Title: India On My Platter: The 20,000-km food journey
Author: Saransh Goila
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.
A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet from a friend offering dessert baked by her sister. I was delighted, and doubly when she voluntarily offered to send it home. We coordinated diligently for the next few days with a furious exchange of DMs and rearranging of plans. But it was not to be. The forces that be had other plans for us.
To simplify both our lives, she invited me home for lunch and promised to hand over the box of goodies after. We had a fun afternoon, giggling, gossiping and gorging on yummy brownies. I spent time with her little girl, reading and watching a movie. I also made a new friend that afternoon, someone whose writing I enjoy.
On my way out (a very hurried exit), K handed me a box of brownies. I was looking forward to enjoying them with the folks. But I went off to meet my soon to-be-engaged cousin right after I deposited the box at home in the fridge.
When I returned home that night, the mother informed me that she and the father had split one brownie between them. But with the flurry of phone calls and all the chaos, they could barely savor it.
A little later, my neighbor’s kid (roundabout K’s little girl’s age) dropped by and I offered her a brownies. She scooped up all the caramel and chocolate and discarded the rest.
The next morning, an aunt made a last-minute visit with twins in tow and the mother packed off the remaining two brownies with them.
It’s almost as if K and I were mere logistical mediums to get the stuff from her sister to all these people. And in the process, she fed me lunch, I read to her daughter and I made a new friend.
Makes me feel slightly useful!
Chocolate always elevated her to a happier plane. It induced her “Cheshire cat smile” and many giggles. The thrill of unwrapping the foil carefully to avoid the spilling crumbs and the joy of the impending sugar rush was a heady combination. Consuming it was a blur. Twas over before she could pause and relish it.
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Last week he saw his three-month-old cousin. He asked his mother if babies grew up as fast as puppies did. He was mildly disappointed. But his 14-year-old mind did not linger on this for too long. There were movies that had to be watched, apps and music that had to be downloaded and dessert, which needed to be consumed.
Yes, his mind is flighty like that. Just as his feet are. He can never stand still. Must keep shifting his weight from one foot to another, or dance all over the place, as I called it. He is half my age but towers over me with his build. Hands behind him, he will meekly enquire if I want water, but will make it look like a threat, obstructing all my vision until I acquiesce.
Rakhi is one of our cherished days. He will quietly sidle next to me for dinner, plate in hand. His rakhi-laden wrist will reach out to feed me a pani-puri, a rare gesture on his part. He will remember to use all the magic words, please, sorry and thank you. He will be very finicky about the kind of rakhi he wants around his wrist and the mithai he wants to be stuffed with. And he will bend down and touch my feet for ashirwad with great alacrity. So much love is a little difficult to digest.
When he was about five, he put in a “special” request, “Can you tie me two rakhis instead of only one?” “I know you’ll have to do a little more kaam, but then don’t give me a birthday gift this time, okay,” he concluded. He was willing to part with his birthday money as well. He rummaged through his school bag for a pencil to write my name on two currency notes and hand them over to his banker, our grandfather, for safe-keeping. Yes, that brat could be sweet like that!