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Cook Book Review - Cooking At Home With Pedatha

Reviewer - Nirmala Garimella
10/02/2006

Cooking at Home with Pedatha
Vegetararian Recipes from a traditional Andhra Kitchen
By  Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain
www.pritya.com

In the epilogue to this book is a poem penned on Pedatha where cooking is defined as not merely a technique but an intuition, a flavor, a whiff.  That is what makes this book so special. Special because it comes from a very authentic cook, Pedatha, the oldest offspring of former President of India, Dr.V.V.Giri, and Smt Saraswathi Bai Giri. Special because it is beautifully illustrated and the recipes are clear cut and special because it comes straight from the heart. The authors, Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain have worked hard to present this book in a creative and most engaging manner.

Pedatha literally takes the cake for defining the authentic Andhra recipe. Her recipes strike a balance with old fashioned goodness and simplicity to the traditional Andhra cuisine. Mr Preetham Parigi,  in the introduction says, " the word 'Pedatha' became synonymous with that aunt who was ever ready to indulge anyone who came visiting and expressed her affection by cooking and serving tasty food".

I love the fact that the index has the Chutneys right on top. Have you ever thought of an Andhraite not making one of these as part of their staple food? From Palakoora (spinach )Chutney to good old gongura and the red chili pickle, the repertoire is lip smacking and delectable. This is followed with an entire section of Powders or Podis and some exclusives ones are Kandhi Podi (Red gram Powder), Karivepaku Podi (Curry Leaf Powder) etc. Annam or rice recipes come next with koora or vegetable and Pappu or dal. No meal is complete without Yoghurt and the recipes here offer variations  like Majjaga Pulusu and Menthi Majjiga. Sweets follow next and crispies or Vadiyala another important accompaniment to an Andhra meal is included.Pedatha provides easy instructions for delicious creations such as Bobbatulu, Rava kesari, coconut laddoo and vadiyalu. Recipes for timeless favorites include pulihora, gongura chutney and chinta chiguru pappu,  patoli and Mamidikaaya Thokku.

With beautiful photos and a well thought out layout and design, the recipes allow no clutter. The dollop of Ghee that adds to the taste of the Pachchadi is not lost on the two writers and sure enough that is what makes all the difference.

Hailing from Andhra Pradesh myself, I have honed my cooking skills over the course of watching my grandmother and my own mother cook the best of pachadis, podis and other traditional dishes. Jigyasa Giri and Prathabha Jain have done all those die hard Andhra cooking enthusiasts a big favor. Not only have they diligently and painstakingly outlined each recipe but have adapted the measures to an international audience.The pictures of spices with explanation and variations to each recipe along with valuable tips enhance the value of the book. Now I am reassured that someone like my daughter will not despair of not knowing how to make Patholi or Bobbbatulu. A copy of ‘Cooking at home with Pedatha’ can provide her with just that.

Pedatha makes an appearance in between the pages and her photo invokes wisdom and thought and adds a very nice touch to the narrative. This cookbook celebrates the pleasures of cooking with simple natural vegetarian ingredients and the joy of traditional cuisine. A great tribute to a wonderful Home Cook

Also: Available in US through amazon.com, innoconcepts.com and pritya.com and many other online sites.



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