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The Real Food Podcast


Fables at the table. If you have an adventurous palate, join Vikram Doctor every fortnight as he indulges in his appetite for the stories of food.

Fables at the table. If you have an adventurous palate, join Vikram Doctor every fortnight as he indulges in his appetite for the stories of food.
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Fables at the table. If you have an adventurous palate, join Vikram Doctor every fortnight as he indulges in his appetite for the stories of food.




#44: Is Chicken Just Non-Veg Paneer?

Chicken is easy to cook, cheap, widely available and forbidden by no major religious belief system. So its popularity across India is unsurprising. However, the reality is often distasteful, as battery farmed chickens are raised in terrible conditions, and pumped with hormones and antibiotics. In this episode of The Real Food Podcast, Vikram Doctor finds out how we can access better chicken and speaks to legendary chef Ananda Solomon on a successful experiment he ran to get superior...


#43: (Indian) Vegetarians vs. The World.

The winter holiday season is upon us. More Indians are travelling abroad with great regularity. As a lot of these people are vegetarians and it is difficult for them to find food that is suitable for them. Many travellers come up with ingenious ways to deal with the situation and a whole industry is developing to cater to their needs. In this episode Vikram Doctor sheds light on how vegetarians manage in places that are not particularly vegetarian friendly. Music Credit: Josh Woodward


#41: Gur - The Original Candy

Seen as old fashioned and rustic, jaggery is fast becoming a forgotten product. It survives mostly as a health food recommended by Ayurveda experts or as a nostalgic throwback to the yesteryears in middle class homes. In this episode, Vikram Doctor tells us about India’s long connection with jaggery in an attempt to revive our love for it. But the problem is not just the falling demand; even the production of jaggery has become increasingly difficult due to a lack of water and skilled...


#40: Cakes - From Birthday Parties to Political Parties

From giant customised cakes for politicians’ birthdays to wedding cakes for not just Christian weddings, logo shaped cakes to celebrate a team’s win to heart shaped cupcakes on Valentine’s Day, cakes once seen as ‘western’ have now become a norm at Indian celebrations. With eggless cakes, cakes that don’t need an oven and even cakes made using idli batter, adapting to local conditions has played a major role in this change. Music Credit: Josh Woodward


#39: Fighting the War on Waste with Leftovers

Creating something new out of what is in your fridge from previous days can be a fine art. With a little creativity in the kitchen, leftovers from last night’s dinner can be magically transformed into something delicious and unrecognisable the next day. In this episode Vikram Doctor speaks to chefs who have been creating iconic dishes from leftovers and argues that neither our prejudices nor our ability to afford not to should get in the way of recycling food, a delicate art that we might...


#38: The Billion Packs a Month Biscuit

Parle G is not only the largest selling biscuit in the world but is also synonymous with the category it represents. It is an affordable snack for the poorest, a weaning food for small babies and a dessert base for those looking for a nostalgia fix. Parle G was the unchallenged hero of the biscuit business and Britannia had to enlist the help of a super-villain to take on its might. In this episode of The Real Food Podcast, Vikram Doctor tells us the story of India’s most iconic biscuit...


#34: Great Coffee Made Easy

Does it seems too hard to get a perfect brew right at home? Is there too much technology and process involved in grinding and brewing? Matt Chitharanjan from Blue Tokai Brewing Company says, “The thing about coffee is that you can make it as simple or as complex as you want”. Join The Real Food Podcast as it talks about coffee trends and demystifies the intricate details of the perfect cup of coffee.


#33: Chivda — From the Shahs to the Queen

The British phone-hacking scandal that rocked the UK a few years back uncovered an unlikely (and highly delicious) detail — that Queen Elizabeth II was furious about the police on duty at her palace polishing off her favourite snack — the Bombay mix! Whether the ‘Bombay mix’ in the UK or ‘Slangetjies’ in South Africa or ‘Bhuja Mix’ in Australia —the modest chivda is truly global. In this episode Vikram Doctor on the chivda, which is a tea-time nibble for some and a source of sustenance on...


#31: Feast of the East (Indians)

Named after the East India Company, the Catholic community of East Indians are native to Mumbai and have guarded their recipes of bottle-masala for decades. These spice-mixes are a blend of a long list of ingredients, pounded and packed into old beer bottles and can conveniently create complex flavours with minimum fuss. Bottle Masala is also a way the East Indians created a distinction between their cuisine and those of other Christian communities across India. Real Food takes us into the...


#29: Papad - A circle that completes the square meal

When it comes to a simple home-cooked meal, nothing competes with dal and rice paired with the crunchy contrast of papad. Vikram Doctor traces the role this humble item plays in the meals of various Indian communities. He talks to writer Saaz Aggarwal about why it is the perfect food for cooking in the arid dessert of the Sindh. Radio personality Ashish Jagtiani (Jaggu) tells us why any Sindhi who doesn’t like papad will probabaly be excommunicated from the community. We then take a trip...


