Ranjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujam met at a potluck lunch in Charleston, South Carolina. Being some of the only Indians around, the duo immediately bonded over food. That’s how their latest book Around The World With The Tadka Girls, which was launched at the the Westin Velachery recently, came up. “The idea was Ranjini’s. She writes for magazines and the like, so when she said we should put together a book of sorts, I was all for it!” said Ruchira, on the sidelines of their book launch. The audience got an enticing taste of the recipes in the book during the launch, courtesy Westin’s sous chef Priya Roy. Between the Cantaloupe Salsa, the Malai Arancini and the Mushroom Toasties, the duo’s hits (and misses) in the kitchen were steadily showcased. “I’ve baked cakes without baking soda a couple of times. And got a thin, flat spread of baked dough,” confided Ranjini. Ruchira’s misses, on the other hand, came from her brother who was present at the launch. “She once baked a carrot cake. I didn’t know what was in it. Never went back for more,” he admitted, much to the amusement of the audience.
The food enthusiasts are both stay-at-home moms with a culinary flair that makes them well-travelled and well experienced in the taste bud arena. “The book is about inspiration,” said Ruchira with a laugh. “We never set out to travel the world for the book. But wherever we went, we added a little taste of that place into our pages,” she added. Currently settled in Bengaluru, the authors had been staying in the US for more than a decade.
Filled with over 70 recipes ranging from breakfast items like pancakes and muffins to main courses and desserts, the book also has little stories and experiences from the duo’s foodie sides. “For example, there’s a small anecdote about mangoes that goes along with a mango ice cream recipe. The memories are from our childhood and we thought it sounded perfect for this particular recipe,” said Ranjini.
But Ruchira’s favourite story is about her experience in China. “I spent about two months working there and I was eating Chinese food all the time... I got so sick of it! But it was one of my favourite foodie experiences,” she said.
The duo’s two daughters are their best critics, and favourite adventurers. “They will try anything we put in front of them,” said Ranjini with a laugh. “Of course, they might not want to see certain dishes on the table ever again.”
We thought there might have been some baking soda-less carrot cakes involved, but they weren’t willing to divulge the details of the sticky situations. But if you really want sticky, Ruchira suggested the mango. “Well, stick a bamboo skewer into one,” she said, but warned with a twinkle in her eye - “best consumed wearing old clothes and sitting on the verandah!”