A dish that is a huge favourite at home is undoubtedly the Kari Katti Kola urandai. To see it featured on the cover of a cookbook against a striking turquoise blue background, titled “Ravuthar Recipes” caught my attention instantly. The credit for conceptualisation of the book design , art directions and photography goes to Ashik Jaffer-Ali and Sujini Meiyappan, the creative heads at Rock Paper Scissors Studio. The duo also initiated the book launch held at ‘Zone by the Park’, Coimbatore.
If the cover picture was anything to go by it seemed that we were in for a visual treat.The book launch started by way of a panel discussion moderated by Ranjana Singhal(owner of On the Go restaurant) along with Shreeya Adka (chef and owner-The French Door) and the lady behind this unique cuisine Hazeena Seyad.
Not many of us had heard of Ravuthar cuisine before and we were all ears as the conversation flowed with Ranjana asking questions in a relaxed easy going manner. For a fellow food blogger like me who attributes much of her passion in food due to being greatly influenced by family, Hazeena’s words resonated deeply. I found myself leaning in intently watching the multitude of expressions that flitted across her pretty face as she spoke about time spent with both her paternal grandmother as well as her maternal grandfather, surrounded by food .
Hazeena was all of 11 years old when she cooked her first dish on her own. The dish being similar to a nargisi kofta (boiled egg encased in minced meat) is not an easy one for an adult,much less a young child.
She talks about a childhood filled with the memories of a house filled with children where there was no dearth for food at any time of day. Not only were they constantly fed choice delicacies but they were fed in copious quantities. Back then unconditional love was most often “spoon fed” in generous doses!
The decision to launch a book on Ravuthar cuisine happened when Hazeena realized that there was no known documentation available for the food that is so special in her community. Her recipes are a result of what she was taught by her mother and that which she imbibed from her mother-in-law after getting married at a very young age. Her quest for authentic recipes from other members of her family resulted in a compilation so large that it completely overwhelmed her team who toiled tirelessly with the editing and printing.
Hazeena’s years of blogging and sharing recipes have earned her many a fan following and seeing some of them at the launch got her all teary eyed. As an audience we could not help but be moved by this lovely lady when she spoke about her dynamic mother,uncles and friends who have played their part in motivating her to pursue her dream in the culinary arts. She confesses to sharing a fond equation with her on line readers/followers. She pointed out a member of the sudience called Divya who she has seen all through her adolescent years to her current life as mother to a young toddler.Hazeena’s eyes light up as she talks about the many interactions and the joy it brings her while pottering away in her own kitchen far away.
Her mother Mirzath Begum recounts that even when her daughter had a near accident with boiling hot oil in her grandmother’s kitchen it did not in any way dampen her interest in cooking.
Hazeena’s daughter Anisha being a vegetarian has led to the exploration and documentation of a wide variety of vegetarian food which is also included in the cookbook.She remembers taking large quantities of food to school because her friends would insist,”hey please ask your mom to make some non-veg for us”
She also credits her son for being a positive influence in encouraging her cooking skills. He would apparently eat every mouthful with the joyous abandon and reap lavish praise on his delighted mother !
Hazeena simply states that her food is an extension of the ingredients that are contained in her store cupboard.She says,”If I want everyone to try my recipes then I should work with the kind of spices and products that are available in all homes”. It’s apparent that this charming lady is happiest when sharing her love for cooking, honed over many years of practice. Though she dabbles in different cuisines,it’s the Ravuthar recipes that she finds gets the maximum likes and comments online.
Jaishree.S. Santhosh who made it to the venue just in time to get an autographed copy of the book has been an ardent fan of Hazeena’s cooking for the past 6 years. Despite meeting in person for the very first time, the two greeted each other as if they’d been friends forever.In Jaishree’s words,”Hazeena’s ginger chicken is a recipe that I keep going back to everytime.Not only does her food turn out great but I look forward to the memories that she shares with every recipe. She is such a vibrant,warm person”.
I spent two evenings reading the cookbook and it was heartening to see the wealth of content that it possessed. I was reminded of the huge volumes of wonderful cookbooks that my mother had passed on to me and I’m certain that this book of Ravuthar recipes will also be one to pass on to the next generation. The fact that Hazeena spent a great deal of her childhood here in Coimbatore is evident in the fact that the book included a ‘thakkali bajji’ recipe,which is so typically from these parts !
After a point reading the cookbook just wasn’t enough. My cousin Harini and I decided to spend the weekend trying out some of the recipes . Between us we made the Thoda Kari-Raan, the venthaya keeraiyum kaimavum and the red chilly egg fry. Each of the dishes were delicious and tasted very different from what we make at home.More importantly it wasn’t heavy on spices and oil.
While Hazeena’s recipes are simple,the ‘pinch of love’ that it needs creeps up on you while going through the process of making the dish.Not only did I think of the people whom we were cooking for,I also thought of the amount of knowledge that I have imbibed from this talented cook in such a short time span. Quite remarkable if you ask me!
(We added some curry leaves to the egg fry after marinating it in the left over chilli masala ! It added not only colour but a tasty crunch to the dish)
Cookbooks like this with recipes that can be modified slightly to suit individual’s palates and cooking instincts are the best kind.It offers you a broad spectrum of flavours to play with and yet does not insist in restraining creativity.We thoroughly enjoyed the cook.
This cookbook will come in handy for it’s versitality.Whether it is to dish up every day food , a lavish feast , a quick home remedy to combat germs or to just indulge in some kitchen therapy,it’s certainly great value for money. My other cook books are going to be neglected for awhile because I just can’t seem to put this one down!
Look out for the copies that are available online on both Amazon and Flipkart