The Times Temple Food Trail #Bharatkazaika
The Times Temple Food Trail was a unique and memorable travel platform for me. My latest mantra of life is to travel as much as I can as I believe that experiences give us lasting joy while material things do not. I am going to travel coz ”if not now, when?”, as one of my friend keeps chanting.
The Times group had started these Times Passion Trails which cater to everyone’s pet passions. Times Passion Trails are tailor-made, experimental and informative trails, where ardent travellers embark on theme-focused trails led by an Experience Architect and this was the first The Times Temple Food Trail.
Flavours of Your Passion
As I had come across the latest Times Temple Food trail, I registered just within a few hours of the closing time. What enticed me was their byline-“Taste the flavours of your passion.” Being a food blogger I jumped at this opportunity. Temples always fascinate me and food, of course, is close to my heart. It was sold as a fascinating ‘food for the soul’ journey, covering places like Delhi, Mathura, Vrindavan, Jaipur and Nathdwara. With a peek into the ‘Kitchen of the Gods’ and find out how divine food is prepared inside intriguing temples of India like Jagannath and Govind Devji Temple and the promise of discovering an ‘Inner God’ by the end of the trail.
Dr Pushpesh Pant- Food Historian
The curator for our trail was Dr Pushpesh Pant, an acclaimed Food Historian, a Scholar from Banaras Hindu University and a storehouse of information on Temples in India! He is also a Padma Shri awardee. He was a walking talking encyclopedia and spoke about the temples and the foods with such ease. We were all ears and tried to soak in as much as we could.
Those passionate about food often say it is a path that leads to the divinity of the body and soul. Maybe that’s why food has always been an integral part of every ritual. The Krishna Ras Trail we followed explored various godly meals. Food is a great unifying factor as it energizes our mind and soul. It is said that eating together while sitting cross-legged on the floor reduces people’s perceptions of inequality based on race, gender, or socioeconomic background.
The Temple Food Trail -Spiritual Foodies
Some religions claim that God dwells within you when you eat certain foods. Bhog or Prasadam has always been a special part in the Hindu rituals in India. With the plethora of gods and goddesses in India, there are a huge number of food varieties that are cooked and offered in Indian Temples. This trail followed foods in the Krishna temples only. We were a motley group of 30, who considered ourselves as spiritual foodies!
Jagannath Temple Delhi
Jagannath Temple, New Delhi
We started out with a grand launch at the basement of Jagannath Temple, Hauz Khas, New Delhi. We were served a unique appetizer in clay cups. It was a flavoured tea with galangal, pepper and other herbs which tickled the palate. There was a classical singer, singing paeans to Lord Krishna and then the ceremonial lamp was lit by Mr Raj Jain, CEO, Times Group, Pushpesh Pant & Mr Pradhan.
We went up to the temple for the ceremonial evening aarti and the Chappan Bhog was arranged all around the deity. After the bhog, we were led to the dining hall to partake the prasad. Chappan Bhog is the 56 food items offered to Lord Jagannath in the holy Temple of Puri, located in Odisha, India. It is also known as Mahaprasad. We were in Delhi and the cooks were flown in especially from Puri to serve us this divine meal. And we were told that instead of just 56 varieties we were going to be served a mindboggling 81! My jaw just dropped at this smorgasbord spread for us which was ambrosial, to put it mildly.
The Temple Food Trail -Food for the Soul
The Chappan Bhog includes unusual items like rice, ghee rice, mixed rice, cumin seed and asafoetida- rice mixed with salt, dishes like sweet dal, plain dal mixed with vegetables, mixed curries of different types, Saaga Bhaja, Khatta, porridge etc. Dry confectioneries were prepared with sugar, gur, wheat flour, ghee, milk and paneer. It is said that every day 56 types of Prasad are offered to the Lord during the time of worship and all of these are prepared in the kitchens of the temple and sold to the devotees.
The Mahaprasad is cooked only in earthen pots and the fuel has to be firewood only. I was awestruck at the food which was served to us on plantain leaves. My tummy was full just looking at the tantalizing spread and taking in the exotic aroma. Mind you there is no use of garlic, ginger, onion, or tomato, like most Indian curries yet the food tasted awesome.
Chappan Bhog on a Plantain Leaf
I was waiting to be served all the dishes before partaking this gourmet spread as I wanted to see how my heaped plate looked. I kept counting till 50 and then lost count as the food was being served fast and I was also watching the others excitedly relishing the delicious Prasad. It was difficult to eat so much food but I tried to savour every morsel I had and each tasted delectable. I wish I had more time to analyse each item and guess what went into it.
Finally, after this once in a lifetime experience, our more than satiated group flopped into their comfortable beds back at the TOI guest house. Well needed rest before the adventure of the next day at Mathura.
This Post is written under my Food Travels for #BlogBoosterIndia #BharatKaZaika