June 27, 2013
The vegetarian kitchen, also called the Brahmin kitchen, of Raja Serfoji was well known for its rare Thanjavur style dishes.
Ingredient measurements based on the weight and measurement system prevalent in those days in Thanjavur is also given with each recipe. Tola, palam and padi are measures that are used very often; current equivalent of one tola is approximately 2.9 grams and twelve tolas make a palam. One padi equals 750 grams. Some recipes also use pound as a measure.Two staples of south Indian cuisine – coconut and tamarind – are used in several recipes. Vegetables used for these preparations are mostly eggplant, snake gourd, drumstick beans (Moringa), raw plantains, jackfruit, okra and cucumber.
Vegetarian recipes featured in Sarabhendra Pakasasthram begin with nine detailed recipes for rice dishes. Other delicacies include recipes for three kinds of sauces, three kinds of poriyals, nine kinds of koottu, nine types of curries, kolambu, sambar, three types of sauces, four types of sandage and two kinds of vadi or karivadagam.
Unlike the rice recipes from the non-vegetarian kitchen, these recipes are simple and do not use as many spices. Since the palace kitchen was producing a large volume of food, these recipes call for huge quantities of ingredients. The recipe for sweet bhath (sweet rice) calls for five pounds of rice. Traditional south Indian recipes such as tamarind rice, yogurt rice, sesame rice, kichadi with different types of dals are all featured in the rice section.The curries section begins with the recipe for poricha kulambu with tender eggplant, sambar, and a variety of kootu. Sweets and dessert recipes are not included.
After reading several articles about how the Maratha kings invented/developed the recipe for Sambar, I was very curious about the sambar recipes in Sarabhendra Pakasathram. It has only one sambar recipe – for neem flower sambar. More on neem flower sambar in the next article.
Following is a sampling of other recipes from Serfoji’s vegetarian kitchen.
Ingredients: 5 pounds of superior quality rice, 10 tolas white sesame seeds roasted and powdered, 9 tolas salt, ½ pound ghee, 2 tolas urad dal, 4 ½ tolas mustard seeds, 4 red chili peppers, 2 tolas curry leaves, and ½ tola asafoetida.
Cook the rice and spread it in a large plate. Sprinkle the salt and roasted sesame seed powder over the rice and mix gently so that the rice is coated with sesame powder. Heat the ghee in a frying pan and add mustard seeds and urad dal. When the urad dal begins to darken in color add the red chili peppers, asafoetida and curry leaves. By now the mustard seeds would be spluttering. Remove the pan from the stove and pour over the rice and sesame mixture. Mix gently.
This is a flavorful powder that is sprinkled on a variety of cooked vegetable dishes.
Ingredients: 5 pounds urad dal, ¼ pound salt, ¼ pound red chili peppers crushed, ¼ pound fenugreek seeds crushed, 1/8 tola asafoetida, 2 coconuts grated, 9 tolas dried curry leaves chopped, and 1 pound coriander leaves chopped.
Coarsely grind the urad dal and mix with water to make a dough. Mix all other ingredients with the dough and knead well. Shape into gooseberry size balls and dry well in the sun. Store the balls in a container with tight lid.
Brinjal (eggplant) Porikari
Ingredients: 2 pounds tender eggplant, ½ tola red chili peppers, ¼ tola turmeric, milk from one coconut grated, 9 tolas ghee, 2 pieces of karivadagam and 2/3 tolas hurit powder.
Wash and cut the eggplant into long pieces. Dry roast red chili peppers and mix with salt and turmeric and grind into a smooth paste. Mix the paste in ½ pound water and add eggplant pieces. Place it on the stove and when the water begins to boil stir in the coconut milk and cook. Heat the ghee in another pan and sauté two pieces of karivadagam, and when they start turning red in color add hurit powder and pour over the cooked curry. Mix well and remove the pot from the stove.
Karivadagam: 40 pounds of onion chopped, 2 pounds cumin seeds, 2 tolas mustard seeds, ½ pound salt, 9 tolas turmeric, ¼ pound dried curry leaves powdered, 6 tolas urad dal, asafoetida and 6 tolas fenugreek seeds. Soak the urad dal, fenugreek, mustard seeds and cumin seeds separately. Grind each soaked ingredient into a smooth paste separately. Combine the pastes and add turmeric and salt and mix thoroughly. Add the chopped onion, curry leaves and asafoetida and mix well. Knead the dough and make balls of the size of an arecanut and dry well in sunlight and store in a container with tight lid.
Hurit powder: Dry roast 25 tolas of rice, 25 tolas of chana dal, 25 tolas sesame seeds, 2 tolas red chili peppers, 1 tola black pepper, and 2 tolas dried curry leaves and grind into a fine powder.
Sweet Jackfruit curry
Ingredients: 3 pounds of jackfruit pods cut into small pieces, 1 pound sugar, 9 tolas ghee, 1 tola urad dal, 1 tola mustard seeds, 1 tola dried coconut finely chopped and ½ tola cardamom powder.
Combine sugar with one pound of water and cook the jackfruit in it until it is well cooked. Set aside. Heat the ghee in a pan and add urad dal, coconut and mustard seeds. When the dal changes color and mustard starts spluttering remove from the stove and pour over the cooked jackfruit. Sprinkle cardamom powder on top and mix well.
Achaya, K.T. Indian Food: A Historical Companion. Oxford University Press 1994
Rao Sahib, A. Krishnaswami Mahadik. Sarabhendra Pakasasthram, Saraswathi Mahal Library, Thanjavur