Indian Essentials: What is “Race” in Race Kuzhambu?


Recently I was asking why Race Kuzhambu has the name Race? Nobody seems to know and certainly a time spent researching this question on the internet did not yield any results.

But a talk with Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons produced a hypothesis.

The recipe comes from Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See Book 1 — her set of Cook and See Books were de rigueur for all newly married women in Tamil Nadu in the 1950’s and 60’s. We theorised that the correct name for this dish is Rice Kuzhambu (as Indian nomenclature of its dishes is quite descriptive of its ingredients), but that a mistyping in the printing of at least one edition of her books changed the name forever through a sort of 1950’s version of a viral change.

So a traditional dish that was once called Rice Kuzhambu was changed forever through this viral change simply because of the ubiquitous of her books. If you google Race Kuzhambu you will find a range of recipes but if you google Rice Kuzhambu not one proper result emerges.

That is our theory. Any other thoughts or theories?

You can find all of the Indian Essentials articles here.


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