Day To Day Iyer Recipes
Pickles, Chutneys & Raita
Yummy Snacks
Sweets And Desserts
South Indian Breakfast Spread
Slimming Salads
Hints For Lightings The Ovens
Methods Of Cooking Rice
ABOUT US
 
Ethnic Tamilian Cuisine
INTRODUCTION:
S.Meenakshi Ammal is a pioneer in cook book writing in India. Way back in 1951, when cook books were not an accepted or popular genre in Indian publishing, she charted a new path by coming out with the first volume of her legendary "Samaithu Par" in Tamil. Literally meaning "cook and see", this book was meant to be a guide to young brides who were Setting up home on their own. This book was immediately lapped up, and there was a lot of demand for more such guidance. In line with this, Meenakshi Ammal came out with two more volumes of Samaithu Par. The second volume dealt with more recipes, while the third volume focused on various festivals and the preparations for these festivals.
 
All three volumes became instant successes, and there was no looking back. It was interesting that, with the advancement of time,
and the emancipation of women, the books started to become as much of a handy reference to men as they were to women. Many young students venturing out to the USA for their studies packed these books before they packed anything else. These books served indeed to remind many of our youngsters away from our country, of home and family.
 
HISTORY OF S.MEENAKSHI AMMAL:
  S.Meenakshi Ammal was born into a traditional and orthodox Tamilian family. As was the wont of most young girls of that day and age, she was well tutored in many domestic chores. She was an excellent cook even in her childhood and it was said that she could make "jangiris", a particularly complicated sweetmeat at the age of 8. She was also a good singer.
 
When she was in her teens, she married Samanna Iyer, a lawyer. Just when she was settling down to marital bliss, tragedy struck on the homefront. Two years after the birth of her first son, Sankaran, her husband passed away due to complications in a minor surgery. Meenakshi Ammal was left with a two-year old son, a seven year old brother-in-law and an old mother-in-law to take care of. She buckled down to this new challenge in life resolutely and brought up both her son and brother-in-law. Both of them pursued their studies through scholarships and the like and managed to settle down into responsible jobs. Meenakshi Ammal was settling down to a normal domestic life looking after her family.
 
Destiny though had different things in store for her. She used to be sought after by many of her relatives for tips on cooking, as she was considered a culinary expert. Meenakshi Ammal was inundated with requests for recipes by many relatives settled in different parts of the country. She had to write out the same recipe many times and send it to different people. Seeing the effort she was putting in, her uncle, Rao Bahadur K V Krishnaswami Iyer, an eminent advocate in Chennai, suggested to her that she could save a lot of effort if she compiled the recipes into a book. Thus was born Samaithu Par.
 

It was not an easy journey. Back in the late 40s and the early 50s, best cookery books were unheard of. Many people scoffed at the idea of a best cookery book. But Meenakshi Ammal was not easily dissuaded. With the strong support and advice of her uncle, she pressed on with the task of bringing out the book. Thus it was that the first volume of Samaithu Par was released in September 1951 .

 
Popularity did not happen instantly. A lot of effort was put in by her son, Sankaran, and his wife, Vasantha, in ensuring the distribution of the book. All this effort did not go in vain. The book caught on, and a new niche in Indian publishing was created. Public demand resulted in the release of the second and third volumes of the book.
 
More than 50 years later, her books still command a lot of popularity. In recent years, her grand daughter-in-law, Priya Ramkumar, has kept the flag flying with the release of two more volumes covering more dishes.