About The Author
Born in Kerala and after spending her early childhood in Kodaikanal, Dr. Hema Lakshman, moved to Pune in Maharashtra, where she had opportunities for education at esteemed educational institutions, finally graduating with a degree in integrated medicine. Besides her deep interest in studies, she developed many hobbies from a young age. Writing is one of her avocations, which she could pursue extensively. Now 80 years of age she spends her time, writing books and articles.
This is not just a recipe book but is a complete encyclopaedic compilation of South Indian traditional vegetarian cuisine. The author has expended major effort while writing this book to guide, not only the contemporary housewife and working woman, but also the man who likes to indulge in the culinary art.
Born in Perunkulam, a remote village in Kerala, the author spent her early childhood in Kodaikanal in Tamil Naadu. She shifted to Pune in 1940, since her father, a meteorologist, was transferred from Kodai to the Meteorological office in Pune. Her primary education was through Marathi medium at the Modern High School, Pune, and secondary education at the P.E.S. Girls’ High School, attached to the Modern High School having both Marathi and English media. This gave her an opportunity to learn the local language Marathi in all its fineries. She learnt Kathak dance in her childhood and also developed her aptitude in drawing and painting. A medical Practitioner by profession, she is also a ‘Sangeet Visharad” in Hindustani classical music [Vocal] of the esteemed Gandharva Mahavidyalaya.
Dr. Hema started writing at the age of 18 and has published numerous articles, short stories and anecdotes in Marathi and English. Most of her work found place in dailies and periodicals like Sainik Samachar [both English and Marathi], Kumar, Swarajya, Maaher, Bharat, Loksatta, Shree, Samna, Gomantak [Goa], The Poona Daily News, Indian Express, Times of India [magazine], Femina, Eves’ Weekly, Flair etc. She has written books in Marathi and English.
She retired from a teaching career in Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Sion, Mumbai, in 1992. She has been writing books actively, both in Marathi and English ever since.
Westernized eating habits, lack of time to spend in the kitchen and an increasing tendency of people liking fast foods, have resulted in our traditional delicacies disappearing fast from menus of preparations at home, as well as at parties on various occasions. The main intention for writing this book is, therefore, to preserve the valuable culinary art of South India for those interested in the knowhow of these traditional preparations.
It was my parents’ wish that I wrote a book on South Indian recipes in Marathi, which I wanted to translate into English later. I wrote the Marathi version and Sathe Prakashan (Pune) published it in 1967. Although the book was well received by the public the Maharashtrian community alone could avail of it. The English version with additions of a vast number of dishes can, of course, be an invaluable resource to many more here as well as those settled abroad.
This book, separated into two parts for the convenience of the users, contains about 385 South Indian dishes. Although the term ‘Southern’ or ‘South Indian’ has been used freely, the items in this book are the traditional dishes of vegetarians of Tamilnadu and Kerala only. Under each major heading like ‘Adai’, ‘Uppuma’, ‘Kesari’, ‘Chundal’, ‘Halva’ etc., a number of varieties (types) are described. Since people are becoming increasingly calorie conscious these days, the calorific values of most of the ingredients are also included in the recipes.
The calorific value and the weight of one cup, i.e., 225 ml. of each foodstuff have been taken from the following books:
1. Nutritive value of Indian foods by G Gopalan, B.V. Rama Saastri and S. C. Balasubramanian, revised and updated by B.S. Narasinga Rao, Y.G. Deosthale and K. C. Pant, published by National Institute of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Reseach, Hyderabad, India.
2. Applied Nutrition (third edition) by Ms. R. Rajalakshmi published by Oxford and IBH Publishing Co., New Delhi, Bombay (now Mumbai) and Calcutta.
The equivalences (measure: weight) of some of the foodstuffs which were not readily available, were calculated with the help of a measuring glass, domestic weighing balance and the standard chart of calorific values. Some shortcuts and makeshift methods to suit contemporary lifestyles are suggested at proper places. I have prepared almost all the recipes included in this book at home and these dishes have been tasted by friends and relatives. Most of the preparations given in this book are easy to make. Before starting to make a dish, it is recommended that you read the recipe you have chosen carefully. Make sure that you have all the ingredients necessary to prepare it at your disposal and then proceed step-by-step according to the instructions given.
I sincerely thank those friends and relatives who gave me their invaluable moral support and helped make my parents’ dream come true.
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