A book launch and a brunch
Aditya Bal is no Nigella Lawson, sure, but his cooking show on NDTV Good Times has a considerable following. There’s an earthiness to the cuisines he tracks down and the dishes he cooks on the show.
He’s put together recipes from the first season to come up with the Chakh Le India Cookbook, by Westland, a handy collection with a pan-Indian flavour. You’ll find here Mutton Yakhni, a tribute to Aditya’s childhood in idyllic Kashmir, West Coast dishes such as Pomfret Recheado and Konkani Jhinga Masala. Bendakkai Gojju, Moru Sambar and Chicken 65 also find a place in the cookbook.
The book was released in Bangalore this weekend over brunch at the Movenpick hotel. Aditya also demonstrated one recipe –Semolina Coated Prawn Fry, and guests got to taste two other dishes from the book as well.
Off-screen, Aditya is pleasant and even self-effacing. I asked him why Indian when even conservative housewives are dwelling on hummous and pita breads, and he said that was merely the brief given to him by the TV channel. With his modeling and brief stint in Bollywood behind him, he worked in various kitchens in Goa and found that food really was his calling. The offer of the cookery show was one he jumped at. He spends a short while in each of the destinations he cooks in, eats in small restaurants, peeks into local kitchens and then comes up with his take on regional foods.
While all passionate cooks dream of their own restaurant, Aditya is pragmatic, saying he doesn’t think he has the wherewithal to take on a 24/7 commitment at this point. “Maybe a great roll shop at some point,” he smiles.
His rava-coated prawn fry, by the way, was scrumptious and more-ish. Here is the recipe from the demo:
- Take medium-sized prawns, shell and devein. Marinate them for about 15 mins in a mixture of salt, chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric and ginger garlic paste.
- Dip the prawns in lightly beaten egg and roll in the rava.
- Allow to firm up in the fridge for about half an hour.
- Deep fry in hot oil till golden brown.
Aditya served the crisp prawns with a drizzle of coconut cream and mango chutney.