about this blog

Looking back, I have always been interested in food. I remember taking down recipes from Sputnik magazine in our college library, a long time ago. Russian seems to be the theme back then. Because before that, as a young girl I read about whole roasted ox and barrels of wine being devoured by characters in Russian folk tales. Obviously, food is a way to travel all over the world. And I am always amazed when I see the parallels among all the food in the world.

Although my main area of focus would be Malayali food, especially Nazrani cuisine, I will surely have to write about food from all over the world. It is all so exciting! And of food from movies that I like. Because when they work it in well, it is almost sinful to watch  and you can almost taste all those colors and textures and aromas. You get hungry just watching it. Along with food in movies, these days I am attracted to food in certain novels, especially those by Betty Neels, P.D. James, and Agatha Christie. Food really lets you travel! And I intend to bring in some fusion cuisine too -- Malayali-Mediterranean, Mal-Euro, and Keralamerican. :)

Malayalis -- people of Kerala, the southernmost state in India -- enjoy all the traditional vegetarian foods. Kerala is a state of settlers, a mishmash of many races, people who pushed the original  tribes to the hills, the descendants of whom are still there, while mixing with them too. (Sadly, there was, and still there is a huge class/caste(race) consciousness and disparity among the people, even though things are better in Kerala than in other states of India). Before Kerala was formed in 1956, it was mainly made of three kingdoms. Although it has its own special vegetarian dishes, Kerala owes many of it to its neighbors , Tamilnadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. As for its non-vegetarian dishes, Kerala has a strong Christian and Muslim community, apart from the Hindus.  Nazranis are also called Syrian Christians. They are mainly descendants of old Jewish and other Central Asian -- yep, China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan etc - must be the Silk Route- settlers who came to Kerala long before the time of Jesus. Of course it was not done in a single step - waves of migration over a period of time. Their cuisine includes beef, pork, duck, chicken, and fish.The Muslims arrived from the Middle East. Then there are the settlers from the other states of India. We are talking of thousands of years of minglings and mixings. The Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Persians and the Arabs and the Chinese and the Portuguese landed on the shores of Kerala. Of these, the Portuguese and the Dutch are the most recent and they  did not settle there.

Malayalis  use a lot of coconut and coconut milk in our dishes, very much like our Sri Lankan and Thai neighbors. Our food has similarities with Chinese, Mexican, and Mediterranean foods.We make wine. We  enjoy our sadya, our  tea and coffee and buttermilk drinks. We get drunk on toddy, an alcoholic drink  from the coconut palm. We enjoy our banana and jack fruit chips, and mango and lime  pickles and relishes, our halwas and payasams, our appams and adas, and our kanji and kappa. Needless to say, like any ancient culture, each state and each community, each region, and each household has its own special masala mixes and recipes for their dishes.

For Malayali and Nazrani food, I am using my mom's and her mother's recipes. And also I shouldn't forget Mrs K. M . Mathew, the first Julia Child of Kerala.

No comments:

Post a Comment