He prefers roti to chawal. He prefers gobi aloo to poriyal. And always always loved a good tandoori chicken.
That said, he's quite the avial lover. Loves his appam and stew and is always rummaging in the freezer for his grandmother-sent chammandi podi. But left to himself he prefers eating a roadside chicken noodles.
When we met over 5 years ago, we bonded over food. I'd cook, he'd eat. So when we finally decided to get married, I thought I'd figure out some the malayalee food, or at least get myself a book so figure it out.
Considering I lived in Chennai for over a decade, I was no stranger to Mal food. I could make a mean stew. I could make a mean meen moilee and I definitely could make red rice. But I figured, it wouldn't be a bad idea to hone my Kerala cooking skills.
So I bought one from Penguin's essential cookbook series - The Essential Kerala Cookbook by Vijayan Kannampilly to jumpstart my repertoire with. Turns out that's the only cookbook that I've ever needed.
But there were many reasons for that:
Firstly, when I bought this book, my mother went quite crazy - I mean she tried nearly every single vegetable that's been written about in this book. You see, she did want her future son-in-law to get to eat his 'ghar ka khaana'
Secondly, the moment I laid my hands on this book, I had a sneaking suspicion that it had been written by my friend's father. After all how many Kannampilly are there in the world? So when I met Ammu many moons later, I doubled checked. And it was him!
Thirdly, it was the first cookbook that my father-in-law ever gave me. I mean, I already had a copy, but he gave me another. So all in all this is a very special book for me.
The book is a collection of recipes from across the regions and religions in Kerala, that has been condensed into one fabulous keepsake. Divided into sections such as poultry, fish, vegetables, powders and desserts. This is a book that has helped me recreate Kerala food as I remember from eating in friends' houses.
I must be honest here, I haven't tried every single recipe from the book. I can't too. I mean we don't eat that much Indian food at home. But every single thing that I have made from the book is excellent. I love the avial. It's very different from what my husband's family makes, but it tastes like how I remember. I love the stew - I make it with plenty of vegetables and eat it with dosa for breakfast.
The spicy chicken curry, my husband says, is like home. The cashew-nut chicken curry is always a hit when I make it. But I love, absolutely love about this book is the vegetarian section - the stir-fried banana flower (when and if we can get it) with coconut, the mango curry with yogurt and coconut, the biryani with coconut. You get the drift - there's a lot of coconut and it's amazing.
While the book has no photographs, one of the reasons the recipes come out as they do is because, Kannampilly has tried out every single dish in his cookbook. And specified details such as 4 peppercorn, 6 curry leaves and so on.
There's a lot of description in Kannampilly's book - it's almost as if he's letting your imagination soar, and that is something commendable.