Michelin-lauded chef Vikas Khanna has spent the last eight years compiling recipes of foods served in some of India's holiest places. What he amassed was a gold mine of ancient culinary traditions, some so rare they only deserve to be told through a gilded, crystal-embellished tome.
Sacred Foods of India, Khanna's latest project, is a limited-edition book, of which only 250 copies have been made available. Each is a collectible and comes in a walnut and maple wooden box embedded with rare gemstones and Swarovski crystals.
Paper used for printing is acquired from "special sources" in Italy and is meant to last for generations, while the ink is sourced from Japan.
The price tag: $25,000.
For those who like their books even rarer, only two copies come in a pure sandalwood box, which requires official Indian government certifications, and are priced at $50,000 a piece.
Khanna, who runs Kinara at JA Lake View Hotel and Ellora at JA The Resort in Dubai, has partnered with "phygital" platform Akshaya.io for the launch. To coincide, the group has created NFTs of the books, which will be unique for each copy.
Akshaya.io helps users claim ownership of physical and digital assets with certified proof of authenticity in India.
"Sacred Foods of India is very dear to my heart and I wish this will be a prized possession for those who are interested in buying or investing into works of passion," Khanna said at the book's launch in Dubai on Thursday. "I welcome one and all to be a part of my journey, as I take a giant vault into the new age of internet."
A New York City resident, Khanna worked for many years at Junoon in Manhattan, which earned a Michelin star for six consecutive years from 2011. He has since written numerous books, starred as a judge on MasterChef India and directed documentary films.
He made his feature film directorial debut in 2020 with The Last Colour, based on the relationship between a young tightrope walker and a widow in the holy city of Varanasi.
At the height of the Covid-19 closures in 2020, Khanna was lauded for his Feed India campaign, which provided food for hundreds of thousands of Indian migrant workers left unemployed and destitute by the pandemic.