Saturday, October 18, 2008
during my last visit to kolkata in end september along with my colleagues we decided to have lunch at the kenilworth hotel at shakespeare sarani. we were quite surprised when on arrival, the steward told us that the hotel was celebrating three days of vegetarianism. nonogenarian sadhu vaswani,spiritual head of the sadhu vaswani mission based in pune, the wellknown guru and referred to as the "shaper of souls" was camping in the hotel and in deference to his wishes, the hotel run by raju bharath, decided to observe and offer only vegetarian food during his stay. i asked him whether that did not put off the non-vegetarian guests. he replied that on the contrary,there were more people visiting the restaurant than normal.
dada j p vaswani maintains that peace and harmony will not be there until we "stop all killing".november 25 which is his birthday is celebrated as "meatless day" and animal rights day."if today i don't hesitate in killing an animal,i won't hesitate in killing a man tomorrow. life is god's gift;only he can take it away," says dada vaswani.
for many years now one can see a virtual vegetarian uprising. and india is recognised as the main originator of vegetarianism.hinduism and its offshoots-buddhism and jainism were born in india. all these religions have preached ahimsa (non-injury) from ancient times.even in a country like usa there are about 15 million full-time and part-time vegetarians.you have jewish vegetarianism and sufi vegtarianism groups too.more and more people are being influenced by the animal rights movement and by environmental and health concerns.veg food is no longer "rabbit food".
veg falafal and chinese special veg food has become the flavour of the day.veg cookbooks are sprouting a dime to a dozen.there is even a lowfat jewish veg cookbook written by debra wassermann. according to rev dada j p vaswani,the true vegetarian is one who is filled through and through with reverence for life.life is a gift of god which no man should destroy.as is the food,so is the mind. as is the mind,so are the thoughts. as are the thoughts,so is the conduct. as is the conduct,so is the health.
the buffet lunch was thoroughly enjoyable. it was absolutely delicious. a combination of east and west. an interesting fusion and subtle mélange. starting with spicy avocado soup,we had pasta avaieletta, baked vegetables, german potato salad, vegetable quessidillas with broccolli, pod thai noodle and baby potatoes with garlic. the dessert counter had besides Indian sweets, mangocheese cake and chocolate parefit. it was an unforgettable lunch and something that all eight of us ate to our heart's content.
the icing on the cake was swarup chatterjee, the amiable chef. the avocado soup was heavenly.when i requested that I wanted to meet him,he promptly came over to our table and met me. i congratulated him on the excellent spread that he had painstakingly prepared and in particular the mouthwatering soup. i asked him whether he could give me the recipe. within 15 minutes he came back with the recipe artistically written in his own hand. something i will treasure. i liked the youngster. his spontaniety, his culinary skills and his desire to satisfy nay delight a customer.
"nourish life with vegetable food.and shun the sacrilegious taste of blood".