Holi: Cinnamon Club’s Vivek Singh on India’s favourite festival
Holi: Cinnamon Club’s Vivek Singh on India’s favourite festival
Few celebrations capture India’s vibrancy so well as Holi. The so-called festival of colours features in countless tourism campaigns, and has been evoked by advertisers and artists the world over as an expression of exuberance and joy.
An ancient Hindu religious festival , Holi takes place on 20 and 21 March this year, and signifies not only the arrival of spring and end of winter but also the victory of good over evil.
For Vivek Singh, one of Britain’s most celebrated Indian chefs, the festival encapsulates all things fun – which is why he is bringing back the popular House of Holi event at his Cinnamon Kitchen restaurant in London’s Devonshire Square for a fifth consecutive year.
The Week Portfolio caught up with Singh to discuss how the changing of the seasons brings fresh flavours to his menus, and why Holi is his favourite holiday. Holi traditionally marks the start of spring and symbolises light and renewal. What does the festival mean to you?
Holi is a festival unlike anything anywhere else in the world, and for that matter it’s pretty unique from an Indian perspective too – there are no sacrifices or fasting involved, no elaborate processes, instead it’s just straight fun, a festival where good food and good friends are celebrated. Holi festival is a breath of fresh air for a hierarchical society like India, where the day to day is dictated by traditions, rituals and rules about not doing things in certain ways.
This festival bridges social gaps and brings everyone together as people ‘play Holi’ by chasing each other through the streets with coloured powdered paints; young and old, men and women, teachers and students, it’s all about letting your hair down and having fun with no rules involved. As a child, this was probably my favourite festival, partly because it was a public holiday so everyone had the day off – the entire community, about 300 families, would play Holi together in this massive playground in front of the houses – it was just tons of fun. With the arrival of spring come new ingredients. How will your menus be changing for spring and summer this year?
Our menus have evolved a lot over the years, I know see the seasonal changes as more of a cycle, with an emphasis on the ingredients which we’ll be able to get fresh for each particular season. I’m excited to introduce a couple of new cold chaats as summer creeps in, and also look forward to seeing ingredients like strawberries and asparagus come into season and grace our menus. You often appear on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. How has television changed the role of the chef in your view?
TV has been phenomenal in really drumming up public interest in food and creating an insatiable appetite for it. There is so much public demand now that we’re even seeing podcasts dedicated to food popping up, and there’s been quite the explosion on social media too.
I’d say especially in the last fifteen years or so, I’ve watched TV go so much beyond just pure entertainment, instead acting as a platform for established and emerging chefs, not just restricted to fine dining but documenting street food too.
We’ve gone from one or two cookery programmes a day to an almost constant flow – evidence of the demand for it. I do however want to note that there is a marked difference between the life of a chef as seen on TV, and that in reality – you get a snapshot of the lifestyle, there is a lot more hard work, failure and perseverance involved. How has Indian cuisine in Britain changed in the time you have been working here?
I do think the perception of Indian cuisine has changed drastically in the UK in the past 20 years, in that it is viewed much more favourably nowadays. Of course, there was the demand before, but great quality ingredients have really elevated it to new levels, with real freshness, innovation and fusion coming to the fore. There are chefs doing exciting new things through refinement and fusion with other cuisines, without losing those core flavours. You frequently collaborate with other chefs, including Mark Hix, Adam Handling and Jose Pizarro. How have they (and others) impacted the way you cook?
For me, impact has materialised in many more ways than one – no self-respecting chef simply copies others’ dishes. It is about bouncing ideas off others who inspire you and picking up techniques as you go along.
It’s always been a highly collaborative process with any of the chefs I’ve worked with in the past – the time I’ve spent with each of them has acted as a spring board for new ideas.
I’m continually surprised by the things I discover when working with other chefs. For example, I thought it was inspired what Peter Gordon did by pairing tapioca pearls with miso; they looked just like caviar. I tried something similar with the pearls and added lime syrup, following this. Then when I worked with Mark Hix, he created this sumptuous collar curry, something I wouldn’t have thought of, but it was truly divine! Which young and emerging chefs do you find most inspiring today?
I don’t want to focus too much on the word ‘young’ in this instance, as it can mean various things, for example you could be making it at 24 and have started at 16, whilst others are just finding their passion at 60 but equally inspirational.
As for ‘emerging’, I’d definitely say Will Bowlby who I admire for his ethos and hard work building Kricket up, Ravinder Bhogal for the expression of her mixed heritage and culture at Jikoni, and the sheer power of Asma Khan. They’ve all done wonders for the Indian food scene. And what have been some of your most memorable and exciting recent dining experiences?
I want to highlight two memorable meals I’ve had in the past couple of months – they sit at completely ends of the spectrum, which I feel is testament to the beauty of eating out in London!
First up, my meal at Core – I was completely mesmerised by the free-flowing energy in the room, the attention to detail, presentation, right down to the flavours on the plate. Clare Smyth does this beautiful dish with potatoes and trout roe; the potatoes must have been confited for hours, add to this a seaweedy, salty beurre blanc that tastes of the sea, and then the trout roe – truly stunning and a dish that ties nicely back in with her Northern Irish roots.
Then most recently, Richard Vines and I popped to CoCo Ichibanya in December as it opened its doors – I’d never come across curry like that, especially the cheese curry; really interesting what they are doing there. The Cinnamon Collection has been an incredible success by any standard. What is next for the group and how far would you like to expand it?
For now, I’m focusing on the present – we’ve had three openings in three years with Cinnamon Bazaar in Covent Garden, Cinnamon Kitchen Oxford and most recently, Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea. The locations of the latter two in particular might not have seemed the obvious commercial choice – within Oxford’s Westgate, and out in Battersea Power Station when the development was first starting out, but they are iconic locations that we hope will stand the test of time. When the mist clears in 2019, we may have another opening on the horizon! And finally, forgive this slightly grander more sweeping question, but looking ahead to the distant future – when many more Holi festivals have come and gone – what would you ultimately like your legacy to be?
