Made In India...The Cookbook I Follow
I love books....as much as food.I don't care much for jewels but give me a good book and I am happy.If that book is about food then I am more than happy!
Last month I attended my first book launch.That of "Made In India" by Kunal Vijayakar.It was hosted by the Trident,Nariman Point in one of their prettiest rooms with a view of the sea and the sun setting.When you have Boman Irani,Cyrus Broacha and Kunal in one place,you can well imagine the laughter that ensued.Apparently our Mr Vijayakar hasn't yet met any woman who is better than Butter Chicken.Boman Irani called him "Kunal Vijayakar Irani" referring to their close bond.He narrated stories of how Kunal once confessed emotionally that he loved Boman's family and then gave the "reason":that no one else in the family cared for his favorite chicken legs.
Cyrus's daughter Maya tugged at him endearingly all evening.If there was anything cuter,it was the picture of her being bottle-fed by him when she was little! The stylish and articulate, Rashmi Uday Singh sprung a surprise by gifting him a champagne bottle that had his picture! The classy Nisha Jamvwal,the charming Perizaad Zorabian and funny adman and director Bharat Dhabolkar all lavished praises on Kunal.There were friends,family and the food fraternity,that had gathered there.....all in all, an informal,warm atmosphere.Felt lucky to be there.We were served snacks like Apricot Dahi Kabab,Lukhmi and Kerala Beef Fry (not banned at the time,thankfully)
I for one have been trying to get my hands on a copy since January,not realizing it was pre-order online then.At the launch,I finally had a look.Made In India has brilliant food photographs.The recipes are from all over India(thanks to Kunal's travels on the hugely popular The Foodie show on Times Now) and has many unusual ones like Goan Egg Drop Curry,Tipsy Pudding,Chinchoni and Shikari Pulao.The best part is that the ingredients mentioned are all available in Indian homes. Each recipe has a humorous note from Kunal describing the dish or something connected to it.
It looked easy so I started cooking from it,not realizing I'd go the Julia Child way,as my friend Kalyan Karmakar pointed out.The first dish I made was Hingatelache Vatane,which was so good that I have made it twice already! Minimal spices and ingredients,this is aromatic and delicious!
Then there was the Charcharleli Batati....Kunal had cut the potatoes 1cm by 1cm.I am not capable of such intelligent precision.I used baby potatoes and sliced them.Mustard seeds,red chill powder,turmeric and asafoetida make these crusty potatoes simply divine!
Then there was the Goan Egg Drop Curry.We make "Anda Bhujane" in my community.Onions and tomatoes are sautéed and eggs broken over them.This was the Goan version with coconut, red chillies,coriander seeds and cumin.As Goan as Goan could get.
The book has another peas recipe....Sukha Vatana,which differs from the first in the spices it contains.This one has amchur and tastes radically different
As I mentioned before,I am precision and symmetry challenged.Longed to have the Aloo Paratha Tadkewala so my cook was instructed how to make it.Turned out fabulous! I had four with curds.The Tadka was the essence of the dish
Next on my list was the fish curry.Chose the East Indian Fish Kujit which has tomatoes and vinegar.East Indians are Catholic community and speak a Marathi dialect.They have Portuguese influence.They were essentially fisherfolk native to Mumbai and Vasai and were chosen for employment by the British East India Company,hence the name.They have a special masala called the Bottle Masala which my friend Soumitra Velkar pointed out resembles the Parbhi Sambhar (masala of the Pathare Prabhu community).I had a sense of deja vu when I read the section about masalas in the end where Kunal spoke about sari clad women making masalas at his grandmother's.I remember someone I knew, who was East Indian had told me similar stories about bottle masala being made at Bandra and how the sea wind would carry the aroma of the spices being crushed... far,far away
Lady fingers are also one of my favorite vegetables.Bhindi Fatafat requires them to be boiled.I tried both the versions (boiled and not boiled) and liked the latter better.Minimalistic cooking yet delicious.Great for working folks
There's something I love about jungles.Feel a sense of peace there.
Years ago,I 've tasted wild boar and venison.Exquisite and unmatched by domesticated meat.When we
went to Jaipur, the one dish I loved was the Jungli Maas,a simple dish made by hunters using ghee and red chillies.Ofcourse the version I had was of goat meat not game.The Shikari Pulao thus had to be made.Somehow I have always found it difficult to make pulao or biryani cos the rice has to be cooked just right.Kunal's recipe took me two hours but I got the consistency correct....for the first time! The amount of rice and water was different than what I had used in the past.Being a pulao,this is mildly spiced.
What's next? Probably the Chicken Esperenza,a sort of Goan dish.Then Abeda's Nihari!
Would have liked to make the Kerala Beef Fry but no longer can.I personally believe that food choices should be left to people in a democracy,like it is in the rest of the world.That's what most people in my generation and the next also feel.We are a united, diverse, progressive nation and the past year has shown how keen everyone is in trying food from other communities and culture.It's heartwarming! Food binds people together and it should stay that way.