Sharanya is a writer and editor from and currently in New Delhi, India. She writes about food, language, the commodification of culture and is currently writing more essays. Her work has been published in VICE, Eater, Vittles London, Atlas Obscura, Wasafiri, Longreads, Roads and Kingdoms, FiftyTwo, The Believer and The Baffler among others. She is also an editor at Mangal Media, a collective of writers and artists from outside Western Europe and North America. In October 2020, she won the Wasafiri new writing prize for her essay "Seamless". In 2021, she was a resident at the Serendipity Arts Foundation. She is presently in the 2022 class of fellows at South Asia Speaks.
Indian Biscuits: 1947-2022
Vittles, May 2022
The appeal was that, unlike most traditional luxuries – like sweets made from ghee and sugar, which were gatekept by dominant-caste communities – capitalist goods did not discriminate on traditional grounds; they could exist and be purchased by people across caste, class and gender. Little Hearts promised an aspirational culture, but they also promised liberation – eating a packet of them made for free-footed emancipation from any parental and societal rules, even if fleeting.
Songs of Survival (Part 1 of this essay series can be accessed here)
Whetstone, May, 2022
The oft-uttered, true cliché about the Indian subcontinent being a place of astounding, unfathomable diversity, and the parable that its lands hold lives stacked against one another in brutal hierarchy, does not only present itself in Rajasthan but perhaps derives from it. But nation-states do not consider desert communities as holders of knowledge. The bigotry established within ruling castes about nomadic, marginalised caste populations in Rajasthan has spilled over to legislation and governance. They have been deemed undeserving of attention and assistance, and devoid of legitimate perspective on how to govern themselves.
The Ghost Crop of Goa
Orion, September 2021
"In the months tracing Korgut, my quest for it never ended at a grand encounter with the rice itself. It did not present itself in a shimmering plate at an upscale restaurant. No giddy revelations were made about how the grain tasted or looked. I had gone into my search looking for a novelty product; as someone from the city, I found it hard to remove my impulse to chase biodiversity through taste-centric gastronomy. But my search led me to parts of Goa that I would not have been able to see if not for Korgut. With every question I asked about it, small bits of history emerged—heirloom yams soaked in water to avoid poisoning, small fish cultivated outside one’s door. Around Korgut, an astounding array of ecosystems presented themselves, speaking for the region they are from."
Wasafiri Magazine, March 2021
"Everywhere I went, I witnessed women who had stolen themselves away from their bodies to be able to preserve a part of themselves; I saw how they stored themselves in dreams, in art, in their children, in large cooked meals, in faith and poetry and errands they conducted in the memory of those that came before them. I have seen women step outside their bodies and escape wounds that trigger trauma, I have seen them sweep over instances where desire and danger existed in the same moment, and are remembered in the same breath. Who do our bodies belong to? Are they are own? And if they are not, how do we fight anything that is to come?"
All too much: an ode to the Tandoori momo
Vittles, June 2021
"I cannot hold the same criticisms of the tandoori momo because I grew up eating everything that was an in-between food. To me, the tandoori momo doesn’t exist despite its widely discussed flaws, but more so because of them. It persists because of the spectacle that involves shit-talking teenagers that converge around it every day; the compulsion to ask for double cream (it is here where I draw the line); and the fact that in Delhi, anything that lives on the brink of being a terrible decision is an integral part of culture, food or otherwise."