Sunday, August 18, 2019

#649 : Classic Cuisine and Celebrations of the Thanjavur Maharashtrains by Jaishri P Rao : A Review

Food is an integral part of life. There are people who live to eat and then there are the others who eat to live. I belong to the former category. Cooking, I realised since I started having my own kitchen, is an art. A pinch of that, a dash of this, a cup of that - all of it just works in putting up an edible dish. To bring out a tasty dish which would fill the soul of the eater is a herculean task. For novice experimenters like me, cookbooks and videos on Youtube are saviors. Gooblegram, Tasty, Hebbar's Kitchen, all help, but they can't possibly replace a written material. I'm sure that many would disagree with me, but let me elaborate. 

With the advent of Internet, Youtube and such channels, a recipe is just "Google" away. Voila! you have plenty of how to videos with step by step instructions to cook up a storm. However, imagine few years down the line. You've perfected the art of say, making a Payasam (Sweet porridge) with the help of these videos and some learning of your own from repeated experiments, how would you record it? how would you pass it on to the next generation? I do agree that these videos are forever since they are digital, but would they contain memories of all your experiments? Of course not. Think of it as our school text books. On a cheeky note, would Harry have become Slughorn's favourite if not for the Snape's portion book? (Pardon me, I cannot just not use a Harry Potter reference here!) You get the drift. 

This is one such gem of a book. Organised based on the festivals celebrated by the a particular community - The Thanjavur Mahararashtrains - the book is a celebration of Indian cooking. It has tested and perfected recipes which work like magic if you follow it to dot. I can personally vouch for that, having tried out a handful of ones from them. The book is also organised according to the traditional Indian calendar (Maharastrian particularly). This is one truly unique aspect of the book since other cook books commonly are organised  only alphabetically. With rich pictures of the food and other customs they follow, the book is a true celebration of soulful Indian food. It is evident that the author has put in a lot of thought and meticulously researched about various customs and presented a work which would aptly serve as a primer for that particular community for generations to come. Every photo, every recipe reeks of her passion of Indian cooking and customs. In spite of being oriented to a particular community, other than a few specific recipes, the rest are fairly common to most of South Indian state's food palette. The book will most certainly be a good place to start for people  who have very basic knowledge of cooking. 

It took me months to get around to reviewing this book, since it is truly one of a kind. I do not say this because the copy was gifted to me, some books just stay with you forever for what they are and this is of that kind.

Do buy the your copy from Amazon here (or PM for it)