Monday, March 05, 2007


Love of good food

The trouble with tasty food is one eats more than is good for the body and pays the penalty of an upset stomach and disturbed sleep. I have always loved tasty food and at times over-indulged myself with dire consequences. Now nearing my mid-90s, I have been warned by my doctor to restrict my diet. He tells me that my diet should be salt-free, sugar-free, free from spices and other ingredients, which enhance its taste. How on earth can bland food be tasty?

However, I have had to reconcile myself to brown toast for breakfast, to daal or khichdi with dahi for lunch and one dish for dinner. It’s grim because the hankering for tasty food persists. I watch cookery programmes on TV. Some make me salivate. I turn over pages of cookery books and imagine what different recipes would taste like. My latest indulgence is Jiggs Kalra’s Zaike Ka Safar: a culinary biography (Allied). He tells of his years in different parts of the country and their food specialities. So you have 100 of the best Bengali, South Indian, Gujarati, Mughalai and Punjabi recipes. I am a part of Jiggs’ autobiography as he was my colleague on the staff of The Illustrated Weekly of India in Bombay.

Since then he has become the super-guru of chefs in the country. He is invited by our government to advise on menus to be offered for lunches and dinners of visiting dignitaries and supervise their preparations. State governments consult him on preparations of the milk and vegetable products they market. Occasionally he offers me guru-dakshina by sending me food made in his home. I have to spread it over several meals and follow each with liberal, hefty doses of chooran.

Rabri express

Rabri Devi’s parents were on the train, ticketless
And the TT fined them, so said the press:
Because Lalu’s applause
Was so anti-in-laws,
He surprised me, I must confess.


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