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Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Cookery, Indic (4) ~ by Veena Parrikar


Usha’s Pickle Digest
by Usha Prabakaran

Usha's Pickle Digest
Published in 1998 by the author’s own Pebble Green Publications in Chennai, India.

It was late April and I was browsing the cookery shelves of a bookstore in Mumbai. Like all avid collectors of one thing or the other, I have learnt to quickly pick grain from chaff. My expertise is, of course, aided by the fact that the food-and-drink sections of all mainstream bookstores in India look alike: piles of publications from serial cookbook writers and compilers, a few guides to eating in city XYZ, coffee-table tomes from foreign publishers, and “chef’s series” pocket books. I rapidly scan the spines of these books, eyes peeled for the unusual or the local. That day, however, I flipped through “Cooking in Six Minutes” by one of the aforementioned copious authors. A few books down the shelf, I came across “Cooking in Three Minutes” by the same author. I wondered how far this series would go, and sure enough, out tumbled “Cooking in 60 Seconds”. Just like all problems of this world can be solved if you smile and think positively, so will you be relieved of your kitchen burdens if you think of cooking as the time that a pot spends in contact with the stove. Maybe it was the blistering summer heat or maybe I had looked at one cookbook too many, but I suddenly felt weary of the pervasive silliness of the food publishing world. For an antidote, I turned to two things: slow, sun-cooked pickles that would take days or weeks before they were ready, and a cookbook narrow in its focus, yet unmatched in range and depth.

Usha’s Pickle Digest is the definitive book for Indian pickles; the first and probably the last word on vegetarian pickles, unless the author publishes a second volume. There is not much I can say about the Digest or about Usha that has not already been said elsewhere. One vaguely knew that India has a vast repertoire of traditional pickles, but one did not know that a thousand pickles across 131 ingredients are within the realm of possibility. One had heard of mango pickles, lemon pickles, chilli pickles, tomato pickles, even okra pickles; but pickles made out of coconut, kokum, hibiscus flowers, artichokes, sugarcane, pomegranate, or spinach were beyond our imagination. All the recipes rely only on natural preservatives such as salt, oil, vinegar, and spices. The life of each pickle is indicated at the end of the recipe. There is also something very satisfying about the meticulousness with which the recipes have been titled and indexed for easy access. Even if pickles do not tickle your culinary fancies, the book offers plenty - an extensive glossary of ingredients in ten languages along with botanical names, methods to detect adulteration, buying and storage guides, and several other practical kitchen tips.

The best part of this book for me personally, however, is the profound sincerity of purpose underlying this work. The Digest was published neither for fame nor money. Usha’s patent enthusiasm and desire to share the results of her pickling research is the driving force of this book. We tend to romanticize secrecy in the culinary arts. Prized recipes and techniques are either kept shrouded in mystique or published omitting an ingredient here or instruction there. Clearly, the recipes and kitchen wisdom in this book have been developed through years of diligent and sustained effort. That she went the several extra miles to present her knowledge in a clear and forthcoming manner indeed commands our respect. It is also why we keep rummaging tons of chaff in search of a few precious grains.

Recipe: Sambaara Mango

Adapted from Usha Prabakaran’s Usha’s Pickle Digest

Ingredients:
500 grams cut raw mango, small pieces
75 grams salt (use kosher or crystal salt)
35 grams chilli powder
10 grams fenugreek seeds
10 grams cumin seeds
5 grams asafoetida
200 ml sesame oil
5 grams mustard seeds
A few sprigs curry leaves

Method:
Sprinkle salt on the mango pieces and marinate for a day. Next day, remove the mango pieces from the resulting juices (“salt water”). Reserve these juices in a refrigerator.


Place the mango pieces on a steel tray or thali and sun-dry for four days (till the mango pieces are three-fourths dry).


At the end of the fourth day, roast in a little oil the fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, and asafoetida and grind to a powder. Combine with the chilli powder and add this spice-blend to the dried mango pieces.

Heat the sesame oil, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, and allow to crackle. Pour in the salt water and an equal volume of plain water. When the mixture begins to boil, stir in the mango mixture. Let it come to a boil again, and then remove from heat.


The pickle is ready to use after five days. It lasts for six months.

Notes:
I have presented the ingredients as originally provided in the book. When I prepared this pickle, however, I had neither measuring cups/spoons nor a weighing scale handy. I kept tasting throughout the process. You can adjust the spices according to your taste and the tartness of the mangoes, but please do so in a way that maintains the balance of flavours. The primary tastes in this pickle should be sour, chilli-hot, and salty.

Sambaara Mango (Sundried Mango Pickle)

Text and Photographs: Veena Parrikar

Previously in the Cookery, Indic Series:

Introduction
Salads for All Occasions - Vijaya Hiremath
Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables - Shyamala Kallianpur
Regional Rustic Recipes by Manipal Mahila Samaj

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mamidikaya (Green Mango), Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar (Monday June 2, 2008 at 12:05 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cookery, Indic (3) ~ by Veena Parrikar


Regional Rustic Recipes
by Manipal Mahila Samaj

Published in 2007 by Manipal Mahila Samaj at Manipal, in Karnataka, India.

The cooking of our mothers and grandmothers is the bedrock of our gastronomical worlds. It feeds our memories and inspires our culinary efforts, particularly if we are separated from it by distance or, more unfortunately, death. “Just like Amma makes” is the gold standard to which most of us aspire. It is understandable, therefore, that we have forgetten a time when easy and daily access had rendered us somewhat blase about the traditional foods they prepared. We were tired of the idli breakfasts, the pumpkin koddel was boring, the maggey with jackfruit seeds was fodder for the resident comedian at family gatherings, and why, why, did we have to eat moong daal paayas on every festive occasion! What excited our palates and fired our appetites in those days were the dishes sent over by the neighboring aunties: we waited eagerly for the biryani from Salma downstairs, the fudge, marzipan, and cakes sent over by Mrs. De Souza, the sambar from Mrs. Ananthraman, the bisi bele bhaath from Mrs. Rao, the kori-rotti from Mrs. Shetty and the khakra-chunda from Mrs. Parekh. Even dishes from their failed experiments were sometimes more welcome than the daily food prepared at home. Eating out at restaurants was a luxury and street food, a surreptitious pleasure from leftover pocket money in those days, so the only way to sate our hunger for something different was the gifts from neighboring kitchens.

