Our Story

Front_CoverIn 2001, over a chai and murukku, Leela and I decided to write our own book – a book reflecting our passion for writing, food, history and culture.

Our journey started with finding recipes handed from mother to daughter and led to discussions about the link between cuisine and culture. Questions arose such as: Why do we eat this way? Why is this dish called …? Where did these ingredients come from?

My research showed the movement of ingredients into India (eg onions, garlic, cashew nuts, potatoes, chillies, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, saffron) was linked to trade routes and colonisation; some dishes such as the Christian dishes, kozhukotta and pesaha appam/paal, had Jewish connections (Jews arrived in India in the 1st century), and the delicious biriyani is credited to the Moghuls who ruled India for nearly 300 years and introduced ingredients such as saffron, rosewater, game meats, apricots and dates. Such information is included with many of the recipes in this book.

During our sessions, I also would hear Leelamony’s vivid stories about her childhood in Kerala and her recollections of family and rituals honouring life milestones (rare in modern Kerala). I decided that her stories would be the focus of this book. The stories are matched with traditional recipes, placing the food in their cultural and culinary context. There are details about feasts and festivals and lots more!

The book is a great reference for future generations of Keralans and the Kerala diaspora, as well as a souvenir for those who have visited India or have an interest in Indian culture.

I thank you, in advance, for welcoming this book into your home.

I hope the book will provide you with a different perspective and appreciation the next time you cook and enjoy an Indian meal and, importantly, that you will be inspired to explore your family’s rich treasure of stories, favourite foods and traditions.

Teresa George, Sydney 2014