#28: 'Lal, Neelu and Pilu': The story of Swadeshi Sodas

Pepsi and Coke have the big billboards, but Thums Up is still one of India’s most popular brands. Vikram Doctor takes us back to 1916, when the Sodawaterwallas actually sold soda, talks to Bachi Karkaria about the soda-staples of the Parsi household, Abbas Hajoori about the fizzy Indian beverages his family has been concocting since 1923. An episode full of nostalgia via brands like Sosyo, Vimto, Ice-Cream soda and looking at a thriving ‘Indian flavoured’ soda trend that brings us...


#27: Who makes the best India Pale Ale? Not India.

We’ve got the hot, sunny weather for it, so why do commercial Indian beers leave you cold (and not in a good way)? Vikram Doctor rolls out the barrel and talks to pioneering microbrewers here in India about why ‘regular’ Indian beer is boring and tasteless and the ingredients that go into a truly great beer. Tracking the history of the India Pale Ale, he also talks to Pete Brown who recreated a typical pre-Indpendence journey of a barrel of beer from Southampton to Mumbai to Calcutta! But...


#25 Indians love butter, dahi, ghee and paneer; but are we finally learning to say cheese?

Despite our love for dairy products of all kinds, cheese wasn’t widely available or consumed in India. As our economy opened up in the 90s, we were able to get tins of processed cheese, though a majority of Indians continued to find the taste alienating. However with dishes like cheese dosas, cheese chilli toast, the ability to cook cheese is helping it achieve more mainstream acceptance. Vikram Doctor investigates how we are discovering a love for cheese in India. Music: Josh Woodward Pic...


#18 Undhiyu: The Indian Taste of Winter

If you live, or have lived, in Gujarat (or in certain parts of Mumbai), you can’t not know about Undhiyu. A regional speciality, this dish of mixed fresh vegetables cooked with green garlic and other spices, has an almost rustic charm to it. Just like the north Indian sarso da saag or the Bengali nolen gur, Undhiyu celebrates the bountiful produce that’s on offer during the Indian winter. It may not have travelled well, but it invokes passion among those who have grown up eating it, and...


#16 Special: Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik on Eating Habits in Ancient India

Understanding a large nation’s ancient culture is difficult, but a few habits, when traced to their origins, can help explain how we lived then. Food is one of them; from communal eating – the famed “thali” – to why we sometimes do not eat, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik throws light on the eating habits of ancient India. Taking us through the metaphors and recounting the myths, he decodes the philosophies that govern us, in some ways, till this day. The talk was delivered at the 2015 edition of...


#15 The Incredible Feasts of Incredible India

From weddings to festivals such as Diwali, Christmas and Pongal, the last few months of the year are a time for grand celebrations in India. And, food is an important component. What does the festive season say about how we cherish and celebrate food? We may be endeared to the idea of banquets serving multiple cuisines in resplendent avatars, but is it really a feast unless you have an Indian showstopper? From traditional festive delights and recipes unique to wedding banquets, to how food...


#14 Fasting (Upvas) Food: Innovations from the Devout Kitchen

Fasting is a big part of Indian culture, across religions. However for Hindus, fasting does not mean starving. Just as well, because according to the Bhavishya Purana, there are as many as 139 different fasts to be followed in a year. But, rather than not eating, it is actually a fertile ground for food innovation. This episode of The Real Food Podcast finds out how fasting has helped us rediscover ingredients such as rajgira (amaranth), lotus seeds and yam; foods that may have otherwise...


#13 Organic Farming: Moving Forward by Going Back

With the Farmer’s Market opening for another season in Mumbai, Vikram Doctor revisits the organic food argument. How does organic farming stack up against organised agriculture? Often discourse is limited to just health benefits, but from unique produce to rich, authentic flavours, there are several reasons to go organic. This episode examines the world of organic farming and discusses how nature is often the best creator of tastes and flavours. Music: Josh Woodward


#11 Idlis & Innovation: How Technology Helped This Regional Favourite go Mainstream

Idli is considered to be a simple food item. But, from choosing the right dal (lentil) and grinding it to the perfect consistency to ensuring that the batter ferments right, the process is complex and laborious. This is why you’d have been hard-pressed to find this versatile and healthy preparation outside south Indian kitchens during the ’60s or ’70s. So, what changed? Tune in, as Vikram Doctor finds out how a piece of technology helped idli cross geographical boundaries and become an...


#10 Preserving the Pickle

Indian pickles are a complicated lot. Made using oil, often with family (let alone region or community) specific recipes, our pickles are a stark contrast to the vinegar and brine-based Western ones. The variety is just mindboggling – from carrots to cauliflower, ginger to garlic and even potatoes and dates, besides the widely loved lemons and mangoes, everything can be pickled. They hold cultural as well as culinary significance. But as convenience is crucial and more pickles are...