The review of the book titled “Rasachandrika-Saraswat Cookery Book”
It is really surprising to inform all of you that an association was formed by women in 1917 in Mumbai. It was decided that the group will publish the first Saraswat cookbook titled “Rasachandrika” (or the book of tastes). It was finally released on October 30, 1943, where exactly one thousand copies were printed and sold within a month. The title of the book was “Rasachandrika-Saraswat Cookery Book”. The authors of the book were Smt.Mira G.Hattiangadi & Smt.Neela C.Balsekar for the English version. It was released at a location in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The publisher was Shri Harsha Bhatkal and the book was printed at “Popular Prakashan Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai”. The price of the book was Rs.300. The ISBN is 978-81-7154-290-1. The total number of pages is 236 in total.
It is definitely worth reading the book for a few special features seen in it. It is above all a team effort of women who wanted to share their recipes with future generations and maintain their culture. Secondly, credit goes to the first women’s association in Saraswat. The book is not published under the name of the sole author. The book has the photograph of the original author of the book and his name was “Late Smt.Ambabai Samsi”. The history of the book has been clearly mentioned in the “Preface”. It has been translated into three languages namely Marathi, Hindi and English. The original author’s vision has been noted in the “Author’s Note to Marathi Edition” section. According to her, there are differences between saraswat and non-saraswat cooking styles and dishes. Thirdly, the author has given both drawings and photographs in which there is a careful depiction of how food should be displayed and presented to their family members, friends or guests. In other words, she showed how food should be arranged on the plate before serving to others. is really worth noting that other books lack this feature. Fourth, the book presents the photographs of how foodstuffs should be displayed on important religious functions and festivals. It is something that is given to the next generation of individuals to learn and experience their own culture.
I have read many cookbooks, however, this one more and more grabs my attention in the way the recipes are shared with us and are uniquely state and country specific. Let’s see the contents of the book. It starts with recipes for spicy “masalas” or condiments used in everyday life. I particularly liked the “amti masala” and the “kholamba masala”. In this section, there is a shorter method of “grinding masalas containing coconut graters” which is quite popular in southern parts of India.
Have you ever heard of “Dishes served with rice porridge”? The author mentions about “80 side dishes”. Of these, 30 varieties of potato dishes are described very clearly. The author also mentions different types of bananas, viz. “Raw Rajali Bananas”, “Ripe Rajali Bananas”, “Unripe Rajali Bananas” and “Non-Rajali Bananas”. The author describes how to clean, cut and chop bamboo shoots. She gives three dishes prepared from them. Can we stay away from the world of chutneys? The author does not hesitate to share various ways of preparing them. According to her, there are three ways to prepare them:
a) Semi-liquid chutneys b) Crushed dry chutneys and c) Liquid chutneys.
Has anyone tasted “dried brinjal chutney” so far? To be very honest, I’ve never tasted it in my life. I turned the pages of the book. However, I was surprised to find that there is no step in the preparation of the dish in which the brinjals are dried and the chutney is prepared. In fact, I am preparing one in which there is the use of “dried brinjals”. I will share it in my next presentation. This is a typographical error and the correct name of the dish is “fried brinjal chutney”.
We could try to cook “golyan sambare”. It is a good dish and very hygienic too. They can be enjoyed like momos or rice balls used in other states of India. Another set of new dishes narrated in the book are:
1) Kadis used during cold seasons and 2) Tambalis cooked during “hot” seasons.
Cold and hot seasons in South India! This zapped me and allowed me to go further in the description and explanation given to these recipes. It is a must read and I am fascinated by how these dishes are cooked and served to others. Hot kadis are cooked in eight variations in which garlic, peppercorns, cumin seeds, mango seeds called “stone from a pickled mango”, tender shoots or pomegranate leaves, etc. are used and dishes are prepared. On the other hand, cold Tambalis are prepared using vegetables, or liquids like buttermilk, or spices like fried cumin seeds or grated fresh coconut.
Has anyone prepared 38 varieties of rasam or saaru? Among these, 7 varieties are mentioned in the book and they are:
1. Tamil Island
2. Garlic rasam without lentils
3. Rasam prepared from red lentils
4. Vegetable Rasam
5. Cilantro Rasam
6. Kokum Sarre
7. Kokum and Cloves Rasam
Let’s move on to the “section of recipes in which sugar and jaggery are used”. How about learning more about 14 varieties of sweet and unsweetened idli? Here is the list :
1. Idlis prepared from black gram lentils
2. Idlis prepared in jackfruit leaves
3. Idlis prepared with jaggery
4. Hot and Spicy Idlis
5. Idlis prepared with green chillies
6. Jaggery Idlis prepared with coarsely ground wheat
7. Rice and Jaggery Idlis
8. Pumpkin Idlis
9. Rice vermicelli with jaggery and coconut
10. Rice Vermicelli with Jaggery
11. Rice idlis prepared in turmeric or banana leaves
12. Idlis with rice and jackfruit
13. Rice and Coco Idlis Juice
14. Rice, Jackfruit and Jaggery Idlis
The rest of the recipes shared in the book are common Marathi dishes. The author has contributed in the form of “Culinary Recipes from Folk Tales” which are used in our daily lives:
1. Infant feeding
2. Homemade baby food
3. Preparation of ragi malt feed
7. Colds and coughs
12. Chronic Dry Cough
13. Incessant cough
Overall, the book gives us the recipes of the dishes consumed in our daily life. There are a few critical points to note against the author:
1. Only a few dishes are shared in the book.
2. There are other typical Saraswat dishes worth mentioning in the book.
3. Authentic dishes are not mentioned in the book.
4. Festive food is partially covered in the book.
5. There are special dishes for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
These are missing in the book.