It’s difficult to say what attracted me first, Food stories or Food itself, i.e, cooking. Growing up in Lucknow, where they say – Ek plate Khana, ek pateela kisse (A plate of food served with an Urn full of stories) I’d like to think it’s more the former.
Stories of Asharfi wali dal, that was cooked with gold and that brought an old dead tree to life, or of ‘Parind Pooris’ that had small birds fly out of them when cracked, are just a few common ones that you would hear sitting in an erstwhile Nawab’s or Taluqedar’s house.
‘Deception’ or ‘illusion’ in food is not a new concept. We talk of mock meat and substitutes now but the practice has existed right from the Khansamas/Bawarchis and Maharajs of yore, who were challenged or who challenged themselves to constantly create a surprise element to impress their masters or innovate an alternative to make up for the lack of an ingredient.
While working on my latest recipe for Eggless Omelette (recipe up on my youtube channel), I reflected on ‘mock foods’ and was reminded of a Sashimi and steak I created using watermelon in my restaurant in Boston. The Sashimi was served with fake “caviar” and trust me, people refused to believe it wasn’t Salmon.
If you are in a culinary journey or about to begin, just surrender to it. Food, its stories and the possibilities will take you on a journey of their own..