A casual chat with an octogenarian grand mother about the local cuisine revealed many surprising facts. Names of rice, vegetables, herbs kept popping out and I have not heard of many. I understood it was a part of the staple food they had in the olden days. Her knowledge about greens were amazing. She walked around the backyard and could pick up leaves and name them also. In addition there were some quick recipes on it. It kept me pondering if we ever thought about some of our lost ingredients? It is time to hit the indigenous route and rediscover the specialty of maapilai samba, Kudhiraivaali, varagu and more. Did you know there’s a rice variety in Tamilnadu called ‘Maapilai samba’ that was fed to bridegrooms before the wedding? Thooyamalli, another traditional rice variety, gets its name from its striking resemblance to jasmine buds, while seeraga samba — which looks like the spice it’s named after — is as fragrant as its distant cousin the Basmati, grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. Out of the ones listed, I could find Seeraga samba with few rice vendors in Chennai. Read on and do share your opinion …
Here is what they say …
Our cuisine is truly at its original best with an emphasis on using the freshest ingredients, a passion for cooking with a combined attention to detail. We do not use frozen meat or poultry & our fish is from reliable sources.
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Do you have amma, paati or anyone you know who can churn out lip smacking traditional dishes ?
Our star hotels are hiring homemakers to give our own dishes an authentic touch. Several hotels in the city have begun to realise that the best way to give their dishes ‘a mother’s touch’ is to, well, get her on the job. Chamundeshwari amma, Rathnam amma, Savithri maami – these are just some of the homemakers that star hotels across Tamil Nadu have hired in their south Indian specialty restaurants to give their dishes an authentic, ‘homemade touch’ .
Around four months ago, Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers in Chennai got Rathnam amma on board for their south Indian restaurant Dakshin. Rathnam, who until a few years ago, cooked for her extended family of 15 using firewood, now spends four hours a day at the hotel, whipping up filter coffee and evening snacks for the guests. She also makes two dishes a day for the menu. “Her coffee has become so famous that guests ask for Rathnam amma’s coffee ,” says chef Harish K. “It’s tough explaining to guests that Sundays are her days off and so they have to drink coffee made by one of us.”
The unforgettable aroma of India is not just the heavy scent of jasmine and roses, it is also the fragrance of spices so important to Indian cooking especially to preparing curry. Broadly speaking, meat dishes are more common in the North. Mughlai cuisine is rich creamy, deliciously spiced and liberally sprinkled with nuts and saffron.
The essence of good Indian cooking revolves around the appropriate use of mixed aromatic spices. Base ingredients of such mixed spices are elements such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, red pepper, nutmeg, mustered, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger powder etc. the skill lies in the subtle blending of these spices to enhance rather than overwhelm the basic flavour of a particular dish. These spices act as appetizers and digestives. Read the rest of this entry