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Book review – Food of the Grand Trunk Road

03 February 2012
Book review – Food of the Grand Trunk Road

Food of the Grand Trunk Road
Anirudh Arora & Hardeep Singh Kohli
New Holland Publishers, £19.99
ISBN 978-1-84773-968-1

Part travelogue, part cook book, Food of the Grand Trunk Road follows writer and TV presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli's journey along one of South Asia's oldest and longest major arteries.

Having travelled the route from Calcutta to Afghanistan, he examines the culture, traditions and atmosphere at major milestones on the road, while sampling all manner of local cuisine along the way.

This is accompanied by imagery capturing the spirit of life along India's heavily populated north, and faithfully reproduced recipes by Anirudh Arora, head chef at Moti Mahal in London.

Arora recreates recipes passed down through generations, having spent his career researching the long-forgotten favourites of rural India. Born in Delhi, he says that the Grand Trunk Road has inspired his menu, giving his food a narrative.

The recipes are broken up by the major stops along the road, with scene-setting introductions from Kohli describing his experience as he takes his own culinary journey.

Dishes are presented regionally and range from lighter Calcutta-inspired cuisine including mustard fish and mango curry, stuffed courgette flowers, and rose petal rolls, to the more meaty Delhi-style lamb curry cooked in a sealed pot, black lentil dal, and chicken liver masala with pao bread.

Dotted among the curries, kebabs and stuffed vegetables are chutneys and spiced tea recipes - including partridge pickle, sweet gooseberry chutney and kashmiri tea - that will prove a lively accompaniment to any Indian dish.

Plenty of original vegetable and spice combinations are featured too. As the landscape changes along the Grand Trunk Road so too does the produce available, with morels in a yogurt sauce in Uttar Pradesh making way for potatoes with fenugreek from the Punjab. Meanwhile the seductive barbecue flavours of Peshwar and Rawalpindi feature alongside the dastarkhans of Delhi and Agra.

A nostalgic tour across north India, Food of the Grand Trunk Road is an exciting reflection on real street food that brings to life the vibrancy, diversity and tradition of the real India.

The combination of Arora's recipes and Kohli's travel writing provide vivid snapshot of the food and culture, making for a solid recipe reference point with regional context.

By James Stagg

If you like this, you'll love these:
India: The Cookbook Pushpesh Pant
â- Fish, Indian Style Atul Kochhar
â- Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible Madhur Jaffrey

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