Monday, November 20, 2006

Off to India- Your opinions needed!

I am leaving for a month-long trip to India in a week. I am looking forward to good times with family and good food, of course. Being a foodie, I usually get a few cookbooks without knowing about the success rate of its recipes.

But this year, I have you all to help me find good books. Any suggestions for Indian cookbooks focusing on some regional cooking? Absolutely any style is welcome but in specific I would appreciate help with good books on Andhra, Maharashtra, Kerala, Bengali, Gujarathi and/or Karnataka cooking (all written in english or tamil or may be in Hindi).

Also, if you have had some nifty kitchen tools/gadgets that is available in India, you can add that to your comment too. If you have a blog, a post would enable us all to view the tool and its value.

Your comments and emails are greatly appreciated.


  1. Mika...Bon Voyage. Have loads of fun. About the list -
    Cooking with Pedatha is high on my own list (Andhra)
    For Maharashtrian the gold standard is Kamalabai Ogale's Ruchira.
    The Essential series (Goa, Delhi, Kerala, Sindhi etc.) are all good.
    Other suggestions - Life & Food in Bengal, Flavors of the Spice Coast, Gujarat nu Jaman...
    I could go on but there is a limit to your baggage :-)

  2. Something that is a great joy and comfort is dried tulsi leaves from back home. Fab-india (of the khadi kurta and home furnishings fame)sell packaged Organic 'Tulsi tea' (which has no tea, but is a combination of rama tulsi, krishna tulsi and vana tulsi leaves). It is great to have by itslef, or a pinch added in the regular process of making adds so much comfort especially in the winter months. They also have ginger tulsi, and a couple of other varieties. I found these at their Bangalore outlets...not sure if they are available in other places!
    If you can find shredded sundried amla (nellikai), that is also a great thing to is good for digestion, and to ward of colds...and I soak it in warm water and add yogurt to make nellikai pachchadi to have with khichadi or pongal...
    Everytime I get the sniffles, thee two things make sure they dont turn into a full blown cold :)

    Wish you an enjoyable and safe trip home!

  3. corection * these , not thee

  4. Can't help you with the cookbooks since I myself couldn't find any decent English ones while I was there. Mrs.K.M Mathew is one of the well known cookbook authors in Malayalam. I think she has an English cookbook too.
    Gadgets to bring from home- If you like cooking with clay pots they have ones that are specific for gas burners. Wrap them in clothes before transporting. You can also get some vanilla beans from there. Might be less expensive.

  5. Thanks so much for the responses. Plz keep them coming!

    Ashwini- Ruchira is something that I have heard of but had forgotten the name. Thanks for reminding me.

    Gini- The kerala cookbook is new to me. It goes into my list. As for clay pots, I have a not that great electric stove. A lot of those Indian vessels get burnt in the bottom because of the poor heat control. Do you know if they work in electric stove?

    Annapoorna- I will be making a trip to Fab India when I am in Bangalore. We make tulsi kashayam for colds and would definitely be of use in US.

    If you are from South India, there is another variety of leaf that is used with tulsi called Karpooravalli. Any idea if you can get it dried?

  6. Hi Mika,

    Happy journey and preparation!

    About recommendations, 'Cooking at home with Pedatha for Andhra recipes. I LOVE this book, authentic and verymuch homecooking.
    Cookbooks by Das Sreedharan, I love them all. Do you remember my mom's recipe of mango halwa with semolina, he featured it in his book with beautiful photos. Really good books for decent Indian recipes.

    About utensils and ingredients - muruku press and sara pappu (charoli/chironji). Good things to have at home.

    - Indira

  7. Mika, I do know what Karpooravalli grandmother used to grow it in pots at our grew like a weed! nice lush plant in no time...we would make raita with it, and serve with pongal...very tasty! I havent seen it being sold dry...
    It sounds like you are going to be in Kerala? There's this wonderful place in Thrissur called Altermedia
    They might have some, or know where u can get it...they might even be able to mail it to you, if you're not in Thrissur...
    I dont remember if the karpooravalli we had was from a seed or a cutting, if you can find seeds somewhere, then its very very easy to grow the plant- good-looking houseplant, and medicinal too :)

  8. Hi Indira-Das Sreedharan's books are new to me. Hope Cooking with... and his books are available in India. Surprisingly, good Indian cookbooks seem to be available in other countries only, hmm.

    Thanks for the tip Annapoorna- I think we used a cutting of karpooravalli to grow the plant. BTW, I am going to Chennai and Bangalore only. So I will look out for the seeds.

  9. Anonymous10:20 AM

    Hi Mika, have a wonderful time in India. ' Dakshin' is one book comes to my mind if you don't already have it.Great book about South Indian meal:)

  10. Hi Mika,
    Have a safe and a wonderful trip home. Chandra Padmanabhan's second book (first is Dakshin) - Southern Spice has some not-so-common South Indian recipes.

  11. mika,

    I am heading to India in couple weeks also. If you have a chance to browse through those books in time, let me know your thoughts. I am also planning to buy tons of cooking books to bring back. ahhh, the joy of learning to prepare authentic food from indian chefs. I am excited.....

    great blog, will certainly return more often!

  12. Mika, are you back from India? Happy new year, and hope to see lotsa great new recipes!

  13. Anonymous12:53 PM

    mika, my 1st time here... i will suggest u to visit landmark shop... u will find everything under same roof:)