24 November, 2020

A Sattvic Nomad

Thela, dhaba, chai shack...it's these dots on the map that give you the real Gastronomical Survey of India

T. Narayan
A Sattvic Nomad
For many years after I published Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India I was mistaken as the author of a cookbook. This was particularly unlikely given that I am a vegetarian, and have yet to taste the splendours of butter chicken in either Ludhiana or any other place. In retrospect, however, the people identifying me as a connoisseur of small-town cuisine weren't so off the mark. One of the greatest pleasures of those months I spent travelling across India came from discovering, in unexpected places, food that was both cheap and delicious.

This food wasn't to be found in the new restaurants with tinted glass windows and massive posters of blonde women on white horses riding into luridly coloured sunsets. Eateries such as these were proliferating rapidly in the mid-'90s. If the decor, unctuously inept waiters, and over-ambitious, comically misspelt menus weren't sufficient warning, then the tablecloth and napkins, which the exertions of several dhobis had failed to rid of their multiple oil stains, didn't fail to...


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