Book Review | Adieu 2012 … ending the year with ‘The Pondicherry Kitchen’ book review

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
Alfred Tennyson

... the year in a snapshot

… the year in a snapshot

Wrapping up a season is hard enough, wrapping up a year seems unreal. How time has flown. 2012 certainly passed in a heartbeat. I’m still trying to catch my breath.

things i didI blogged lots. About things I enjoyed. Food. Travel. Events. People. Lots of colour too. Lots of food events that were so worth the while. So much happened in 2012. On top of the list was the Delhi Bloggers Table, loads of fun at Olive with Saby, events, the Aussie Masterchefs, reviews, some great, some not so … but a wonderful learning experience.

2012Then again, I didn’t have time to blog about lots more that I made. Just didn’t seem to get organised enough to post. Some stuff was so worth it. There was baking … plenty! Wish I had time  to share everything.

2012Then there was cooking too … loads of it! Curries, pastas, wraps, grills, stir fries, no bake desserts. You might have enjoyed these as well. It’s strange how when something comes out really nice, I first think of the blog. Chocolate 2012 saw loads of chocolate at PAB. LOADS.

ChocolateThis was something I really enjoyed! There was some I didn’t get to share. Hopefully this new year shall be better. We hung onto the wings of time, hoping it would slow down a bit, but as usual it left us breathless. ‘Us‘ as in everyone and their friends that I speak too. We look at 2012 in a sense of disbelief. HUH? Gone? Already? What?

2012As always, I had loads more to do, but somewhere along the way social media grabbed chunks of time with both hands. I fell off twitter for a bit and got consumed by FaceBook. I had vowed that I would weigh my time carefully when I decided to cut back on my twitter addiction. Out of the frying pan, into the fire … I love FB though!

the Pondicherry kitchenI had many things to do before the year ended. Loads didn’t get done. This book review was important for me as I missed the book launch at the French Ambassadors residence as I was busy that evening.

the Pondicherry kitchenThe Pondicherry Kitchen is as interesting as it sounds. It’s a quaint unassuming book with recipes that offer a peep into a cuisine less known. I haven’t heard of some of the recipes; a deep South Indian influence in the ingredients used. There aren’t too many photographs to go by, the few that are there don’t do full justice to the recipes within.

The Pondicherry Kitchen – Traditional recipes from the Indo-French territory by Lourdes Tirouvanziam -Louis

The coastal town of Pondicherry has seen the influence of a host of cultures, and it’s not surprising that its cuisine reflects this history. A fragrant potpourri of flavours, primarily from the Tamilian kitchen and—resulting from three hundred years of occupation by those universally acknowledged gourmands—the French, the food here also reflects eclectic borrowings from Indian, Moghul, French, Portuguese and Malaysian cooking. In The Pondicherry Kitchen, Lourdes Tirouvanziam-Louis captures the unique culinary heritage of the town. Several years of research—digging out old recipes, collecting the culinary secrets of senior people, sourcing foodlore that has been transmitted orally through generations— have coalesced in this book, and the delicious recipes in it. Spiced with anecdotes that give an insight into the culture, The Pondicherry Kitchen is a wonderful, easy-to follow cookbook.

the Pondicherry kitchen It was natural choice for me to reach for the pages with rasam, a warm starter or soup, that is one my husband loves. It’s been years since I’ve found an authentic good great recipe. This one left us longing for more. Perfect for the season, a hearty clear soup which is lentil based and has the kick of the Indian spice box!

the Pondicherry kitchen Red chilies, curry leaves, tamarind, asafoetida … all these come together to treat the palette in a robust way. The last I had a soup or rasam as good as this was when my sister visited from the US 5 years ago. She made it for Mr PAB, one that he remembers to date. This was as good. It’s a spicy adult lentil based clear soup, and would need to be toned down a bit for kids. {It serves a hearty 4 rather than the 6 as the recipe says}.

the Pondicherry kitchen Tomatoes are in abundance this season, the next recipe I reached for was this tomato chutney. I have never made one with golden fried onions and the recipe had me quite intrigued. Once again it didn’t disappoint. Bursting with flavour and colour, this is a great chutney to compliment an India meal. Goes well with idli, dosas, rice and with most Indian dishes; a lovely change from the regular chutney.

the Pondicherry kitchen My experience from the book was all good. It embodies everything Indian cuisine sets out to do … adds colour, delights the palette, is made from natural easy to source ingredients, and has the little story or connect thrown in here and there.

