Food, the ultimate connector

sanjoo malhorta

Food, the ultimate connector

Far from his native India, Sanjoo Malhotra found himself turning to cooking. At first, his goal was just to make simple meals in his Stockholm University dormitory. But with time, he started to get more and more experimental by mixing Swedish and Indian ingredients. With pleasant smells radiating from the kitchen, he found himself attracting a whole new set of friends. Sanjoo had discovered the power of food.

Traced by:
Afton Halloran

When Sanjoo first came to Sweden over 20 years ago, there were few Indians living in Stockholm. In fact, few Swedes were very familiar with the country at all. Sanjoo saw the opportunity to connect the two nations by becoming a bridge builder for cross-cultural partnerships in business, culture and people-to-people contacts through his platform, India Unlimited.

After the 2003 launch of the New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto, Sanjoo couldn’t help but noticed how well the Nordic region was able to brand itself through food. The transition from culinary zero to international hero got him thinking about how he might implement the Nordic model back in his native India. After all, India was already rich with regional food culture and traditions.

Sanjoo Malhorta got down to work and started teaching Indian cooking classes, leading Swedes on culinary trips around India and acting as a quality food and drink hunter for Finnair and Helsinki Airport’s Quality Hunting Programme. Inspired by the low-meat diet that is common throughout India, Sanjoo convinced Finnair to introduce vegetarian cuisine on all of their long-haul flights.

A change meeting

Then, in 2015, Sanjoo met Indian food journalist Sourish Bhattacharyya. Together they made a pact to set up a forum that would celebrate Indian gastronomy and promote sustainable food culture.

Now in its third year, the Tasting India Symposium has become an advocacy initiative, creating the first ever cross-sectional dialogue and 360-degree view of food in India. The symposium promotes a global dialogue on India's gastronomic heritage and culinary tourism potential, the country's agricultural wealth and diversity, farm-to-fork innovations, food tech, smart food cities and sustainable food culture in India. From food safety to food sustainability, the Symposium also draws on knowledge and inspiration from the Nordics.