Although she had always been passionate about food, 28-year-old entrepreneur Vinda Dravid didn’t realise how truly novel her mother’s salads and sabzis were till her former office colleagues started raving about it. “For me, it was just ghar ka khana — delicious, but regular fare. Every day, my then colleagues would fuss over my tiffin and ask for recipes,” recollects the Sion resident.
So, sometime around November last year, a few months before she got married, the former blogger decided to sketch the food she had grown up eating as a personal project. “I realised that if I don’t know the recipes or document them, these dishes won’t be made in the future. Their back stories, like why certain ingredients are used in a specific way or time, would also be lost,” shares Dravid. After over two-and-a-half months of shadowing her mother in the kitchen and rediscovering their family traditions, she was ready with the one-of-a-kind illustrated e-cookbook, 8 Regional Indian Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes & Stories.
Also Read: Drizzle to sizzle
However, since it was a personal project, Dravid didn’t make the book public initially. It was only in the lockdown, after she decided to turn her love for illustration into a business by setting up two art and merchandise brands, Tomato Sketchbook Factory and Curious Cat Company, that she felt that she could share her book with the world. “I had posted it on an international website, believing that only non-Indians would be interested to learn about local food, and because the recipes were a mix of vegetarian and vegan dishes,” admits the illustrator. But when she posted about the book a couple of weeks ago, requests from Indians, including Maharashtrians, started pouring in, and so she made it available for sale to all.
She also highlights the way meals are typically served in her family
It’s Dravid’s use of colours authentic to each ingredient, the visual breakdown of the recipes and her scrawny handwriting that make the cookbook simple and accessible to even those who don’t know about the cuisine of the Deshastha Brahmin community — belonging to the mainland on the right of the Sahyadris. From a moong dal koshimbir to a methi bhaji wrap, it boasts of eight to nine recipes of everyday salads and sabzis that Dravid claims even some of her Marathi acquaintances aren’t aware of. “For example, there is the ambyachi dal — chana dal with a tadka of raw mango. It’s made during Gudi Padwa. It’s quite tangy and even nutritious, but very few people in our community know about this dish,” she illustrates.
While the focus is on letting the visuals do the talking, Dravid squeezes in small footnotes to reveal more about her community, which uses a lot of groundnuts and peanuts in its cuisine. In the opening page, for instance, the reader is introduced to the fixed positions of food items on a plate, as served in her family — salt in the 12 o’ clock position, then pickle, chutney, salad, appetiser, dal, roti and bhaji. As a former structural consultant who left her job to learn more about farming, her varied experiences also find their way into the book. “There’s this methi bhaji a farmer had made for me on a chulha in Khed. I hated methi, but she made me fall in love with it. So, I put that in,” she tells us, adding that she’s also thrown in the recipe of how she turned the same bhaji into a pita-pocket wrap. “Our parents and grandparents were so particular about food. These small traditions are dying. The idea was to keep those recipes and stories alive through my other passion, doodling,” she signs off.
Log on to tomatosketchbook.com or @tomatosketchbookfactory on Instagram
Cost Rs 299
Keep scrolling to read more news
Catch up on all the latest Mumbai news, crime news, current affairs, and a complete guide from food to things to do and events across Mumbai. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates.
Mid-Day is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@middayinfomedialtd) and stay updated with the latest news