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Recipes Galore


T.C.A. Srinivasa Raghavan

PRASADAM: FOOD OF THE HINDU GODS
By Nalini Rajan
Vakils, Feffer And Simons Private Ltd., 2004, pp. 83, Rs. 195.00

THE ESSENTIAL NORTH-EAST COOKBOOK; FLAVOURS OF INDIA
By Hoihnu Hauzel ; Madhur Jaffrey
Penguin Books, New Delhi, India, 2003; 2004, pp. 183; pp. 198, Rs. 250.00; Rs. 495.00

SIMPLY INDIAN
By Sanjeev Kapoor
Popular Prakashan, Delhi, 2003, pp. 130, Rs. 250.00

VOLUME XXVIII NUMBER 4 April 2004

Twenty years ago, I spent six weeks in the US in the company of a Finnish journalist. His attitude to food and women, both of which were in abundance, were very similar. Take when available but don’t fret if not. My wife’s approach to food is even more practical—like refuelling your car. You do it only when the needle reaches the red mark and never, EVER top up, you fool. And of course, it has to be unleaded fuel, even for the scooter (or children). No frieds, please, we are Tengalais.   The Finn and my wife share another trait. Both start drooling when it comes to food books. Renny the Finn — for that was his name — spent a total of four hours in the Strand and Barnes and Noble cookery sections, flipping grimly through scores of cookbooks. My wife, likewise, got very shirty when I said I would give these books away to friends who had greater use for them. Use — that is the key word. Looking through these four volumes, not without a great deal of interest, two things seem crystal clear to me. First, that the better the book is, qua books that is, the more unusable it is. And, second, women write better cookbooks than men but it is the men who write more useful ones. So the choice is between use-value and read-value. Since I buy books to read and food to eat, I will strongly recommend the three books written by the women here. The one by Kapoor can take its chances.   But since life would be meaningless without what economists call preference orderings, here is mine. Altogether the most readable and informative book is Nalini Rajan’s. In part, though, I am surely influenced by my own childhood when I was made to pour milk down snake pits and feed multi-coloured balls of rice to birds along with my sisters. Rajan writes nicely and it is a great idea to package mythical tales with recipes. Wives of peripatetic Tamil males will be now be able to explain why they are stuffing those awful Madrassi (if you happen to live north of the Vindhyas) and Indian (if you live abroad) dishes down the throats of their kids.   Hoihnu Hauzel’s book is perhaps the first of its kind and a much needed one at that. My best friend in college was a ...


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