Dalai Lama pens forward to Chef Vikas Khanna’s travelogue
Michelin starred Indian chef Vikas Khanna dons the writer’s cap yet again chronicling his culinary journey across the Himalayas in a new book
Containing a foreword by the Dalai Lama, “Return to the Rivers” is the newest book from the chef set to launch in the US with a limited edition release in India early this year.
Based in the US, Vikas, who won his third Michelin star in October 2013 for Junoon, the Indian fine dining restaurant in New York City has authored 13 books previously.
“If I don’t do anything groundbreaking now then when I will do it?” asks the 41-year-old professional cook whose tome amalgamates recipes, photos, and memories of places in the Himalayan region.
Vikas travelled across the Himalayas, seven years back and the book is a collection of his travels, the food that he discovered in his culinary journey, the history, the unique Himalayan culture and his own memories exploring the great Himalayas from Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Tibet, Western China, Pakistan and then Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh in northern India and parts of North East India like Sikkim.
He says he has tried to capture the simplicity and hospitality he witnessed in the mountains. The dishes are simple and pure at core like eggplant fritters with ginger, spinach and cheese momos, pressed rice with yogurt and almonds, Tibetan scallion pancakes and Nepalese black lentils with rice.
“It would have been easier for me to write this book today with all the technology and comforts available but it was six years of struggle that goes to make this book authentic and unique,” he says.
Vikas has dedicated the 360 page tome to an unknown woman from Tibet. “The dedication is addressed to a woman whose name I don’t know. I was traveling in Tibet and misplaced my laptop containing more than half the recipes I had collected during my travels. She stopped the bus in which I was travelling and returned the computer. I offered her some money, but she simply said ‘anyone would have done it’,”.
“The book captures this simplicity and innocence of locals there,” says Vikas who did all the food and travel photography himself.
The Amritsar- born chef whose career has seen him host events and dinners at the White House as well as host famous fundraisers for President Obama and President Clinton still considers homemade food better than any cuisine.
The new book, he says is expected to be both informative and engaging, “There are no spices shops in Tibet, spices are available in medicine shops which is a very surprising thing for us to think,” he says.
The inclusion of word ‘River’, which doesn’t exactly says ‘cookbook’ has story of its own. The writer was inspired by Indian mythology, where rivers are often referred as “maa” (mother) and also is the origin of the human species.
Priced around Rs 2500 the book is set to be launched on January 19 at the Jaipur Literature Festival where Vikas is scheduled to speaking about his new venture.
This is Vikas’s first book that will be launched in India before US, where he is based. “My Great India”, “Flavors First” and “Savour Mumbai” are some of his previous books.
Also his new solo TV show, for which he is currently shooting, is also set to be aired on FOX Traveler starting this month.