28 Jul Breaking Bread with Ruchira Bose
You know food is the center of your life when you return from Europe – bags bursting not with designer bags and shoes but with flour, chilly garlic oil, buckwheat honey and more culinary ingredients!
For Ruchira Bose, our newest Home Culinaire, travel and food are the ying and yang, perfectly completing and complementing each other. As the Editor for Travel + Leisure, she travels the world bringing back food experiences and very often also the ingredients to recreate the same. We met Ruchira recently as she was unpacking from her Amsterdam trip. Combining Buckwheat honey bought from this trip and Mahua flowers flown in from Madhya Pradesh, Ruchira proceeded to bake mini Bundt cakes for us, all this as she told us about her childhood tryst with food and destiny.
Her entry into the kitchen was quite early as she used to follow her Grandmother all around the house. “Dida, as I used to call her lovingly, made the best Crème Brûlée and my job was to beat the eggs, milk and sugar. All my childhood games were also around food. Dida used to make me a picnic potli, fill it with food and put it in the end of a long stick just like they show in movies.” and little Ruchira would run to their backyard for an impromptu picnic under a hibiscus tree.
At the tender age of 4, Ruchira moved to Libya and spent few years there, returning back to India and relocating again to Hong Kong. Writing was an early passion and even in grade 8, Ruchira was focused on making a career in a magazine. In college, she was in the first batch of LSR’s journalism course, moving to Paris after that to study photography, as she wanted to combine photojournalism with her writing. Once again back in India, she joined Femina and as years passed by, she moved to Singapore and started her own venture in luxury e-commerce. Ruchira managed that for 4 years and then decided to shut it and take a break for 7-8 months.
This break was the providential turning point in her life. In this break Ruchira went to New Zealand to meet her aunt, who happened to be a whiz with baking. The kitchen at her aunt’s home had an inexorable sway over her. “I used to cook everyday, went to the farmers market, learnt to make cheese. And then I got one of the best present of my life – my aunt and her husband gifted me 1-day bread making course in NZ School of Food and Wine”, she tells us while carefully adding Mahua flowers to the batter, her eyes gleaming with joy while narrating the day to us.
‘It was the first time I worked in a professional kitchen and for the first time, I actually understood the basics. We did seven breads in a day and it was very intense since we did everything using our hands. Such was the euphoria that I went through the entire day without a sip of water and a bite. Once I came back to India, I realized that food is something that I want to work with and this led to my blog thelittleroti.com, where I document all my recipe’. Through “Little Roti”, Ruchira got her first big order for Diwali and the journey hasn’t stopped since, with a lot of help from friends and family.
As the cake slides into the oven, Ruchira lets us know that baking is an inspiration from her aunt, just like cooking is from her Dida. A recent focus area for Ruchira is baking bread from scratch, which she finds a scientific, mathematical and poetic experience – all rolled into one, or shall we say all baked together into a perfect loaf. A perfect loaf, baked the right way, is Ruchira’s current obsession – the right texture, velvety sheen between the holes and just enough fluffiness.
‘While breads are a nothing less than devotion to me, I love doing little presentations with my food’ and we could see this come together as Ruchira prepared a food tower; with oven roasted balsamic tomatoes and bell peppers along with chilly garlic olive oil she prepared with chillies from Peru, cheese from Amsterdam, coconut with green chillies and cream cheese, Babaganoush. This was accompanied by a Japanese sweet milk bread and a sour dough bread she started 4 days ago with chicken curry and French style lentils. It is safe to say that for the first time we were seeing such amalgamation of international flavours in an Indian home.
Given such fastidious attention to the quality of ingredients, it is no surprise that Ruchira makes it a point to bring back as much unadulterated produce as she can from her overseas travels. When asked about customs having an issue, she jokingly said they have a problem with people coming back with 55 inch LED TVs and not bags of flour.
Ruchira cooks and bakes more than she can eat and it’s a treat for the office since she takes everything there on Monday. Talk about Monday blues vanishing by 11 am along with all the goodies eagerly awaited and promptly polished.
As our discussion veers around to her office responsibilities, the Buckwheat and Mahua Bundt cake has done its time in the oven. The warm cake gets a generous drizzle of orange flavoured caramel and all our plans to stay calm and detached crumble, much like the cake that we tuck into without much bidding. The flavors in the cake are unusual and intriguing with notes from around the world – good to experience and hard to describe.
Has it ever struck you that the world is as round as a plate. And then there is Ruchira who puts the world on a plate.
Pass me the cake please!