While her husband, Som Mittal, was making his mark in the IT field, Vidhu Mittal was not just sitting idle. Having traveled all over the world during the course of Som’s career, Vidhu has been teaching Indian vegetarian cuisine classes for the last 20 years from her home, and came out with Pure and Simple: Homemade Vegetarian Cuisine, a compendium on Indian vegetarian cookery in 2009. On Thursday evening at The Leela Palace in Delhi, a follow-up title Pure and Special: Gourmet Indian Cuisine (Roli, Rs 1,295) was launched before a gathering of Vidhu’s friends and fans.
Prior to the launch, guests mingled in the Grand Ballroom, where the event was to take place, partaking snacks whose recipes had been picked up from the book by chefs. On the menu were lotus stem parcels, potato fritters and Indian quesadillas, among others. Vidhu said, “I never thought I would write a second book and I’m just as nervous about it as I was with the first book. The challenge was making this book different. This time, I used foreign ingredients from kiwis to broccoli and corn tortillas, as the Indian palate is evolving and all these ingredients are now readily available.”
Kapil Kapoor, Director, Roli Books, said, “While we’ve come out with several titles on various cuisines, from Kashmiri to Awadhi, no other title has enjoyed international acclaim that Pure and Simple… has. It even won a Gourmand World Cookbook Award. The step-by-step instructions and beautiful pictures taken by Sanjay Ramachandran presented in an uncluttered manner proved highly successful and is the format we will be repeating with Pure and Special.”
The launch was followed by a panel discussion with Vidhu, MasterChef India host Kunal Kapur and Indian Ocean frontman Rahul Ram and was moderated by blogger and food columnist Sourish Bhattacharya. The panel discussed topics such as the globalisation of the Indian palate and how chefs view vegetarianism. Chef Kapur said, “Chefs like to dismiss vegetarian food, saying it’s not challenging enough, whereas the opposite is true. Also we like to make things sound exotic so we can charge customers the earth. And while, as chefs, we like to complicate things, Vidhuji has gone the other way and succeeded.” Shantanu David