Food for the body, mind and soul

Food for the body, mind and soul

What can rejuvenate you after a long tiring day at work? Most will say comfort food like piping hot Khichdi along with pickle and roasted papad or a bowl of nourishing hot Mulligatawny soup. Comfort food can release those happy hormones and instantly pep you up. That’s how the magic works!  

Well-renowned chef and food and beverage consultant Amit Puri recently released his first cookbook Redefining Comfort Food With Amit Puri. With over 100 contemporary recipes, the cookbook is a culmination of rich learning gathered by Puri during his extensive travels across eight countries and over 20 cities in the last three years. The cookbook brings together recipes from multiple cuisines such as Indian (traditional and contemporary), European, Pan Asian and Middle Eastern. Here, the chef tells us about his vivid experience of writing the book and a lot more. 

As a consulting chef, Puri gets to travel to a lot of cities and countries, during which he makes it a point to explore the local cuisine and flavours. “The book is a culmination of what I have come across during these travels and it was essential for me to pen these down and share this knowledge with food enthusiasts through a cookbook which reflects on my style of cooking, where I have taken popular Indian and international flavours and tweaked those to suit the palate of new-age Indian consumers,” he explains.
 
Ask Puri if redefining comfort food was complicated, in terms of method, ingredients and flavour profiles, and he quickly responds by saying that it all depends on the experience of the reader/ the cook. It’s more for the users to decide whether the recipe is complicated or not. “While some of the recipes are long and have a number of steps, some of the recipes are absolutely easy to try. In either of the cases, the end result of the effort that one puts in would be outstanding and the flavours would be bang on,” he says.

Some of the recipes in the book are best sellers at restaurants he has consulted with and since they are so popular at the restaurants, he had to have those in the book. The other recipes were curated keeping the popularity of the dishes in its city or country of origin. 

“It took me close to three months to finalise the list of recipes and it was only when I was sure that the list of the recipes and flavours looked balanced and would appeal to the reader, I went ahead with the making of the book. So the book now covers popular and everyday international flavours from the Middle East, Italy, Pan Asia, Europe and Indian flavours from Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Kerala and Odisha, to name a few,” says Puri. 

However, it is difficult for him to pick a favourite. “The Goan Curry in the book is an inspiration from my mom’s cooking, and then there is a Peri-Peri Arbi recipe which I make for my son Moksh, and he relishes it each time. There is also Dal Pakwaan that brings back memories of my mentor,” says Puri adding that the book also features a recipe of Chenna Poda Lassi that takes him back to a restaurant in Bhubaneswar. There is some memory attached to each of the recipes that make them special in their own way.  

Cookbooks can be quite intimidating for amateur cooks. However, Puri says that it is different with this cookbook. He explains that the book has been simplified and the recipes have been categorised into headers like Soups, Salads, Starters, Chaats, Main Course, Breads, Rice and Desserts. 

“Depending on how experienced the reader is as a cook, one can simply scan through and choose a recipe that they fancy and I strongly suggest the reader uses the recipe as a guideline and change ingredients and flavours to suit their availability, and one’s mood and palate,” he says. There is an extensive section dedicated to salad dressings, dips and seasonings as well. An amateur cook can possibly start from here and move to the simpler recipes.  

Talking about upcoming trends in the food industry, Puri points out that for the last few years, Indian cuisine, in its various avatars, has been trending and being appreciated. “This trend, I feel, would continue with more focus on regional Indian cuisine. While a lot of regional ingredients would be in the limelight, as a chef, I would like to serve these ingredients in a more contemporary way,” he concludes. 

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