I’ll start by saying that I recommend this book to every Indian. Eat local, support agriculture, and live a long and healthy life. That’s the gist of the book. If I made a list of the books that have changed my life for the better, this book would be on it. It’s that good.
Rujuta writes with a healthy blend of sarcasm, story-telling, and bharpoor gyaan. She delivers homilies without sounding preachy or holier-than-thou, making it easy for us to digest what she says. She writes just as if she were having a casual conversation with us. Her language is peppered with hindi words and phrases, but it all meshes so flawlessly and flows so smoothly. Her “oh boy!” and “come on!” and “man” lend the narrative a delightful flavor.
If you dread reading 176 pages of text, you don’t have to worry. Each chapter has a neat table that separates fact from fiction. And there are several boxed inserts as well that provide interesting information. Rujuta also references quotes and sayings from Indian mythology, Ayurvedic scripts, and culture. It is fascinating to see how she draws a parallel to what our grandmothers used to say and the source of this common knowledge in Ayurveda or our mythology.
Rujuta talks about 10 Indian superfoods: ghee, kokum, banana, kaju, ambadi, rice, coconut, aliv, jackfruit, and sugar. Yes, you read the list right. I was as surprised as you probably are now after reading the table of contents. The first thought that entered my head: how can sugar be a superfood?!
Instead of reading the chapters sequentially, I chose to read the ones that mystified me the most. I’d always considered sugar to be sweet poison. Why is Rujuta calling it an anti-ageing secret? That’s when I learnt the difference between high fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, and cane sugar. I can now stop fearing sugar and have my cup of masala chai in peace.
I always knew that ghee, banana, and coconut were good for health. But just how good is what I came to know after reading the book. Do note that ghee here refers to desi ghee, the one that we make at home. Rujuta helpfully shares the procedure to make ghee at home with milk from desi cows.
I eat kaju, rice, and jackfruit as part of my regular diet. But I had never considered them to be superfoods. This book taught me that many of the food theories that I have harbored so far in the name of food science are not true. If I just eat what my forefathers have traditionally eaten for generations, I will be strong, healthy, thin, and so on. Just think about it: there’s a reason why our grandparents or even parents are much more robust than we are.
Kokum, ambadi, and aliv—I had barely heard of these foods before. Rujuta provides a list of regional names for these foods at the end of the book. But I couldn’t recognize them even in my native language—Bengali.
Says a lot about our generation, doesn’t it?