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Purvaiya--- the aromatic breeze from Bihar

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A long, long time ago, there were jute mills in West Bengal. And, in those mills, the labourers were the migrated communities from Bihar, the neighbouring state. They brought a bit of their culture and a lot of their food in their own ‘promised land’. As they worked and lived in Bengal, they adopted the food habits of their new settlement and adapted to its living as well. But they did not forget the food of their motherland. They ate the simple meals at home and spread the flavours around. The merge and the mix were somewhat inevitable.
This simplistic deconstruction doesn’t really shed light on the plight of the jute mills workers when gradually the mills shut down one by one but it does one thing… point out how, with time, the food of the two cultures grew close. Yes, the foods of Bihar and Bengal have much more similarities than one might be aware of, but as I tucked into the Litti and Baingan ka chokha at the Bihari Food Festival called Purvaiya in Holiday Inn Mayur Vihar two days…

On a Delectable Trip at Orza

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There is a saying in my house that goes like this. “You don’t have to flavour mutton. Because, it has an intrinsic taste of its own.” So, in my Bengali kitchen, we cook mutton in the most simple and straightforward way. With the essential onions, garlic, ginger, yoghurt, turmeric and chillies. And we top it off with a sprinkle of home-crushed garam masala.
Hence, when I eat different variants of mutton or lamb at eateries, I try to figure out how different each dish is and how uniquely they have tempered the meat. At Orza this Monday, I ate a Kandhari mutton that was tangy yet subtle, the redness of the gravy more from the tomato slush than dried red chillies. The Awadhi dish might have been a tad too sour for my liking, but I must mention that it was very different from what I had of the animal protein so far in life. The meat fell off the bone like molten butter and the umami aftertaste lasted long. Food is a subjective topic so maybe once the tanginess is checked a wee bit, I woul…

Purnam - A Success of Support

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An afternoon filled with thoughtful fashion. A happy buzz, a constant reminder about accepting sustainability as a fashion anthem. Honouring and appreciating indigenous art and aesthetics. That’s what it was at the 12th edition of Purnam’s Summer Festive 2018 exhibition held last week at The Ashok in the capital. As promised, the platform brought together a gamut of designers, craftspeople and artists offering the best of responsible fashion, food, art and craft to Delhi’s cognoscenti. There were exhibitors from Dubai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, as well as beautiful products created by indigenous artisans from Hissar and Varanasi. There are spectacular ikat creations by craft revivalist and textile doyen, Madhu Jain, artistic separates by fashion designers Sonam Dubal, Charu Parashar, Samant Chauhan, Rina Dhaka and Yasmin Kidwai. But the stunning weaves from small weavers in Banaras, Lucknow and Kolkata were the hotsellers.Present at the exhibition were artist Kanchan Chander, activis…

PURNAM --- The Path to Responsible Entrepreneurship

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Is there an alternative Delhi that loves subtle, slow and sustainable fashion? Actually, there is. There is a batch of sartorial cognoscenti and connoisseurs who passionately flaunt handwoven, handspun and handcrafted apparels. Be it separates or saris, this burgeoning tribe has taken to the organic fashion movement very seriously. Then, why is it that when I walk into any fashion and lifestyle exposition in the city, all that I witness are ornate, heavily embellished clothes far removed from slow or sustainable. In the garb of couture and wedding wear, most often than not there are designer creations that, I’m afraid, use synthetic fabrics and machine-crafted embroidery. And strangely, every single thing looks like the other. But there’s hope yet. For the last 12 years, there is one exposition that has been promoting responsible fashion, lifestyle and crafts. Purnam (this year the exhibition is on July 20th) has been an arena where Indian handloom, weaves and crafts have got a major f…

Sonar Baangla at Sonar Tori

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Sometimes I hear my father-in-law talking about his childhood. How he and his friends plucked ripe mangoes in a huge orchard in his ancestral village. How the taste of his grandmother’s duck egg curry has stayed on in his mouth. He wistfully recalls the times he crossed the Padma to reach his uncle’s home… the soft breeze of the evening lulling the boat in a gentle sway…
Nostalgia is a magical balm. We know that he will probably never he able to go back to his village of birth but when he tells these heart-warming stories to my five-year-old, I realise how the old man is deriving happiness by sharing these memories. The click at the end of his throat is overcome by the joy in his eye…
I wonder what would he say on tasting the Haasher Dimer Kosha at Sonar Tori? Would the tasty preparation match up to his grandmother’s… Would it again take him back to the languorous afternoons in Barishal, Bangladesh. Will he find the Maajhir Ilish Jhol as light and flavourful as he tasted on the boats wh…

A Smorgasbord of flavours at Milee Droog Cafe & Bistro

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All the action is in Russia at the moment. But would that take me to, leave alone Moscow, a city eatery to catch the game on the big screen amongst cheering fans and clanking beer mugs? I don’t think so. Then, what found me dining at Milee Droof (literally meaning My Dear Friend in Russian) Café and Bistro last evening?

My brother used to frequent Gorky Sadan whilst in high school. He had expressed a desire to pursue his higher studies in Moscow and wanted to learn the nitty gritty about scholarships for courses at college and universities there. While he was at it, I accompanied him on several occasions and discovered a chess club and often caught a regional film or two at the Sadan. That was many, many moons ago. Soon, the brother realized maybe the harsh clime of the country would interfere with his grades and relinquished the pursuit of both the Russian language and the scholarships. I did go back to catch some more films but then the visits dwindled.
That is why when I heard abo…