Pushpesh Pant is a scholar, academician, professor, historian, and food critic who has taught in leading universities for more than 4 decades and written cookbooks along with articles for various major publications like Forbes, Open, Outlook, Times of India and The Tribune.
Pushpesh Pant was born in 1947 (aged 75 years; as of 2022) in Nainital, Uttarakhand, India. He completed his education in Delhi and Agra. After that, he started teaching and taught at Delhi University before retiring as a professor of International Relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.
Parents & Siblings
His father was a doctor and his mother was a homemaker who was also a polymath and brilliant cook with knowledge of dishes of many states of India.
Wife & Children
Not much is known about his family however he has a son who also has an interest in food.
British historian Edward Anderson’s Idli tweet
British historian Edward Anderson once replied to a question and said that Idlis are the most boring things in the world. Many Indians were angered by his statement and replied to him. Pushpesh Pant said in an interview with PTI,
“I think idli is a beautiful and perfectly balanced food. It has lentils, it has rice and it gives you a very interesting mix of vegetable proteins. It is a steamed food, it doesn’t take too much oil to make, also it is easy to digest. “The batter you prepare to make idli on the first day can be used to make idli which is the softest, second day you make dosas which are slightly less fluffy, third day you use it for uttapam, so this cycle continues.”
Audrey Truschke’s tweet about Ramayana
When historian Audrey Truschke tweeted vile remarks about Hindu God Rama and Ramayana, Pushpesh Pant wrote in an article,
“I am an atheist, a beef-eating Indian Hindu, with a reasonably thick skin – not easily offended by the vilest of abuses heaped on Bhagwan Ram and Sita Mata. But how long can one remain silent when provoked repeatedly by self promoting pretentious scholars – Indians or ‘foreigners’?”
He was awarded Padma Shri by then-president Pranab Mukherjee
— President Mukherjee (@POI13) March 28, 2016
Books Written by Pushpesh Pant
- Food Path: Cuisine Along the Grand Trunk Road from Kabul to Kolkata (co-writer: Huma Mohsin)
- The Indian Vegetarian Cookbook
- Victory Mantra: The Leader’s Path to Success
- Ajanta and Ellora: Cave Temples of Ancient India
- Cuisines? Incredible India
- Gourmet Journeys in India
- Classic Cooking Of The Punjab (co-writer: Jiggs Kalra)
- International Relations in the 21st Century
- According to Pant, food is an integral part of one’s life and those who are serious towards their food, are serious towards their life. In an interview, he told a story and said,
“The great musician Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was invited to sing somewhere. His hosts, however, were vegetarian and for three days he was made to eat vegetarian food. When the time came to perform, he did sing, but not in such a way as to thrill anybody. Afterwards, his hosts came up to him and said, ‘Ustadji, we had heard such great things about the power of your voice. That sometimes you sit by the sea to practise your alaap and you drown out even the roaring of the waves. Then what happened today?’ The Ustad paused for a moment and then replied, ‘Ey khaana toh ey gaana (For food like this, music like this).”
- Atul Kochhar, the Indian Michelin-star chef who works in Benares restaurant in London, regards Pushpesh Pant as a huge hero and said that he brought the facts and theories of old India and its food to his generation of chefs.
- He set up the menu of the Aangan, the Indian speciality restaurant, at Hyatt Regency, Bhikaji Cama Place along with his friend and renowned chef, Jiggs Kalra in the 1990s. He said in an interview,
“My association with Jiggs started because he knew his research wasn’t very sound. So he wanted to have someone whose researching skills would be beyond reproach. He made me work as hard as I did for my Ph.D. We used to go out on field trips, there was lots of archival research, lots of reverse engineering…It was not only about deciding menus and recipes, but also sourcing ingredients, sourcing karigars and ensuring that the hotel can consistently deliver those recipes of the same standard.”
- His father was very fond of paan.
- He has featured in many episodes of a TV series, Raja, Rasoi Aur Anya Kahaniyaan, which documents the history of dishes of India. The show highlighted the royal culinary traditions of India.
- He has given many classes about arts, culture and international relations to BYJU’s IAS aspirants.