At last, I have found something nice to say about the humble bread pakora, north India’s favourite munch-it-anytime snack: they look inviting in glossy coffee-table books. Tel Aviv-born, Delhi-based photographer Sephi Bergerson has certainly exploited the colour and texture of the sreet food well; the way the yellow batter-fried vegetable and paneer stuffed sandwiches have been stacked up is an ode to the culture of the roadside.
Golden and green lemons kept inside a tumbler full of water, a hawker selling pink cotton sugar in Kolkata (page 25), a Dadar breakfast of a glass of flavoured lassi with some sugary red syrup streaking through it (page 41), moth chole spiced with chutney and vegetables served on dried leaves (page 105), the moongphalliwala on Chowpatty (Page 13) and the flashy juice stall in New Delhi (Page 34) are images that lets you experience food all around India without having to enter the kitchen.
That may soon be gone as the book points out. “The disappearance of the chhole bhature guy and his bicycle from these busy streets would be one of the most unfortunate fallouts of the seismic shift that is taking place in Delhi’s modern fabric. But if you visit India now, it is still there.”
What about recipes? There are 46 detailed ones — from mirchi vada, malpua to Ram ladoo. The photography, however, doesn’t always make the cut. Images of water carts with different angles take up space in places. The other grouse is the English translations of names of eatables: jalebi is ‘sweet flour whirls’, bhel puri is ‘tangy puffed rice mixture’ and gulab jamun is ‘fried cottage cheese dumplings’. So a few minus marks for not retaining the Indian flavour.