Cooking made simple

Viji Varadarajan’s books bring traditional everyday cooking alive

For many young people, pasta is easier to make than sambar these days. After all, it just involves getting online, printing out a recipe and buying a pasta sauce. However, eventually everyone craves their mother’s or grandmother’s sambar and rasam. Which could explain why Viji Varadarajan’s books are doing so well.

At a release function of her three most popular books, she explained why she had chosen to redo and re-publish Samayal: The Pleasures of South Indian Vegetarian Cooking and Festival Samayal: An Offering to the Gods. “I’ve made everything simpler. Shortened recipes and measured cooking times. I’m also releasing it in paperback at a lower price so it can reach more people,” she said. Her recently released third book, Cooking with Yoghurt: a Healthy Taste of Indian Culture, was also discussed at the function. The reason Viji’s books are so interesting is because they act as a record of the recipes of a Brahmin food, resurrecting old favourites as well as keeping traditional everyday cooking alive.

Plenty of choice

She has made the recipes simple, and more important, quick. Samayal, for instance, her best-selling book so far, lists 12 kinds of rice, including vaangi bath (brinjal rice) and maangai sadham (raw mango rice).

Besides a variety of gravies, vegetables, curries and pachadies, she even gives eight recipes for rasam, and a list of ‘tiffin’ items.

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