Remember this cookbook?
COOKING can be a passion, a hobby or a plain nuisance. Of course, with all the cookbooks that are flooding the market, a wannabe cook has a lot of help though not always when it comes to the cutting-chopping- grinding-cleaning routine.
Meenakshi Ammal's Tamil classic the three-volume Samaithu Paar (literally translated into Cook and See) is a classic in the cookbook genre. It has been translated into various regional languages and is almost a brand name. The enterprising publishers have decided to carry the branding further and have now brought out Part Four. Written by Priya Ramkumar, this little book has all those varieties that Meenakshi Ammal would not have had in her time soups, salads, chaat and other such items.
There are nine sections, each with numerous items - except the one on rotis (just four). The "Quick Big Bites" has chaat, pizzas, burgers, cutlets ... The instructions on making dishes are straightforward and methodical. No frills or fancy touches. The section on salads, shakes and juices has a number of interesting items - the "Mang-Tam" and the "Apple-Papaya Smoothie" being particularly good. The side dishes are mainly the North Indian variety, while the rice dishes include hoary favourites like Bisi bela bath, khichdi and vangi bath.
Just a couple of grouses. None of the recipes tell one how many a dish will serve. Considering the variety the volume covers, this is an important aspect. Another is the production. In an age when appearance seems to be the deciding factor, it is a surprise to see a cookbook in black and white. The few pictures that do grace the pages look like photocopies. Or is this book meant for the die-hard fanatic who is interested only in the end product what comes out of the kitchen?
Cook and See (Samaithu Paar) Part 4, Priya Ramkumar, S. Meenakshi Ammal Publications, Rs. 50
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