1) BHOG : TEMPLE FOOD OF INDIA : ARUN AND GEETA BUDDHIRAJA : KRISHNAPREMA CHARITABLE TRUST: PAGES : 205 : PRICE RS 3900/-
Both the authors are avowed Krishnabhaktas and have visited many Krishna temples as part of their pilgrimages. From Vaishnodevi to Guruvayur and from Somnath to Puri Jagannath temple, the couple has travelled and painstakingly and meticulously picked up the recipes of the food that has initially been offered to the Gods. These offerings are called Bhog Prasad. Temples offered to the Gods food prepared from seasonal ingredients grown in Temple land and cooked with minimum spices. There are exceptions though. For example, in Imphal’s Govind Devji’s temple, Lord Krishna has his food sprinkled liberally with chillies. And the rice dish has a sweet and sour taste about it. The book explores the connection between food and culture and brings to the benefit of the reader India’s heritage temple cuisine. Different foods have to be absorbed by the Gods at different times. Based on the year’s six seasons and the eight units of kala which the temples generally follow for the offerings to the Gods, the recipes are a wondrous delight and a treasure trove for the reader. Be it Mirchi ka saag, Tenti ka aachaar, Radha ashtami arbi (Radha had a weakness for arbi) and kadhi, they are all mouth-watering stuff blessed by the Gods and a divine delight for the devotees to savour them. More than a recipe book, the book is about Indian culture. The icing on the cake is that the offerings are made out of Bhaav and not necessarily great culinary expertise. The authors praise the temple cooks for their devotion and for being custodians of a living culture. Arun and Geeta Buddhiraja have done an excellent job of bringing the ‘kitchen religion’ back to our dining tables. I found ‘kamrak ka bilsaru’ particularly fascinating. It is known as a star fruit and it has a tarty flavor. It has a high content of Vitamin C. Channa Poda, Pokaro and Phoolon ki thandai were some other dishes/drinks that aroused my interest.