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Pâticheri \pəˈti + chér-ee\ n.

1. A conjugation of the French “pâtisserie” [a bakery specializing in French pastries] with the Tamil “cheri” [from the phrase chernthu vaazhum idam: the locality where people live together];

2. An auditory allusion to Pondicherry–the cheri which is now my home, or Puducherry (pudu-cheri: new town), as this erstwhile French colony at the edge of British India now calls itself;

3. A play on/with words, ingredients, recipes; a wish for good pastry and good food made of converging inspirations in the locality where people live together.


[Photo credit: Noor, December 2015 @Naturellement Garden Cafe, Auroville]

I am a cultural anthropologist, college professor, mother to two boys, always cook and sometimes baker who relishes thinking about how food makes lives–from cultivation to commodification to cooking and consumption.

I am also a writer, or should I say that my profession has always wanted so many words–lectures, reports, comments and reviews, peer-reviewed publications. My professional search for words, and for the actual and sentimental infrastructure supports our lives, often brings me to food as that central experience that holds so much in its breadth. For food, too, wants words of academic and so many other kinds, from technical instruction to tales that bring food alive by association. So much of the story of how we live and function, make our relationships, raise our kids, go about our workaday lives and struggles; so much of how we suffer pain or experience happiness, even of our political economy, is told in our foodways and food practices. My hope for Pâticheri is that it become a site for such narration, a celebration of food in all its messy, difficult, gastronomical ethno.graphic richness.

But also: just a space of free play and experimentation. I make no apologies for breaking every single blogger rule out there: not posting on schedule, being unpredictable, never looking once at google analytics, changing my stories or the tenor of this blog as it pleases me. You’d think that rule-breaking would attract penalties. But in the four years since Pâticheri was born, I’ve met and interacted with more  people through this blog than I ever imagined I would. Strangers have become friends. Folks I never knew have shared meals at home.  Those–and the push this blog gives me to cook better, write better, relate better, photograph better–are far greater gifts than I ever could have dreamed of.

The photos on this site are all mine–and have, I’d like to think, grown with me and this blog. If you’re wanting the use of any of them, for any reason at all, please write me first: deepa[at]paticheri[dot]com

12 Responses Post a comment
  1. Susan Campbell permalink
    September 28, 2013

    LOVE your post about Meyer lemons. I’m trying to sprout seeds and will let you know how they go. And have been looking around at your blog…wonderfully written. Looking forward to trying some of your chutney recipes if I can find all the ingredients where I live. 🙂

    • September 30, 2013

      Susan, How nice to start my day with your kind words (and feeling glad that I opened comments on the “about” page after keeping it closed for long!). I’d love to hear about your experience with the Meyers. Mine are now about a year and half, and after some good rains and careful watering, I’m so delighted to see them winning over the pests and heat. Keeping my fingers crossed. As for chutneys, what’s lovely about them is that they can happen with whatever ingredients you do have access to. So let me know what’s there, and we’ll figure a recipe accordingly?

  2. Charanya permalink
    December 18, 2013

    I was seaching how to grow meyer lemon trees n i stumbled on ur blog
    Lovely write up n guess what? i m from pondicherry too

  3. Charanya permalink
    December 18, 2013

    Where can i get these lemon in pondy?

    • December 18, 2013

      Charanya, Always nice to run into a fellow Pondicherrian 🙂 I’m afraid the Meyers are not available in Pondy, and my saplings are far (far) from bearing any fruit. If you find out some other source for them though, I’d love to know! Stay in touch.

      • Ravi permalink
        January 12, 2014

        Hi Deepa,

        fantastic blog on growing meyer lemon trees. Loved it. I am from Pondicherry too. been struggling to source meyers lemon sapling or seeds in Pondicherry and Bangalore. haven’t had any luck. Please let me know if you know a place where i can get one.


        • January 29, 2014

          I wish I had a source for you Ravi. Had I anticipated all the interest that single post of mine would generate, I might never have blogged and become a Meyer grower instead!

  4. Tranquil permalink
    March 22, 2014

    Love the green dosa. Also Paati being Tamil for grandmother – your title is appropriate – grandmother’s wisdom celebrated. My paati and maami made this dosa too. How I’d love to live in Puducherry and attend to my Vata troubled self.
    You know I bought green dosa powder from Health Home. Yum.

    please also visit and like my page –

  5. kiran mutreja permalink
    May 27, 2015

    Research Information Required For Zee Networks show named ‘Pickle Nation’

    Good Afternoon. We are working on the research of a show for Zee Networks called “Pickle Nation”.
    Our aim is to explore unique and ancillary types of pickle from Pondicherry. We would also like to explore the French Pickles in Pondicherry ( french cucumber pickle – Cornichon or Pondicherry Pickles made in French Style. As well as, the individual/person who makes the pickle – who we can shoot, he/she can tell us about her family traditional pickle making technique etc? We would also like to know if you know any families or individuals who are a resident of Pondicherry but have their roots from the French, Dutch, Portuguese, British.

    My team would be reaching Pondicherry tomorrow night and will be in Pondicherry on 28th May, just for a day. So it would be great if you could provide us with the information by tomorrow so that they can take their research forward depending on the details you help us with on 28th.

    Regarding the pickle, we are focusing on the history of the pickle (Eg: why is it so famous, what are the reasons for it etc.), culture, tradition, interesting facts about it, info of a particular spice used in it or the ingredient and the medicinal values of the pickle.

    I really appreciate your help.

    Kiran Mutreja,
    Ideas Box Entertainment Ltd.

  6. February 9, 2017

    Deepa, thank you for finding and leaving a comment because that’s how I found your amazing blog. Your posts are super interesting. I am going to make myself a coffee and then sit down to devour your blog whole. Good day!

    • February 9, 2017

      What a lovely note to receive, thank you. I hope you’ve found some reading here worthy of a quiet moment with coffee, and that blog-to-blog or otherwise, we get to stay in touch.

  7. Murali Shanmugavelan permalink
    September 28, 2017

    Hello Deepa Reddy,

    Hope you are well. I messaged you on with a request. Sorry about the awkward stalking here. I am writing here as I am not sure if you are still following that page. Sorry! Please do look up that message and reply if you can. Or email me. And you may delete this odd post after reading.

    best wishes

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