Jun 23, 2015

Book review - India on a Platter by Chef Saransh Goila


With the food habits of urban, young Indians having turned into a sad state like this - "readymade cereal for breakfast, subway sandwich for lunch and burger/pizza for dinner", this book comes as a wake-up call to all of us to appreciate the vast number of cuisines of India. I have watched many of his TV shows in FoodFood channel and I have found Chef Saransh to be a simple, down-to-earth person - be it his recipes or his friendly demeanor.

His book "India on a platter" takes the reader on a journey to the depths and breadths of India, exploring different states, cultures, traditions and most importantly, the cuisines. The book takes you on a journey to Ladakh, Jaipur, Kutch, Goa, Munnar, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Guwahati and many more. More than just a breezy travelogue, the book also dwells into the intricacies and differences in food habits, preparation methods, spices and cooking practices of these cuisines.

The thought of such a dream journey to travel across the country and learn about food from people local to each region is amazing. But executing it for 100 days and writing about the experiences in detail is a challenging effort. For someone like me who's born and brought up in the South, I got a good exposure to many of the cuisines of North, West and East, thanks to this book. Planning to read up more and check out some recipes on Mewari, Awadhi and Kutchi cuisine soon.

Many of our food-related habits and best practices are undocumented clearly and I'm glad this book has taken some steps towards this direction. Not only in terms of food, the book also captures glimpses into the lifestyle practices of the various towns and villages. Seriously, we the city-dwellers have a lot to learn about life and simple living from them.

Apart from a sneak peek into the cuisines and cultures, the chef has also detailed out 50 recipes to try out. For someone like me who loves to cook, there's now enough reasons to revisit the book again and again to try these recipes. I only wish there was an "Index" of all these recipes. Maybe, a few pictures of these recipes would have also helped. I would have also loved it if there was a Map with the route sketched that plots all the places visited.

My only regret about this book is that Saransh didn't include my state Tamilnadu in this whole journey. If he had explored, the book would have covered a little more about the vast Tamil cuisine other than the popular idli, dosa and sambhar. (He did take a trip to Pondicherry though).

Well, as he rightly said in the book, "It might take more than a lifetime to experience and explore our very own brand 'India' ".

If you love to travel and eat, then I highly recommend this book. Lots of interesting anecdotes, history and insights that will kindle your interest to explore more on Indian food and cuisines.

P.S. The book was sent to me by Flipkart as part of their "bloggers initiative". The review is my honest and unbiased feedback on the book.

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