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Purba: Feasts from the East

------------------------------------------

One Lakshmi feeds the world, another Lakshmi in NY tries food recipes and cooks

them to taste.  Lakshmi at Puri is busy in making recipes from all her creations

and endows color, grandeur and nutrition to food.  Lakshmi at NY examines these

recipes and selects the ones that people can attempt in their homes.  The eternal Lakshmi opens her many kitchens to scientist Lakshmi to learn and write for the

rest of the public.  Laxmi Parida, a computational biology scientist at IBM in NY

has produced a magnificent collection of Oriya recipes in a book form.  The book

called "Purba: Feasts from the East" is distributed through Barnes and Noble and

Amazon.com.  For every Oriya and for any person interested in Orissa, this is

an elegantly produced and extremely valuable reference book.  It has the distinct honor of the first Oriya cook book to hit the US stands.  Congratulations to

Dr Parida, who carries the blessings from SriLakshmi.

 

The 207-page book is broken into nine chapters: Oriya pantry, Jalakhia, Pitha, Breads, Bhata, Entrees, Sun-drying (badi and pickles), Mitha and "East meets Far East".  Each chapter is wholesome and is loaded with specific recipes that carry

the nostalgic charm and full-bodied instructions for preparation.  Through her

home kitchen back in Orissa and with the urging of her mother (remember

"Bend it like Beckam"), she has herself tried each dish and knows the failings

well.  She is an astute observer and an expert teacher.  With the objective humor

of a scientist, she guides any novice to travel through the roads of Oriya culinary

arts.  For me, the reading itself was a meal.

 

Anything that you ate in homes or streets during your time in Orissa is in the book.

My special favorites were the recipes for various chakulis, chitaus, arisa and kakara.

People who know me know my weakness to these objects.  What we don't normally

succeed is to create a full holiday meal as one had taken in Lekhanapur or Nardia.

The holiday meal consists of pithas of grains and legumes of the season, seasoned with herbs and spices particular to the season, supplemented with vegetables

cooked according to the climate and temperature of the season.  This is the food

culture of Orissa and the book enables you to recreate it.  Then go to my other

favorites of mithas: rasagolla, ladoo, kesar, khiri and tons of other savory dishes.

Time has come that we impress our neighbors with the brilliant food that Oriyas

invented and the  brilliant style the food is composed.  Let there be a weekly meal

with "kakharu and saga" and "potala rasa" or a nonvegetarian festive meal with "machha mahura" and "mangsa gugni".  Let children enjoy "gaja" and "singada"

and let "peda" and "sandesh" replace cakes.  Time has come to announce to the

words that Oriya is style and sophistication.  The culture and food have been

hundreds of years in the making.  It's royal.

 

Dr Parida is available to assist the new cooks to initiate into Oriya cooking.

the veterans can comment and add more dishes to the book to make a second

part.  SriJagannatha eats sabara food and the whole set of recipes from the hills

and forests need assembly.  The recipes from south and the recipes from the

inner villages at Puri would make other volumes.  The books reminds you of

the richness of food as a sustenance and the beauty of human ingenuity in

creating crafts in taste and nutrition.  At $16.95 the book is a bargain for

all the information and the meticulous guidance.  Enjoy!!   

 

Particulars of the book:

Purba: Feasts from the East

(Oriya Cuisine from Eastern India)

Author: Dr Laxmi Parida

Pages: 207 + xvii

Publisher: Writers' Showcase

Publication date: 2003

Distribution: Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com

Price: $16.95 (US), $27.95 (Canada)

 

Review:

Bijoy Misra

June 20, 2003

Cambridge, MA.

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