Cook and see – Meenakshi ammal

This is the oldest and most authentic guide to the dishes of Tamil nadu. It is the first published cook book in Tamil. First version of this book was published in 1951 by S Meenakshi Ammal. This book was originally written in Tamil, titled Samaithu paar  meaning cook and see. It is also available in English translation.

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Author:

The author was born in a traditional Tamil family in the early 1900s. She started helping with cooking during child hood, as was the norm for girl children in her time. By the age of 8, she was well versed in all traditional recipes. She wrote down her recipes for relatives who went to the USA and other countries after marriage. Her recipes were famous for their authenticity and simplicity. Later on, her recipes were collected and published as a book.

Book:

There are 4 volumes of this book by the same title name. Volume 1 covers the basic everydaydishes like sambar and rasam. The author starts with the basic recipe of sambar, and follows it up with different varieties of sambar. The same style of writing is followed through out.

Volumes 2, 3 and 4 cover festival dishes, sweets, pickles etc. Volume 1 is for beginners, while rest of the volumes are for well experienced cooks.

Meenakshi ammal makes cooking simple. She sticks to the basics. Her measurements are visually indicative like a fistful of coconut, pea sized tamarind, etc.. making it easy for beginners. Her recipes give guaranteed results.

Each recipe takes no more than half a page. She focuses on the basic aspects of every dish, leaving it to the reader to customize recipes according to their taste. A must have for anyone interested in Tamil dishes.

This book is a wonderful reference and glossary covering every possible authentic dish of Tamil nadu. 

 

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Recipe – Tulsi Rasam

Tulsi rasam is a quick, home made solution for common cold and cough. Tulsi (basal) forms the base for this rasam. Most important of all, it tastes as good as the normal yummy rasam! Read on…

Ingredients:

  • Tulsi leaves – 1 handfull (Remove the stems, flowers, seeds. Retain only the leaves and rinse well in water)
  • Tomato – 2 medium sized
  • Rasam powder – 1 teaspoon full
  • Garlic – 6 pods, crushed
  • small (pearl) onions – 3 (peel the skin, and cut into small pieces)
  • Coriander leaves – 1 bunch (cleaned, and cut into small pieces)
  • Black pepper – 10 corns, crushed
  • Ghee / Vegetable oil – 2 teaspoons
  • Salt , Turmeric powder

Tulsi

Process:

  • Cut the tomato in to pieces.
  • Grind the tomato, tulsi leaves with water into a puree.
  • Filter the puree. Retain only the filtered water.
  • Add crushed garlic and cut onions to this water.
  • Place a vessel on medium heat. Add ghee or vegetable oil.
  • Add mustard seeds. Wait till they crackle.
  • Add the filtered puree.
  • Add a pinch of turmeric powder, salt and 1 tsp of rasam powder.
  • When it starts foaming, add cut coriander leaves and crushed pepper corns.

This tulsi rasam makes a good soup, if served hot. It is also a tasty combination with rice. And, yes… it keeps the family healthy.

Happy cooking.

 

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