The Review for the Book Titled "Rasachandrika-Saraswat Cookery Book"

It is really surprising to inform each one of you that an association was formed by the women in the year 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 published on October 30, 1943 wherein exactly one thousand copies were printed and sold out 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 published in a place located 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 are 236 in total.

It is really worthwhile to read the book for few special features perceived in it. Firstly, it is a team work of the women who wanted to share their recipes with the future generations and maintain their culture. Secondly, the credit is given to the first Saraswat women association. The book is not published under the name of the single authorship. The book has the photograph of the original author of the book and her 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 vision of the original author has been noted down under section “Author’s Note to Marathi Edition’. 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 neat depiction of the manner in which food has to be displayed and presented to their family members or friends or guests. In other words, she has shown how the food items are to be arranged on the plate before serving to others. This is really interesting to note as other books are devoid of this feature. Fourthly, the book presents the photographs of the way in which the food items need to be displayed on the important religious functions and festivals. This is something which is being given to the next generation of the individuals to learn and know their own culture.

I have read many cookbooks, however, this one happens to attract my attention more and more in the manner in which recipes are shared with us and are especially suited to the state and the country. Let us see the contents of the book. It kicks off with the recipes of the spicy “masalas” or condiments used in day to day life. I especially liked the “amti masala” and “kholamba masala”. Within this section, there is a shorter method of “grinding masalas containing coconut gratings” which is quiet popular in the southern regions of India.

Have you ever heard about the “Dishes served with rice gruel”? The author mentions around “80 side dishes”. Among these, 30 varieties of potato dishes are described in a very clear manner. The author also mentions about different kinds of bananas viz. “Raw Rajali Bananas”, “Ripened Rajali Bananas”, “Unripened Rajali Bananas” and “Non-Rajali Bananas”. The author describes the manner in which one must clean, cut and chop the bamboo shoots. She gives three dishes prepared from them. Can one stay away from the world of chutneys? The author does not move away from sharing various ways in which one can prepare them. According to her, there are three ways in which one can prepare them:

a) Semi-liquid Chutneys b) Pounded Dry Chutneys and c) Liquid Chutneys.

Did anyone taste the “dried brinjal chutney” till date? To be very honest, I never tasted one in my life. I flipped the pages in the book. However, I was surprised to discover that there is no step in the preparation of the dish in which the brinjals are dried and chutney is prepared. In fact, I am on my way to prepare one in which there is the use of “dried brinjals”. I will be sharing it in my next presentation. This is a typographical error and the correct name of the dish is “fried brinjal chutney”.

One might try to cook “golyan sambare”. It is good one and very hygienic dish too. One can relish them similar to momos or rice dumplings used in other states of India. Another set of new dishes narrated in the book are:

1) Kadis used in cold seasons and 2) Tambalis cooked in “hot” seasons.

Cold & Hot seasons in southern parts of India! This zapped me and allowed me to proceed further with the description and explanation given to these recipes. This is a must for reading and I am fascinated by the manner in which these dishes are cooked and served to others. Warm kadis are cooked in eight variations in which garlic, pepper corns, cumin seeds, mango seed called as “stone of a pickled mango”, tender shoots or leaves of pomegranate, etc. are used and dishes are prepared. On the other hand, cold Tambalis are prepared by using some vegetables, or liquids like buttermilk, or spices like fried cumin seed or fresh coconut gratings.

Anyone prepared 38 varieties of rasam or saaru? Out of these, 7 varieties are mentioned in the book and they are:

1. Tamil Saar

2. Garlic Rasam without any lentils

3. Rasam prepared from red gram lentils

4. Vegetable Rasam

5. Coriander Rasam

6. Kokum Saar

7. Kokum and Cloves Rasam

Let’s move to the “section of the recipes in which sugar and jaggery are used”. How about learning more about 14 varieties of idli-sweet and non-sweet ones? Following is the list:

1. Idlis prepared from black gram lentils

2. Idlis prepared in jackfruit leaves

3. Idlis prepared with jaggery

4. Hot & Spicy idlis

5. Idlis prepared with green chilies

6. Jaggery Idlis prepared with coarsely ground wheat

7. Rice and Jaggery Idlis

8. Pumpkin Idlis

9. Rice Vermicelli with Jaggery & Coconut

10. Rice Vermicelli with Jaggery

11. Rice idlis prepared in Turmeric or Banana Leaves

12. Rice and Jackfruit Idlis

13. Rice and Coconut Juice Idlis

14. Rice, Jackfruit and Jaggery Idlis

Rest of the recipes shared in the book is common Marathi dishes. The author has made her contribution in the form of “Food Recipes from folk tales” which are used in our daily life:

1. Infant Feeding

2. Homemade baby food

3. Preparation of the ragi malt feed

4. Vomiting

5. Diarrhea

6. Fever

7. Cold & Cough

8. Headache

9. Mumps

10. Toothache

11. Stomatitis

12. Chronic Dry Cough

13. Incessant Cough

Overall the book gives us the recipes for the dishes consumed in our daily lives. There are a few critical points to be noted against the author:

1. Only few dishes are shared in the book.

2. There are other typical Saraswat dishes which are worth mentioning in the book.

3. Genuine dishes are not mentioned in the book.

4. The festive-food is partially discussed in the book.

5. There are special food dishes given to the pregnant and lactating mothers.

These are missing in the book.