Serving ‘India On My Platter’ with chef Saransh Goila


By Papri Das and Jigar Ganatra

Whether you are a foodie or not, there is a certain level of excitement in meeting a celebrity chef like Saransh Goila. Therefore, when the self touted #SadakChef, who hosted the popular TV show Roti Rasta aur India agreed to talk about his upcoming book launch over a coffee, we at Exec Lifestyle were quite thrilled.

At first glance Goila comes across as an engaging individual, who is not only eager to tell you about his exploits, but listen to you as well. And the same is reflected in his approach to food: easy to approach, relatable and enriching with a touch of romance. He emanates a certain sense of familiarity which doesn’t require any ice breaker. So we immediately dived at the reason for meeting him -- his latest book, ‘India On My Platter’. And before we knew it, we were having elaborate and somewhat demonstrative discussions on his extensive road across the country covering 27,000 km to explore India’s cuisine.

Here’s an excerpt from Exec Life’s rendezvous with Goila.

Why is ‘India On My Platter’ not a simple recipe book?

Imagine ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ with food being the main subject and you will get ‘India On My Platter’. Needless to say I was heavily influenced by this very famous autobiographical book. I wanted to bring out the romance of my experiences like great travel writers like Ruskin Bond did. My publisher pointed out that while my travel experiences are rich, as a chef, the book will be incomplete without my insights on the various cuisines I have come across. This is the reason we have also included the various 50 recipes that I encountered or created throughout the journey as part of the narrative. They are not your generic recipe styles which one can download from the net any day, but stories that I want to share.

What are the highlights of your road trip?

While I was in Hyderabad, as part of the journey, I met a Kalamkari artist who taught me about his art. In turn I showed him my art, which is cooking and as a result I came up with a new recipe inspired by his art. Apart from that I was surprised to find Surat to be such a treasure trove for foodies. I mean no disrespect to the vegetarians in Gujarat but I was happy to see certain places serving non-vegetarian cuisine. And the street food there was mind blowing. I remember this particular kiosk called ‘Bhai Bhai Omelette’, a tiny shop between a Hindu and Muslim neighbourhood, specialising in 100 different types of egg preparations and catering to both the communities.

What kind of dynamics do you share with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor?

After my grandfather if there is someone who inspires me to be a better chef, it's chef Sanjeev Kapoor. I still remember that as I child I used to run from the school bus to home to catch his show Khana Khazana at lunch with my grandfather and grandmother. I would always miss the first 15 minutes because the bus would get me home by 2:15 pm. From being a fan boy to have him guide me in person; life has been very fortunate to me. As I move ahead in my career he really mentors me into taking the right path.  In fact, in spite of his busy schedule he has agreed to launch my book with his own hands.

How does it feel to get a quote from your favourite Author Ruskin Bond, on your book?

Quite frankly, I gave myself a pat on the back for having pulled such an impossible stunt as to get Ruskin Bond involved in the book. When I thought of a person to get a book quote from, Ruskin Bond’s name came naturally to me, having been such an ardent reader of his works myself.

For a while I didn’t really go ahead with this crazy idea, but then I thought why not. So I looked up this article on him that came out almost half a year back and got in touch with the writer, after putting in all my social media skills. I found her on Facebook, and she turned out to be a common friend. Divine intervention indeed. She told me upfront that Ruskin Bond doesn’t have any social media accounts, he doesn't even have a phone. The only way to contact him is meet him personally at his home in Mussoorie. But his grandson turned out to be a fan of mine, who was happy to help me get in touch with him.

I then went to Mussoorie to meet him personally and had a two hour long chat with him which changed my life.

What do you think of India as a travel destination?

India is a travellers paradise and makes for an amazing destination for road trip. Every hundred kilometers, colours, languages, clothing, the way people look, their eating habits and even the taste of water changes. I think the only other place you can feel similar while travelling is through Europe, but India is more varied and has more character.

If you wish to discover the many characters of India that Goila has found through his travel across the country, check out his book which will launch on 1 July 2015.


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