Backpacking through the country, young chef Saransh Goila sets off on a culinary trail through India, wherein he discovers the various nuances of local cuisine. From rural villages to barren deserts to freezing mountains, he unfolds the flavour of his destination by meeting local villagers or erstwhile royalty and picking up a tip or two to use in his kitchen. Wherever he goes, he makes sure to visit the famous eateries of that place. Through him, the reader can vividly smell the spices and taste the dishes that are described. The recipes given also present ways on using locally found ingredients. From having steaming Murthal ke paranthes to savouring tasty street food in hometown Delhi, from cooking on a boat in Varanasi to cooking dishes using a bamboo hollow in Assam, Goila does it all and presents his adventures in a lucid, flowing narrative peppered with humorous anecdotes.
India On My Platter is the account of a chef’s endearing journey across the vastness called India and picking up bits of food and culture from various states. Coincidentally, I had first glimpsed at chef Saransh Goila at the 2014 show Roti, Rasta aur India, where he traverses through the country in 100 days and explores the variety of food. I liked Roti, Rasta aur India as it was a simple and honest show where a rookie chef’s exuberance was so palpable and enjoyable. Saransh Goila had won a culinary competition and the show was his first as a television chef. There was some naivety and over simplifying stuff, but it was still a good show for such a young chef, a protege of Sanjeev Kapoor.
The book starts chronicling the path followed on the tv show and includes one recipe in every chapter. I liked the travelogue part much better than the food tales, which is not a bad point about this ensemble book. Starting from Delhi, they have a lot of states covered in 100 days including the travel hours. Saransh has an easy camaraderie with the people he meets, as I had seen in the show and it reflects in his simple writing as well. At times, he gets pensive and a little homesick. At other times, the landscapes of Ladakh or Kerala make him think deep. Though I envied his incredible journey and food experience, I doubt if I could withstand the hectic schedule and travel with the tediousness of shooting for television.
The food he eats and describes are totally local wherever he reaches. That’s the part I liked in the book – the descriptions and little anecdotes about the origin of most food he eats around. What I didn’t like are mostly the recipes. Quite a few of them are the chef’s own representation of the food presented to him by the locals. But the fusion and experiments didn’t go well every time, methinks. I would rather like and might try the Dark Chocolate Kheer or Blueberry Peda but a few of them were way over the moon to even sample. Though I understand the need to create fusion recipes each time was a young chef’s idea to impress his audience, but the book could have had a few authentic and interesting local recipes. Overall, an enjoyable travelogue (more than a book on food).
My Rating: 3/5
About the author:
At 28, Saransh Goila is an Indian chef, a TV show host, author and a food consultant. He is also popular for his online food and travel show, The Spice Traveller and Health Challenge, where he makes favourite Indian dishes healthier. Saransh became a food enthusiast quite early, making his first jalebi for his family at the age of 12. This interest in food made him pursue his Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts from the Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad.
His first taste of television success was when he won the FoodFood Maha Challenge in the year 2011, hosted by celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor and film actress, Madhuri Dixit. He set a record in the Limca Book of Records, 2014, for ‘the longest road journey by a chef,’ when he hosted India’s biggest food travelogue show, Roti, Rasta aur India. He’s a passionate traveller and has dedicated himself to promote regional Indian food across the globe.
Language: English, Genre: Non Fiction/Food/Travel
Author(s): Saransh Goila
Publisher: Om Books International, Year Published: May 2015
Binding: Kindle, Edition: First, Pages: 336
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