Following the culinary food trail with Smita Deo

A story of love, passion and family sure sounds like the perfect mix for a Bollywood film, but it’s actually the secret recipe of an autobiographical cookbook. A marriage between a Karnataka native and a Kolhapuri manoos has culminated into a culinary experience through Smita Deo’s cookbook, Karwar to Kolhapur via Mumbai. When Smita Deo married filmmaker Abhinay Deo, son of veteran actors Ramesh and Seema Deo, family ties were woven by the threads of two contrasting cuisines.

Linking food to fond memories, she retraces her culinary journey from childhood to courtship and finally marriage. The book is an ode to those who have etched a lasting impression on her and inspired her to create magic in the kitchen. “I’ve loved cooking since I was 13. Over the years, I have accumulated a plethora of recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, be it from my mom’s side or my in-laws. One of the reasons I wanted to write this book is because I didn’t want these recipes to die with me but to be passed down to younger generations,” says Deo.

Karwar to Kolhapur via Mumbai is not your mundane cookbook filled with recipes, but infused with anecdotes born out of living in three different cities. “This book has traditional recipes from Karwar where I belong from. Kolhapur, where my husband Abhinay comes from and Mumbai, the city where we fell in love,” smiles Deo. In an attempt “to make the reader relive the experience I went through while growing up.” Deo has incorporated, along with pictorial representations of the proposed dishes, images of the paddy fields, mountains and the beaches of Aversa. She offers not just a culinary journey down the coastal region of Karnataka but a peek into the culture as well. From the traditional Kolhapuri Pandra Rassa to the recipe of a special meal prepared in a small temple to celebrate the Nopi festival, Deo has penned down authentic recipes in a bid to revive a cultural essence that is often forgotten.

IMG_2526The book, which was launched in Mumbai in April is set to be released on July 30 in Pune (Crossword, Aundh), has already won rave reviews from the culinary circle. “It was a great honour for me when Chef Satish Arora from the Taj (Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai) told me that he found the book interesting and different, it prompted him to do a Karwar festival in Dubai. It also inspired Chef Ashish Bhasin from the Trident to conduct a Karwar festival in September,” adds Deo. Deepti Kasbekar, editor of the cookbook, who also assisted Deo on creating intriguing collection of recipes says, “What started off as a book has turned in food festivals, web series and will soon be seen as an upcoming television series.”

But it was not just Kasbekar who probed her into sharing her passion with others. Dr Vishal Sawant, a Mumbai-based psychiatrist who has written the foreword in the back, has played an integral part in planting the seed of a cookbook in Deo’s head. In a chat with Pune 365, Deo went on to explain how after living with an incapacitating mood disorder for nine years, her love for cooking acted as a shield. “Dr Sawant helped me rediscover my passion for food. Being a foodie himself, he would encourage me to bring him some of my dishes. This built my confidence further and the idea of writing a cookbook came about,” explains Deo.

On being asked if we will get to see another book authored by Deo, pat comes the reply, “As soon as I am done with promotions for Karwar to Kolhapur via Mumbai, I will start writing my second book which will be called ‘When the Doorbell Rings’. It’s about when you have unexpected guests, how do you prepare a quick fix, be it your child’s friends or a pleasant surprise from your in-laws.”

Zeenat Tinwala

Zeenat Tinwala

She’s our Employee #1 and is often the first to come in and last to leave office. And she’s an accomplished kickboxer. Stay clear!
Zeenat Tinwala