‘Around The World With The Tadka Girls’ was born as a blog where neighbours Ranjini and Ruchira shared their experiences in the kitchen

Make Mine A Masala Mary is a tomato mocktail with a twist of red chilli powder, and the Tropical Broccoli Salad, made with pineapple, raisins and cashews, comes with a yogurt dressing. Topping it off is a bite-sized portion of lemon cupcake with a creamy topping.

That was the menu for the cook-out conducted by Ranjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujan at the launch of their book Around The World With The Tadka Girls at Atta Galatta.

The flavours, with a touch of the desi, go hand-in-hand with their blog Tadka Pasta, which inspired their book.

From blog to book

“We were really enjoying the process of blogging. We had something special going on for every holiday and when one day Ranjini said why don’t we write a book, it seemed like a novel idea,” said Ruchira at the event.

The duo first hit it off at a community pot-luck as neighbours in the U.S.

“We knew nothing about how to post or how to take pictures of food. We simply knew that we loved food when we started the blog. The book talks about what we have done as foodies and home cooks but we didn’t do that when we were neighbours. It all happened after Ruchira moved to the West coast and I was still in Chicago. That’s when we realized that we had too many stories to tell and too many recipes between us,” said Ranjini.

The book, which followed their blog, is not just a cookbook, it is also a space where the duo share their explorations and experiments as well their journey together.

“We just wanted our spirit to come out in the book. We wanted it to be fun. We are not documenting a cuisine, we are just documenting the way we cook, having fun with the different ways we can take a recipe and modify it. We don’t want people to follow these instructions like a manual, so we have put in a lot of notes and little anecdotes,” added Ruchira.

“The book doesn’t just have recipes for standard meals and sweets, we have recipes for every occasion, for breakfast and brunch, for things you can take on picnics, recipes that you can gift, a section for kids. We also have tips for home cooks, on leftovers or how to freeze and store some things.”

For instance, the book has a recipe for Malai Arancini, a take-off on the Italian snack Arancini which is based on leftover risotto, a recipe that Ruchira says is her favourite.

“We have done the tadka version of the recipe by using khichdi instead of risotto because risotto is not really going to be leftover in an Indian kitchen. Khichdi has a similar consistency, we also add potatoes and spices, and stuff it with frozen malai, which melts into it when fried,” Ruchira explained.

There are also desi twists on the baklava, the popular Mediterranean dessert and on Polish gosht.

And, they claim, these recipes don’t have too many ingredients and can be made in simple steps.

“We don’t like to go out and spend two hours to fetch an ingredient. In some of our recipes we have added notes on how you can substitute some ingredients if they are not at hand. If a dish is so complicated that you have to go on a shopping trip and have to follow so many steps, it’s not going to be made again. The true success of a recipe is when it becomes part of a kitchen and if it’s made frequently.”

For details, email tadkapasta@gmail.com.