I remember the first time I was going to dine at the newly launched Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra. I was counting down days with giddy excitement akin to a teenager attending her first Coldplay concert. Those were the days when ‘Molecular Gastronomy’ was a fairly unheard term. Those were the days when Bandra Kurla Complex had almost no restaurants and was still relatively under-developed. Those were the days when Indian food was not equated with beautifully plated, fine dine food. Well, so much was about to change for the Indian diner and for Mumbai’s restaurant scene post Masala Library.
Molecular gastronomy and its influence was yet to make it’s way to India, having been well established across menus in the West, pioneered by El Bulli in Spain. The philosophy adapted in the menu at Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra revolves around progressive Indian cuisine, using elements of molecular gastronomy as an integral part of the menu to enhance the experience of the dish in terms of not just the flavour and visual appeal but also to introduce an element of surprise into the fray. Because after all food is a multi-sensory experience; going above and beyond taste, incorporating vision, olfaction, and texture into the entire dining experience. We would now start seeing foams, spheres, and fumes included in menus across the city, the word ‘molecular gastronomy’ being thrown around loosely, with Indian cuisine becoming modern and pretty.
‘The train had been making good progress, and towards half-past twelve it reached the northwest border of the Great Salt Lake. Thence the passengers could observe the vast extent of this interior sea, which is also called the Dead Sea, and into which flows an American Jordan.’
An excerpt from Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.
I must have been twelve when I first read Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne and accordingly heard about the Dead Sea. A water body so saline that even the heaviest of objects float in it. A water body christened ‘dead’ because not a single living creature can survive in it owing to the extreme salinity. It is at the age of twelve that I dreamt a little dream, and hoped that I’d get to float in the magical waters of the Dead Sea someday.
Last month, my mother and I took off for a vacation that was going to mark a major milestone in our lives. We were off to the mysterious and mythical country of Jordan to experience Middle Eastern culture, history and to soak in the Dead Sea, of course. Little did I know that our recent holiday to Jordan would help me strike three major items off my bucket list, including this dream that has been harboring inside of me since the past sixteen odd years.
Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened ~ Anatole France.
I don’t recollect when my obsession for animals began. I do remember being extremely fond of them from an early age in life. I remember being in the sixth grade, and getting punished by a teacher for harboring a cat in my desk and feeding it out of my lunch box. I remember telling my parents I don’t want any siblings, and to get me a puppy instead. The crazy obsession for animals also stemmed from being an only child, and looking towards pets for comfort and companionship.
Animals are wonderful, wonderful creatures. Pets provide me with a sense of fulfillment and unconditional love in a way no other human can provide. The joy of having a dog run up to you, tail wagging and ears flapping as you return from a dreary day at work is immense. The calm and peace of a purring cat on your lap, even when you’re fighting demons inside is undescribable.
Feeding an animal, caring for it, and providing it with a little love is the best way to make this world a better place, in my opinion. That animal could be a stray on the street, or living in a shelter, or a pet at home. We are blessed being the most superior of God’s creations, and caring for an animal is one of the most noble deeds we can do. And that animal – dog, cat, horse, bird – will remain eternally grateful to you.
No matter where in the world you travel, and what world cuisines you taste, there’s no greater joy in coming back home to a steaming plate of dal chaawal with pickle on the side. My mother and I returned from a trip of a lifetime to Jordan a couple of days ago. And we were craving home cooked, comfort food – a ritual that occurs after every holiday. I go into the kitchen, completely jet lagged and sleep deprived looking for a convenient and easy way to cook my beloved dal-chaawal without compromising on the taste. Which is when Tata Sampann Masalas came to the rescue.
More About Tata Sampann Masala: Tata Sampann Masalas are a range of spices developed by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor to make everyday cooking a bit easier and a whole lot tastier. The spices are sourced from the best of farms, and made from the choicest variety of whole spices – Malabari Black Pepper, Salem Turmeric, Pahadi Cardamom, Teja Chilli and more. These spices also retain their natural spice oils, which adds to the taste and aroma, creating an overall blissful sensory experience when you cook and eat. Quite often natural spice oils are extracted out of whole spices, leaving behind SPENT masalas.
The Tata Sampann masala range is made out of 100% UN-SPENT masalas retaining the natural oil, imparting undiluted taste and aroma. The variety of masalas on offer is impressive – from your basic Turmeric and Red chilli powder to masalas like Punjabi Chole masala, Paneer Masala, Chicken Masala and Meat masala for individual dishes. You can read more about Tata Sampann Masalas here.