Author Archives: Cutting Loose

Feasts and Fasts – A History of Food in India

book-coverFeasts and Fasts – A History of Food in India is Chicago-based food historian Colleen Taylor Sen’s most recent culinary outing. An ambitious effort at exploring the history of Indian gastronomy, the fascinating journey of which, this richly illustrated single volume traces from the Indus Valley Civilization to its present incarnation. It is served as a detailed introduction to the dietary evolution of a diverse sub continental people since prehistoric times, with generous dollops of myriad influences that have accorded it the status of a much-preferred world cuisine today. The author peels away, chapter by chapter, how faith, climate, geography, foreign rule, among others, shaped our culinary heritage and modern day food habits.

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The road to Narayan (aka god)…

img_20161027_141638_hdr…is never easy, I’m told, by many a seeker. Less so to the one I sought, as I discovered for myself only ten days ago. A tad off-piste for most visitors to Himachal Pradesh, Narayan Devta Temple–ancient shrine in honour of the local deity–is located in the Nawar valley of Rohru district.  I had made the acquaintance of this little-known nugget through a photograph and was raring for a closer encounter.  The opportunity presented itself soon enough during my stay at a farm near Kotkhai.

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Tirthan Anglers’ Retreat

A sorority-of-sorts reunion long in the making finally fructified this summer past. Siblings and school buddies decided to get away from it all for some rejuvenation. Given the relentless May swelter our respective cities of residence experience, an escape to Himalayan havens was a unanimous no-brainer. Besides, I was returning after a scorch proper from Ujjain where I had been parked for two weeks acquainting with the Simhastha Kumbh.

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Reflections of Aina Mahal, Bhuj

img_7697For a man of his artistic genius and versatility to nearly fade from the narrative within three centuries of his existence is a tad baffling. But for one-line references and the odd paragraph in numerable writings, travel guides, and coffee table books themed around Kutch arts and crafts, little is known of Ram Singh Malam, an incredibly multi-faceted craftsman, today. Were it not for the Aina Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), his greatly diminished but still abiding pièce de résistance, Malam could well have been an easily missed footnote in the history of the arts.

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Gone Fishing, Tirthan

IMG_9626Prejudice alert. Any place I can wake up to a dog curled up close at hand has an everlasting hold over my heart.  I make no bones about it. Nor am I averse to gushing about it. And should that place be set in one of the prettiest valleys of Himachal Pradesh, well then I’m a complete and unabashed goner.

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Times Food Guide 2016 – Chandigarh

DSC_8123It’s out. Actually it’s been out for nearly a month, just didn’t get around to gloating about it. The launch of the Times Food Guide for Chandigarh (Mohali & Panchkula included as separate sections) took place at The Lalit on 29th March at the high decibel Times Food & Nightlife Awards ceremony.

It was released by one of the finest Sufi voices from Punjab – Hans Raj Hans. Perhaps not the last word on fusilli, but he sure knows a thing or two about that ‘silli silli…hawa’! The glittering evening also saw a number of other celebrities give away well-deserved awards to those that made the Winners’ list.

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Pssst…Did I mention I authored it?

Get your copy here.

NEW YORK INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL (NYIFF 2016)

infinity-sThis post goes out especially for followers in the United States of America. Some of whom have, over the past few years, unfailingly pinged Cutting Loose for fashioning their travels around India. In turn, nothing has given me greater pleasure than showcasing to them an India beyond the obvious. If testimonials are to be believed, they’re clearly not missing the tried-and-tested.

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Walking The Himalayas By Levison Wood

img769It demands more than just a sturdy pair of legs to consider an expedition such as the one Levison Wood embarks upon in Walking The Himalayas. The promise of a Channel 4 series lessens none the daunting challenge at hand. That it has been done before offers little succour either. Because one man’s trudge across the ‘raised eyebrow over India’ (Michael Palin) could well be 1,700 high altitude miles through five (often hostile) countries over six months, for another. Ergo, it requires you to be a hard as nails ex-paratrooper, inhabitant of African and Asian wilds, globetrotter, photographer, and journalist, all rolled into one. Above all it mandates an old-fashioned notion of exploration to take you through what is irrefutably an endurance test rather than enjoyable tryst.

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Inside A Rainbow

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Banni beauty

This was a first – signing up for structured travel to play catch-up with Kutch’s capabilities. It, Breakaway’s Textile Trail, had seemed like an enormously exciting way to acquaint myself with an Indian extremity hitherto unvisited. That it was going to unravel itself through brilliantly hued warps and wefts accorded it that much more of the proverbial colour.  As also the knowledge that our intimate group would be accompanied by an expert for edifying effects.

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Goa The Muse

IMG_8788The sea has its moments, yes, but I don’t much care for Goa’s beaches. Nevertheless I gladly wash ashore ever so often for a change of scene and cuisine. Of which the latter, in my mind, remains her irrefutable raison d’être. Languor permitting I have successfully indulged in a spot of exploration in between meals. This is how I ended up making the acquaintance of three enormously ardent men when there a couple of months ago.

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