Food Friday: ‘Servings Simple yet Exotic’ | Roopali Mohanti’s new cookbook is about creating magic in the kitchen

Food Friday: ‘Servings Simple yet Exotic’ | Roopali Mohanti’s new cookbook is about creating magic in the kitchen

Sep 15, 2023 - 19:30
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Food Friday: ‘Servings Simple yet Exotic’ | Roopali Mohanti’s new cookbook is about creating magic in the kitchen

Serving is a journey of an inspired home cook, who understood how to make the daily chore of cooking into a gratifying and joyous experience. Roopali Mohanti’s new cookbook helps us discover the spark that creates vibrant food ever-lasting memories.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

 How did the idea of Serving come to you?

‘Servings’ gave birth during a simple exchange of recipes between friends and family on Whatsapp during the pandemic. From single recipes we went onto complete meals and little write ups that either described the origin or a memory that accompanied the meal.

Your childhood memories on food…

Growing up I always saw my mother cooking and we were lucky to be treated to delectable curries, fabulous pies and cakes and a variety of food from various parts of the country since my father was in the armed forces. She encouraged me to start baking when I was around 14 years old and that’s when my affair with food began in earnest. I remember all the treats in my tiffin – to the envy of classmates I always had a home-made pastry or slice of cake. On a lighter note, I can still vividly recall the arguments over being forced to eat a boiled egg and a cup of milk before heading to school.

What are your favourite recipes from your mom’s kitchen?

Since we are from Odisha, the Odiya food that my mom cooked has always been among my personal favourites. In particular, the recipe which was passed to her by her mother  ‘Kakara Pitha” a deep fried coconut and jaggery stuffed whole wheat dumpling. Our travels around the country also helped me develop a varied palate and the Appam and Stew which she learnt from our local house help while my dad was posted in Kochi is definitely one of my favourites too!

Odai pitha from the book ‘Servings: Simple yet Exotic’

Why do you believe that good food doesn’t need fancy ingredients?

 Food is all about flavours. The fanciest of ingredients will not necessarily create the best dish but using basic ingredients in the right proportions and using the correct cooking techniques can. All through the pages of my book, Servings one can see that most recipes just need what is easily available at hand.

Food can be made fancy by just interesting plating or adding a certain ingredient to make it sparkle, an example would be a dish ‘Baingan in a baingan’ (Eggplant) a basic North Indian style bharta cooked in the right proportions is placed back in a cored brinjal shell topped with cheese and grilled to perfection creating a dish which is quite like an Indian version of the Eggplant Parmigiana.
Cooking as an art and science. What are your views on it?

It has to be both. I have always seen cooking as art on a plate, the of level imagination and the ability to create magic that one can actually taste is phenomenal in my eyes –  which is why I am in absolute awe of Chefs. Cooking is chemistry too, especially baking, where it’s all about your accuracy, timing, measurement and methods.


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