Since ancient times, seafarers and traders have been drawn by the lure of spices to Kerala. Saint Thomas also travelled this spice route, converting several Brahmin families who later intermarried with Syrians who had settled here; thus was born the vibrant Syrian Christian community of Kerala. Today, ayurvedic massage resorts and backwater cruises make this scenic land a top tourist destination, and spices still draw both travellers and gourmands to its rich culinary heritage.
It is this legacy that The Suriani Kitchen brings us, through 150 delectable recipes and the unforgettable stories that accompany them. Featured here are such savoury delights as Meen Vevichathu (Fish Curry Cooked in a Clay Pot), Parippu (Lentils with Coconut Milk) and Thiyal (Shallots with Tamarind and Roasted Coconut). Equally mouth-watering are a variety of rice preparations, Puttu (Steamed Rice Cake) and Paalappam (Lace-Rimmed Pancakes), and tempting desserts like Karikku Pudding (Tender Coconut Pudding).
Authentic and easy to prepare, these recipes are accompanied by a guide to spices, herbs, and equipment, as well as a glossary of food terms. Interwoven between these recipes, in the best tradition of the cookbook memoir, are tales of talking doves, toddy shops, travelling chefs and killer coconuts. Full of beautiful photographs, charming illustrations, and lyrical memories of food and family, The Suriani Kitchen is a delicious, memorable read.
My husband is a complete foodie. I hardly knew anything about him before our wedding because ours was an arranged marriage. His likes, dislike, habits, the food he loves to eat, his favorite restaurants, cuisine were completely unknown to me. But a few days into our marriage I realized with a shock that he loves to eat. He loves his Appam and Porottas, just like he loves his Aloo Parathas. And then, I was on a mission. Cos’ I hardly knew how to prepare a perfect tea!
This cookbook was suggested to me, by a dear friend. She assured that the book will help amateurs like me and that she had prepared Biriyanis and seafood for her guests using the recipes in the book and they were splendid. Never have I bought a cookbook in my life, till then. I was apprehensive about spending a little over my budget for a cookbook. I still went for it. And I wasn’t left heartbroken.
The Suriani Kitchen is one of those cookbooks you can read from cover-to-cover in a go. The author has presented recipes through some interesting stories of her life and how it had inspired her in preparing the recipes. She has mentioned the food habits and recipes of the Syrian Christian community which is present along the Malabar Coast of Southern India.
The recipes are short and crisp and to the point. They are clearly described with clear measurements and the number of servings. The dish name is presented in both Malayalam and English making it easier for a ‘non-Keralite’ to understand.
The content is perfect with clear segregation of the food categories- like rice preparation, seafood, poultry, pickles, puddings and much more. The different spices used in Kerala cuisine, its origin, medicinal and culinary uses are as well explained.
The book is hard-cover and with an amazing photograph of the traditional Kerala Kitchen. The layout is perfect and is easy on the eyes.
There are many basic how-to ‘s mentioned as well – like how to crack a coconut and how to extract coconut milk, which surely I had least idea about.
I feel that the absence of pictures/color photographs of the dishes along with the recipe could make it a little difficult to imagine what the end product looks like. Being a Keralite, I could understand the dishes. But an amateur at Kerala cuisine might not. Having said that, there are photographs of few dishes in the book.
Tried and Tested:
There are many recipes which I had tried from this book. And I must say, P and I loved them all. Here are our favorites.
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About the Author:
Lathika George Lathika George is a Bombay-born Syrian Christian who moved to Kerala in her teens. A culinary enthusiast, she has studied home science and creative writing.
Which is your favourite cuisine? Do you have a favourite cookbook? I’m looking for some. Share your favorites, please?
Written for Day 11 of #NaBloPoMo by BlogHer
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