Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review : Southern Flavours by Chandra Padmanabhan

For many years now, I have been reading cookbooks like I read any other novel, its always been as interesting, if not more ! At first I assumed I was the only one, but after I started my blog, I realised I have lots of company !!

I got this beautiful book called 'Southern Flavours, the best of South Indian Cuisine' by Chandra Padmanabhan from Blogadda, as part of their book review program. I have read some of her recipes from other blogs, but never owned any of her books until now

southern flavours
Luckily for me, this book has the best recipes from her three previous books, Dakshin, Southern Spice and Simply South with an added 50 new recipes

Southern Flavours has a wide array of vegetarian recipes from all four southern states - Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, all neatly categorized into various sections like Sambar, Rasam, Poriyal and Kootu, Rice, Snacks, Sweets and Accompaniments like Chutneys, Podi and Pachadi.
The category names are more Tamil-centric, but it does have many recipes from each region
Like the section on 'Sambar' has a Vatral Kuzhambu from Tamil Nadu, Nupindi Pulusu from Andhra, Theeyal from Kerala and Majjige Huli from Karnataka, in addition to many more.
This book has a good share of recipes from all four states, though I felt a few more from Kerala would have balanced it better.

If you have a kitchen that stocks basic ingredients used in an Indian kitchen, then you should be able to make almost all the dishes mentioned in the book. The instructions are detailed and clear, making it simple to follow.
There is also a 'Table of measures' with metric and US equivalents
A list of the special utensils like the paniyaram chatti, used in South Indian cooking is also mentioned, with pictures

This book even has the right way to cook rice - in a pressure cooker, on the stove-top or in the microwave. I thought this is very useful to new cooks and to people who are not very confident with cooking rice in either one of these methods


It features some typical Udupi recipes, Chettinad recipes and recipes from the Hebbar Iyengar and Palghat Iyer communities, in addition to the more popular recipes from the four states
What really warmed my heart was that there were quite a few recipes from the Saraswat Konkani kitchens of Mangalore like Song, Ghashhi, Mangalore Saar and Kairas. This cuisine doesn’t get featured so much in any of the regular South Indian cookbooks, from what I have seen so far, so it was a nice surprise to these here !

A real value add here in this book is the number of healthy options for some traditional recipes, like an oats upma, ragi (finger millet) idli, oats rava idli, ragi (finger millet) vadai, kadhamba dosai (multigrain pancakes) and some recipes that use broken wheat instead of rice. This is very useful especially now, when more and more people are getting conscious about cooking and eating healthy.

carrot payasam

There are quite a few family favourite recipes, some from her sister-in-law, mother, aunts and her mother-in-law, who had the biggest influence on her cooking. There are some recipes picked up from cooks she had along the way and some from her friends.
An interesting one is Chitra’s keerai parrapu ussili – I have always had and heard of ussili made with different varieties of beans, but never with greens. There is also a Vendhayam poriyal, fenugreek sprouts stir fry, which is something really unusual and as she says, its considered good for diabetic patients

A really interesting feature in this book is the section on ‘Buffet Spreads’ and ‘Suggested Menus’. The buffet spreads have 2 options that cover recipes from all four states and there are 6 ‘Suggested Menu’ options that are something that can be made for a regular meal and not as elaborate as the buffet spread
This will definitely be a big help to people who are not familiar with South Indian cuisine and are not sure what to pair with what, and even to the ones cooking it regularly who would like to add some twists to a routine combination of dishes


Colourful pictures of some mouth-watering food (though I would have loved to see more of them), easily explained recipes for a new cook, some unique and interesting recipes and healthy alternatives to traditional recipes makes this book a really good one for a collection of South Indian recipes!

About the author

Chandra Padmanabhan, a graduate from Calcutta University, has been associated with the publishing industry for a long time. 'Dakshin', her best selling book published in '94 is still popular in many countries across the world. Her other book 'Simply South' has won the GOURMAND award for the second best Vegetarian cookbook in 2009

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

This is my first ever book review and the longest post I've written !
I hope you enjoyed reading it.

I am sure many recipes from this book will show up here soon.


April '12: Made Mangai Ogaray / Raw Mango Rice from this book. Click here to see the recipe

kancheepuram idli1

Aug '12: Made Kancheepuram idlis from this book. Click here to see the recipe


Shalini said...


Well, well, well, this is getting BIG! The review is done well and covers all the aspects that one generally comes across in reviews. It doesn't look like a first attempt at review. So very proud of you! Here's to more coming your way! Cheers!

SJ said...

Can't wait to see recipes that way I can make them without ahem buying the book.

Prathima Rao said...

Great review!! I have her southern spice book & pretty happy with most of the recipes tried out..This book looks even better..Must buy!!

And yes, i too read cookbooks like a novel, even before i go to bed!!
Prathima Rao
Prats Corner

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

very well written review Arch. the clicks are so bright. hope to see some recipes from ti soon.

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

Arch - waiting for some recipes from the book too now...
Very nice review!

Pari Vasisht said...

Hi. Reached here through Sayantani's blog and now following urs too.
Loved your Undhiyoo post but decided to comment here as I did the review too and it was interesting to read ur thoughts.

Only fish recipes said...

First time in ur space....that's a very nice review with some beautiful clicks...following ur space now.....
Do visit my blog sometime:-)


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