His friend Harish, a petroleum engineer, has a deep interest in medicine and fitness. The duo was discussing forgotten herbs and spices that have a lot of medicinal value and why people are not regularly using them. Harish suggested to Akash that it might be an interesting project to research. “I send him a list of herbs and spices that we don’t generally use in cooking. The list included sitharathai (galangal), vettiver (chrysopogon zizanioides), ashwagandha (aamukkiraa kizhangu), vallarai keerai, sukku (dried ginger), adhimadhuram (liquorice root/mulethi), kumanjam (bowellia serata). All these can be found in herbal medicine shops. I always felt that these herbs and spices have lots of potential in terms of culinary aspects — how these could bring a different flavour and taste to the dishes.
“Though all these are found in Tamil Nadu, we have never used them to their true potential. From the list I had sent Harish, he picked sitharathai, did research, and found some amazing benefits. He suggested that apart from the medicinal benefits, we should raise awareness about the use of these ingredients in daily cooking. There is a lot of information about this but we didn’t want to go with the usual template — a picture along with a long write-up and sharing it on Instagram. It will not do justice to the research findings. That’s how we zeroed in on doing a podcast series and started a podcast called Chukku Kaapi.
With this podcast, we look forward to exploring the paradigms of food that are overlooked from facts-based and taste-based perspectives,” says Akash Muralidharan. In the podcast, the duo talks about why one should use these herbs and spices and their benefits. “I will also be talking about the need to experiment with these herbs, spices in our daily cooking. In the first episode of Chukku Kaapi that was released on June 25, we spoke about galangal. Though galangal is imported from Tamil Nadu we don’t use it in our cooking. But in South East Asian countries, for Thai cooking, galangal is one of the star ingredients. Also in the podcasts, I will be sharing a few tips, tricks and small recipe suggestions on how one can include these in cooking. For eg, it can be a simple tea recipe with galangal or how adding galangal in a fish or mutton curry helps masks the heavy smell. Galangal makes you feel lighter when you have heavy gravies like a mutton curry. It also helps in the digestion process,” adds the food designer. The duo believes that this podcast shall serve as a platform to discuss everything that interests them in the world of food, culinary art, medicine and fitness.