Shaken, Stirred And Satiated

For whatever you make of this slew of cookbooks by Michelin starred chef Vikas Khanna, the truth is that they sell. And they sell because they work! Whether it is the invaluable affability his persona adds to the product or the fact that Indians are ready to try world cuisine, publishers are happy to collaborate with him!

After global foods cooked as kitchen meals in his NYC eatery, Junoon, he is back with a DK Books Publication – Shaken & Stirred. Just in time for season, here is a book that has not a 100 but a 101 recipes for virgin beverages or mocktails.

I ought to have admitted at the onset, I have had a deep association with the production of this book, which adds to the perspective and the biggest point to note is that each drink is unique and has an individual personality. Ingredients, albeit expensive at times, are not hard to find or source and the creative process (for Chef Khanna) seems to stem from his own childhood experiences and largely by his travels too.

One of the most wholesome drinks in this book, the Green Machine gives the body the energy  to keep it going the whole day. The code word for this juice is '5 Gs' because of the five greens used in it.
One of the most wholesome drinks in this book, the Green Machine gives the body the energy to keep it going the whole day. The code word for this juice is ‘5 Gs’ because of the five greens used in it.

Chef Khanna’s love for vintage knick knacks and picking up ingredients he falls in love with when he travels are central to this book. Each drink is beautifully presented with easy methods and apart from a few, fairly simple tools and techniques too. Carefully photographed, hard bound and neatly printed, this book makes for a great addition to bar table books. If you don’t stock bar books, start with this!

Given his standing in the community, it is no surprise that a few of the drinks involve a bit of chemistry and a bit of innovation which ought to be considered an honourable challenge, especially if you consider yourself an aspiring or able mixologist. Take the Smoked Yogurt with Dragon Fruit, for instance, where the Chef teaches you how to add a coal smoked flavour to the yogurt or the unfortunately infamous Butter Tea, served with a fennel flavour!

The book is full of surprise flavour combinations and sweet-salty-sour-spicy balances, most of which are perfect for summer. However, Chef Khanna has considered seasons too; from the 10 sections which span from ‘Refresh’ to ‘Chill’ and ‘Inspire’, you will find warming potions like Star Anise Coffee and Saffron Rose Tea, ingredients that warm the body and the soul.

The pitch for the book is clearly – ‘healthy’, a tag that isn’t always taken seriously but in this case, by virtue of a ‘mocktail’ status, every recipe is actually a revitalize or booster of sorts. So if you like to play it up at the bar, liquor only makes it easy – take a leap of faith and serve only mocktails at your next party or use the book for a detox session. Either way it is likely to be delicious

Parul Pratap Shirazi

Parul is a trained Chef, professional food stylist, cook, food blogger and social media strategist. She loves grapes in her salad.