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OP: Cook and See (vols I-III)

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by S. Meenakshi Ammal
Meenakshi Ammal Publications. Paperback. Very Good Minus.

Cook and See might be the most successful cookbook series you’ve never heard of, that is, unless you are from southern India.

Originally written in Tamil and self-published by S. Meenakshi Ammal (d. 1962) in 1951, Cook and See was intended to guide new brides in establishing their own home kitchens. But it quickly gained popularity among college students abroad and others in the diaspora who were missing the flavors of home. Two more volumes followed, a testament to the first’s success.

An English translation debuted in 1968, and revised editions with volumetric imperial measurements were introduced in 2004. Each book’s recipes are entirely vegetarian and split between tiffin preparations and general cuisine with the third volume adding festival and wedding dishes, as well as Ayurvedic remedies.

The short, matter-of-fact recipes—and some bumpy translations—require a familiarity with the dishes and ingredients for the greatest success, but for those in the know, or for the culinarily courageous, Cook and See is a cornucopia of thrilling bites. You’ll find: 

  • Plantain flower vadai—a type of fritter, made here with dhal and ground coconut—flavored with chili, anise, asafoetida, ginger, curry leaves, cilantro, and onion
  • Wood apple pachadi—a condiment of ground or pounded fresh vegetables, lightly pickled with salt, jaggery, and chilis
  • Almond-cashew paysam (porridge) enhanced with cardamom and saffron
  • Guava leaf thattai—a fried festival snack made from rice and green gram dhal flour

A magnificent education in South Indian food, flavors, and ingredients.

The books are uncommon in the US. We are pleased to offer the later, revised editions of all three of the original books, in English, and in Very Good Minus condition, lightly shelfworn. Paperbacks.

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