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Pickles and preserves from a bygone era

Ranjani Govind
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Vijayalakshmi revisits her grandmother’s kitchen in her book

Down Generations:Vijayalakshmi Reddy is thankful for her early apprenticeship in her grandmother’s kitchen.— FILE PHOTO: SAMPATH KUMAR G.P.
Down Generations:Vijayalakshmi Reddy is thankful for her early apprenticeship in her grandmother’s kitchen.— FILE PHOTO: SAMPATH KUMAR G.P.

Cookery expert Vijayalakshmi Reddy has added one more to her long list of recipe books.

This time, she travels back in time to revisit her grandmother’s kitchen with Happala, Sandige, Uppinakayi .

“My grandmother used to run a sweet shop in Chitradurga where I was born, so food isn’t a business alien to my genes. Even today when I think of authentic Andhra and Karnataka cuisine, I use her recipes with modifications to suit the modern tongue,” she says.

Brought up in Bangalore, Ms. Reddy went on to get a Master’s in History from Maharani’s College, and her long walks to college were enough to make her realise the value of fitness and healthy eating.

She believes that good thoughts begin with good food.

In Happala, Sandige, Uppinakayi , there are 100 recipes categorised into Baalaka (preserved masala veggies); Sandige (preserves that are fried); Happala (papads); Uppinakaayi (pickles); and Tokku (grated or cooked pickle).

Starting with the fiery and zesty Hasimenasinakaayi Baalaka (spiced green chilli preserve), Ms. Reddy explains that this conventional spicy side dish, almost forgotten today, is simple and heavenly, prepared with seven ingredients — chillies, coriander-cumin-fenugreek powder, turmeric, salt and thick curds — that can be a preserved for a while.

“The marinated veggies are allowed to soak in the sun for a couple of days; the crisp side-eats recall a different era. My list of 10 Baalakas comprises vegetables as potato, okra, ginger, bitter gourd, raw banana, white pumpkin and cluster beans. The best thing about helping my grandmother then was I got to taste them at every stage of preparation,” says Ms. Reddy, who is thankful for her early apprenticeship.

The book has recipes for 28 papads and 31 pickles from both Andhra and Karnataka cuisines, all harking back to a bygone era.

Happala, Sandige, Uppinakayi from Vasant Publishers is priced at Rs. 50. Call 22443996 or email vasantha_prakashana@rediffmail.com.

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