It is the last Saturday of the month, and here we are with the book review! Since I have quite a lot of cookbooks – small and big – it is a task to select one for the month. This time, I decided to review “Southern Flavors – The Best of South Indian Cuisine” by Chandra Padmanabhan. The reason why I went for this particular book was some very favorable feedbacks from vegetarian food bloggers. They swear by her books for authentic south Indian cuisine. Apart from my own cuisine – which I am still learning! – I do not know much of our neighboring state food apart from the masala dosas, vadas, idlis and sambar, which we have adopted into our eating habits. It was this quest that made me buy this book and make it my own.
I purchased the book through Amazon India and got it delivered to home last year close to when I was going on vacation. From personal experience, if you visit back home regularly or have somebody who can bring the books along for you, then I feel that it is best to buy through Flipkart or Amazon India. I have found that the same book costs much cheaper through the Indian agencies than abroad. If you are like me, a hoarder who still wants to hoard but not spend too much money, then that’s a tip! 😉
The book is published by Westland Ltd and it was first published in 2011. The book has a hard cover, which is a plus point. The pages are normal, with black and white print. There are very few pictures in the book, which are OK. The book is an amalgamation of recipes from states of South India – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The author mentions that the book is a collection of her favorite recipes from her other cookbooks.
One thing I like in the book is how it has been divided into sections – basic recipes (spice powders), sambar and kuzhambu (curries), rasam (soups), poriyal and kootu (stir fries), rice, snacks, sweets and accompaniments, ending the series with buffet suggestions and suggested menus. The segregation makes it easy to look into what you just need. As you move into each segregation, you can go through the recipes included in that section.
All recipes seem to be easy to cook and with easily available ingredients. Most of the recipes have a small description regarding the origin. Kerala based recipes are very limited in the book, which I think is a disadvantage. But as far as I am concerned, since I have other books with Kerala recipes, it may not feel like a drawback. However, people who may buy it for a comprehensive recipe guide for the south, I feel the representation is not apt. Nonetheless, as far as I have gone through it, I have loved the book and the recipes, since they all sound new to me and very interesting too. 🙂
I chose to make this potato curry, which is described in the book as “A delicious side dish from Rajamundry district in Andhra Pradesh”. I love the name of potato in Telugu, “bangala dumpa”. Sounds cute, right? 😀 I served this with plain rice and it was really good. The actual recipe required deep frying of potatoes, but I did a stir fry and then proceeded with exactly the recipe. The spice paste also has 1/2 tsp of poppy seeds, but since it is unavailable here, I didn’t use it. Apart from the above two changes, I followed the recipe to the T. The milk gives a nice creaminess to the end curry. It is slightly on the thicker side but you can add water to give it more gravy. Off to the recipe…
- 3 large potatoes
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 1 green chili, slit
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- ¾ tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup milk
- FOR SPICE PASTE:
- 1 cardamom
- 1 clove
- ½ inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- A small pc ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- Wash potatoes, peel and cut into 1 inch cubes.
- Combine all ingredients under "for spice paste" and grind into a smooth past using a couple of spoons of water.
- Heat oil in a saucepan. Toss up the potatoes and shallow fry till golden. Drain and set aside.
- Add more oil if required, saute the onions along with the curry leaves and green chillies till soft.
- Add the potatoes, powders, salt and ½ cup water and give it a good stir.
- Cook on low flame, sitrring occassioanlly till the water is dried and potatoes are cooked.
- Mix in the milk and the spice paste and cook for another 5 minutes till well blended.
- Serve warem with rice or rotis.