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Buddhist recipes, peace food...

Replete with striking pictures of the platters, "Buddhist Peace Recipes" gives us a glimpse of the origin of many dishes, says RANA SIDDIQUI.


CULINARY EXPERTS declare that emotional disturbances are often aggravated by inappropriate food. And in India, many find spicy and non-vegetarian food as synonym of improper food. Buddhists call them dark food. There is a spate of cookbooks establishing the supremacy of vegetarian food over non-vegetarian fare. In the race is one more cookbook but with a difference. Penned by Pushpesh Pant, Professor of Diplomacy at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the 96-page book "Buddhist Peace Recipes", published by Roli Books boasts of light foods, soups and salads, snacks and starters, main course, noodles and rice and desserts, their ingredients and method of cooking the Japan, Thailand, Korea and other pan Asian countries' way, spread across seven chapters. Replete with striking pictures of the platters, this book scores a point over many as it provides the origin of many dishes as also some information about the Buddhist way of life, their food habits and handicrafts.

Take for instance, the dessert kheer. According to the Buddhist belief, it was prepared by a maid called Sujata who offered it to prince Siddartha as he sat under the Bodhi tree to attain enlightenment. On enlightenment, he broke his fast with this offering and hence in Buddhism, kheer occupies a special place in the repertoire of recipes. Then you have tom kha hed or coconut soup, bitushool or Mangolian soup, bamboo shoot salad, spinach dumplings, lotus dumplings in yoghurt sauce, maitri raag or phad Thai and so on.

Sweet call

The writer renders delectable names to these dishes as emerald momos, kadhi kamlini, maya moha, tri ratna manjusha and so on. Pant, who has done shared writings with Jiggs Kalra and is inspired by him, stays away from giving recipes of dark food. "There is a worldwide craze for vegetarian food and you know that Buddha died after eating pork inserted in a mango as he couldn't have said no to an offering," says Pant.

This author of "Buddhism" and "Ajanta and Ellora", and scriptwriter of serials like Buniyaad and Hum Log, has his mother, a Sanskrit scholar and a gifted cook and father, a physician who would talk of Ayurvedic roots of Indian cooking and culture, forming the background of his passion for cooking. "I used to have cosmopolitan meals at home, from almost all Indian States, cooked by my mother, while my father would go to the roots of their origin. I grew up as a rasik of food, hence the book," reveals Pant.

The book is priced at Rs.295.

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