My daughter wants to be a pastry chef. Study at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. She is 12 and has been saying this for the last two years.
This morning, when she picked up Prema Srinivasan’s new book, Pure Vegetarian, I got a gleam in my eye.
I love croissants. J’adore Paris! But hey, I wish the kid would learn some Indian dishes too.

The book is gorgeous. Nothing glossy or overt, nothing cheap. Understated elegance and simplicity, just like the woman– just like the author.

The book is distributed well too. When I was at Kochi airport, I saw several copies on display. Keralites are amazing, voracious readers but that is an aside. A column perhaps.

I know Prema Aunty; not very very well but I know her. I know her son, Gopal better. She’s a perfectionist; she hits at the highest level. She got Chef Alain Passard to come and release the book. How did she manage that?

Part of the reason I love this book is because it speaks to a very familiar past. My editor, Ted, used to tell me that some of the best writing begins from the very specific. Sabita-aunty (Sabita Radhakrishna) cookbooks, operate this way too. Hers are wonderfully specific about the Mudaliyaar community of Tamilnadu and her daughter, Deepa, was a close friend.

Pure Vegetarian is about the Iyengar Brahmin community. My maternal grandfather was this way. Not Iyengar but he wore a “namam” in the Iyengar fashion, instead of vibhuti. When the priests at our pujas said, “Parameshwara Preethyartham,” he would correct them and say “Narayana preethyartham.” Funny how one remembers these specific instances. My mother’s family temple is “Manapulli kaavu” in Palakkad. Devi worshippers!

As a feminist, I am thrilled when women rewrite and re-create themselves. With this book, Prema-aunty has done just that. You go girl!! Or the elder, more respectful version thereof. :)

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