Tara dishes it out!
For Tara Deshpande Tenenbaum, the experience of putting together her first non-fiction book was a cathartic one.
Based on personal anecdotes from her childhood, she shares recipes from her grandmother’s kitchen and takes us on a Konkan trail of delicious memories. The former model and actress speaks to CS about her experience and why she thinks it’s important for everyone to know how to cook:
Who: Tara Deshpande Tenenbaum
What: On writing and cooking
Pic/ Suresh KK
A few years back, my grandmother gave me all her old recipes, with some of them dating back to the 1900s. I couldn’t even scan them. So, I started typing them out and realised there were words missing, holes in the pages, ingredients I had never heard of. I then started researching and it became a sort of a study. I became a food investigator, trying to find out where a dish came from and why people ate the way they did. In the US, food writing is highly developed. There are food memoirs, food travels, food history and recipes among other categories. I wanted to capture the food history and see why Konkan dishes has developed the way it has. People abroad don’t know much about Konkan food and even in India, people are not very aware of the techniques and ingredients. Most people don’t understand the difference between Konkan cuisine and Maharashtrian dishes either.
A personal act
In my group of friends, I’m probably the only one who cooks regularly. I cook for my family and even for my dog! For a middle-class modern Indian woman, it’s tough to balance running the kitchen and going to work. But I feel that it’s important for everyone to cook sometime. Cooking is such a personal act. It’s something you and your family are consuming. Also, when you cook in your kitchen, then you have greater control over everything. You know how much salt and oil is going in the food, how fresh the ingredients are, etc. It’s also a creative experience. I try and tell people that anybody can cook.
Hooked and booked!
This was my first non-fiction attempt and I discovered that it’s much easier to write fiction. Non-fiction is harder as you have to research and can’t make up anything like in fiction. At the moment, I’m working on two projects, one is again food-related and the other is a thriller novel. Thrillers and mysteries are my favourite genres. I don’t think I can stick to one genre. As a writer, I will keep an open mind and write on a subject that fascinates me. Of course, as I go along, I will realise there are things I am good at and some, that I’m really bad at.