WANNABE cooks are being thoroughly spoilt. The deluge of cookery books flooding the market gives them so many options that it's surprising they're able to make any choice at all.
Santhi Balaraman, who produces and hosts a cookery show on television has now come with a cookbook with the same name as her show — "Ungal Manasukku Pudichadhu Mattum (That which you like most" is a close enough translation). The book (for more details contact Ph: 044 - 24454357 or firstname.lastname@example.org) covers a large number of dishes — snacks, chaat, sandwiches, rice and vegetable dishes and South Indian tiffin. There is also a section with a few Soya recipes while the snacks and rice sections include a couple of Chinese dishes.
The recipes are mostly simple and uncomplicated. But there are a number of errors that have crept in. In the rotis section, "sieve" appears as "serve" (p. 65) causing much confusion initially. The "Crispy Vegetables — Chinese" can also confuse a new cook. The ingredients list begins with "mixed vegetables". Surely there should be some indication of what kind of vegetables they are.
Despite these glitches, some of the recipes are interesting and tasty. "Drumstick pakoda", Goanese coconut rice", "Indonesian spicy fried rice" and "Jamaican rice and peas" fall into this category as do the"sweet potato puri" and "Thalli peeth". Fans of "Kanchipuram idli" now have a simple, step-by-step way to make this dish. The rotis section has many varieties. This is not just your average aloo paratha, phulka type. You have "Kashmiri roti", "Sri Lankan roti", "Banana roti", "bhaturas" and the good ol' Punjabi "makkai di roti". An interesting roti variant is something called "American roti", which turns out to be quite tasty and pizza-like. The "picnic paratha" is a handy way to make your fussy kid wolf down the veggies.
One last grouse is that there are no pictures. Visuals do help if only to have one long reach that stage of perfection that so often appears in the cookbook glossies.
Ungal Manasukku Pudhichadu Mattum (volume 1): Easy Cookery by Santhi Balaraman, Chaturmukhi Production, Chennai, Rs. 70.