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Aptly named Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine From South India, a word that refers to the southern direction in the ancient Sanskrit language, this book is a gourmet cookbook which consists of extremely tempting and authentic vegetarian dishes from the culturally and gastronomically rich South India. These dishes have a distinct aroma, are traditional, and have been handed down over the generations.
Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine From South India consists of over 120 delicious recipes ranging from the widely famous dishes like masala dosai, masala vadai, coconut chutney, and lemon rice to the lesser known ones like semolina pudding, eggplant chutney, cauliflower sambar, and bitter gourd pitlay. These have been organised into categories like salads, rice dishes, sambars, snacks, desserts, poriyals and kootus, chutneys and pickles, and sambars.
Most of the South Indian dishes are extremely healthy and nutritious. They are low in cholesterol and fats, and use a bare minimum of oil. A variety of boiled or slightly fried vegetables are added to different dishes like the sambar and are served as accompaniments too. Also, the use of lentils and pulses in abundance ensures that the food is rich in proteins.
While most of the South Indian cooking is done by approximations and learning through experimentation over time, the author has tried to make the book easy to use by standardising the weights and measures for different ingredients for the novice cooks. However, Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine From South India retains the essence of the region while providing simple instructions to prepare a range of delicacies, which makes it a must buy for all those who relish South Indian food and cooking.
About Chandra Padmanabhan
Chandra Padmanabhan is a cookbook author and writes a cookery column in Madras Musings.
Other books by her are Southern Spice, Simply South: Traditional Vegetarian Cooking, and Southern Flavours: The Best of South Indian Cuisine.
She completed her education in Mumbai and New Delhi, and currently lives in Chennai, India.