I was reminded of those times when I received the Manipal Mahila Samaj’s cookbook, Regional Rustic Recipes, through the good graces of a friend and old-time resident of Manipal. The Manipal Mahila Samaj publishes an annual magazine for its members; last year, they decided to compile a special issue with recipes contributed by the members. The result is a charming little cookbook with all the strengths and foibles of a homegrown production created in the spirit of community and sharing. It is a ticket to the kitchens of the neighborhood ladies of my days in India.

Back cover

The distinguishing feature of this book is the classification of recipes. Most general cookbooks, Indian or otherwise, are organized along the type or timing of the meal - breakfast, snacks, main dishes, sweets, preserves - or ingredients - rice, grains, vegetables, meat, and spices. Regional Rustic Recipes is primarily organized according to the diverse regional, religious, and linguistic backgrounds of its members. There are other cookbooks, of course, which provide recipes according to the geographical states of India. None of them, however, reflects the challenges inherent in categorizing Indian cuisines into neat boxes demarcated by simple lines of geography, religion, language, or sub-community. Thus, the book’s main chapters are organized by:

- Geography: Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Lucknow;
- Geography and language: Punjabi, Tamilian, Sindhi;
- Religion: Muslims;
- Religion and geography: Mangalore Catholics;
- Community: Goud Saraswat Brahmin; Bunt, Billava, Ganiga and Mogaveera; and
- Religious proscriptions: no onions and garlic.

Within the chapter on Goud Saraswat Brahmins, the recipes are Kerala-style, Maharashtrian, North Kanara, and South Kanara (Udupi-Mangaloreans); and within No Onions & Garlic, there are the Gujaratis, North Indian Jains, South Indian Jains, Kannadiga Brahmins and UPites (Uttar Pradesh)! Kannadigas and Gowdas sit in their own chapter, and perhaps as a nod to the mother state, there is an entire chapter on Karnataka rice items.

The recipes themselves are another strength of the book. They are tried-and-tested, authentic, and do not shy away from using exotic ingredients or difficult procedures. Make no mistake, this is a recipe exchange between cooks who have wielded the ladle for decades. Consequently, this is not a book that is intended for beginner cooks or those inexperienced in regional Indian foods. The text and layout are minimalist, and there are no photographs or sketches inside the book. Neither the contributors of the recipes nor the editors are named; I was told that this was a conscious choice because for many of the recipes, there was no way to attribute the source in an unambiguous manner. The style of writing is reminiscent of handwritten recipes with their terse instructions and use of truncated and abbreviated words such as ing, tsp, min, and pwd. Further, the errors (dagad phool and marathi moggu are said to be the same spice) do not irritate me as much as the banalities (Food is very important in Sindhi culture).

For all its minor flaws, the book is a welcome addition to the seemingly bare landscape of not-for-profit cookbooks in India. By not-for-profit, I am referring to books published by local temples or churches, community organizations, and women’s associations or other groups, with the express purpose of raising money for a social cause or spreading awareness about a particular type of diet or cuisine. I cannot explain my fascination for such cookbooks - perhaps it is the community effort, the sincerity of purpose, or the local flavours that are sprinkled in these works. Over the last year, I have managed to collect some such books by scouring used bookstores and old paper marts in India. The pickings, however, have been slim compared to the volumes of such (non-Indian) publications seen at used-book sales and stores in the United States. Granted that these types of books are typically published in single editions on a small scale with limited distribution; hence, they go out of circulation very quickly. Perhaps the U.S. systems just do a better job of retrieving old copies of such books. It is probably not a stretch, though, to say that there is room for much more activity and many more books in this sphere in India.

Recipe: Marsoppu

Adapted from Manipal Mahila Samaj’s Regional Rustic Recipes, Chapter: Kannadigas and Gowdas

Ingredients:
Green chillies - 4 to 5
Garlic - 5 to 6 cloves
Onion - 1
Tomatoes - 2
Water - ½ cup
Mixed Greens - 1 cup
Toor daal - ½ cup
Fresh grated coconut - ½ cup
Salt to taste

For Seasoning:
Oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - ½ teaspoon


Mixed greens: Fenugreek (methi), spinach, dill (shepu), Malabar or Indian red spinach (basaLe)


Clockwise from 12 o’clock: toor daal, tomatoes, garlic, onions, coconut. Centre: green chillies

Method:
Cook the toor daal and set aside. Roughly chop the green chillies, garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Place in a saucepan or any other cooking vessel along with a half cup of water. Cook until the vegetables are soft (about 5-10 minutes) and remove from heat. Remove the cooked vegetables with a slotted spoon, leaving the liquid in the saucepan. Once the vegetables are cool, add the coconut and grind to a paste. Add the roughly-chopped greens to the reserved liquid, and cook the greens until wilted. Cool them and run them through a mixie just once. Mix the cooked daal, the coconut-vegetable paste, and the roughly ground greens in the same saucepan, add salt, and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat. Do the tempering as usual: heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add this mixture to the daal-greens mix.

Notes:
I modified the original recipe by reducing all ingredients, except the greens, by half. While I have encountered several recipes with daal, greens, and vegetables, I like the separate cooking processes adopted here as it accounts for the differing cooking durations required for each ingredient. The complete absence of powdered spices also scored a few more points in my book. The original recipe made no mention of salt, which is probably an oversight.


