Choco- Raspberry Delite Anyone?

Part-time Market Researcher but full-time Observer and Thinker Achala Srivatsa is back with this absolutely hysterical essay that will have you rolling on the floor like a, well, a rolling pin. If you are a foodie (and by that I mean you don’t entirely mind popping something solid in your mouth occasionally) you have got to read this! 

 

(Stolen from The Healthy Voyager website given my own lack of artistic talent))

(Stolen from The Healthy Voyager website given my own lack of artistic talent))

Practically everyone I know claims to be a foodie these days (a broad term that could mean anything from “I eat like a pig and Darshini is my  second home” to “You must try my sous vide salmon with chanterelle duxelle and a hint of wild fennel pollen” or “my rajma recipe is a closely guarded family secret”). Our home-grown NRI friends who visit for 2 weeks also call themselves foodies, which essentially means they spend 2 weeks running around to every local restaurant and immersing their being in assorted deep-fried products dipped into condiments that are off the charts on heat and ferocity. Much of those two weeks are also, not surprisingly, spent reading War and Peace in a toilet. But I digress.

India is now neck deep in cook books of an astonishing range and variety, not to mention cookery shows of every description. Do you want to make a refreshing drink to be enjoyed by the pool? Chances are someone on some channel is muddling together mint and sugar as we speak.

I discovered this the other day as I browsed at my local book store. It was truly educational and here for your benefit is a summation of the fruits of my labour.

  1. At one extreme is the new bride’s go-to guide for all things South Indian. Written by a  “Maami Rajammal” with the picture of a formidable looking woman (usually with a slight moustache) to lend authenticity. This book will tell you how to make “curds” from scratch, the recipes for 20 types of chutneys using the peel of a ridge gourd and 15 different rasams. Recipes will sternly instruct you to “ take a good amount of tamarind…” Precisely what that means is, literally, anyone’s guess.
  2. The next category I uncovered was a slew of slim paperbacks on snacks, for every occasion (Tea Time Snacks/ Pre bedtime snacks and so on). These appear to be aimed at young mothers with recipes focusing on fried thingies of various descriptions. A half-hearted attempt at amping up the health factor can be seen – “Add a cup of sprouts”. Clearly written quite hurriedly, I was charmed by one recipe that started off calling for a cup of chopped onions, later forgetting about the onions completely.
  3. Then you have a series of books that claim to offer specialized cuisines – Rajasthan, Punjab etc. Some of these seem authentic, others not so much. Call me a cynic but I look askance at “authentic” recipes that call for a cup of tomato ketchup.
  4. Cookbooks on the Woman’s Era lines – easily recognizable by the way they fiercely hang on in a limpet-like fashion to  recipes from the ‘70s – “Blancmange”, “Raspberry Delite”, “Chocolate-Pista Surprise” and so on. Bellbottoms and beehive hairdos! By the way, if you know what a blancmange is – consider yourself officially old.
  5. The ethnographic school of cookery – Where Jamie does Tuscany and works up a froth over fresh zucchini flowers, baby artichokes, dusty purple grapes exploding with sweetness blah. Do NOT read these books. Let me tell you what happens – First you identify a recipe you get all excited about – let’s say enchiladas with a chipotle sauce . Then you walk into your local supermarket and hmm, chipotle seems to be a problem. But hey, you are a creative cook, so a little improv is in order. So you shift gear – from chipotle to badgis from Central Karnataka, from fingerling potatoes to whatever’s available, from Vidalia onions to your local pyaaz and for some reason the end product tastes strangely like a dosa. Mexican food’s over-rated anyway.

 

Frustrated at every turn, stuffed to the gills with stuffed karelas drowning in sweet ketchup, I turned to our local Food Channel for inspiration. Here’s what I found.

  • Sanjeev Kapoor’s wooden, sickly smile every hour on the hour –  either fusing cuisines  feverishly – here cooking biryani with truffle shavings, there grating paneer on to pasta or cooking “healthy” sweets with ghee and sugar substitutes.  Is it just me or have others realized that  ever since he’s shaven that moustache off, he has this – “I could give you this recipe but then I’d have to kill you – or myself” look on his face. A bit tough for a TV chef that.
  • Wanna be Sanjeev Kapoors – with the same puppet like movements and and stilted manner of speaking always ending with “ab aapki mint coriander hing mojito lassi tayar hai
  • Indian women with strangely accented English teaching (presumably) a befuddled western audience how to make “potatoes spiced with a hint of cumin” and such like.
  • Two men checking out every dive, dhaba and Udipi hotel in search of…mediocre food? Almost every time I watch this, the two have a conversation somewhat like this…“This idli is…round and white” or “the fried dal tastes pretty much like dal that’s been fried”. My point is – so why is a 30 minute program based on a restaurant that seems to be a non-event?

