Alamelu Vairavan, a Whitefish Bay resident, is an author and culinary instructor. Alamelu has a passion for educating the public about the use of spices and legumes in preparing healthy and tasty foods. She is also interested in educating the public about the growing research that points to the enormous health benefits of spices in preventing many diseases. Her mission is to enrich people's culinary experience and to inspire them to discover that cooking and sharing healthful foods can be an especially joyful experience.
Visit Alamelu's web site, CurryOnWheels.com.
As a part of my culinary mission to educate people about healthful eating, periodically I conduct a day trip to "Little India" in Chicago(an area of several blocks on Devon Avenue.) Many, but not all , who go with me are my culinary students and their friends. This trip is open to anyone who is interested. I arrange for a limousine to take a group of about ten people on the trip. Parking in this area is extremely difficult. Travelling by the limousine not only solves the parking problem, but also provides an opportunity for those who make the trip to get acquainted with each other. And more importantly, it gives me an opportunity to discuss Indian culture, food and customs during the comfortable and elegant ride.
Well, well...what an amazing, challenging and thrilling experience it was for me to be able to present a cooking workshop at the famous James Beard Foundation (JBF), in Manhattan, New York. The JBF is a prestigious culinary organization that hosts workshops and events featuring culinary experts, prominent authors and chefs from around the country (www.jamesbeard.org/events). The JBF programs include classes, conferences, readings and other educational experiences that help people learn about and engage with food. Food matters a great deal to the members of this organization who not only pay an annual membership fee but also pay to participate in individual events held round the year.
You have patiently waited several weeks to determine what the queen of spice is! Well, here is the answer: Cardamom! This spice, also referred to as the “Grains of Paradise”, is known to man since ancient times. In India some people even carry tiny silver boxes of cardamom seeds as a mouth freshener. After dinner cardamom is chewed to clean the palate. Cardamom adds an appealing flavor to foods and aids in digestion.
Guess what spice is considered the king of all spices? It is "Black Pepper". According to the history of spices, black pepper was a highly valued spice in Europe, and in 1498 Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, went on a long sea-voyage to India primarily in search of pepper! Until he discovered a sea route to India, the spice was brought to Europe by land through Arab traders who kept the land route a secret. In the 15th century, the West valued pepper as much as gold. Demand was huge and the supply was short. Today pepper is freely available around the world and is almost used in every cuisine. It is rightly known as the "king of spices".