Marsoppu served with red rice, wild tuber chips, and radish-greens chutney

Text and Photographs: Veena Parrikar

Previously in the Cookery, Indic Series:

Introduction
Salads for All Occasions - Vijaya Hiremath
Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables - Shyamala Kallianpur

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar (Monday April 7, 2008 at 12:05 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cookery, Indic (2) ~ by Veena Parrikar


Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables
by Shyamala Kallianpur



Published in 1997 by Shyamala Kallianpur at Secunderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, India. ISBN 81-7525-059-3. (Click on the Bookcover for Author’s image)

If I were Eve in the Garden of Eden, the genesis of my fall from grace might not be the rosy apple, but the seemingly mundane edible greens. Such is the sway that this earthy bounty holds over my taste and imagination. They beckon me at markets with their dewy-fresh looks in variegated shades of green and their promise of glowing health. Thus, each weekend sees the grand entry of a motley bunch into my kitchen. Some of them get used up quickly in a zuNka, aloo-somegreenorother, or a soup. Then my inner child awakens and begins to clamour for something different. This would trigger a search through my cookbooks while the greens waited in anticipation and then shrivelled up with disappointment. For, my cookbooks have plenty of vegetable recipes, but leafy vegetables are almost an afterthought. Even in books that provide a respectable number of greens recipes, the varieties are restricted to spinach and methi, and sometimes mustard leaves. Part of this negligence stems out of certain inherent traits of edible greens; namely, they tend to be stubbornly local and seasonal. Most of them are not amenable to traveling long distances; hence, there are variations in the types of greens found even between neighbouring states. Cookery books intended to reach a pan-Indian or global audience cannot afford to waste space on recipes with main ingredients that are not found everywhere or at all times. It is perhaps a reflection of this constraint that the only cookbook in English on green leafy vegetables in India is self-published by the author.

Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables by Shyamala Kallianpur should not have gone out of print. It is the only book that provides recipes for over 30 different kinds of edible greens found in India. It has clear colour photographs of about 35 varieties of leafy vegetables. More importantly, greens are treated with the care and respect they deserve. With a couple of exceptions (such as the Sindhi Sai Bhaji), the recipes never involve pressure-cooking the leafy vegetables or overpowering them with spices. They are steamed, sometimes fried, or cooked just until soft or wilted. Thus, the greens retain their flavour, colour, and nutrients in the final dish. The author also demonstrates a meticulousness that is not often seen in Indian cookbooks. For example, she explains the difference between “roughly cut”, “chop”, and “finely cut” for leafy vegetables. She not only explains her rationale for giving the measurements for greens in volume, but further tells you how to measure them in the cup (“do not press….but just fill it”). There are many traditional recipes from different regions of India; however, there are also enough innovative dishes to satisfy the need to do something different once in a while.

The chapters are organized according to specific greens: the commonly available ones such as spinach, methi, amaranth, Malabar spinach (see photo below), and cabbage have separate chapters. Within these chapters, the recipes run the gamut from dry sabzi and gravies to soups, snacks, and salads; especially for the first four of the aforementioned greens. With 64 recipes for these greens, I am now never at a loss when faced with yet another bundle of spinach or methi. The chapter titled Other Leafy Vegetables deals with other easily-available greens such as bathua, green-stemmed and purple-stemmed colocasia leaves, coriander leaves, curry leaves, gongura, kulfa (purslane, paruppu keerai), ambat chuka (khatta palak), mint, mustard leaves, manathakali leaves, spring onion stalks, and saranti saag (ponnanganni). It is the last chapter, however, that I find the most interesting. Rather awkwardly titled, Some More “Other Leafy Vegetables” covers greens that grow in home gardens and are not available in the market, or not used much despite their market availability. Here you will find recipes for beetroot leaves, cauliflower greens, radish leaves, carrot greens, garlic leaves, pumpkin leaves, pomegranate leaves, drumstick leaves, tamarind leaves, brahmi, shepu (dill) taikiLo, omum (celery) leaf, and gherkin (kundru) leaf. There are only a few recipes for each of these vegetables, but the book gives a glimpse of the sheer expanse of possibilities that exists with edible greens.

Before writing this review I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to find the total number of edible leafy vegetables that grow in India. It is no secret that the undocumented heritage of Indian cuisines far exceeds the documented, but I can think of no other area, besides edible greens, where this truism applies more strongly. This study identified 42 species of plants with edible leaves or flowers in a single district in West Bengal. Our awareness is limited to only those greens that make it to the market, either through wholesalers or small village vendors who sell seasonal homegrown fare. Kallianpur’s book should have been just one in a long series of such works by various authors from several Indian states. This might be a tall order for commercial publishers, but an initiative funded by the government or NGOs with a nationwide reach might be one of the ways to highlight this rich culinary biodiversity and preserve it from the forest-fires of globalization.

Recipe: Kothchol (Indian Red Spinach with Bottle Gourd)

Adapted from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables


Top: Malabar spinach, also known as Indian Red Spinach. Bottom: Bottle gourd

Ingredients:
Chopped Indian red spinach – 4 cups
Tender stalks of the spinach, cut into 2-cm length – 2 cups
Bottle gourd – ¼ kg (peeled and diced into small cubes)
Jaggery – 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

Grind to a fine paste:
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Dried red chillies – 5 (sauté them in a little bit of oil first)
Raw rice – 1 tablespoon (soak it water for 10 minutes)
Tamarind – one lime-sized ball (use less if your tamarind is strong)

Tempering:
Oil – 1 teaspoon
Garlic – 8 to 10 cloves, crushed (no need to peel).

Method:
Take the chopped stalks in a vessel, add one cup of water, cover and cook on low heat till the stalks are tender. Then add the diced bottle gourd and salt. Cover and cook until the bottle gourd is just-cooked, but not too soft. Now add the chopped spinach, jaggery, and ground masala. Bring to a boil and simmer until the spinach is cooked. Remove from heat. Prepare the tempering: heat oil in a small pan or tempering vessel and sauté the garlic, but do not let it brown. Pour the oil and garlic pieces onto the hot cooked vegetables and cover them quickly. Keep for five to ten minutes, then serve hot with rice.


This is a typical dish from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Chitrapur Saraswat community.

