Yes. You heard it right. Delhi's very own Diva delicious Ritu Dalmia has launched an all vegetarian cook book. Ritu's vegetarian mother always maintained that her biggest failing has been a daughter who not only cooks meat, but (shudder, shudder) eats it too. The book is Ritu's way of making amends.
“This book is for her. My mother is a woman of many talents, except in the kitchen. We always had a cook to take care of all meals, and one day when she fired him, she decided to cook herself. She made kadi that was curdled and we had to order in. That was the last time she tried cooking. However, now in her old age, she is experimenting in the kitchen and trying to hone her cooking skills and my new book—Diva Green, A Vegetarian Cookbook, will come in handy. With that, I hope her grandchildren will have better luck than we did,” Ritu laughs.
Considering that she was born into a pure vegetarian family and grew up only on vegetarian food, this should have been her first book.
As she says, “Better late than never." Diva Green compensates for the lost years and incorporates recipes like Warm Caramelised Potato and Onion Salad, Sweet Potato Cupcakes, Pumpkin and Coconut Soup, Sweet Pumpkin Fritters, Baba Ghonouj, Grilled Eggplant with Peppers and Sesame, Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup, Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart, Carrot and Ginger Soup, Anna’s Carrot Cake, Mushroom and Coconut Soup, Spicy Mushroom Salad, Apricot Knodel, Pita Pizza with Dipping Sauce, Tambli, Rocket Soup with Roasted Almonds, Detox Dip and much more.
“I should be humble, but I think this book has a fabulous collection of recipes, most of them can be put together with very simple ingredients, and quickly. For me, creating a recipe is based on memories of some great things I have tasted and then recreating them. Each time, it turns into something totally different and most of the times also delicious. A dear friend once told me that she will only judge my cooking skills by what I make with ingredients I have handy, and that’s what I do all the time,” says Ritu.
With this book, she also finds herself eating a lot more vegetarian food. For her, it is like going back to her roots. “I am loving it. The other day I had friends over, and everything I cooked was vegetarian. These hardcore meat eaters did not even realise that there was no meat. So I rest my case,” Ritu smiles.
Considered a carnivore by friends as she was one of the biggest meat eaters they knew, for Ritu with age has come the realisation that green is also healthy. “At all my restaurants, the menu will always have a generous offering of vegetarian dishes because I suffered a lot trying to find good vegetarian dishes travelling abroad. In the 1960s and 1970s, my mother says apart from Italian restaurants, Hare Krishna temples were the only places in Europe where they could be sure of getting a pure vegetarian meal, without the fear of being served anchovy," she laughs.
Belonging to a family of food lovers, Ritu always had a lot to experiment with. Even though she didn’t have her mother's help in the kitchen, she knew she could do a good job in the food business. But there is one vegetable that she truly detests and that is broccoli. There are no recipes in the book that incorporate the vegetable. “This book cannot be used by a person who doesn’t eat egg or certain kinds of cheese. The book also incorporates meal plans for parties,” says Ritu who is most content eating Gujarati Daal, rice and Aloo Jeera with papad and achar.
Goof ups , yes she’s made some, but they are her secret. “You really want me to confess about how many times I have over-salted my food or baked a carrot cake which was totally raw from inside or tell you about that time when for the life of me I couldn’t make Gnocchi? No my dear, I shall not admit to any of them,” Ritu signs off.