April 01, 2020
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Yum Britannia

Despite maudlin moments of NRI bewilderment at India, Kohli leaves us replete—perhaps aware that we've learned something about the nature of Indian-ness

Yum Britannia
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
Indian Takeaway: One Man`s Attempt To Cook His Way Home
By Hardeep Singh Kohli
HarperCollins Pages: 310; Rs. 295
Take one Sikh from Scotland. Leaven with Punjabi parents’ memories of home. Stir in media savvy, a love of cooking. Combine with India and the counter-intuitive notion that Indians might like British food. Now place in a publisher’s hot oven and watch this unlikely book rise like a chicken tikka souffle.

Not only does Hardeep Singh Kohli, the red-turbaned author-cum-chef, manage to overcome vegetarian cranks, the wrong kinds of fish and overly fatty, bristly pork bellies, he makes us laugh out loud. Kohli’s father sets the tone for the journey by observing that food in Britain must be rubbish. "Why else would there be so many Indian restaurants?" he asks. But the son persists, espousing not just passion for Britain’s finest flavours and haute cuisine, but a love of such stodgy classics as Scottish stovies, fish fingers and cock-a-leekie soup. His hosts remain polite, if unconvinced.

Kohli roams from Kerala to Kashmir. He subjects an array of Indians to his culinary handiwork. In the end, our man may not win converts for British cuisine but makes many friends. The book closes with author and uncle sitting down to channa chili, mechli masala and a Kingfisher in a dhaba near Ferozepur.

Despite maudlin moments of NRI bewilderment at India, Kohli leaves us replete—perhaps aware that we’ve learned something about the nature of Indian-ness. If not the best recipe for Lancashire Hot Pot south of the Vindhyas.

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