Mallika - Chennai's Super-cook It is rather odd that the most popular Super Cook had not done much of cooking till she approached her thirties. At home her mother did all the cooking and the large joint family she married into had a live-in cook. Until one day when Mallika tried her hand in cooking rather out of boredom. Shaken by the appalling result she took it as a challenge to learn cooking. She started earnestly with help from her in-laws and friends.
The home-science graduate wrote down the recipes painstakingly on a notebook and tried them out. Seeing nearly seventy entries on her notebook, Badrinath told his wife jokingly that she should publish a cookbook if she made it to a hundred. Knowing that thousands of young women could benefit from her rather belated experience, Mallika decided to write a book. The result was her first cookbook, ‘100 Vegetarian Gravies’ published way back in 1986. It became an instant hit and quick reprints were ordered to meet the mounting demand.
Encouraged by a positive response from the public, Mallika soon brought out the second book, ‘100 Egg Recipes’. Soon followed ‘100 Breakfast items’, another favourite. Her next book. ‘200 Classic Lunches’, including meals from different regions, created a record in cookbook sales. It is very popular with newly-married women who face a dilemma of what to cook for the day. Another important book in her list is ‘100 South Indian Recipes for Microwave’ which includes even difficult dishes like ‘Biryani’.
In fifteen years of publishing Mallika has produced 15 books in Tamil, 14 in English, six each in Telugu and Kannada. Soon she will be publishing in Hindi too. One can expect a great response for her in the North. She is also planning to launch her books in interactive CD format which is the new preferred media.
One book Mallika is very proud of is the recent addition, ‘300 Recipes for Diabetics’, which she produced after elaborate research and consultation with many doctors and dieticians. Mallika says that she received grateful responses from patients and their family members.
One wonders what makes Mallika the top author of cookbooks in the South. The reasons are quite simple. Her books are well researched and meticulous care has been taken for each recipe. She takes nearly a year to prepare a book. She tries out each recipe and simplifies the process in a step-by-step approach. Spices and vegetables not available locally are substituted with local equivalents. The quality of printing is excellent. The unique horizontal format of the books makes them easy to handle while cooking. They are priced reasonably too.
Despite her remarkable achievements Mallika is unassuming and gracious. This vivacious lady literally exudes enthusiasm. She has high praise for her husband who takes total care of publishing and sales. A chartered accountant by profession, Badrinath has given up his busy career to support his wife’s endeavour. This enables Mallika to focus exclusively on the contents. The success achieved by this couple is quite remarkable.
What is the secret of a great taste in cooking? According to Mallika, it is using ‘the right ingredients at the right time’. Sounds simple. One wonders if she remembers the thousands of recipes she has published! ‘Yes, almost all of them,’ she says confidently with a big smile.
The inevitable question to find her favourite food is deflected with a a standard statement, ‘I love all kinds of food’. It is probably true. It is like asking a mother which child she favours. However on further probing she admits having a weakness for milk-based sweets. One advice she likes to give out – ‘Do not use cooking soda. It kills all nourishment in food’.
This enterprising author has toured the country extensively for cooking demonstrations. She had visited US on a two-month cooking tour. Her weekly cooking programmes on major TV channels are quite popular. Magazines and newspaper regularly feature her recipes and cooking tips.
Recently a 70-year-old man told Mallika that he took to cooking after seeing one of her TV programmes. In that particular programme she had criticized Indian men for shunning the kitchen and challenged them to prove their creativity inside the kitchen. Apparently her challenge has got the desired response in some quarters.
Contrary to popular belief, Mallika claims that a ‘balanced’ South Indian vegetarian meal is one of the healthiest among the world cuisine. She attributes this to the fact that South Indian food has less oil, more vegetables, more protein and less fat. She emphasizes the keyword, ‘balanced’, since it is the right mix that matters. ‘People generally choose the wrong combination by having too much rice, too little vegetables and too many fried items in their meal,’ she laments.
For the last two years energetic Mallika is operating a new venture, MHP products. It manufactures and sells twenty food products such as ready mix for sambar, bajji, bonda, ravadosi, payasam, adai, etc. She is meticulous about the quality and spends a lot of time everyday at the factory, checking quality and taste. Her products have a natural taste, since they do not have any preservatives and colouring. These are available at the leading supermarkets in the state.
Contact Mallika at ********@*****.*** or phone 044-499 0872.
(Rated by 2 Council Members)