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Vikas Khanna’s ‘Utsav’ – The Cool Cookbook That You Can’t Have!The Obamas have it. So do the Pope and the Dalai Lama. And Queen Elizabeth too. As does Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan. But unless you’re world-famous or have loads of moolah you probably won’t get your hands on ‘Utsav’ – Vikas Khanna’s beautiful book of Indian celebrations and festivals. That’s because he’s made only 12 customized editions and over 12 years has presented it to some of the world’s movers and shakers.
What was the idea of presenting the book to global dignitaries?
“I wanted to do something totally different. We launched the book at Cannes Festival 2015 and then at Harvard University. We began presenting ‘Utsav’ to the global leaders who inspire us and are the greatest ambassadors-friends of India,” he says. The list included President Obama and vice President Biden, the Pope, Dalai Lama, Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon and Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg. From India it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bollywood icons Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Lata Mangeshkar.
The copy that he made for the late Steve Jobs was finally sold in auction for a whopping 3 million rupees. So is the book made of gold? It is indeed made of gold leaf and is probably the most expensive cookbook – the money raised went toward feeding 200,000 children through the Smile Foundation.
So what are the strengths of ‘Utsav’ and what can we learn from it?
Well, we did more than get a peek – here are some of the best images from the book which show what really needs to be celebrated about India – its many religions and its diversity, its humanity and its traditions. India has its difficulties but by and large India is a synonym for oneness and unity where many cultures and religions live – for the most – peacefully together.
In the book Khanna shares the varied religious spots and celebrations and the many dishes that Indians share on their big religious days. I remember how Hindu and Muslim friends would celebrate together on Diwali or Eid and the delicious tastes of mixed celebrations. Indian food is varied and wonderful, with each community sharing its own flavors and methods and dishes.
“We inherit festivals from our ancestors.
They define how we share, our history, ceremonies, rituals, celebrations and our civilizations,” writes Khanna.
Khanna, who is the chef at the Michelin rated Junoon Restaurant in New York and the celebrity host of the TV show MasterChef India, is on to ever more adventures. He is currently involved in the making of Buried Seeds, a documentary about his life by filmmaker Andrei Severny.
Since you can’t buy ‘Utsav’ yet – you can do the next best thing – cook without the cookbook! Vikas has graciously shared some of his best recipes and the photos with us in the accompanying post, so you can celebrate all the big Indian festivals at home with authentic regional dishes! Bon appetit!!
Celebrating the Festivals of India