Visit Shekhawati, the land of openair art galleries, and magnificent Havelis covered with frescoes and murals. The place is the home of Shekhawats, an adventureloving Rajput clan. This affinity can be seen in their cuisine, which includes the Rajput version of sausages Aanth ke Kabab. After sampling this unique flavour, Aditya Bal moves on to the city of Ramgarh, a nexus for Marwari traders historically. This city gave us the recipe of Phopalia Ki Sabzi a dish made using ingredients that are mostly dried and preserved.
The Konkan coastline has multiple layers to its culture and lifestyle. As we go down to the lanes of Dapoli, Harnai village, amongst the people belonging to the Konkani Muslim community, ‘Katri’, a sweet preparation which was Konkan’s own variation to modernday pasta is discovered. As this journey continues, the myth of pickles being prepared using only raw and not ripe mangoes gets shattered with the making of ‘Ukad Amba’, a lost recipe in which ripe mangoes are boiled before being used to make a unique pickle.
Amongst the many communities that live in the coastal state of Maharashtra, is a community of Jews called Bene Israel. While the facts of their origins are lost in time, some of their recipes have survived. From a part of the community settled in Pune comes a recipe that used to be prepared mainly on the day of Sabbath. In the compound of the only synagogue in Pune, Aditya Bal joins the members in preparing that signature dish, Fish Alberas. His quest takes him next to the bustling city of Mumbai, on the outskirts of which Bene Israelis live. Here, another ancient recipe is resurrected Saat Padri. As they make this delicacy, Aditya discovers the importance of the number 7 in Jewish tradition.
As we stroll through the winding roads of Shimla with Aditya Bal, we can still see some fragments of the British Raj scattered all over the city, either in the form of infrastructure or their influence on the food popular in the area. Such influence is observed in the preparation of the Shimla version of Railway Mutton Curry. In the beautiful hill station of the Sahibs, on the ‘chulha’ of one of the exquisite homes of the Jubbal Tehsil, the unusual ‘Khobli Ki Khichdi’ is recreated following ageold processes.
Lives of people in Chhattisgarh commoners or royals have always been linked to the forests. Indian mythology claims that the Bastar forest was where Lord Rama, Lakshman, and Sita spent 14 years in exile. Aditya Bal visits Harwakodo, the residence of the members of the Muria Tribe in Chhattisgarh, where Suksi, a dried fish variety, preserved using an ageold smoking technique, is used to prepare a unique dish, which accompanies a roti made with cooked rice, rice flour, and paan leaves. He also meets Kanker’s royal prince who reveals a traditional recipe, the Mahua Maans, which got lost in the pages of history because hunting wild animals became a criminal offence. This historic delicacy is now prepared using chicken.
The soil of Sambar is so blessed with richness that it’s not only used to produce salt but also in cooking some of the local delicacies. One such dish is ‘Bin Pani Ki Roti’, a preparation in which the dough is kneaded with ghee instead of water. The restriction on the use of water in this parched state continues, as the search for another lost recipe takes Aditya Bal to the Marwa Fort. Here the chef helps Kamlendra Singh, the owner of the fort, in the making of ‘Mokal’, the only dish known to be prepared using fresh, completely unwashed mutton.
A city that bases everything on the power of gratitude, Puri, according to Vishnu Purana, was the only spot out of the four abodes ‘Char Dham’ for Lord Jagannath to come and eat. In this place where food is always in plenty, even if lakhs of devotees come, the ‘Anna Rasabali’ is brought back to life. The painstaking efforts taken by Pandit Biswanath Samantaray to prepare this Bhog hint at why the dish is a lost recipe. The quest for lost dishes extends to Mahodadhi Palace, where another recipe, with flavours so unique that they wouldn’t be found anywhere else, is resurrected.
Surrounded by the deep, blue sea on one side and lush green mountains on the other, Uttara Andhra is a living example of how development and nature can coexist in harmony. In this blessed land, you find people so reverent of nature that they ask forgiveness from the trees from which they pluck leaves. In this region immersed in love for all things natural, Aditya Bal unearths some delectable and unusual recipes. From chicken pieces steamcooked, wrapped inside mango leaves, to marinated prawns cooked inside a parcel made of teak leaves, these recipes were destined to be recovered.
Chirping birds, skyhigh mountains, rivers singing their own melody – many can only dream of the scenic beauty which Uttarakhand brings to reality. Join Aditya Bal on his travels through this inspiring landscape. The Garhwal region of this state is where the first lost recipe – ‘Seeda Roti’ – comes from. It is a dish which turns out to be a sweet treat and a good dose of nutrition at the same time. The quest for yet another recipe takes us to Tons Valley, where the shepherds have a timeless recipe to be shared with the rest of the world – ‘Andrey’.
23 July 2019