Text and Photos: Veena Parrikar

Previously in the Cookery, Indic series:

Introduction
Salads for All Occasions - Vijaya Hiremath

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Sorakaya(Dudhi,Lauki), Coconut (Fresh), Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar, Bacchali(Malabar Spinach) (Monday February 4, 2008 at 12:03 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Cookery, Indic ~ “Salads For All Occasions” by Vijaya Hiremath

Recipe: Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

Salads for all Occasions by Vijaya Hiremath
Published in December 2005 by Jaico Publishing House

Traditionally, salad or koshimbir has formed a small part of main meals in India, taking its place alongside pickles and chutneys. This probably explains why preparing salads has always flummoxed me. Grains, vegetables, and lentils formed a complete meal, and salads were the step-children on my thali. I managed with the usual suspects - chopped tomatoes and onions with a splash of lemon juice and salt; grated cabbage and crushed peanuts with a splash of lemon juice and salt; steamed beetroot and grated carrot with a splash of lemon juice and salt; *yawn* and so on. I did not fare any better at the elaborate salad bars in U.S. restaurants and cafetarias. With the seemingly endless choices, one never quite knows when and where to stop piling one’s bowl. The end result was always a mishmash of ingredients, all of which I savour individually, but were disastrous together. I also have a distaste for the usual dressings, based as they are in oil and vinegar.

I was not interested in the plethora of salad books found in the American bookstores. Since our main meals at home are always Indian, I needed a book that used Indian ingredients, and produced flavours that would not clash with the other parts of our meal. I had purchased Varsha Dandekar’s Salads of India many years ago, and while it is an excellent cookbook in other respects, it is not about salads. Most of the dishes were really sukhi bhaji (dry vegetable preparations without gravy). There are other books on salads published in India, but they usually just reproduced Western salads. Vijaya Hiremath’s book, which I almost ignored at the bookstore due to the rather bland title, has ended my days of salad ennui.

The book is completely vegetarian, with over 50 salad recipes using a wide variety of easily-available ingredients. Sprouts prepared from whole grains and beans play a prominent role in many recipes, a feature which raised the book several notches in my estimation. Hiremath presents several fresh and innovative combinations of vegetables, fruit, greens, nuts, and sprouts. For example, Country Garden Salad, a jaded menu item that evokes images of limp lettuce and cottony tomatoes, appears in an elegant and attractive avtaar in this book. It is made with tender fenugreek leaves, white radish, carrot, cucumber, tomato, onion, and roasted sesame seeds and dressed with lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh grated coconut, cumin powder, and salt. The dressings are sauces prepared from fruit, vegetables, or dahi; chutneys or dry masala powders. The layout of the book is user-friendly: one recipe per page with the nutritive value for each recipe provided at the bottom. There are plenty of photos, which are mercifully devoid of Indian artifacts and fabrics cluttered around the food.

The recipes use a combination of weight and volumetric measurements, which might pose a problem for those readers used to measuring in cups and do not own a kitchen scale. The instructions are terse and lacking in nuances. For example, greens and vegetables being used in salads must be properly rid of excess water after washing them; otherwise, it dilutes the dressing. Novice cooks might not realise this and the recipes do not include such instructions. The book also suffers another deficiency that is common to some cookbooks produced in India: absence of an index, which forces you to scan the entire table of contents if you are pondering over what to prepare with a particular ingredient. Each recipe, with calories ranging from 250 to 350, is supposed to provide one meal for a single person; but, small eaters might find the quantity too large to be consumed in one sitting. All these drawbacks, however, are minor irritations and easily overlooked once you taste the delicious and nutritious salads made from this book.

Veena Parrikar


Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

From: Salads for All Occasions by Vijaya Hiremath

Ingredients
100 gms wheat sprouts
100 gms carrot
100 gms tomato
100 gms cabbage
1 cup spinach leaves

Seasoning
2 flakes minced garlic
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
150 gms thick curds (dahi)
Salt to taste

Sprouted Wheat
To prepare sprouted wheat, soak them overnight in plenty of water. Next morning, drain the wheat, and place the grains in a clean muslin cloth. Hang the muslin around your kitchen sink tap, and sprinkle the cloth with water. The wheat should sprout in two to three days in mild to warm weather. During this period, sprinkle water occasionaly if the muslin looks dry.

Centre: Spinach and sprouted wheat. Clockwise from left: carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, dahi with minced garlic and salt, roasted sesame seeds.

Method
1. Shred cabbage finely. If spinach is tender, use whole leaves; otherwise chop roughly or break into pieces with your hands.
2. Cut carrot into small pieces.
3. Quarter tomato.
4. Beat curds. Add garlic and salt and mix well.
5. Combine vegetables with sprouts.
6. Arrange spinach leaves on a flat dish.
7. Spread vegetable mixture over the spinach.
8. Pour curd mixture over the vegetables.
9. Sprinke sesame seeds before serving.

Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad
Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Spinach, Yogurt, Reviews: Cookbooks, Sprouts (Molakalu), Veena Parrikar (Monday January 7, 2008 at 12:24 am- permalink)
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Cookery, Indic ~ A Series by Veena Parrikar

Cookbook Collection

Last year, in anticipation of a long stay in India, I began organizing my collection of food-related books into a catalogue. As far as collections go, my cooking library is fairly modest with around 200 books. The catalogue, however, reveals a pattern that is, by and large, a reflection of my culinary inclinations.

  • 95 percent of the collection relates to the food of India.
  • Of these, only four or five cookbooks are published outside India.
  • Hardly two of the cookbooks describe themselves as Indian cookbooks.
  • There are zero books on fusion food. Before someone reiterates the profundity that all Indian food is ultimately fusion food because chillies and tomatoes were brought to India by foreigners, let me hasten to add that I am referring to fusion as we know it today.
  • None of the books are written by professional chefs or owners of restaurants serving “authentic Indian” cuisine; a miniscule number are written by serial cookbook authors; and none of them promise a meal with three ingredients in less than 20 minutes.

Infer what you will from these facts, but one thing has become amply clear to me over the last fifteen years since I began collecting these books. There is a vast body of English and regional-language cookbooks published in India by small publishers or the authors themselves. Most of these modest cookbooks never make it to the shelves of the large mainstream bookstores even in India. They have to be ferreted out of small local bookshops, from publishers’ offices, or directly from the authors. It is, however, here that the best Indian cookbooks are to be found, for they are authored by individuals who cook for their families, love their subject and are willing and able to communicate their knowledge.

