‘What should I cook today?’

A new cookbook not only aims at enthusing readers prepare delectable dishes by recreating recipes, but also acts as a meal solver and planner.

In Servings: Simple Yet Exotic, Roopali Mohanti showcases an entire range of Indian and international cuisine.

The book is divided into sections on the basis of meal timings. Recipes are presented and curated in a manner that they culminate in an ensemble of dishes.

Mohanti tries to capture every little detail that goes into preparing a dish.

It also has many interesting anecdotes. Like, the sweetmeat ledikeni was named in honour of Lady Canning, the wife of the first viceroy of India under the British Raj.

Ledikeni was made by Bhim Chandra Nag, a confectioner in Kolkata.

If for breakfast and brunch, Mohanti suggests mutton or vegetable Paniyarams, Radhaballabi, French toast casserole, fruity soda bread or tomato bread rolls, for whetting appetite she names Makhmali Gulabi Boti, prawn spring rolls, water chestnut corn and asparagus spring rolls, beetroot or mutton chop, pudina keema, sheermal, pumpkin mozzarella balls and pepper chilli fried chicken.

The main course has an array of dishes under the heads — Dilli O Dilli, Timeless Traditions, Mughlai Durbar, Kolkata Chronicles, Odisha, Darjeeling Diaries, Konkan Express, Hyderabadi Cuisine, Malabar Sadhya, Parsi and Sindhi Flavours, High on Thai, Moroccan Mazzah, Italian Sojourn and London Diaries.

Mohanti says her book, published by Rupa, attempts at answering that one question each waking day: ‘What should I cook today?’

“Open a section in this book and the answer lies there. There are menu options created at the end of each main course section where the courses are mentioned with the ideal combinations from different sections of the book,” she says.

“The options are for daily cooking as well as for larger gatherings,” she adds.

So how important is menu planning.

“The very basis is what will be on your table during a meal. Balance of colour, flavour, texture, consistency and the process of creating the perfect synergy between dishes depending on the heaviness or lightness of them,’ writes Mohanti, a hotel management graduate.

‘More often than not, I have come across meals served which are a complete mismatch of regions or flavours, leaving the palette confused. Though food is very personal, yet using some basic guidelines can be beneficial,’ she argues.

All through the pages of the book, she says, is an outpouring of recipes from mothers, aunts, friends, teachers, house staff and sometimes even people she hasn’t met but whose recipes have been recommended and tried.

“My task with most of their recipes was to quantify the ingredients as most people cook by instinct,” Mohanti says.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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