.
Or if you want them served with a sauce, cook any of the sauces below
1. Add a handful of coconut , seerakam and green chilies. Grind to a paste. Add curd and mix. Add this to pasta.
2. Take any of the readymade soup powders. Mix with water and make a thick soup. Just add to pasta and serve.Once the base is ready, most of your work is done. Whether it is for 5 people or for 50, just keep the base ready and you are safe. in a crunch, you can serve raw pasta or rice and yogurt.
Step 2 : Cooking Sambar / Rasam /Kulambu
For all south Indian dishes, have the following ready
1. Boiled Tamarind water.
Make a large batch of tamarind water, boil it for 10-15 minutes. refrigerate. Will last for a month.
2. Boiled Tuvaram paruppu
Take a cup or two of Tuvaram paruppu, pressure cook it for 2 whistles with a bit of turmeric and refrigerate. Will last for a week.
Once these are ready in your fridge, you can create dozens of kulambus, sambars or rasams in under five minutes.
Take 6 cups. Put one chopped vegetable into each cup - say Mullangi, Vendakkai, Kudai milagai, Small onions, Brinjal, Pavakkai. Sprinkle some water and microwave everything together for 4 minutes.
Take six more cups.
In cup 1 add some tamarind water, mix a bit of vellam and sambar podi. Add the cooked onions. Microwave for 4 minutes. Venkaya puli kulambu is ready.
In cup 2 add some tamarind water, mix a bit of vellam and sambar podi. Add the cooked kudai milagai. Microwave for 4 minutes. Kudai milagai puli kulambu is ready.
In cup 3 add some tamarind water, add some boiled tuvaram paruppu and sambar podi. Add the cooked brinjal. Microwave for 4 minutes. Brinjal puli sambar is ready.
In cup 4 add add some boiled tuvaram paruppu and sambar podi. Add the cooked brinjal. Microwave for 4 minutes. Brinjal paruppu sambar is ready.
In cup 5 add some boiled tuvaram paruppu and mix it with water to get a thin paruppu thanir. Add a pinch of sambar podi. Add a handful of chopped tomatoes and Microwave for 4 minutes. Add the juice of half a lemon. Lemon rasam is ready.
In cup 6 add some tamarind water, add some boiled tuvaram paruppu and mix with water to get the consistency of rasam. Add a pinch of sambar powder and a pinch of pepper. Microwave for 4 minutes. Milagu rasam is ready.You can first make six cups and microwave all these together. So in just 5 minutes you have two kulambus, two sambars and two rasams ready. For all these you can use the same garnish. Heat a spoon of oil, add a pinch of kadugu, perungayam, red chillies and karuveppilai. Add to all six cups. Add some fresh kothamalli to all cups and serve.
There you go - 6 dishes in under 10 minutes. Easy ain't it ?
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Cooking is fun - Duplication is a pain !
- Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
- Okay, let me start from the very beginning. 1500 crore years ago, with a Big Bang, the Universe is born. It expands dramatically. Hydrogen forms, contracts under gravity and lights up, forming stars. Some stars explode, dusting space with the building blocks of life. These condense into planets, one of which is Earth. Over time, self replicating molecules appear, multiply and become more complex. They create elaborate survival machines (cells, plants, animals). A variety of lifeforms evolve. Soon, humans arise, discover fire, invent language, agriculture and religion. Civilisations rise and fall. Alexander marches into India. Moguls establish an empire. Britain follows. Independence. Partition. Bloodshed. The license raj is in full sway. I'm born. India struggles to find its place. Liberalisation. The Internet arrives! I move from Tirupur to Chennai. Start a company. Expand into Malaysia, Singapore and the Middle East. Poof! Dot com bust. Funding dries up. Struggle. Retire. Discover the joy of cooking, giving, friendships and the pleasures of a simple life. Life seems less complicated. Pizza Republic, Pita Bite and Bhojan Express bloom !
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