Food has always held a special place in human culture, transcending mere sustenance to become a form of art and a symbol of identity. Similarly, the world of cinema has a remarkable ability to capture the essence of different cultures and traditions, including their unique culinary offerings. From savoury delights to sweet temptations, regional cuisines in films have played a pivotal role in enhancing storytelling and creating immersive experiences for audiences around the globe. Let's embark on a short but delectable journey through memorable portrayals of regional cuisines in movies.
Set in Delhi, "Band Baja Baraat" (2010) formally included the famous go-to snack for millions in Delhi and other parts of northern India–the bread pakora. The snack is traced back to the 1920s when bread turned into a widely affordable commodity. It is prepared by frying slices of bread in spiced batter made of chickpea flour seasoned with coriander, turmeric, cumin and chillies.
The pakora can also have stuffing of mashed potatoes or slices of paneer. It is usually served with a chutney made of mint, tamarind, and ketchup. An easy-to-prepare and filling snack, the bread pakora is enjoyed thoroughly as a morning and evening snack with tea and coffee.
The film, "Kumbalangi Nights" (2019), is based on the eponymous island city of Kumbalangi situated on the outskirts of Kochi in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. The island is famous as the first eco-tourism village in India. The film introduces the dish Karimeen curry (fish curry) made in Kumbalangi style with a touch of local deliciousness.
Travellers can expect to find tranquil homestays in the lap of rich and exotic flora and fauna. Surrounded by backwaters, the island is home to an array of prawns, crabs, oysters and small fish. Tourists can enjoy bait-fishing in the mangroves. Kalagramam, an artists’ village, is one of the major attractions in the area and showcases handicrafts and fishing equipment. Travellers can get an authentic slice of the village lifestyle and savour the ethnic seafood cuisine here.
The film "Angamaly Diaries" (2017) revolves all around food. It establishes human connections which are founded on various dishes. A special mention in the movie is the delicious muttakappa–mashed tapioca with eggs. Travellers in the suburbs of Kochi can visit the humble thattukada (local food joints) and enjoy the simple and quick-to-prepare dish of muttakappa. A certain exotic change in the food spectrum is always welcome anyway; as the film director, Lijo, says, “We eat when we are happy, sad and bored.” On another note, the film also talks about a special python curry which is of doubtful veracity, but interested readers may inquire into it.
Yet another film that sees human relations through the prism of food is "Un Samayal Arayil" (2014). The film’s English title is Ulavacharu Biryani, which introduces the eccentric biryani dish roughly translated as the Horse Gram biryani.
It is a traditional and authentic recipe prepared with cooked gram horse water, vegetables and exotic biryani spices. Famous in Andhra Pradesh, the secret and essential element of the dish is curry leaves. A notable enthusiast of ulavacharu biryani is Dalquer Salman, the protagonist of another food-centric film, "Ustaad Hotel" 2012.