Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India (英語) ペーパーバック – 1999/9/15
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"Dakshin" in an ancient Sanskrit word meaning "south." It symbolizes what this Indian cookbook is all about — the best and most delicious of South Indian vegetarian cuisine.
Filled with tempting recipes and beautiful photographs, Dakshin: Vegetarian Cooking from South India presents the finest cooking from the region. Drawn from the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, and the union territory of Pondicherry, the recipes in this vegetarian cookbook bring traditional South Indian cooking within the reach of any cook in any kitchen.
From sambars and rasams, to cooling desserts and sweet treats, Dakshin takes you through the elements of South Indian meals, including chutneys and pickles, rice dishes, pakoras, payasams, poriyals, kootus, bondas, and vadais. With its use of fresh produce and a healthy and balanced approach to eating, Dakshin is an ideal Indian cookbook for today's lifestyle — for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike — and the perfect introduction to South Indian Cuisine.
Chandra Padmanabhan, a resident of Madras, India, was born in bombay and educated in New Dehli and Calcutta. She is the cooking columnist for the Indian newspaper, Madras Musings.
The only reason I'm giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is the quality of the bookbinding. I've had it for only a few weeks, and I've used it just once so far, but already the book is falling apart. I haven't been at all rough on it, it's just badly made. The signatures were glued or otherwise attached to a plastic strip down the center of the spine. They have all detached, and the plastic strip has broken into 2 pieces. All that holds it together now is the stitching and the thin line of glue attaching the end pages to the cover. I don't expect any of that to hold together for long.
If you can find another edition of this cookbook, one printed by another publishing company (this was by Periplus), I would highly recommend it. If the Periplus edition is the only one you can find, you might want to take steps to secure the binding, or else be prepared to having pages start to fall out soon after you begin using it.
After reading through, I'm unclear on a few things but trial and error should get me through:
- Tamarind pulp "lemon sized" is used frequently with different amounts of water. A ratio difference when using tamarind paste would be really nice to have. I guess the sourness is up to personal preference, but some clue would help for the first time running through the recipes.
- Bay leaf: The spice appendix states that she is talking about the Mediterranean Laurus nobilis bay laurel, but Indian bay leaf / tejpat (Cinnamomum tamala) is probably the traditional leaf used in all the dishes where she uses Mediterranean bay.
- "Bunch" of curry leaves. Depending on where I purchase the leaves has a huge variance on the size and amount of leaves on a stem (if they're still on a central stem). "Bunch" leaves too much up to interpretation (pun intended).
- Copra. I'm sure I can find it around here, but equivalent dried unsweetened shredded coconut would be more useful.
Having a small blender than can deal with grinding spices with some oil or water is highly recommended. In many recipes you create a paste of spices with oil/water and/or coconut.
Nice to haves would be:
- Tagged dairy vs no dairy
- Tagged garlic/onion vs no garlic/onion
- Consistent picture descriptions. I'm pretty sure a few of them were wrong, and on some I don't think I found the description. No consistency there.
- I'm still on the search for a cookbook that doesn't simplify spices just because they think the reader wouldn't be able to find them. Mark them as optional, but keep them in!
The two page sambar chapter intro picture made my mouth water.
This book is a godsend. Last night I made vatral kozhambu, sambar, potato curry, and dal kootu for several members of my family who are older and very picky about their food. They all raved about the food and confirmed that it was indeed authentic. My husband is also amazed by how consistently well my food turns out to be when I use the recipes in this book.
The pictures in the book are beautiful and definitely encourage you to try out the recipes. I have probably tried about 20 recipes in the book and all of them have turned out wonderfully. Some people complain about the heavy use of red chili in this book -- my husband and I like our food very spicy so that is not an issue with us, but you can certainly adjust the amount of spice and the food will still be excellent.
I do agree with other readers that some of the recipes are on the elaborate side and may use more ingredients than necessary. This isn't necessarily the best book for a total beginner. However, if you have cooked south Indian food before or you are willing to roll up your sleeves and try it out, you are in for a treat.
I also want to comment on some readers who say that the recipes in the book are not that healthy. Here is what I do to optimize health without compromising the taste of the food: I only cook with olive oil, I use a lot more dal in the sambars and the kootuhs than what the author calls for, I use very little to almost no coconut in the poriyals, and use very little coconut in the kootuhs, maybe about a quarter of what the author recommends. With these small changes, the food is very healthy but still delicious!
The other point about this book is that many of the recipes can be adjusted for a certain vegetable -- for example, the cabbage poriyal can also be made with beans or brussel sprouts.
I can't recommend this book highly enough, and have even begun purchasing them for my friends/family members.