The Srinagar Conspiracy

It’s not that the author is a television journalist who has crossed the floor. It’s not that Kashmir is seldom used as a backdrop for novels. It’s not even that the thriller is a little explored genre in Indian writing in English. The Srinagar Conspiracy is a compulsive page turner because it’s that felicitous meeting…

Chicken 65

“Chicken 65 a typically Bangalorean dish,” restaurateurs of that city will tell you with supreme conviction, “called so because you ought to be able to cut the chicken into 65 pieces.” Hyderabadis, on the other hand, believe that Chicken 65 was born in their city. “65 is the number of spices that used to be…

Sweet Meats and Other Treats

A recent banquet that was hosted by Major SSH Rehman, Director, ITC Ltd., showcased the best of regional Indian food. Amidst the haleems and qaliyas, there was a curiosity counter. Its contents? Desserts made respectively from eggs, dal, lamb and chicken. Unusual? Most avowedly so. But was it good to taste? Yes, certainly, because the…

The wonderful world of recipe books

Enter any bookshop and you’ll invariably find that the most attractive section is the one on recipe books. Most cooks – amateur and professional – have an array of well-thumbed recipe books, which range from the strictly functional sort, with not a single illustration or photograph in it, to the glossy page variety, with one…

The Story Behind Hainanese Chicken Rice

On a recent trip to Singapore, I made my way to the Mecca of Hainanese Chicken Rice: Purvis Street. Right by the uber fashionable Bugis Junction, no more striking contrast can be found. Purvis Street has started the inexorable change towards modernization, but when I first visited Singapore in 2002, it was an old-fashioned double…

Rohit Aggarwal: The Trekking Caterer

“I am a failed trekking caterer”, Rohit Aggarwal of Lite Bite Foods tells me, with a woebegone look on his face. I assume he is joking, and guffaw appreciatively. After all, he and Lite Bite partner Amit Burman are among the three largest players in the restaurant industry currently in India, with no private equity…

Afghanistan: On the Crossroads of Cuisine

Afghani restaurants abound in pockets of Delhi. They tend to occupy very specific locations like Bhogal, Jangpura, Lajpat Nagar on one axis, and the lane opposite Max Hospital, Saket on another. They are family eateries that offer a small variety of kebabs, a couple of biryanis and mantu: a momo-like preparation that is doused in…

Chef Vittorio Greco

He hails from, not one country, but two, and both are in different hemispheres. Chef Vittorio Greco may have been born in the North of Tuscany, but what shaped his culinary style was his move to Brisbane, Australia, where he cooked for a largely non-Italian audience. His live-wire energy is his defining feature, and in…