- Paperback: 152 pages
- Publisher: Orient Enterprises; 6th edition (20 September 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 8175251743
- ISBN-13: 978-8175251748
- Package Dimensions: 24 x 17.8 x 0.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,30,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Samayal - The Pleasures of South Indian Vegetarian Cooking. Paperback – 20 Sep 2010
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Description for Samayal - The Pleasures of South Indian Vegetarian Cooking.
Tamil Brahmin food relies more on the taste of individual vegetables, cooked gently with carefully matched seasonings, which fits in comfortably with the Japanese culinary ethos. The fact that Kurumi and her friends having travelled all the way from Tokyo are in the kitchen of Viji, learning how to make a perfect semiya upma is indicative of the fact that we are poised at the beginning of a new wave: foodies travelling the world to learn cooking from individual households, recipe hunters leaving no page unturned in their quest for something new, cooks tracking down each other to swap techniques. Thanks to the Internet, with blogs, you-tube and websites, all this knowledge is quickly available to everyone. Whoever thought a vendaikkai thayir pachadi could travel so far, so fast, so flamboyantly. --The Hindu Newspaper - 2009
FUSION IN THE KITCHEN South Indian recipes are now on a gastronomic journey to the Orient. Young Kurumi Arimoto balances carefully on her toes, and stirs the carrot mundhiri payasam. Maiko Shimizu fiddles with a nifty camera, capturing the moment. Meanwhile, Akemi Yoshii, ponders over translating 'araithu vitta thakaali vengaaya sambhar' into Japanese. In the middle of the kitchen, cookbook writers Padmini Natarajan and Viji Varadarajan simultaneously try explaining everything from ghee-making to how American frozen spinach cubes make for 'mulagu kootu' that is 'out of this world.' Welcome to the new global culinary classroom. Kurumi, the daughter of Japanese cookbook writer Yoko Arimoto, has written one recipe book and is currently working on another. Her fascination for Tamil Brahmin cooking is what led her to Viji s kitchen and 'kadais'. Maiko is a professional writer, photographer and radio presenter. She runs the website and is working on recording and collating Kurumi s culinary adventures in Chennai for a travel-food story, for her website. The link that brought everyone together is Akemi, Japanese translator with a Chennai software company, she is also a freelance food writer with a Masters degree in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide, Australia. This is their first introduction to home made Indian food. Yet, all three state that while Viji s cooking is exotic, it is not unfamiliar. As Kurumi deftly makes 'kuzhakattais' stuffed with moist coconut and crumbly jaggery, they talk of how similar these are to Japanese wantons, and those ever-popular dimsums found in every chinatown in the world. Kurumi plans to work on popularising this kind of fresh, easy South Indian home cooking in Japan once she is back, because she feels it fits in well with Japanese traditions. 'Our staple diet is rice and our food taste is also mild and fresh.' Despite Indian food s reputation for being high on spice and chillies, Tamil Brahmin food relies more on the taste of individual vegetables, cooked gently with carefully matched seasonings, which fits in comfortably with the Japanese culinary ethos. As recipes and kitchen tips are swapped, Kurumi and Viji cook their way through an elaborate lunch. Eventually everyone s tucking enthusiastically into the 'sutta kathirikkai gotsu', made with carefully smoked brinjal and twanging with the distinctive flavour of 'hing' paired with fragrant 'venn pongal'. 'We do not eat Japanese food everyday,' says Akemi, talking of the various kinds of cuisine available in Tokyo. 'Indian food is our favourite and we even have our own curry!' However, South Indian restaurants are rare in Japan. The few Indian restaurants that move beyond the flaming red curry '. Although chicken tikka and greasy curry tend to represent India in places like London and New York, these cities are also cosmopolitan enough to nurture change. In many of the world capitals, Indian food is ceasing to be defined by the curries, naans and kebabs of North India. Regional food is getting popular, as Indian chefs introduce the world to the likes of Kerala beef fry, Goan prawn balchao and Chettinad chicken. However, the fact that Kurumi is in a brahmin kitchen, learning how to make a perfect 'semiya upma' is indicative of the fact that we are poised at the beginning of a new wave: foodies travelling the world to learn cooking from individual households, recipe hunters leaving no page unturned in their quest for something new, cooks tracking down each other to swap techniques. Thanks to the Internet, with blogs, YouTube and websites, all this knowledge is quickly available to everyone. Who ever thought a 'vendaikkai thayir pachadi'travel so far, so fast, so flamboyantly? --Shonali Muthalaly for The Hindu - April 2009
Samayal is a good South-Indian cook book and every housewife will surely like to refer to it regularly --The Hindu Newspaper
About the Author
Besides writing cookbooks, the author is extremely fitness conscious. She has learnt 3 classical dance forms of India, reads historical fiction and has a love for languages. She also loves listening to classical Indian music. She teaches sathvic cuisine to expats that include French, Thai, Germans, Japanese and Italians. She has co-authored a French cookbook with Sophie Girot - 'Saveurs Subtitles du Sud de l'Inde' that has won them a Gourmand award in 2010.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The recipes from this book that I've tried so far have been delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare and probably pretty hard to sample outside of South India. The spices are well-balanced and compliment the flavors of the main ingredients without overwhelming them and I'm looking forward to preparing many more recipes from Samayal.
Incidentally, I had questions about some of the cooking instructions in the book so I contacted the Author by email and she got back to me quickly with the answers. She's become a friend and great source of valuable information and advice about all things "Tam-Brahm", especially the cuisine, even going so far as to send me additional recipes and providing an alternate Veganized version of Avial using tamarind instead of yogurt!
And speaking of yogurt, you will find a separate cookbook of various recipes with yogurt as the featured ingredient included with Samayal. I'm sure those who eat dairy will enjoy it just as much as Samayal itself.
The author has insisted on maintaining the integrity of not just the ingredients and the cooking methods but also the terminology and the names of the dishes (as opposed to anglicising them for popular appeal). Most Souh Indian dishes are wheat and dairy free making it ideal for those who have intolerences to these foods. I thank Viji Varadarajan from the bottom of my heart for putting this book together and I thank Amazon.com for making it available.
My biggest complaint is the lack of detailed organization of the book... There is some organization based on broad, sensible categories (helps me to look for recipes I need). But each of these categories contain tens of recipes and you have to browse through the pages to find what you are looking for. I just noticed a new book by the author that seems to have more detailed table of contents, but I don't own it yet.
Also, it would have been nicer had the author devoted a few pages on explaining the basic ingredients. So, if you already don't own an Indian cookbook, you may need to google some of the terms used, but the process is fast and works well. If you need more help in this department, "The Indian Grocery Store Demystified" by Linda Bladholm might be a good place to start. Please note that this book also suffers from some organization problems!
In an ideal world, I would have given it four stars for its lack of table of contents and the absence of an index, but the recipes are simply great (and hence, the five stars). I cannot believe that I can make such great "vengaya sambhar" and "tomato rice" among others. In my opinion, the main strength of this book - simplicity without compromising authenticity. Now, if only I could find a similar book for South Indian Non-Veg...