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Author: Viji Varadarajan
Publisher: Orient Enterprises
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788190287661
‘Samayal’ simply means to cook a meal and ‘Saapadu’ in the Tamil language means food.
Today however, many Brahmins have set aside their cultural traditions and customs. Their habits are fast changing due to the many influences of environment and lifestyle. At the back of the mind of the modernized Brahmin is the tugging need to reclaim the roots, customs and habits especially of the cuisine.
This book on vegetarian cooking retains the authentic methodology of the South Indian Brahmin’s cuisine. However, it has incorporated modern techniques, implements and local ingredients. It records the adaptability and assimilation of the tastes of a people who have left behind the agraharams (community streets around the temples) of their ancestors but who still retain the values and traditions of their roots. Nevertheless try out these recipes and enjoy preparing the ‘samayal’ and ‘saapadu’ of a South Indian Brahmin cuisine!
The food cooked in a Brahmin kitchen was sathvic paying special attention to the balance and nutritional value of the meal eaten. The ragi porridge, the ladle of plain cooked pigeon peas served before the rice and the topping of the spoonful of homemade ghee; the balance of plain and spicy food; and the cooling effects of yoghurt as a final course to set right any imbalance in the food eaten that day were meticulously maintained.
South Indian Tamil Brahmin cuisine is mainly vegetarian and is based on the concept that food shapes the personality, mood, and mind. Food is always cooked with a great deal of attention to the balancing of nutrition, flavor, texture, and variety. Onion and garlic were not even thought of and garam masalas were unknown. It is very important to note that Tamil cuisine has a mild seasoning with a variety of spices and lentils that lend the flavor and aroma to every dish.
This latest and comprehensive book sets a new path to a sathvic way of cooking. Gourmand winner Viji Varadarajan has been spreading her knowledge on the Tamil Brahmin cuisine to expats far and wide. Her Japanese students, ardent devotees of this cuisine have gone on to start restaurants in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan. With a simple and lucid explanation this authentic book is a treasure trove for the young and old alike.
Many people who have moved out and whose roots are still entrenched in the cultural ethos of their native land would love to use this book as a true recollection of their grandmother's recipes. Try them in the warmth of your own kitchens. This book has just won the Gourmand Award for ‘The Best Vegetarian Cookbook’ for the year 2014. The award ceremony is in Beijing in May.
The exodus first to Mumbai and Pune and then to the north and east of India gradually introduced new ingredients and flavors. The dispersion around the world made the average South Indian family eat different platters. The basic recipes however, have been maintained with only variations introduced in flavors and ingredients. Yet, when there is a special celebration or festival, the traditional meal is cooked and eaten.
Viji’s books are not only for those interested in cooking. There is a deeper message; there is a heritage we must remember. The integration of spirituality with food is stiking!
== Dr M S Swaminathan Chairman – M S Swaminathan Research Foundation
Her book is doing a yeoman service to vegetarianism. Very simply written it has a science attached to it.
== Dr Nanditha Krishna Founder – C P Art Center
This is truly what you call grand – mother’s food and it is a reflection of one’s attitude And a way of life. Her recipes are purely for the mind and soul and are wonderfully sathvic. I salute her for her wonderful achievement.
== Chef Natarajan Corporate Chef – Taj Gateway Hotels.
The book is tribute to the South Indian Tamil culture and showcases the best of the Brahmin cuisine to a global audience. I have personally found the recipes easy to follow and execute!
== Chef Rajesh Executive Chef The Park Chennai
Just going through the recipes brings back memories of grandmother’s kitchens.
== The Hindu
Viji Varadarajan’s book on time-tested vegetarian recipes is wonderfully sathvic and tasty.
== News Today
Her recipes have nutritional and health values that are perfectly balanced – low in fats and cholesterol and yet high in proteins and vitamins.
== The Deccan Chronicle
Clear and sensible and unpretentious, her recipe books carefully deconstruct everyday dishes from traditional South Indian kitchens.
== The Metroplus
Viji Varadarajan’s passion for cooking has inspired her to bring out recipe books that celebrate the art of healthy traditional cooking.
== Just for Woman magazine
Chapter I: Glorious Rice
Chapter II: Vegetables Stews and Curries
Chapter III: Karis: Vegetable Stir-Fries From a Tambram Home
Chapter IV: Relishes and Sauces-Yoghurt in a Tamil Home
Chapter V: Rasams: Soups For the Soul
Chapter VI: Chutneys and Sauces
Chapter VII: Tangy Pickles of the South
Chapter VIII: Tiffins/Anytime Snacks
Chapter IX: The Sweet Touch
Chapter X: Clarified Butter/Ghee/Neiy
Chapter XI: Podis: Piquant Tamil Spices