Parsis are known for their love for food and love for life in general. Their cuisine has great options though most of them forgotten or not prepared on a day to day basis. Hence when a restaurant had a parsi food festival in town, I jumped at the option. The restaurant was jam packed. This just led me to think that people are willing to try the old tried and tested recipes and are even willing to a pay a premium for it. A dish which was once a common dish in household, is today in celebrated in a festival. But why??
The old process of making such a dish was elaborate but thrived nonetheless because people had ample time. As households got busier, and quick food became the norm, these began to fade away from collective memory. As people had started eating out a lot more, a whole lot of recipes were getting lost.
But it’s time to bring them back. A battery of food enthusiasts — historians, restaurateurs, writers and chefs are out to revive the country’s fading culinary traditions. They travel to remote places, jog memories of old folks and search through ancient texts to bring to life dying or dead recipes. With the food, old stories, too, have got a new lease of life. While researchers have been independently trying to document and archive these recipes, it is the support of hotels that has brought their work to the world. A team of professional chefs worked alongside to verify the authenticity of the flavors, veracity of the stories and also to provide technical expertise. To ensure that such efforts are not a flash in the pan, hotels have made these recipes a part of their menu.
The revival of the fading culinary delights has also led to the demand of large copper & brass utensils. As copper and brass utensils make a comeback, re-tinning is in demand again. This has led to a demand for kalaiwala (re-tinning vendor). Thus another dying art is saved.
This sudden nostalgia for food of the old is a worldwide phenomenon. Globally, it has become fashionable to talk about lost recipes. People like Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama have been talking about it. People have become more conscious about eating seasonal, local produce. Indian tradition has always followed that. Hence, there is a revival of sorts.
As a country moves up the income curve, it invests time and effort to revisit its past. Indians have developed a new fondness for yoga, Ayurveda and mythology. Food nostalgia was just waiting to happen.
Millets that had disappeared from kitchens have made a comeback in a big way, as have ingredients such as makhana and kokum. Makhana which was mostly a product consumed during fasting is today available in various flavors. Revival also means coming back of these ingredients into the mainstream. Paper Boat is one such brand which was built with the aim of preserving traditional recipes. It uses innovation to ensure the authentic drink is accessible for the mass market. Paper Boat’s beverages such as Aam Panna and Jal Jeera are drinks that their consumers grew up drinking and carry a strong association with their childhood. While an attempt is made there are many more mysterieswhich remains to be solved in this journey
Any such memories of food which you wish to share