Book Review: India On My Platter: The 20,000-km food journey

Title: India On My Platter: The 20,000-km food journey
Author: Saransh Goila
Pages: 320
Price: Rs. 295

India On My Platter: The 20,000-km food journey by Saransh Goila is an account of his 20,000 km road journey within India, covering 25 states in 100 days, at a stretch, chronicling the food and recipes of regions across the country. It is a compilation of his travels as a host of India’s biggest food travelogue show, Roti, Rasta aur India on FoodFood channel (a 24-hour TV channel about food). Incidentally, he also set a record in the Limca Book of Records, 2014, for “the longest road journey by a chef.”

It carries a Foreword by Sanjeev Kapoor.

While it isn’t a recipe book, it does contain about 50 recipes from 25 states. While some of these recipes have been generously shared by folks whom Goila met along the way, some of them are also Goila’s signature creations, in keeping with the availability of the ingredients in a given region and the general accompanying mood at a particular place. Every recipe has a story. Think blueberry pedas or chocolate football momos.

The book is also sprinkled with some handy tips shared by Goila, aiding everyday cooking. I found myself making some careful notes there. And I don’t even cook regularly.

India On My Platter is a good glimpse into the various kinds of cuisine India has to offer. Some fairly familiar, others not so much. While detailing the food of each region, Goila also makes it a point to share his interactions with the locals and his impressions of that particular place. He often goes beyond the food aspect to explore the intricacies of lifestyle and culture, unique to each region. I found myself smiling at a few instances where I knew just exactly what he was talking about. I found myself making mental notes of the places that I’d like to visit and the foods I’d like to sample.

For most part, it’s not just about the food. And Goila contextualizes the many dishes that we take for granted.

I was, however, disappointed by the writing. More often than not, the book read like a diary of anecdotes. I missed a consistency in the tone and language, which a careful round of editing could have resolved. Some of the chapters read really well while some portions appear to be rather sloppy, as if they were put together in haste. The book would have also been a far richer read had Goila supplemented some of his impressions of a particular cuisine or a region with additional research.

What I also missed was an index of the recipes and a map of the route followed by Goila and his team.

Nevertheless, India On My Platter is a good introduction to Indian cuisine. It’s an easy, delicious read. However, just a note of caution; do not attempt reading it on an empty tummy. You will be tempted to leave it mid-way to reach out for a quick snack, just to satiate the salivating taste buds. Some of its recipes will leave you turning its pages in anticipation.

Learn more about India On My Platter.

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