In some great news for gastronomers, 500 authentic recipes, from family favourites to forgotten treasures and showcasing food from Ladakh to Tamil Nadu and from Maharashtra to Arunachal Pradesh, have been compiled in a book form. With the recipes representing all the regions, ethnic groups, cultural choices and traditions of the country, Tiffin: 500 Authentic Recipes Celebrating India's Regional Cuisine showcases food that is a flavourful blend of favourite Indian recipes along with several lesser-known dishes.
Also featured in the book are recipes by home chefs, celebrated chefs, and dishes specially made at festivals and special occasions.
According to author Sonal Ved, Tiffin celebrates the incredible richness of India's regional cuisine and is an effort to create a repository of varied culinary traditions.
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"When we set out to choose the recipes to include in Tiffin, we kept the varied produce, techniques, and culinary styles in mind. While each section is well represented in terms of what the six regions have to offer, it is by no means exhaustive," she says.
But how does one bottle up the goodness of such an old and diverse cuisine in 500 recipes?
"So we put in a flavourful blend of favourite Indian recipes and several lesser-known dishes by taking a leaf out of temple cuisine, street food, tribal recipes, and other dishes that you might not commonly find," the author says.
While most of the recipes have been hand-picked by culinary experts from each region, "we went beyond, and reached out to the best repositories of traditional recipes - wedding caterers, who are given the responsibility of serving contemporary and traditional spreads".
Each of the contributor recipes, which includes those given by grandmothers, mothers, aunts, friends, cookbook authors, and chefs who champion regional Indian cooking, are marked by a miniature cloche. A handy glossary and basic recipe section are provided to help wade through these recipes.
The book, published by Roli, is divided regionally, the dishes are not to be savoured insularly. It has photographs by Anshika Varma and illustrations by Abhilasha Dewan.
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"In fact, most can be effortlessly paired with one another. When we have friends over for tea, we often daydream of matching a Jabalpuri Chicken Samosa with Khasta Kachori from Madhya Pradesh, along with Vazaipoo Vadais from Tamil Nadu and Kutchi Kadak toasts.
"And on Sundays, with brunch on our minds, we want our tables laden with Bhojpuri Dum Aloo, Bengali Luchis, Rajasthani Gatte ki Sabzi, Chingri Cutlet, Assamese chicken-and-banana-flower stir-fry, and Adhirasams from Tamil Nadu," Ved writes.
From Patiala Papad ki Sabzi to Kerala Chicken Fry and from the sumptuous Mizo Dal to Bajre ka Soyta, Indian regional cuisine offers an incredible variety. A country that has a vast coastline and hosts six major climatic subtypes, it is no wonder it is home to cuisines that use ingredients that are local and seasonal.
The book was launched recently in Mumbai during which there was a discussion among chefs Thomas Zacharias and Anuj Wadhawan, restaurant owner Aditi Dugar and Ved, moderated by food writer Ankiet Gulabani.