 

So anyway, I have decided to have another crack at those enchiladas. I hear my local supermarket’s just started stocking chipotles.

 

Comments

comments

29 thoughts on “Choco- Raspberry Delite Anyone?

  1. Vidya Sury

    At the risk of hurting as I laughed, I loved the post. “reading War and Peace in a toilet” (note to self: clear any semblance of books in the toilet). What IS blancmange? (sounds like a white mangy female dog to me) I am too lazy right now to google it.

    Yes, I’ve noticed the missing mustache Sanjeev Kapoor’s smile.

    And the other day, I stumbled on a channel called “Food food” (so original!) where there’s a program called “maaa ki…….yes, you guessed it….daal”

    High-five to you, Achala and Rickie! (I typed Trickie twice before getting that right!)

    Reply
  2. Amit

    There is no doubt that Sanjeev Kapoor have a look of a Men-in-Black agent nowadays. It’s as if he is saying – You will never know that AZD378 from planet ERY887 taught me this recipe but you stupid mortals will never know that.
    The other day, I saw a guy sitting in the middle of nowhere cooking a dal by rubbing two stones together and plucking grass for seasoning. *I exaggerated this a bit*
    And yes, most of the comments on those shows are as bland as original Chinese food.

    Reply
  3. C. Suresh

    Wonderful! Hilarious!

    Rickie, is it not enough that you give me an inferiority complex that you should bring on more such people on your blog to rub it in? :)

    I reserved my ire for ‘salt to taste’ in recipes but, i suppose, a ‘good quantity of tamarind’ does come a close second :)

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    love the post …however almost all the indian savoury recipes i have tried from these books ever have ended up with “garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot ” … for some reason i was always so hassled in finding the main ingredients for the dish that the coriander was missed. Never ever my dishes looked or tasted like i thought it would or described in book . Damn the coriander !!

    Reply
  5. Nishaa

    Most people live to eat – then might as well make money out of it! A lotttt of women watch these episodes. It’s another thing that they and up cooking nothing!
    I find these you tube videos a little weird though. No presentation, nothing unusual. I don’t understand the thrill they get from making these. Maybe it’s like the satisfaction we get from writing self published posts!

    Reply
  6. Rachna

    Achala, a delightful take on foodies and food culture! I love food both cooking and eating. I still love Sanjeev Kapoor because the guy really gives good, authentic doable recipes. Totally crack me up these TV shows. Yeah the weird accents, and I can do a better job of cooking than them. Maybe a chacha or mama is financing the show. How about starting your own blog now!

    Reply
    1. Achala

      Rachna, I’m seriously tempted…. but held back by the fact that i’m not too prolific. But I love the fact that at least a few people read and appreciate what I write:)Thanks so much for reading.

      Reply
  7. sabita

    My family and I love food and I suppose we are foodies too!To my experience I have found better authentic recipes from other foodies who share their their art of cooking through blogs! You are hilarious!!!!!

    Reply
  8. Akanksha Dureja

    I never knew a visit to the cook-book section could be so interesting and hilarious! I generally shy away from the section because I am not yet a ‘bride-to-be’.

    Didn’t you see one of those “Marter the art of Indian cooking in 10 days” types.

    On a totally unrelated note, have you seen “Julie and Julia”? It is a lovely movie which combines cook-books and blogging, based on a real incident.

    Reply
  9. ddeepa

    LOL. Stuffing oneself with fried foods topping the heat charts! War and Peace on the toilet! Sanjeev Kapoor. Good amount of tamarind. Bang on Achala! Humourous way to bring out the gargantuan mountain of recipes and recipe books out there! I am not a self proclaimed cook, I hate cooking except to keep myself alive, but enjoy eating! :) I don’t mind dishing up interesting stuff once in a while and experimenting too, but not a big fan of cooking :) However, that being the case, sometimes its fun to watch these cookery shows if for nothing else but entertainment :D Especially there’s one on some cookery channel (can’t remember which one) which has a sardar chef who sings a song every time he adds salt (‘namak shamak, namak shamak daal dete hain!’ song) – I end up singing it myself sometimes! Nice one Achala. Good addition to your blog Rickie!

    Reply

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