Of tradition and taste

R. Vijayalakshmi

R. Vijayalakshmi

How about a lunch with steaming hot rice, ghee and keera masiyal? You can make it elaborate with shallots sambar, poricha kuzhambu, idichakka thoran, tangy tamarind chutney and lemon rasam. If you are really fond of traditional dishes of Tamil Brahmin community in Kerala and need other options, just read through R. Vijayalakshmi’s book Traditional Cuisine of Tamil Brahmin in Kerala .

A home-maker “who never gets tired of cooking”, Vijayalakshmi has been living in Bengaluru for over two decades now. “Growing up in Thiruvilwamala in Palakkad, I enjoyed learning cooking from my mother, late Nagambal. When I got married and stayed at Chelakkara in Thrissur, there was my mother-in-law, N. Meenakshy, who taught me many dishes. I decided to write a cookbook because the young generation knows very little about our cuisine. There is a legacy to it and I wanted to pass it on to the next generation. Youngsters are used to having fast food and snacks and don’t know what they are missing out. I am not claiming there is only one ‘original’ cuisine, since there are variations of the same dish. The main aspect is these dishes are very easy to make and can be a guide to experiment,” says Vijayalakshmi who is elated with her debut as an author.

In 170-odd pages she has listed 136 well-known and much-loved recipes of the community, dividing them into sections such as main dishes, side dishes, thogayals-pickles-chutneys, payasams, breakfast and snacks.

“Daal is used extensively in many Tamil Brahmin households and we use less of garlic and onion. I don’t use the sambar powder that come in packets, but use home-made powder and that makes a huge difference to the flavour. We use grated coconut as well. Rasam preparations are quite easy. While most of the varieties have toor dal, in jeera rasam you don’t even need that,” says Vijayalakshmi.

She adds: “I have included those dishes that I make regularly at home. There is no fancy ingredient or complicated methods involved,” she says. She is proud about her coconut chutney, which tastes better with urad dal and idli molaga podi. Snacks is an elaborate section with adai, Thiruvathira kali, coconut poli, cheedai, thenkuzhal, therattipal, barfi and many others.

“My husband V. Krishnamoorthy and son Vinod swear by whatever I make and that has been a huge confidence-booster for me,” says the 55-year-old.

The book, priced Rs. 195, is published by DC Books.

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 12:07:23 am |