Friday, February 10, 2012

Southern Flavours - Book Review

Stashing recipes from newspapers/magazines and hoarding cook-books is a new-found passion of mine :) Imagine my joy & delight when I learnt that Chandra Padmanabhan's latest cook book was on it's way for review !
While the likes of Mallika Badrinath & Meenakshi Ammal grace my bookshelf as the definitive answer to South Indian Cooking, Chandra's latest offering manages to make its presence felt and did not disappoint me. I learnt that this book is fourth from her stable and all the three of her previous books were best sellers - WOW.

 Southern Flavours is a treasure trove of recipes from Tamilnadu, Kerala, Andhra & Karnataka.The variety of dishes vie for attention with well written recipes and clear measurements. Ideal for beginners as well as seasoned cooks, the book is a cherished read.

The book has 172 pages & 150 odd recipes out of which 50 recipes are a new addition.The author has packed in her favourite recipes from her previous books, thus ensuring that readers who have missed out on her earlier outings get an arresting glimpse of her forte. Her fans are also kept satiated with new recipes.

The book begins with contents and is divided in to 8 sections including

- Basic Recipes
- Sambhar & kuzhambu
- Rasam
- Poriyal & Kootu
- Rice
- Snacks
- Sweets
- Accompaniments

Every section describes about the heading and what to expect in it. For instance in the section Basics, she lists out easy recipes on making the quintessential sambhar & rasam podi (powders)

 In the section Rasam, she details the importance of the dish as an appetizer and the myriad ways of cooking that hearty preparation. As much as  12 varieties of rasam has been highlighted and a few like Kosu-Carrot Rasam & Moru Rasam had me hooked !

Snacks, has an interesting array of bites ranging from Ragi Vadai to Oats- rava Idli.With an eye on calorie intake, she has highlighted a few snacks  for the health conscious.

In fact in the Rice Section, I was surprised to see olive oil for the spice paste in the recipe of Bissi Belle Hulli Godhi (Spicy Sambhar with Broken Wheat) !

What makes the book a pleasant read, is the soothing font and  the lovely pictures. Speaking of the clicks, the macro shots of the dishes by N. Prabhaakkar are dot-on, giving a clear idea of how the end-product would look like. 

I dished out  Bangala Dumpa Annam (Potato Pilaf from Andhra) & Malli Thokku (Coriander Leaves Chutney) from her book and they were heartily devoured. 

What I liked about the book :-

  • Table of Measures :- While an innate sense of proportions guide my cooking, the measures (Metric as well as US/Imperial) given in the recipes is welcome.
  • Glossary :- List of ingredients with English,Hindi & Tamil Names definitely gets my vote
  • Buffet & Menu Suggestions:- I am sure that even a seasoned host will be baffled while planning a lunch or dinner party. In this regard, the buffet spreads & suggested menus has my undivided attention.
  • Notes & tips :- The best part of the recipes are the friendly tips as well as notes that accompany them. The serving suggestions, tips to make the dish more healthy and the type of utensils to be used for cooking a particular dish is appreciated. For instance, she notes how a Ragi Roti can be fortified with more goodness by adding fenugreek leaves & omitting coconut
  • Due Credit:- Recipes learnt from her friends & relatives are given due credit like Sheela Auntie's Pulusu !
Other Observations :-

  • A picture speaks 1000 words and I would have definitely appreciated more of them. Especially for dishes like the Broken Wheat version of the Bissi Belle, a click would have lifted the recipe notches !
  • An indication of which dishes are from her previous books and which of them are new would certainly have added to the interest factor.
Final Word :- 

The book, a westland publication is priced at INR 599/-. An ideal gift to new brides as well as folks venturing in to South Indian cooking , the book is definitely a keeper.

Thanks blogadda for this wonderful opportunity to review this book under the Books Review Program


  1. Nice review - read another one about her not so long ago - I see she is the new HOT FLAVOR :)
    Will surely check it out -

  2. A great review, you really laid it out nicely.

  3. have been seeing a lot of good reviews of this book..looks like its a must grab

  4. Thanks a lot for sharing the wonderful review of this book. Would try to get it soon.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  5. Wow!! sounds like a great book!!

  6. I am so excited to hear that she has another book. I own two of her cookbooks and they are truly gems. I am going to order a copy. As an aside, it would be great if you were to submit a vegetarian Indian recipe to my event. See my blog for details.

  7. I love South Indian cuisine, though do not make it too often at home. This sounds like a good cookbook to have in the kitchen and might prompt me to make more food with flavors from south India.

  8. Nice Review Priya. I started to collect cookbooks on my own these days. I am sure these kind of review help me to go for good. thanks Again.

  9. Thanx Priya, for the excellent review. t is precise and well written..! Great work..!

    My event- Valentines Day Special

  10. What a great review, I love that it has a glossary as well to help with us that may be less familiar :) Fantastic and delicious looking dish as well!
    Happy Valentines Day :)

  11. Nice review.Southern flavors does sound intresting.

  12. Nice review priya...sounds interesting :-)