For a number of reasons, these books lie largely below the radar of the traditional media, the internet, and the large chain bookstores. First and foremost, cookbooks in regional languages rarely gain a readership outside the geographical state or community that is literate in those respective languages. Even among the books written in English, which have the potential for wider demand, the authors often lack the means, inclination, or savvy to grease the media and marketing machinery into their service. Therefore, most of these books do not get the benefit of newspaper and magazine reviews or grand releases with a celebrity cutting the ribbon. Last and least, as is true of most things these days, medicrity abounds here too. Some of these books probably deserve their share of oblivion for their poorly written recipes, terrible photos, and quite simply, bad food.

So what makes a good cookbook?

Culinary enthusiasts have long debated this in forums, blogs, conferences, and articles. The answers vary depending on whom you ask. A publisher will tell you that it must reach out to a large readership base. Young men who “also cook” love books with pictures of female chefs bending over the pot and licking the spoon. Twenty-and-thirty-something women want to see, above all, lovely photographs of the food. The inexperienced want clear instructions that leave nothing to culinary imagination or wisdom. The reluctant cooks wait for books that will fire their dormant enthusiasm and catapult them from couch to kitchen. The ignorant want books that “comprehensively” cover the “ethnic” cuisine that catches their latest fancy. The purists look for authenticity; the apologists throw up their hands in the air and ask, “what is authenticity”?

Notwithstanding my somewhat flippant tone above, this is a serious question with no easy answers, which is why I have never understood the rationale behind lists such as “Five Best Indian Cookbooks”. Perhaps they serve a purpose in guiding those who are completely new to Indian cuisines. As someone who has grown up on home-cooked Indian food and now cooks it almost everyday, there really is no one (or even ten) great Indian cookbook. My culinary needs vary at different times: on some days, I want to spend three hours making a biryani in 20 difficult steps; on other days, I want to quickly find a new way to use up the five drumsticks and two brinjals sitting expectantly on the kitchen counter. There are days when I would rather lie on the couch and read about the old days when Indian kitchens did not have pressure cookers and mixer-grinders. I might be curious about how Kolhapuri mutton rassa is made although I am vegetarian and would not eat the dish except under extreme duress. Above all, I need Indian food books to keep feeding my interest in the subject almost daily for the more you explore it, the more acute the realization of how little you actually know. Therefore, I will not attempt to define my criteria for a good Indian cookbook.

In this series, I will highlight some selected books from my personal collection. These books are not likely to win awards or cookbook contests and they are not without their faults, but each one has some trait that I value in a cookery book. The series is also a small way of putting the spotlight on cookbooks that deserve more attention than they have received in the media. Since my literacy is limited to English, Marathi, Konkani, and Hindi, my collection is entirely comprised of books in these languages. I would love to hear from readers about their favourite lesser-known cookbooks in these and other regional languages.

Veena Parrikar

(Mahanandi will feature a column by Sreemathi Veena Parrikar, a culinary enthusiast and an excellent writer, on first Monday of every month. - Indira)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar, Zenith(Family&Friends) (Sunday January 6, 2008 at 12:17 am- permalink)
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Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa ~ by Veena Parrikar

This year we celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa. Tourists come to Goa in hordes to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s Day, but fortunately, Ganesh Chaturthi here has remained a quiet, joyous festival that graces the home and the temple rather than strut the streets. Having grown up on the very public, loud, and grandiose observances in Mumbai, the Goan experience came to me with all the freshness and fragrance of a monsoon breeze. Here there are no gigantic idols worth crores of rupees, no loudspeakers blaring crude film songs, no vargaNi (monetary donations) demands at your door by Ganeshotsav associations, and none of the other attendant evils of commercialized celebrations. While there are saarvajanik (public) Ganesh utsav celebrations in Goa, the scale and noise is nowhere near that of Mumbai. The spirit of Ganesh Chaturthi - a celebration of the birth of Ganesh through private worship, cooking and eating delicious saatvik meals, visiting your friends’ and neighbours’ and sharing festival snacks, participating in the aarti, community events such as cooking contests, rangoli and maaToLi competitions - is still alive in Goa.

Here are some vignettes from our Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa.


Shri Shrikrishna Dhumal, a murthikaar in the village of DhargaL, Goa.
These artists shape the murthi by hand and do not use molds or templates. Only eco-friendly materials, from the clay to the natural dyes, are used.


Shri Umanath Naik, another murthikaar in Nagueshi village, putting the final touches on his creations.


The day before Ganesh Chaturthi is marked by paying homage to Ganesh’s parents, Shankar and Parvati.


As part of the naivedya for the Shankar-Parvati puja, a special dish is made with five different seasonal greens. These bunches are prepared and sold in the markets by village women. It includes pumpkin leaves, drumstick leaves, red and green amaranth, and chavLi greens. The greens are cooked without salt and offered to Parvati to take care of her pregnancy cravings.


Our Ganesh, resplendent in his birthday finery.


Modak for the birthday boy. Less than perfect in looks, but full of shraddha (and taste).


MaaToLi is a Goan tradition where, fresh fruits, vegetables, berries, etc. are hung on a wooden frame over the murthi, symbolizing Ganesh’s status as a provider. This is crafted with a great deal of care and passion in the villages, and the all-Goa maaToLi competition has many enthusiastic participants. This picture was taken in the remote village of Bambar in a peasant’s cottage. He had 175 unique items in his assemblage, all of them either grown in the farms or foraged from the wild. We later read in the papers that he won the third prize.


On the day of visarjan (immersion) - a quiet moment after the aarti.


Our Ganesh at the Panjim jetty, just before immersion. This is the hardest part of the festival.


The next morning we headed out to Nirankarachi Rai (nirankar = without form, rai = grove). This is a sacred grove in a forest in the village of Bambar. The Ganapati murthi are dipped in the stream and then left in the forest to naturally mingle with the earth. A more fitting farewell for Ganapati Bappa, I simply cannot imagine!

