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Stirring a heady cocktail

He can wield the ladle and the pen with equal ease. He is as eager to please with his dishes as he is with his written words. RANA A. SIDDIQUI speaks to Arvind Saraswat, master chef, now a master with words

LET US eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die, comes from the scriptures. And it also comes from those who force you to eat and drink through their culinary skills. They are the ones who use food as a weapon to win over friends.

That's exactly what 56-year-old Arvind Saraswat, Director Food Production of the Taj Groups of Hotels, has attempted in his debut book "Professional Chef: The Art of Fine Cooking" published by UBSPD.

This 775-page book penned after eight years of constant research, experiments, visits to Italy, France, China and tours across India, includes everything that a hotel management student, young chefs, and a modern housewife having latest equipment in her kitchen and otherwise, would look for. What makes this Rs.850 book important is that it contains more than 1000 significant cuisines and their recipes from Italy, France, China and India apart from bakery and confectionary and a wholesome 33 pages on kitchen management. Then, be it kitchen designing, layout, menu planning, food hygiene or food production control, everything is given ample space with neatly categorised divisions. Food from Kashmir, South of India, North and East as well as chat varieties, desserts and cookies find distinguishable mention. The book, mercifully, is not studded with pictures, hence lends the reader ample space to glimpse through recipes instead of only taking delight in visually appealing delicacies. And interestingly, it also allows a peep into the history of tandoor, spices, their types, and some dishes from India and countries mentioned above.

To Saraswat it took 35 years of experience in varied capacities in mostly five-star hotels to pen the book. Her shares, "A recipe comes out in the book after three steps: First a raw or a trial recipe is prepared, its shortcomings and excesses are observed, then the same recipe is given to others to prepare, to see if they feel as easy as the master chef does, then finally it is prepared by a team of professional chefs. When this team satisfies the master chef, it is jotted down for records."

Saraswat learnt foreign cuisine preparations by interaction with chefs from five-star hotels and other stand-alone restaurants across the world.

In Jiggs Kalra's "Prashad", Saraswat has contributed "50 per cent recipes" while a series of cooking book called "Best of Indian Cooking" published by Centurion Publishers, U.K is also "half written" by him.

Saraswat's next venture? "A 125-page coffee-table book on Indian cuisines meant for foreigners only, to be published in Singapore."

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