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051:Culinary Travel & Tourism with Kurush Dalal (Day 6 SFW2)

The 5th century B.C. Greek geographer Herodutus claimed that Indians had mouths in their stomach. The 4th century A.D. Chinese monk Fa-Hien documented the culinary habits of Buddhists during his ten year stay on the subcontinent. The 14th century A.D. Venetian merchant Marco Polo dubbed the coconut as the “Pharaoh's nut”. His contemporary the Berber scholar Ibn Bhattuta noted that people on the west coast of India (present day Maharashtra) eat rice with sesame oil and green vegetables. Kurush Dalal showed us how bragging about and documenting strange food customs during travels is much older than instagram.

While speaking about culinary travel and tourism, Kurush elaborated how TV shows such “Khana Khazana” by Sanjeev Kapoor and the vast plethora of cookery books by Tarla Dalal made possible for many of us at home to cook and taste food from far flung parts of the country. MasterChef Australia brought julienne carrots and sous vide meats into our living rooms. And Bollywood megahits such D.D.L.J. spurred Indians to visit Switzerland within the comfort of all-vegetarian “Kesari” tours, and fresh vada pavs at the base of Mt. Titlis. Venerable Indian food expert Rashmi Uday Singh filled in the absence of Michelin guides in India with the reputed Times Food Guide. Now numerous bartenders, distilleries and vineyards promote wine and whisky tasting experiences in the major metros as well.

The last two years has seen an explosion in the hyper-local culinary scene with a deluge of both star chefs such as Prateek Sadhu and home chefs such as Gitika Saika serving food made with local and seasonal ingredients. Due to travel restrictions many people prefer smaller immersive dining experiences as a way of rediscovering cities, as well as road trips peppered with homestays.

Kurush ended his lecture with mouth watering photos from his recent trip with his wife Rhea from Mumbai to Bangalore and back via Kolhapur, Goa and Mangalore. These included a “Mango Mastani” at Vasav Mangaon, a Kolhapuri thali celebrating mutton at Dehati, a Chef’s Table at Edible Archives, Goa, a brain puff from Alfred’s Bakery, Bangalore as well as numerous fish, cardamom, pumpkins, chillies, and varieties of rice purchased at local markets. After his talk most of us wanted to pack our bags and head out that very instant.

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