Photo Credits: Rajan Parrikar

Posted by Veena Parrikar©Copyrighted in Bhakthi~Bhukthi, Traditions, Veena Parrikar (Sunday September 23, 2007 at 2:44 pm- permalink)
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Bhakthi ~ Bhukthi : On Vinayaka Chavithi


Bhakthi
Bhagavan Vinayaka at My Friend’s Home (Goa, India)

Ganesh Chaturthi Neivedyam
Bhukthi ( Neivedyam)
(Festival Meal at My Friend’s Home, Goa, India)
(Modak, Pakoda with Green Chillies and Capsicum, Unprocessed Goan Rice, with Varan (Plain Toor Daal simmered with Salt, Hing, and Cumin), Mooga-gaathi (Sprouted and Peeled Moong Cooked in a Thin Coconut Gravy), Pumpkin Sabji, Papad, Pickle, Salt and A Glass of Buttermilk)

Vinayaka Chavithi Subhakankshalu to Family and Friends!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Veena Parrikar (Saturday September 15, 2007 at 9:21 am- permalink)
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Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts Cookbook Review and Recipe ~ by Veena Parrikar

Veena Parrikar is a dear friend of Mahanandi and me and an occasional guest author on Mahanandi. Her first article was on Iceland. This is her second article, an insightful and engaging cookbook review. I thank Veena for this wonderful contribution!
~ Indira

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There are perhaps as many misconceptions about Indian cuisine as there are restaurants named “Bombay Garden”.

Indian food is tandoori chicken, aloo-matar, saag-paneer, and naan.
It is hot and spicy.
Vegetables are cooked to death.
It starts with frying onions and tomatoes to pulp and ends with a garnish of coriander leaves

One can hardly blame the Western and even some of the Eastern world for harboring these notions. Most Indian restaurants outside India serve the same tired old fare under various guises. The exceptions to these are the upscale “fusion-Indian” restaurants; after all, Indian food cannot be admitted into the Michelin club without a French or “contemporary” accent (pun intended). Over the past few years, South Indian restaurants have slowly gained ground and it is not uncommon to see a Chinese eating masala dosa with her bare hands or a middle-aged white guy slurping rasam at the neighborhood Madras Cafe or Udupi Palace in the USA. The silly notions about Indian food, however, are far from being a thing of the past. For example, the threat of homogenization, albeit of a different kind, hangs heavy like the odor of yesterday’s takeout. The complexity and variation among and within the cuisines of the four states of Southern India (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, and Andhra Pradesh) could never be guessed if one were to go by the menus of these South Indian restaurants. Most of them do not stray far from the familiar idli, vada, masala dosa, uttappam, sambar and rasam, with an indifferent nod to some rice varieties, such as curd rice, lemon rice and tamarind rice. Desserts are still “balls in sugar syrup” (gulab jamun), “ricotta cheese in evaporated milk” (rasmalai), or the occasional rava kesari, leaving in the cold a rich repertoire of jaggery-based sweets that is one of the hallmarks of the cuisines of Southern (and some other states of) India.

To be sure, even within India, availability of the authentic, traditional fare is limited to small niche restaurants, special festivals at star hotels, or if you are lucky, at the homes of neighbors and friends from other communities. Your best bet then, is to recreate many of these dishes in your kitchen, with the help of such cookbooks as Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See, Chandra Padmanabhan’s Dakshin, Saranya Hegde’s Mangalorean Cuisine, Saraswat Mahila Samaj’s Rasachandrika, and Jigyasa-Pratibha’s Cooking at Home with Pedatha.

A new addition to this stellar lineup of traditional Indian cookbooks is Ammini Ramachandran’s Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts: Recipes and Remembrances of a Vegetarian Legacy.

Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts ~ Cookbook by Ammini Ramachandran
Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts ~ Cookbook by Ammini Ramachandran

Ammini’s book fills a lacuna in the Indian cookbook landscape. Books on the cuisine of Kerala abound; however, most of them have a predominance of seafood dishes. Small wonder then that Kerala food, like most other coastal cuisines, is perceived to be primarily non-vegetarian. One food writer and journalist in India even declared that most Malayali vegetarian dishes are terrible! One knows, of course, not to take such statements without the proverbial pinch of salt, and a large one at that. Having encountered the delectable and varied vegetarian fare of the coastal cuisines of Goa and Karnataka, I had always suspected a similar treasure existed in Kerala. Eating and learning it, was another matter altogether, what with the lack of Kerala-food restaurants, close friends from the state, or opportunities to set forth on a voyage of discovery to its shores. With Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts, some of the vegetarian food of Kerala is now just a coconut (or two) away.

The present state of Kerala was formed by the merger of Kochi (Cochin), Tiruvithamcore (Travancore), and Malabar. Each of these regions, originally Hindu, was subject to varying degrees of Muslim and Christian influences. Accordingly, Kerala cuisine represents the confluence of Hindu, Muslim, and Christian traditions. Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts presents the traditional vegetarian cuisine of central Kerala including some from the Kochi royalty. It is one of the first cookbooks to focus on a Hindu culinary tradition of Kerala.

Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts is one of the finest Indian cookbooks to have been written in recent times. Here’s why:

1. Traditional food, when presented for a worldwide (read Western) audience, undergoes a simplification, motivated largely by the authors’ and publishers’ goal to widen the book’s market reach. Recipes are modified to exclude exotic or not-easily-available ingredients; difficult processes might be eliminated or substituted with commercial alternatives; and dishes that do not conform to the health fad of the day might be passed over. Except for a few dishes, food from Kerala is obscure even to many Indians, leave alone the non-Indian readers. Ammini has barely made any changes to her family recipes, yet her presentation makes them seem extremely do-able. She does not hesitate to include preparations with such exotic vegetables as breadfruit, jackfruit, and suran. Ammini has pulled off a seemingly impossible feat in Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts: she has preserved the originality of her traditional family recipes, and made them accessible to those outside the tradition, without overwhelming the reader with tedious detail. Novice cooks might miss having pictures of the finished dishes; the clarity of instructions, however, make up for this to a very large extent.

2. There is none of the anything-goes attitude to ingredients adopted by many modern Indian cookbooks published in the West. No false assurances are provided about difficult ingredients such as coconut milk. She tells us that coconut milk powder can be used instead, but clearly informs that the taste will not be authentic. We are told right at the onset: “My mother always insisted, “Never skimp on the quality or quantity of ingredients,” and I believe it is the first lesson in good cooking.” This is reflected in the meticulous detail provided in the chapter on ingredients.

