Chapa Pulusu

Travel down the west coast of peninsular India, eating fish curries all the while, and it is a fair bet that every last one of them will have coconut in them. Some will have ground coconut, others will have only the milk of ground coconuts, while still others will have no red chillies. All fish…

Begum Kulsum – One for the Road

Once upon a time there lived a king and his prime minister. Each had a slew of palaces in the city where they lived, one more fairytale than the other. Cars, retinues of helpers, suitcases of fabulous gems – they had them all. Even when the privy purses were abolished, they lived happily ever after.…

Matamaal

“My granny cooks the best” Kashmiri Atmospherics: The modest-sized restaurant that has a full-sized shikara inside (it doubles up as a table!) is run by a delightfully hospitable Kashmiri couple. Surinder and Nalini Sadhu are the eponymous ‘grand-parents’ (Matamaal means naani’s house) and it is they who greet first-timers and regular guests with the famous…

The Truth about Aphrodisiacs

There’s a nifty saying in Kashmiri that goes, “Pir chun’e bod; yakin chu bod” which translates as “It’s not the doctor who is great; its your belief in him that does the trick”. Two aspects strike me insofar as aphrodisiac foods go. The first is that the Kashmiris would appear to be right after all.…

The Uncomplicated Flavours of Kumaon

“Chop off the head of the goat and with the animal’s feet tied, hang it over an open coal fire till you can easily skin it.” That is the first step in preparing the Kumaoni classic, kachpak. I spent last weekend at Bhimtal’s Fisherman’s Lodge, being educated in the intricacies of local cooking. Many of…