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Baking| Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam … and ‘Snackuits’ {a product review}

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”
Etty Hillesum

Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam The other day I got a package from Britannia Foods with samples of their recently launched snacks, ‘Snackuits‘, which offered the promise of a break from baking; something that looked like the kids would enjoy. I must be a glutton for punishment because even though I was absolutely exhausted, I decided to make some Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam to go with it!Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamThe morning saw a tiring pizza session, absolutely delicious, but gosh, so much work!! Preheating the oven to make a batch of balsamic roasted strawberries for these Hot Cross Buns I was annoyed with myself. It was bugging that the oven was on, had some extra room and I hadn’t got my act together in time to bake something alongside.  It’s a happy feeling to know you can kill two birds with one stone …  catch my drift? Does that happen to you sometimes?Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamPouring in the balsamic vinegar I remembered earlier references to an onion jam that used balsamic vinegar but the recipes I recall were all stove top. Figured I could roast onions in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar alongside the strawberries. Something sweet and something ‘savoury sweet‘ …nice!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam

Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam Garlic had to be in there because roasting garlic brings out the sweeter side of it. We are a garlic loving family. It’s something that just seems to make life better, even on tiring old days! Being in the kitchen, creating, baking, stirring is all pretty unwinding and relaxing on most days! Summer is here so I’m up pretty early much to the dogs excitement. She takes a chunk out of my earlier free mornings, but she is so CUTE that I don’t mind it!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam I had those Snackuits in my head. Light, crisp cracker like biscuits would go well with a smoky oniony garlicky jam! If the crackers were a little bigger, they would make a nice base for canapes, great cocktail snacks. They do look pretty versatile, and taste rather good!!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam

Tired of being bogged down with family chores and responsibilities? Now take some time off for yourself! Your ultimate happy snack is here to help you break life’s monotony and have some girl fun. Let your hair down and show people the witty-whacky side of you. Chilling out and gossiping with your girl gang, Snackuits gives you the license to show your fun side and break free!

Britannia Industries is one of India’s leading Food companies and a leader in the Bakery and Dairy segments in the Indian marketplace. It’s latest launch is 50-50 Snackuits giving every modern day homemaker the option of guilt-free snacking. It’s baked, has cut back on cholesterol, MSG, Trans Fat and oil. With flavours from gourmet food cuisines across the world  & the goodness of biscuits, 50-50 Snackuits has a unique combination of stimulating flavours that bring alive the gourmet taste of authentic Swiss Cheese, Chinese cuisine & Italian pizzas.

Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamI was quite surprised at these tasty little bites. The balance of flavours, the spices and the crispiness are certainly addictive. The kids gave them high fives and I have to agree! The market has recently seen baked chips making a foray, but IMHO, these have stolen a few points from those! My little bag of samples had 2 of the flavours Chinese Hot & Sweet and Pizza Italiano, both quite nice! I believe there is a 3rd flavour too, but that was missing from my sample bag … Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamThe portions are small, snack sized, enough for a single little bowlful. The blend of spices is good and both flavours were really well received by the kids, which I find really shouts the verdict out loud. I found them very slightly on the saltier side but I guess that’s just the mother in me taking note. I’d give them a 9/10 … wonderful tasty bites, handy to have on hand!Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamI served them with the Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam and the ‘now beginning to get pretty tiresome‘ pre-teen lapped it up asking for more. Did I say the portions are small, though good for the price {Rs10 for small bag}? A small bag of chips costs the same, and these were much much better. I would love to keep a couple of bags on hand … I really liked them!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam

Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam Ran them past the ‘not so tiring any more’ teen and she loved them. Offered her onion jam, and she went “EWWWW. Nevah!!” After much cajoling and convincing, a little blackmailing, I finally got her to taste some. She enjoyed it, though hesitatingly said, “Would you mind not calling it jam please? I don’t like the idea of onions in jam!!Hmmm …Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamSo go on, if you live here in India grab a bag of these Snackuits next time you are at the grocery store and tell me if you like them. And if you aren’t in India, grab some onions and make some Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam. Make more than what I made because its pretty darned addictive and hits all the good spots in the most delightful way. I LOVED it. Sweet and savoury is right up my street, add garlic and I sing out LOUD! This did not disappoint!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam

{Disclaimer: I have not received any remuneration from Britannia or any agency for this post. This is my personal opinion on the product which I have reviewed.}

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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