Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Southern Flavours | Chandra Padmanabhan | A Book Review

Book: Southern Flavors
Author: Chandra Padmanabhan
Published by:  Westland
Food photographer: N. Prabhaakkar

Every once in a while, I come across a cook book that makes me want to take it home and scour through its pages. And to me always the first impression is important. It decides if I'm going to scan through the pages. Well, this book surely took me into the recipes with beautiful macro shot pictures. In one single picture, you would embrace the dish!

I received this beautiful cookbook "Southern Flavors" by Chandra Padmanabhan from Blogadda, as part of their Book review program. This is my first book review. I have heard about her recipes through various people, but never owned any cookbook of hers (or any other) for the matter of fact.

Meet Chandra Padmanabhan, with her the best of her cookbooks for her myriad fans, Southern Flavours. She is the author of Dakshin, Southern Spice, and Simply South. They are her tried and trusted book which are sold all over the world with no fuss. I am very happy to possess the best of her recipes through this book.

Southern Flavors is for a beginner, and not alone for beginner but to all those who have no idea to use certain healthy herbs and grains. We get an insight into more varieties of our regular ingredients. I would also say, anyone from a varied cuisine who wish to try the Southern cuisine of India, this would be a great initiative. This is a treasure of South Indian recipes and some of which are completely out of our minds and never seen in the modern kitchen.

Southern Flavors brings together the best of her last three cook books along with 50 fresh recipes to tempt any adventurous cook. This book is a result when she was requested for collating the most popular recipe together in one book. And this is targeted for beginners who are completely new to kitchen.

Southern Flavours patiently starts with the basics of the recipes from the south Indian states with detailed explanation for any layman to carry out like a pro in the kitchen. This goes as a great gift for the newly wed.
I love the way how she had mentioned about all the minute details into the cooking factor like the cooking time, serving suggestions, and pre-cooking requirements etc. She also gives detail of the metric conversion in Indian and US standards. There are some recipes for a routine cook which have gone unnoticed to most us and sound quite new at times.

More details into the Book:

The recipes is from all parts of the states including a varied collection of vegetarian recipes from Tamilnadu, Andra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka.

To start with cooking rice in 3 ways. This gets to the basic of South Indian cooking. How to cook rice on stove top, Pressure cook, and the modern Micro-wave. It goes on to explain kuzhambu, and how the trick to getting them right is balancing the flavours of the souring agent — whether it is tamarind, tomato, sour curd or lemons — with salt and chilli. There's plenty of variety, sambar alone comes in three styles, with spinach, shallots and the podi potta paruppu sambar of Tamil Nadu.

Kondakadalai Venthaya Keerai Poriyal from Southern Flavours
The above poriyal is my experiment, which was so flavorful. I have cooked kala channa and Methi leaves as a different dish, but in the book when I saw both as one recipe, I immediately soaked the channa. The recipe to come soon, and please wait for more interesting recipes from the book.

There's an entire chapter on rasams, from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, all made with a slew of unusual ingredients — coconut milk, rice water, lime — beside the usual tomato, black pepper and cumin seeds. To increase the nutritional power of family meals, check out the power-packed poriyal, made with fenugreek leaves, long green beans and green plantains, besides the bean sprout dosas, Multigrain dosas, Ragi roti, Oats rava idli,  Beetroot carrot Potato fry, and a completely new Curd curry with potatoes.

Even decadent dessert features some virtuous entries such as carrot payasam and green gram laddoo. This is certainly helpful to people who are completely new to cooking. The recipes are neatly categorized into

Sambar and Kuzhambu with 28 recipes,
Rasam with 12 recipes,
Poriyal and Kootu goes for 26 recipes,
Rice is made in 16 different recipes,
Snacks munched with 32 different recipes,
Sweets with 12 reicpes
Accompaniments is with 20 different varieties
and comes the Buffet spread, suggested menus, and Glossary with spice translation in 3 different language, English, Tamil & Hindi.

As you could have seen in the category itself they are more in to Tamil + english. But they have recipes from other regions too. To my opinion, a little more from other states (to Tamilnadu) would have balanced it better. I would love to suggest if it were not much of Tamil words like Kuzhambu and others, then this book would be a great one for foreign language beginners too!

The photos are colorful and good enough to show the complete details of the food, but expect more photos. I always look for some beautiful appliance or gadgets to comes along with the food. Though they were missing, but it sure is a wonderful representation of the entire recipe in a picture.

All in a phrase, a wonderful cookbook to possess as part of you Bookshelf. Even if you are not new to kitchen, the book will not disappoint you with the varied recipes and amazing flavors.

About the Author

Chandra Padmanabhan, a graduate from Calcutta University, did her post-graduation education at Delhi University. She has long been associated with the publishing industry. But it is cooking that has been the author’s forte for nearly four decades. She last won the international GOURMAND award for the second best vegetarian cookbook in 2009.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!


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