One can cook anywhere, you just need a fire, a knife and a cutting board…Agree? And yes, local ingredients. Rediscovering India via our railway lines for a Television show, I came across 2 locations where I just had to stop and cook.
The first was by the Sambhar Salt Lake, Rajasthan, India’s biggest inland salt lake and home to not just salt, but winged visitors too.When I was a kid, my grandfather would tell me – “Be like salt”. It was only after becoming a chef that I understood its significance. Salt enhances the true flavours of all other ingredients in a dish, be it sweet or savoury, without standing out on its own. It’s only noticed when it’s less or more. Likewise for being a good human being, na kam na zyaada.
That day, shoveling through the water, picking up those salt crystals at source, I felt a connect with Salt and food like I had never felt before.I just couldn’t let this opportunity pass and not cook at that location! It was…perfect.
Another place where I set up shop was this cliff overlooking the Dudhsagar falls. It was just around monsoon, there were unexpected showers, but that’s when these falls are at their exotic best.The four-tiered falls are undoubtedly the major point of attraction in the Konkan Railway stretch.
Looking at the Western ghats up close, cloaked in the after-shower greenery, anyone can feel inspired to cook and that’s just what I did.Prawns and coconut picked up on the way, potatoes washed in the mist that rose from the falls and kokum + other spices from my “Chef’s special Potli”, I made a no-oil Kokum-Prawn Pulao.
Trust me, having that pulao in that setting, was an ethereal experience that words cannot justify.And yes, we left a major share for the monkeys too!
Having cooked at kitchens across the world, from Munir Ustad’s Kebab shop to my restaurants & even cruise kitchens, cooking at places this close to nature, was an unparalleled experience for me.
Have you come across such inspirational locations too?