'Booking' Grandmother's Secret Signature Dishes

Renowned cookbook writer Sabita Radhakrishna’s latest offering Annapurni Heritage cuisine from Tamil Nadu delves into the kitchens of different Indian communities for their secret recipes

Published: 24th June 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd June 2015 11:18 PM   |  A+A-

Do you miss a specific dish that your late paati used to make for you every day? And, no one else knows her secret ingredient that now lies with her in the grave?

book.jpgTo preserve the love, the exact measures of the spices and the different ingredients, cookbook author Sabita Radhakrishna, with the help of more ammas and paatis from different communities, collected loved, popular recipes that are relished by families and inked them all in one hard-bound book.

‘Annapurni Heritage cuisine from Tamil Nadu’ by Sabita published by Roli books, was launched at Crowne Plaza Adyar Park, on Friday.

“Food and family go really well together,” she began and introduced her entire family from her mother to her nieces and family-in-laws.

“After the two cook books I had already written, my granddaughters continued to encourage me to keep going,” she added. Thus began her journey. She met many people from different communities who shared their traditional, family recipes. Chef Praveen, and Chef Harish, the face of Dakshin at the hotel, helped her recreate all the dishes.

“It was in January 2012 when I first met her and I also remember that we had to recreate 80 dishes in two days,” said Chef Harish.

book1.jpgAbhay Kumar has photographed the dishes to make them look mouth-watering, even as a picture.

The hardbound book contains lip-smacking recipes from communities like Mudaliars, Vellalas, Naidus, Anglo-Indians, Chettiars and Tamil Muslims. The first few pages give a glimpse of Sabita’s past.

A caption among many read that her mother Leela Chander’s recipes had been included in the book. Her father used to be very particular about the food, and following the family tradition, her aunts had taken the recipes down generations.

Divided into categories with elaborate introductions to the different communities, the recipes and fonts remind you of a family hand-written,  recipe book.

“I wrote as it should read — the traditional recipes, the way it should be,” said Sabita.

“One of the most significant part of India’s heritage is our cuisine. So much of our country’s history can be explained by its culinary traditions. Our attempt is not only to bring out the recipes, but also to tell the tale of the social history behind these recipes,” said Kapil Kapoor, the director of Roli Books.

After a lighting ceremony, Sabita’s mother was presented the first copy of the book by her daughter and Chef Praveen.

“Back in the day, when my father-in -law asked me if I could cook, I told him no, thinking they wouldn’t accept me as their daughter-in-law. But that didn’t happen. There was a cook and I was relieved, but to my dismay she quit within two weeks,” said Leela,  while the room burst into laughter. “I began to learn cooking. There were major disasters, initially. But soon, Karatal became my signature dish.”

A few of the recipe contributors, including Padma Rajamanickam, winner of a cook-off competition, Rajani Sarathchander, who began  her tryst with  cooking ever since she was eight, and Anwar T were in conversation with Sabita, sharing their memorable stories and favourite recipes.

‘Annapurni. Heritage cuisine from Tamil Nadu’ costs `900 and will be on display at Dakshin from July 1.

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