Regional Indian cooking has such variety that it's mind-boggling. Every culture has had it's cookbook bible that it trusts to preserve the heritage and authenticity - Meenakshi Ammal is one such great lady who put down traditional Tamil cuisine in three volumes. Such books are not only wonderful to discover in our kitchens the kind of food that is hardly ever available in restaurants, but also to give a great insight into the other cultures in our country. I can say the same about some of the food blogs :) Rasachandrika, written by Ambabai Samshi is one such cooking bible for Saraswat community - and I was glad to buy it a few months ago - this showcases Chitrapur Saraswat cooking.
What I loved about this book is the emphasis on vegetables and the numerous ways of preparing each one, not to mention the simplicity of ingredients and directions. Suppose you are stuck for how to prepare snake-gourd for example, just open the chapter on this vegetable and see which recipe you want to prepare. The quantities for most veggie recipes will be good for small families.
This is how I used up the cut beans, kovakkai and brinjal - selected a dal from the dal section and I had a whole Saraswat meal ready.
Kovai Butti - The masala used for this curry, I found very similar to the one we grind for mor kozhambu. This was probably the best tasting kovakkai (ivy gourd) dish I've ever had.
Recipe for Kovai butti
1/4 kg tender kovai
1 tbsp ground nut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
salt and jaggery to taste
small ball of tamarind
5 red chillies*
1 tsp coriander seeds*
1/2 tsp black gram dal*
a few fenugreek seeds*
4-5 garlic cloves*
1/4 coconut gratings - roasted
*fry in a little oil
Wash and slice the kovai into rounds.
Heat oil, temper the mustard seeds and asafoetida. Add sliced kovai, salt, jaggery - stir well, sprinkle water, cover and cook till tender.
Grind the coconut, fried spices and tamarind to a paste, adding some water if required.
Add this paste to cooked kovai and let it simmer till nearly dried out.
Brinjal bhareet - A very simple dish made by roasting and mashing a large eggplant. The recipe called for adding green chillies, ginger and coconut as is into the mash, I preferred to temper them in oil before use.
Recipe for Bhareet
1 large brinjal
Oil to coat the brinjal - 2 tsp or so
handful of coconut gratings
chopped coriander leaves
6-7 green chillies
1 small piece ginger
salt to taste
3-4 tbsp curds or lemon juice
Apply oil over brinjal and roast on open flame turning on all sides, till completely soft inside. When cool, peel and slice checking for worms. Mash with a fork.
Crush the chopped chillies, ginger, coriander leaves and salt, add to mashed brinjal with coconut gratings. Mix in curds or juice of half lemon in the end.
Dali tuaykadi - One of the traditional lentil preparations, the fresh ground masala gave it a unique taste.
Recipe for Dali Tuaykadi
1/2 cup tur dal
1 cup water
1 small marble sized tamarind / 3-4 kokum rinds / 1/2 raw mango cubed
To fry in oil -
1 tbsp grated coconut
3 red chillies
6-8 cloves garlic
6-7 pepper corns
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
Pressure cook dal with turmeric and water with soft.
Mash dal well with salt and tamarind juice and simmer.
Grind the fried ingredients to a paste, add to simmering dal and boil.
Garlic is optional.
Limited preview of the book available here