A more cosmopolitan Indian palate is eager to assimilate keema-pav and ghee roast

It’s just a few minutes past 8 am but Anand Vada Pav, opposite Mithibai College in Mumbai, a stop for filmstars and college students alike, is already gearing up for brisk business. However, this early in the day, the shop hand is a little less harried and dour than we would expect him to be in the later hours. As I request him to pack two dozen vada pavs — separately, with extra garlic chutney, in two layers of plastic — to be hand-carried to Delhi on the morning flight for a big fat party that day, he grins: “You Delhi people are really fond of vada pav, aren’t you?” Clearly, it’s not unusual for parcel orders to emanate from a distant capital for this hyper-local snack.

In Lucknow’s crowded Aminabad market, the man at Tunday Kebabi barely looks up when someone with a thick Tamil accent addresses him as “bhai sahib”, and orders a plate of the famous galautis with ulte tawe ka parantha. Till even a decade ago, when Nakhlau’s accent was still heard more frequently on its streets and the kebab restaurant that started out as a hole-inthe-wall in Chowk had not been discovered by foodies and tourists, any “outsider” would have been an object of instant curiosity. Today, as iphones are whisked out of purses and pockets and pictures taken of kebabs sizzling in open-mouthed, shallow lagans, no one is surprised. It’s just another day in paradise.

In Bengaluru, a Bengali friend serious about her Sunday lunch, is preparing a Kashmiri meal. No, not some of the betterknown wazwan dishes but lighter and more delicate versions from the repertoire of the Pandits. The rogan josh gravy is thinner and flavoured with asafoetida —nuances that define this more homely style of cooking as distinct from the heavy wazwans.

Then, there is Lyodur chaman, where the fried paneer floats in a fragrant milk-based sauce, which gets its yellow colour from lyodur (turmeric) and its flavour from fennel and dried ginger. The experiment with balancing these subtle…

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