3. Ammini’s family recipes create dishes that would go a long way in dispelling some of the popular myths about Indian cuisine. Spices are used in skillful moderation (garam masala powder never makes an apperance in this book), the vegetables and grains hold their shape and retain their flavour, and you will encounter delicate and subtly-flavoured curries that will never be found in a restaurant.

4. There is a detailed chapter on the history and development of ancient spice trade in Kerala, and to those who have not previously enquired into such matters, this chapter offers many surprises. The book also provides a very engaging account of the kitchens, culinary customs, and festivals and celebrations of Ammini’s maiden family. A world that is now almost extinct rises vividly from the pages and for a brief while, you forget the harried and hurried pace of your existence (and the pre-made frozen food in your kitchen). This is a serious yet enjoyable work, not just another cloying food “memoir” that is in fashion these days.

The book has been written for a Western audience, but readers in India will find much of profit. Such ancient traditional recipes do not come by very often. I am no alarmist, but it seems as though our traditional cuisines will soon exist only within the homes of determined souls or in five-star hotels. Even wedding feasts in India - the last stronghold of traditional food - seem to have embraced a global integration philosophy: Mushroom Pasta and Gobi Manchurian now jostle for buffet space with tava vegetables, Spanish rice, and Shahi Paneer.

Our culinary traditions, not unlike our ancient classical music, have been poorly documented for far too long, what with the practitioners jealously guarding their treasures from outsiders for various reasons. With the passing of generations, more and more of this body of knowledge will be lost. We hope there will be many more Amminis, who will not only document their family or community recipes painstakingly and truthfully, but also share it generously with others.

Srimati Ammini Ramachandran
Srimati Ammini Ramachandran ~ Cookbook Author

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Pacha Sambar: Sambar with Fresh Green Spices
(Recipe from Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts)

I was intrigued by this recipe as it did not include sambar powder, and at first glance, seemed similar to some of my daal-vegetable preparations. The finished dish was neither like the familiar sambar nor my usual daal-with-vegetables. With powdered spices (except asafetida and turmeric) as well as ginger-garlic absent, the flavour of toor dal is allowed to hold centerstage, complemented by the freshness of the potatoes, herbs, and lemon juice. I stayed faithful to the recipe as I am wont to do when attempting traditional recipes for the first time. There is a slight error of omission in the recipe, but a missing pinch of turmeric is not a show-stopper.

Recipe:

1 cup toor dal
1 medium russet potato or 3 taro, peeled and cubed
2 medium tomatoes cubed
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¾ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
¼ cup finely chopped fresh fenugreek leaves (preferred, if available)
or ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
6 fresh green chilies (serrano or Thai), thinly sliced (less for a milder taste)
4 tablespoons lemon juice

For seasoning and garnish:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 dried red cayenne, serrano, or Thai chili, halved
¼ teaspoon asafetida powder
20 to 25 fresh curry leaves

Ingredients for Pacha Sambar
Clockwise:Toor Dal, Fresh Fenugreek, Tomatoes, Curry Leaves, Green Chillies, Potatoes, Lemons, Cilantro

Wash and clean the toor dal in several changes of water, until the water runs clear. If you are using oily toor dal, the oil must be washed off before starting to cook. Place the toor dal in a saucepan with two and a half cups of water and a half-teaspoon of turmeric powder. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, then turn down the heat, and cook for twenty-five to thirty minutes. (As an alternative, you may use a pressure cooker to cook the dal, following the manufacturer’s directions. It will take about six to eight minutes to cook in a pressure cooker.) As the dal cooks, it should be fairly thick but still liquid; stir in another half-cup of water if it is too thick. Mash the cooked toor dal thoroughly with a spoon, and set it aside.

Combine the potato (or taro), tomatoes, salt, turmeric, and two cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring it to a boil. Stir in the cilantro, fenugreek, and green chilies. Reduce the heat, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Stir in the cooked toor dal, and simmer for four to five minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove it from the heat, and set it aside.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a small skillet, and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the halved red chili, asafetida, and curry leaves. Remove it from the stove, and pour the seasoning over the cooked curry. Cover and set aside for ten minutes, to
allow the flavors to blend. Serve hot with rice and a second curry.

Makes 4 to 6 servings if served with another curry, as is traditional.

Pacha Sambar: Sambar with Fresh Green Spices
Pacha Sambar: Sambar with Fresh Green Spices

~Guest Post by Veena Parrikar

Notes:
Ammini Ramachandran’s website : Peppertrail.com.
For a detailed list of contents and exceprts from the book, see www.peppertrail.com.
Grains, Greens and Grated Coconut is available at Amazon.com, iUniverse.com and Barnes&Nobles
Recommend this cookbook to your local libraries
Author and Book Cover Photo Credits: Ammini Ramachandran, Recipe Photo Credits: Rajan Parrikar
Veena Parrikar’s previous article at Mahanandi: Iceland

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Potato, Toor Dal, Kottimera(Cilantro), Menthi Kura(Fenugreek), Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar (Monday March 19, 2007 at 12:22 am- permalink)
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Iceland ~ Guest Post by Veena Parrikar

Some of my blog readers already know about Veena Parrikar, the incredible and generous lady who sent me gifts in appreciation of ‘Mahanandi’. Veena and her husband recently visited Land of Fire and Ice - Iceland. One may wonder why Iceland? If you are like me, the first question might be “What were the food traditions there”? When I requested her for a guest post, she kindly agreed to share her Iceland experience with me and with Mahanandi readers. I thank Veena for writing this wonderful article and sharing some beautiful pictures from Iceland with us. ~ Indira

Viti Crater
The Colors of Iceland ~ Viti Crater

Last month, we visited Iceland for the first time. Except for a couple of days in the cities of Reykjavk and Akureyri, most of our trip was spent driving around the country, with stops in small towns and villages along the way. We drove for nine days, for the most part on the Ring Road that encircles the island, starting from Akureyri (Iceland’s second-largest city situated in the north, only 60 miles or so south of the Arctic Circle), heading east to Lake Mvatn, then along the eastern fjords towards southern Iceland, then a foray into the interior Highlands to the wondrous Landmannalaugar, finally making our way back to Reykjavk.

