The beauty of Indian cuisine lies in its simplicity and versatility — there is everything for everyone. While modern Indian food has got global recognition, some of the ancient, local and lesser-known cuisines, ingredients, spices and techniques still remain unearthed and relatively untouched.
In an attempt to recall the treasures of Indian cooking and revive the age-old, lost and forgotten Indian ingredients, cooking methods, flavours, equipment and so on, celebrity chef, TV show host, judge and food stylist Ranveer Brar has set off on a journey. Through the third season of Raja Rasoi Aur Andaaz Anokha, which will air on Epic Channel from July 7, Ranveer, who was earlier seen on shows like Breakfast Xpress, Snack Attack, Homemade, The Great Indian Rasoi, Health Bhi Taste Bhi, Ranveer’s Cafe, Food Tripping and Thank God It’s Fryday, will be seen rediscovering his love for the diverse cuisines of Goa.
But what exactly does ‘Raja Rasoi’ mean? Divulging about the show, Ranveer for whom any kitchen that has plentitude of emotions and passion towards cooking is a ‘Raja Rasoi,’ says, “It is the kitchen of abundance. Not the literal meaning of a royal kitchen, but one that is plentiful, opulent. Maa Annapoorna ki Rasoi ko Raja Rasoi kehte hain, jisme kisi bhi cheez ki koi kami nahin hoti. And that’s not just abundance of ingredients, it’s also abundance of passion, abundance of positivity when cooking.”
Further giving us a peek into the show the young chef explains that the show’s third season is more of a food trail that deviates from counter-top cooking and explores food stories and food history. “And what better backdrop for this than Goa, with its diverse topography, versatile ingredients and cuisines that have seen so many influences over the centuries! Goa has a special place in my heart and my culinary journey as a chef. Every time I visit Goa, I revisit those memories and also take back something new with me each time!” exclaims the MasterChef India judge.
The show has tried to rediscover a lot of ingredients that are fading into obscurity. “We’ve tried to showcase ingredients from the North East, a lot of greens, fermented produce, interesting mushroom varieties, dried fish, and also, some lentils and grains from the hills. Additionally, we have a few dishes from the South that are getting lost,” he adds.
Besides the serene beaches, fun and frolic and colourful culture, Goa is also a culinary destination. When asked about the local food that he finds fascinating, the Come Into My Kitchen author says, “There are many amazing aspects to Goan cuisine. To me, it represents a confluence of several cuisines. From Indo-Portuguese to Goan Saraswat there has been a beautiful adaptation and evolution of cuisines, each with its unique style and unique use of ingredients.”
Recently, Indian cuisine has caught the fancy of the entire world mostly because of television, social media and efforts of many Indian celebrity chefs. What is it that makes Indian gastronomy so intriguing? Answers Ranveer, “I would say Indian cuisine is still a mostly unexplored treasure. More than the actual dishes and ingredients, it’s the stories and history attached to them that make our cuisine richer, dynamic and versatile. Also, the adaptability — the way we have adapted not just food but also ingredients and made them our own and lent our unique flavour to them — contributes to the magic of Indian cuisine.”
Through this show, he has discovered many unknown treasures. “Raja Rasoi... has been and will be a unique journey. In season 3, we have tried to rediscover cooking aspects that are lesser-known, for example, there’s an entire episode dedicated to Marshall food. This was something that was cooked by soldiers during wars. As you know, most of our races were warriors and there is food that was very typical to such warriors and war-time. So, you have food from the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Emperor Akbar, and also from the time when Alexander invaded India. So, different ingredients, different cooking methods as well as different aspects of cooking is what we will be looking at in this show. The list is endless. If you take the ingredients, millets for example, they have been a staple food in our ancient cuisine but sadly forgotten. Similarly, cooking in earthen vessels, using silbatta (mortar and pestle) to grind spices, all these helped bring out the true flavours in a dish. On a positive note though, it is encouraging to find these trends making a comeback now with more awareness.”
Ranveer eventually is planning to write a book to recreate awareness about the lost and forgotten treasures. “Raja Rasoi… is the first step towards it, but I think it will translate into a book very soon. Putting out that possibility into the Universe to see where it goes!” he chuckles.
Of late, more and more Indian chefs are taking up travel and exploring hidden secrets of cooking and gastronomy. Ranveer who believes that, ‘travel makes a good chef a better one,’ adds, “When one explores cuisines — some old, some new, some forgotten, and meet people attached to those cuisines, one tends to take away a lot more than just a recipe. Every cuisine has its own glorious history and travel helps uncover those mysteries.”
ST Reader Service
Catch Ranveer Brar’s show on Epic Channel every Friday at 8 pm and repeat telecast at 10 pm