Well, it is quite late in the day to announce it, being close to a month since this bit of news was out. Fact is, late last year, I wrapped up co-writing a book on Iyengar cookery titled Why Onions Cry: Peek into an Iyengar Kitchen with Vijee Krishnan. Iyengars are a community scattered mainly mainly across Tamil Nadu in India that worships Lord Vishnu. Their religious beliefs and practices inspired their food to a great extent. Every article of food is considered ‘prasadam’ ie. an offering of the Lord.
The book focuses on lunch and dinner items served as part of a typical Iyengar meal that is traditionally served on a banana leaf. For those of you who’ve never had a full course Iyengar meal, one is served as many as 15-20 items! The book talks in detail about the various ‘courses’ of an Iyengar meal and the varieties served therein. While some dishes are commonly known, there are many that are not so common and some that one may not even have heard of.
The recipes included in the book are those that have been handed down the generations, mainly from Vijee’s grandma and mother-in-law. While the recipes are true to the roots, some modifications have been made to suit the wider gamut of vegetables, ingredients and spices available today, compared to just a handful available in the early 20th century.
The book is under production currently and should be out in the market hopefully by March.
The book has been adjudged the best vegetarian cookbook from India for 2011 by an organisation called the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards. Headquartered in Spain, Gourmand is one of the premier organisations that celebrates and awards the best in the global cookbook publishing world and those who “cook with words”.
After winning the India title, the book has also been shortlisted among the final 6 contenders for the The Best vegetarian Cookbook in the World title. Look up page no.10 in Gourmand Magazine no.18 (December 2011 issue): http://www.gourmand-magazine.com/subscribe-and-download/
Gourmand judges cookbooks across 58 categories (40 categories for cookbooks and 18 for books about wine). Winners are awarded during a global Cookbook Fair organised each year in March that brings everyone from the cookery publishing world under one roof, including cookbook authors, publishers, food photographers and writers. The next edition of the fair – Paris Cookbook Fair 2012 – is being organised at Paris in March 2012.
In an effort to give a fillip to vegetarianism the world over, in November 2011 Gourmand put together a list of some of the best vegetarian cookbooks published till date from 40 countries. Why Onions Cry: Peek into an Iyengar Kitchen led the list of the five best books from India. You can find the book listed right at the bottom on page no.8 of Gourmand Magazine November 2011 issue.
After dozens of times interviewing people as during my stint as a journalist, it felt quite strange to be on the other side of the table. The news of the Gourmand Award got covered in the Chennai supplement of The Economic Times (December 30, 2011):
The same also appeared in The Times of India in Chennai, Coimbatore and Bangalore:
Another article in The Hindu Business Line