Tamizh magazines for women- Mangayar Malar, Aval Vigadan, Snegidhi etc have been giving this 30 naal... 30 samayal recipe books as ilavasa inaippus [free supplements] for over 6 years now. 30 naal ... 30 tuvayal , 30 naal... 30 kuruma, 30 naal... 30 gravy are some of the books in this series.
Always enthu to collect such recipe books (but never to use them), I had a huge collection of these 30 naal books at the end of one year. My f-i-l saw my enthu-ness and added his bit of 30 naal books everytime he visited us and so I had this huge library of 30 naal.. books with duplicate copies of several books. Two copies of 30 takkaali [tomato ] recipes, 30 vagai kanji, 30 vagai sooper tippan...and so on
The series had gathered a lot of dust in the kitchen shelf and I decided to give them a break and transferred them to the book-binding shop for two weeks. They came back in 7 neat bound volumes - each with a minimum of twenty '30 naal...' books.
I was very proud of my 'collection' and subtle kostans from m.i.l like "Inda book-ellam nee use pandradillayo?" were ignored. Please note - It was not "padikkaradu illayo?". It was "use pandradillayo?"
The mega enthu '30 naal.. ' books drive got itself converted into a mega export drive when I started 'exporting' such books to friends and family in other countries.
A closer look at these books revealed that they were nothing but clones of one mega book which must have been titled '30 common recipes for the country Indian in you' . Take for instance the '30 naal ... 30 Chutneys' book. The first recipe is your kothamalli chutney. The subsequent pages for Karuveppillai, takkaali, vengayam chutneys had the same recipe with the main ingredient changed. Infact the recipe would read "This is similar to Kothamalli chutney... Substitute takkali for kothamalli". Off we go to the Tuvayal book. The pages are in the same order as the chutney book with one line added. "Fry the entire chutney in a lot of oil and your TUVAYAL will last for a month"
These books remind me of Chef Damodaran's cookery show on Jaya TV. Almost all his recipes would start with "vengayatha podiya narukki podunga, konjam takkali, konjam inji poondu, kothammali" and end with "saapteenganna summa sooper-a irukkum!". I always wait for the last segment where he says this when he serves the dish.
Most of these '30 naal' books were earlier compiled by 'Menu raani' Chellam or 'Samayal thilagam' Revathy Shanmugham (Kannadasan's daughter )- both well known cooks who brought some amount of credibility to the recipe however repetitive they were. But of late, regular readers of these magazines have started compiling their own recipes which get published as an ilavasa inaippu. And what's worse - these katthu kuttis, in the name of innovation, cook up some nonsense. Take for example - 30 naal...30 poosani-parangikkai samayal'. Would you even consider preparing Pooshanikkai rice or a Parangikkai Appalam? Uvveek!
And these are the same 4-5 faces who write in all magazines, particularly those who contribute to the 'tips' section which are the usual - "Don't waste old pieces of bathing soap. Put them together , add water and use them to wash your tiles" or "Use your old toothbrush to clean the corners of your kitchen tiles" and such kind of 'different' stuff.
But yes, there's one thing maha common to these ilavasa inappus apart from the Aishwarya Rai or an Asin on the cover. That's the intro line from these vasagis with the golden words "Kozhandaingal Virumbi saappiduvargal'' [kids would love it]. Kamaan I say, what makes them think that the 'Koyaindanga' would love a sprouts sandwich? "30 naal ... 30 sprouts samayal" with a "Kozhandaingal Virumbi saappiduvargal'' line? Forget Koyandainga, even kazhudais like me wouldn't want to 'virumbi' read such recipes.
But this one '30 naal ... 30 sweets' book's cover (Dated Oct '06) had me in splits.
Jo, in a Pothy's saree on the cover saying "Ennoda mamiyar-a asattha naan ready" (for Deepavali...with these recipes). Ha ha ha! Did she really asathify her mamiyar preparing laddu, jaangiri, Mysore pauk burning herself in the hot kitchen?
Mrs. Sivakumar-ukke velicham!