The Ghosts who Walk Kashmir

If there are any ghosts wandering around Srinagar City, they’re probably discomfited by how much the city has changed since they passed on. They probably cannot recognize it as the place in which they lived half a century ago. Not because of the pace of life, to be sure, but because of the skewed ratio…

Ahhh Praaague

When my son (now in his 20s) was tiny, he had gone to see a film with his best friend’s family. I never did get to learn the name of the movie, but it had a scene in it, which, described by a 4 year old, consisted of a cupboard with a door. You walked…

The world of vegetarianism

The whole jigsaw puzzle about vegetarians and vegetarian food goes awry in India, more or less. You see, it’s like this: in every other part of the world, vegetarians are a tiny minority, and because of that, they are perceived as exotic birds who subsist on impossibly rare ingredients. Truth be told, they are privately…

Gujarat on a Plate

One can almost picture the Almighty plotting the geography of the state of Gujarat with a twinkle in His eye. “We have to balance the ingenuity of the people of the state with the topography of the land, so because We have endowed them with a fertile imagination, in compensation We can fob them off…

Kashmir’s Dried Vegetables

The first time I ever set foot in Kashmir, it was autumn, and far from noticing the stunning scenery, my eyes were riveted on the windows of the houses I passed. There were drying vegetables strung from most windows, especially those in rural Kashmir. Depending on which part of the Valley I was in, there…

Meat and its Textures

This is all about the glorious textures of meat, from the satisfying chew of chunk meat to the insubstantial lightness of pates. There’s little you can do with a vegetable to alter its texture, but meat, now, that’s a whole different ball game. There’s a grotty little dhaba in the bowels of the Old City…

Ladakh: The Desert Cuisine

When the three greatest cuisines of the world are enumerated, Ladakhi food seldom finds mention. Even in Leh, Ladakhi restaurants seem anxious to stand up and be counted by serving Mexican, Israeli, Italian, Kashmiri and North Indian – everything else, in other words, but Ladakhi. The hotel where I’m staying, Shambha La, on the other…

Chapli Kebabs

Will the real Pakistani cuisine please stand up? I have been to no fewer than four hotel food festivals featuring the cuisine of our neighbouring country, and every time the food has been so different that it has not formed a pattern. Deluxe hotels – and it is only they who have the means to…