One of the great philosophers said that a man travels round the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it. There are some things in Iceland that could probably never be experienced in the countries I call home (India and United States). Some are obvious - Nature in her most beautiful forms, yet so capricious, so forbidding, so untamed that it strikes fear in one’s heart. Others are not so obvious:

* It is the last inhabited unpolluted space on the earth. The environment and water are so pure and clean that they permeate every food item grown and prepared in Iceland, from the dairy products, chocolate, bread, and vegetables to the fish, lamb and other meat products.

* Very few places in the world can claim the silence, stillness and isolation one experiences in many parts of Iceland. There is not even the rustling of trees or the soft, muted noises made by tiny critters. The silence is so palpable that it envelops your ears and wraps itself around your mind like a thick fog, blurring out all mundane details.

* One encounters public rights in Iceland, a term that one forgets after years of living in the United States. Our tour guides informed us that travelers may walk into any farm or land and spend one night without the owner’s permission; for more than one night, you have to seek permission. Even in the most isolated of areas, we could walk into a farm or an open-air bakery and take pictures without fear of being questioned or shot at.

* The concept of tipping does not exist. No tips are given and there is no expectation of one -not in hotels, not in restaurants, not for taxis, nowhere! No bellboys hovering outside the hotels to take your luggage - you haul your own, which is the way I prefer it.

As anyone with a penchant for food is wont to do, I try to learn about the culinary specialties of any place that I intend to visit (after all, the best souvenirs are to be found in the local farms or grocery stores!). To a foreigner and a vegetarian at that, many of Iceland’s traditional dishes might sound rather extreme: H?karl ?”rotten” or cured shark, Svi? ? singed sheep’s head, and blood pudding to name a few. Oddly however, I felt neither disgust nor nausea when I came across some of these items. Iceland’s traditional cuisine was shaped by the exigencies of their land and harsh environment, where they could afford to waste nothing from the few food sources available. Iceland’s meat production entails none of the mechanized and beastly practices that are the hallmark of North American meat industries.

Iceland’s dairy products meet, no, surpass the highest standards of good taste and quality. Icelandic sheep and cattle breathe unpolluted air, graze on pure pastures, and are not subjected to cross-breeding, antibiotics or hormones. I was somewhat apprehensive about the vegetarian fare in Iceland, and had gone armed with packets of heat-and-eat food products. These quickly became unpack-and-throw products once we discovered the simple, yet extraordinarily flavourful vegetables-and-cheese sandwiches and soups in even the most unassuming caf’s. We found three Indian restaurants in Reykjavik - Shalimar (of course!), Indian Mango (which, to our pleasant surprise, was run by a Goan, George Holmes), and Austur India Fjelagid (“East India Company”). The last one, said to be the northern-most Indian restaurant in the world, was exceptional. As for souvenirs, I came back with Icelandic cheese, locally prepared rhubarb jam, which is absolutely delicious and not very sugary, and Icelandic milk chocolate.

Some scenes are forever etched in my memory. The sight of Mjifjrur the most remote and beautiful of Iceland’s fjords, with a population of 35, after a harrowing drive on a one-lane dirt track where every turn was a hairpin bend. The wild white reindeers that appeared on a mountain ledge out of the fog like some mythical creatures, unfortunately, or perhaps, fittingly so, we do not have pictures of this scene as it would have been dangerous to stop given the bad weather and treacherous winding road. The colony of white swans in a lake encounted briefly one dusky midnight when it still looked like twilight*; the eerie silence broken by their strange, bugle-like calls to each other. Like phrases from an exquisite melody only once heard, these scenes return to haunt the mind long after all tangible evidence of the visit has been either eaten or stored away in a closet.

* Iceland has 24 hours of daylight in the summer.

Iceland ~ Photo Gallery


Keri, an explosion crater, around 3000 years old.


On the way to Lake Myvatn.


Sheep grazing in a field at Lake Myvatn - a very common sight in Iceland.


Close-up of a bubbling mud pool at Hverarnd.


Underground baking ovens near Bjarnarflag Thermal Station, where hverabrau, a traditional rye bread is slowly baked for over 20 hours using geo-thermal energy.


Hverabrau (traditional rye bread), which we were lucky to get fresh and warm out of the oven.


One of the hairpin bends on the way to Mjifjrur.


Arriving into Sey?isfj?r?ur, the most picturesque among the fjords of Eastern Iceland.


ingvallakirkja (1859), the beautiful church at ingvellir, the site of the world’s first parliament.


Rainbow near ingvellir. We saw five full rainbows on the same day!


The 17th century “house of prayer” at Npsstaur, a small farm in Southern Iceland. According to this site, the same family has lived on this farm since 1730.


Summer flora in Iceland.


After driving miles and miles with not a sign of life in sight,
this lone couple of swans reminded us that we were still on Earth.


Is it yogurt? Is it cheese? This is skyr, one of Iceland’s traditional delicacies. May be available in some parts of the United States


Hkarl (Preserved Shark) ~ An Icelandic Tradition
Fisherman Hildir showing us his hkarl at his farm in Bjarnarhfn. He regretfully informed us that the traditional occupation of fishing and preserving shark is declining.


Chef George Holmes outside his restaurant “Indian Mango”
My husband was thrilled to bits meeting him - imagine bumping into a fellow Goan in Iceland!

~ Guest Post by Veena Parrikar

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Veena Parrikar (Friday July 21, 2006 at 1:42 pm- permalink)
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A Thoughtful Gift

A Gift From Veena, My New Blog Friend
Click on the photo to enlarge

An unexpected gift from my blog reader Srimati Veena Parrikar. I first met her at a forum, fell in love with her depth of knowledge and deep understanding of our food culture and traditions.

I have written a post a while back on Mahanandi, inquiring about Indian food magazines. In response, she has mailed me two Indian food magazines (Tarla Dalal and Savvy), a cookbook- “Ruchira - Selected Maharashtrian Vegetarian Recipes” and also a packet of traditional Marathi ‘godaa or kala masala’. She purchased all of them during her recent visit to India.

Veena, thanks for the thought and thanks for these wonderful gifts!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Veena Parrikar (Sunday February 12, 2006 at 6:11 pm- permalink)
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