Monday, July 2, 2007

Review - Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts - Recipes and Remembrances of a Vegetarian Legacy

Book review for 4th Dimension Woman.

Fragrant with the aromas of pepper and curry leaves and delicious for it, Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts - Recipes and Remembrances of a Vegetarian Legacy, by Ammini Ramachandran is more than a cookbook. Through it Ramachandran a food writer of Kerela origin based in America, has shattered several stereotypes; that community cookbooks are self published black on white with recipe after recipe and no space wasted on frivolous things like anecdotes. That South Indian food ends at idli, dosa, vada, sambhar. And most importantly that Kerela cuisine is seafood based and non vegetarian.

Without being heavy handed with spices or making the cuisine exotic beyond recognition the author takes us on an exploration of the traditional Hindu vegetarian cuisine of the royal family and the Nayar community of Kochi in central Kerala. Each recipe is laid out against a backdrop of its position on the banana leaf, in the seasonal diet and in traditional rituals as well. Unlike some memoirs in which recipes seem to be an afterthought, each recipe in this book is easy to do, systematically laid out and broad - mindedly allowing for shortcuts that work today. Timely instructions allow even newbies to anticipate the next step and the added sharing of occasional anecdotes and friendly advice almost gives the illusion that Ramachandran is standing by you, guiding you through the recipe and sharing her first experiences with it. For cookbook aficionados like me - who enjoy stories with their food - there is ample fodder for the mind as well. A brief but erudite chapter on the history of the spice trade in Kerala, the cultural background, culinary customs, festivals and traditions of the traditional Kerela kitchen and home, all coloured by the authors own growing years in one of the few surviving matrilineal societies of the world. “Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts” captures the pride of a woman in her heritage, gently reminding us that progress may be all around us but it is possible to hold on to tradition.

Try a recipe from the book, Scroll down this post for a recipe from the book.

For more on the book and the author visit

The book is available from Ingram Book Group, Baker & Taylor, iUniverse, Inc.,, and

Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (March 4, 2007)

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