When Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain authored ‘Cooking at Home with Pedatha’, they set out to preserve the wisdom of the years from pickle jars to posterity! The book was a labour of love - the love of home-cooked food, the love of traditional Andhra fare and most of all the love of an 85-year old culinary wizard – Subhadra Rau Parigi, whom they fondly called Pedatha (Aunt in Telugu). Pedatha may have passed on, but the wondrous genius of her cooking is accounted for generations to follow. The duo’s first book met with great success, what with winning the Gourmand Award for Best Vegetarian Book in the World 2006.
Having treaded the path of chronicling culinary wisdom, it is not surprising to understand the reason behind their second book – Sukham Ayu, a cookbook with the ancient insights of Ayurveda. A back-to-the-roots book that can charm the gourmet and the novice, Sukham Ayu (researched at KARE) stood second in the category of Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World by the Gourmand Awardsorganisation. With this book, Jigyasa and Pratibha have sought to breakdown the myths of health food, reassuring that every serve from the pot of simple vegetarian food cooked with proper combinations can be unassumingly delicious. Sowmya Ravindranath indulges in a hearty conversation with the affable duo.
On the start of their culinary literary partnership:
I met Pratibha when her daughter came to learn Kathak from me. We shared the same love for food. My pedatha
was legendary for her culinary prowess. Pratibha and I would diligently take down recipes; rustle up the dish and then board the Shatabdi
to let pedatha
(in Bangalore) have a tasting. She was unbelievably consistent and meticulously organized, which was an absolute inspiration for us. At one party we distributed photo copies of her recipes – this set off an idea to chronicle her wisdom in an organised way, thus started an exciting journey.
On the recipe trials:
Pratibha:We’ve undertaken more than 25-30 trials for a single recipe. The most difficult was pedatha’s upma. We’ve done so many variations to that but never quite got it the way pedatha made it.
On their favourite food:
Pratibha: I’m fiercely vegetarian. I love everything cooked at KARE, simple ingredients are used with proper combinations to make some of the tastiest recipes. My comfort food is South Indian and I love indulging in chaat once in a while!
Jigyasa:(echoing Pratibha’s love for food at KARE) – KARE makes the simplest of meals so wonderful. I eat vegetarian food 6 days a week and that one day in the weekend I like eating fish curry and boiled rice.
Changes incorporated since their arduous research at KARE:
Pratibha:I now ensure I use rock sugar and rock salt!
Jigyasa: I like eating light. I practice moderation, a key tenet of Ayurveda. The most joyous culinary discovery, soopa! It was most interesting to discover that Ayurvedic texts refer to a preparation called soopa, which is much like the soups we’re familiar with.
Food trail across the world…
Pratibha:I had the most difficult time in China. I just didn’t want to eat there. I carry food wherever I go now. Most recently, in Paris, I cooked adai and upma for our French friends and they absolutely loved it! One place we would both want to go on a food holiday apart from KARE, we absolutely love the food in VV Puram in Bangalore. The roads host the best of street food – Gulkhand, corn puffs, lemon rice and a diverse set of dosas. We go there every time we’re in Bangalore!
On their fetishes:
Jigyasa:I love sweets. Jangiri and rasagulla top the list.
Pratibha: It’s payasam and sandesh all the way!