Starting A New Business? 7 Key Points To Keep In Mind.
Tara Deshpande Tennebaum shares some delectable recipes and interesting stories from her grandmother’s traditional Konkan kitchen in A Sense For Spice.
Review by Anjana Basu
As time moves on and India modernizes, we are in danger of losing touch with our old ways. In the kitchen, mixer grinders are taking over from pestles and mortars and, unless you’re a real foodie, convenience is the name of the game. In this India, the response to this trend has been to delve into family kitchens and bring out recipes and, if possible, the stories associated with them.
Tara Deshpande Tennebaum has run a cookery show on a PBS channel in the US and spends her life between Mumbai and New York. A Sense For Spice is her introduction to her grandmother’s kitchen and the rich world of Konkan food; a world which snakes down the narrow coastline of Maharashtra to the south.
Konkan cuisine, declares Deshpande, introduced dosas to India, though Tamil Nadu continues to stake its claim on the dish. The cuisine is rich in Portuguese, South Indian and even North Indian influences, wherever the sword edged strip of land touches. There is coconut galore, chillies, fish, different types of gravy bases, both sweet and sour, flatbread recipes borrowed from the Nizams of the south and a world of vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine to be explored.
Deshpande first met Konkan food in her grandmother’s kitchen in her huge, old family house and fell in love with Indian food at a very early age, despite an occasionally cosmopolitan diet with the usual colonial chops and puddings thrown in.
The book therefore begins with the story of her grandparents, the Admiral and his wife, and like most traditional Indian marriages, it is a story of efficient food management – the Admiral going to buy the fish, something most Bengalis will be familiar with – and the wife marshalling the pots and pans in the kitchen. Traditional Indian kitchens have the same rules of women eating after the men and vegetarian wives learning to cook the non-vegetarian dishes that please their husbands. She does of course describe her grandfather’s retired life, pottering around in the garden, going for long walks, sitting for his two pegs in the evening. The women in the community get together in her grandmother’s house to make poles (pancakes, related to dosas) because her grandmother has the grinding machine, so preparing the crepes becomes a weekend activity with the women all lending a hand and finally sharing out the batter.
There is a handy glossary at the back of the book which translates unfamiliar phrases – even more useful because many of the recipes come from Deshpande’s grandmother’s handwritten sheets. She has adapted them to the modern kitchen where concepts of andaaz and pinches of this spice and that do not apply.
Though the blurb says Deshpande’s story covers three generations, it is mainly restricted to her grandmother’s generation and its effect on the family’s eating habits and one could have wished for more story telling. The recipes will however delight food aficionados and provide them with a handy reference for Konkan cuisine.
Now dear readers, a book giveaway for you!
Simply answer this: What is your favourite memory from your mother’s or grandmother’s kitchen?
Just leave your answer as a comment below – and the best comment wins a copy of Tara Deshpande Tennebaum’s A Sense For Spice!
Please note: Only 1 comment per person. The book can only be sent to a valid address in India. Giveaway closes on 9 AM IST 29th May 2013.
So what are you waiting for? Comment away!
NOTE: GIVEAWAY CLOSED.
If you’re planning to purchase Tara Deshpande Tennebaum’s A Sense For Spice do consider buying it through this Women’s Web affiliate link at Flipkart. We get a small share of the proceeds – every little bit will help us continue bringing you the content you like!
Readers outside India can purchase A Sense For Spice through our affiliate link at Amazon.
Women's Web is a vibrant community for Indian women, an authentic space for us to be ourselves and talk about all things that matter to us. Follow us via the read more...
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
There are many mountains I need to climb just to be, just to live my life, just to have my say... because they are mountains you've built to oppress women.
Trigger Warning: This deals with various kinds of violence against women including rape, and may be triggering for survivors.
I haven’t climbed a literal mountain yet
Was busy with the metaphorical ones – born a woman
Fighting for the air that should have come free
And I am one of the privileged ones, I realize that
Yet, if I get passionate, just like you do
I will pay for it – with burden, shame, – and possibly a life to carry
So, my mountains are the laws you overturn
My mountains are the empty shelves where there should have been pills
When people picked my dadi to place her on the floor, the sheet on why she lay tore. The caretaker came to me and said, ‘Just because you touched her, one of the men carrying her lost his balance.’
The death of my grandmother shattered me. We shared a special bond – she made me feel like I was the best in the world, perfect in every respect.
Apart from losing a person who I loved, her death was also a rude awakening for me about the discrimination women face when it comes to performing the last rites of their loved ones.
On January 23 this year, I lost my 95 year old grandmother (dadi) Nirmala Devi to cardiac arrest. She was that one person who unabashedly praised me. The evening before her death she praised the tea I had made and said that I make better tea than my brother (my brother and I are always competing about who makes the best chai).
Please enter your email address