Serving Delhi's belly

Published: 20 November, 2013 07:29 IST | Malavika Sangghvi |

And now that Delhi's belly is on everyone's mind, what with Kishore Bajaj taking Yauatcha there and Rahul Akerkar planning an Indigo assault, we spoke to the Big Daddy of the business, Corporate Chef, Taj Premium Hotels, Ananda Solomon, who had led the movement eight months ago with the opening of his popular Thai Pavilion in Vivanta by Taj in Gurgaon

>> And now that Delhi’s belly is on everyone’s mind, what with Kishore Bajaj taking Yauatcha there and Rahul Akerkar planning an Indigo assault, we spoke to the Big Daddy of the business, Corporate Chef, Taj Premium Hotels, Ananda Solomon, who had led the movement eight months ago with the opening of his popular Thai Pavilion in Vivanta by Taj in Gurgaon.

Ananda Solomon

Is it true, we asked him as diplomatically as possible, that the Delhi palate was a bit, er, inferior to the Mumbai one?

Ananda, who is not only one of the most perceptive of chefs, but also the most hardworking, was candid.

“I too had heard this,” says the man who, on any given night, has fed some of Mumbai’s most renowned foodies, including Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani. “And I was confused, but rather than compromise, I kept the menu exactly the same as Mumbai’s.”

Rahul Akerkar

And the result. “Beyond our expectations,” he says.

But surely there must be some difference, we persisted.

Kishore Bajaj

“Well, in Delhi, our best selling dishes are chicken wrapped in Bai Toey leaves; crispy fish with chilly and garlic, and green curry with prawns,” he said, “And in Mumbai, they are duck liver foie gras, steamed fish with lemon, and lamb shanks.

The sociologically-inclined can extrapolate what they want from this information.

Publishing’s breaking news!
>> And in what promises to be one of the hottest stories to emanate out of the publishing world, word has it that columnist-publisher and one of Penguin’s biggest selling authors Shobhaa De just might have given her approval for an official biography to be published by — hold your breath — Penguin’s rival Harper Collins!

Shobhaa De

And wait — there’s another twist to this tale: the biographer of this tome is said to be none other than Pranay Gupte, the former New York Times reporter who has authored some very fine books in the past, including two biographies of Indira Gandhi, a book on Dubai and biographies of Dr Prathap Chandra Reddy and CP Krishnan Nair.

Sources say that this publishing coup is the brainchild of Harper Collins’ dynamic chief editor V K Karthika, who happened to be De’s first editor at Penguin, before she joined her present company and brought in winning projects like Rana Dasgupta’s Solo, Manu Joseph’s Serious Men and Hussain Naqvi’s Homeboy. Publishing mavens and Shobhaa fans are keeping their fingers crossed that this ambitious project sees light of day soon!

Meanwhile, when we asked De if this was true, she said, “We are still talking.”

Male bonding
>> They were spotted enjoying a cozy dinner together but guess who appears to have made a bigger impression on rapper Jay Sean during his recent Mumbai trip?

Jay Sean and Rishi Acharya

“Had a great time in Mumbai... met my dear friend Rishi, but didn’t get 2 go 2 Tryst! good luck with Exo brother!’ he tweeted on November 14, presumably about nightclub owner Rishi Acharya. And it was only a day later that he posted, “Good catching up with my dear friend @priyankachopra.” An afterthought? Tch tch…

The leftist industrialist
>> Never judge a book by its cover! By outside appearances, former Union Minister Kamal Morarka comes across as your typical wealthy industrialist, the scion of an established Mumbai business family with a palatial bungalow on Carmichael road; so who would imagine that at heart, he is an avid socialist with a deep commitment towards an egalitarian society.

Kamal Morarka

Evidence of his ideological conviction is demonstrated in Left Of Centre, Kamal Morarka In Parliament (Rupa), a collection of his many and lucid speeches delivered in the Rajya Sabha on the economy, the disadvantages of privatisation, and other matters of policy.

But how on earth did the son of a leading industrialist end up a socialist in the first place, we asked Morarka, whom we used to meet often in the company of his mentor former PM Chandra Shekhar?

“It was the influence of my father and uncle who lived a simple life, and my coming in contact with Chandra Shekharji at the age of 22 in 1968, that helped me firm my views on what is a just and proper strategy for social transformation of our country. My mind told me that neither the capitalism of the West, nor the communism of the East would work here. We should find a middle path, which balances various things,” he replied. Nice!

Salaam Mumbai: On reading Manto
One of the books I am reading these days (I read at least a couple at a time) is Saadat Hasan Manto’s Bombay Stories (Random House India) translated by Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmed.

I have been an admirer of Manto’s for a long time ever since I chanced upon his story Toba Tek Singh and was swept away by his biting satirical style and the overall humanity that informed his writing.

But besides his literary skills, I felt a great empathy for Manto, the man. After all, like my family, he too had a background in Punjab and Kashmir, had entered the film industry and was an early sympathiser of the Communist party.

“How come,” I asked my mother, “My father and you never ran in to him while he’d been in Mumbai?”

We concluded that it was just one of life’s anomalies and that perhaps by the time Manto had crossed over to Pakistan (where he eked out the last few miserable years of his life, homesick for Mumbai), my parents had crossed over to India!

“We see a style emerge,” writes Reeck in his foreword, “That makes Manto progressive in a sense separate from what the term meant during his lifetime: he had outstripped the literary convention of his time.”

To which we add, “Manto’s Bombay stories are timeless.” 

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