I’d just really love to see the friends who’ve supported me and whom I’ve helped along the way continue to shine and grow, as well as be the very best version of myself.
Cinnamon Kitchen’s House of Holi event, which offers guests the chance to throw paint at one another in a purpose-built “party pod”, runs from Wednesday 6 to Thursday 21 March. To book visit cinnamon-kitchen.com You are here: Holi: Cinnamon Club’s Vivek Singh on India’s favourite festival Read more:
India by the Nile 2019: a cultural Indian parody in Egypt –
India by the Nile 2019: a cultural Indian parody in Egypt Mira Maged March 5, 2019
5:43 pm The Indian Embassy in Egypt, alongside Teamwork Arts, launched the seventh radiating edition of the cultural festival India by the Nile 2019 on Tuesday March 5, which will run until March 17. The festival’s cultural and artistic events will take place in several Egyptian governorates including Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said.
“Although this is my first year to present India in this glamorous festival, I’ve heard impressive feedback when I was at New Delhi about the success of the prior six editions,” the Indian Ambassador to Egypt Rahul Kulshreshth told Egypt Independent.
He added that the India by the Nile festival is a labor of love, pinpointing the challenges that face whoever works in the world of arts and culture.
Kulshreshth expressed his gratitude to the Egyptian audience appreciation for the precious editions.
Aiming to enhance the informal bilateral ties between Egypt and India, India by the Nile will be providing audiences in Egypt with India’s spirited aesthetic events. The festival amalgamates diverse cultural as well as artistic strands through contemporary and classical performances in addition to seminars, food events and more.
In memory of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150 th birthday
Remarkably, India by the Nile 2019 tremendously pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi’s 150 th birthday.
“Our excitement for this year’s edition is to the extreme because we are celebrating the 150 th birthday of our peace icon and the founder of our republic, Mahatma Gandhi,” Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, stated to Egypt Independent, pointing out that this year’s dynamic program is a portrayal of Gadhi’s non-violent beliefs.
“It always feels like home to be here in Egypt again; there is always something familiar that binds both countries’ cultures together, which is the sense of unity,” Roy added. He referred to the common cultural ground that brings both countries together, insisting that Egyptians along with Indians love attending dramatic shows by the Nile, eating spicy food and more popular traditions.
Egypt is a safe place for tourism and investment
India by the Nile’s chairman avowed that throughout the past seven years, the Indian sponsors and organizers have worked hand in hand with the Egyptian government, showing that Egypt is a secure place to welcome tourists from the entire world as well as housing foreigner investments.
In a like manner, the head of TCI Sanmar, the festival’s main sponsor, P.S. Jayaraman, stated that the company’s investments in Egypt are approximately worth $1.5 billion, emphasizing his deep pleasure to be associated with India by the Nile, saying that it is part of their company’s social responsibility activities.
Expressing the Indian willing to be more open towards other cultures, especially Egypt’s, people behind the festival believe that most importantly is to draw a realistic picture for how Indians are dressed and eat, in addition to their favorite visual arts.
As the Indian ambassador asserted the vibrant and colorful facets depicted in this year’s program, a press conference was held at Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel in which the program was fully presented as following:
As known, when it comes to meditating, India should always outshine as it is considered the most prominent traditional medicine. On the festival’s sidelines, the festival will host four yoga sessions in Egypt at El Sawy Culture Wheel on March 8, Child Museum on March 9, October 6 University on March 12 and Misr Public Library on March 14.
Moreover, one session of yoga will be carried out at Bibliotheca Alexandria on March 11, while another will be at the Culture Center in Port Said.
The renowned Bollywood choreographer Gilles Chuyen will conduct numerous Bollywood dance workshops that will take participants for almost two hours in a dazzling experience where they will learn dance routines.
Six workshops will be held in different cultural places in Cairo in addition to multiple workshops in Alexandria and Port Said.
Chuyen is a Bollywood star who gained his dancing experience from various trainings in France in folk, modern jazz, ballet and contemporary dance styles.
In order to evoke a sense of freedom through dancing, an Indian classical dance show will be choreographed by Guru Mohapatra in which images from Hinduism, Christianity and Islam will be infused together.
Two workshops will take place: one in Cairo and the other in Alexandria on March 10 and March 11.
Memorizing the Mahatma, “Images of Truth” is a non-verbal musical adaptation for one of humankind’s most iconic figures: Gandhi. The artistic show will use special style through puppets, masks and various objects used by actors and dancers as well. The theatrical show will be staged at El Sawy Culture Wheel on March 9 and at the Pyramids Language School on March 10.
One of the most awaited performances is the percussion show by the Grammy Award-winning Vikku in which three percussion shows will be held from March 12 until March 16.
Furthermore, the versatile artist Harpeet, who is known by his original music compositions, will stage several music halls in Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said on March 8, March 9 and March 15.
With a 500-year history in the world of food, Indian cuisine is known for its sensational aromas of spices, and Chef Picu will provide Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel with a wider grasp and canvas. Notably, Chef Picu is the executive chef of A Ta Maison in New Delhi.
Dozens of film screenings and businesses will thrive in the three governorates on the sidelines of the festival.
Neat places: New Brighton’s buzzing eateries – The Press
Eat well at BearLion on Carnaby Lane. BEARLION bearlionfoods.co.nz When dining out, it’s not always easy to keep track of what you’re putting into your body, but at BearLion you can rest assured that there’s goodness in every bite. Although it trades every week at the Christchurch Farmers’ Market, BearLion’s heart is firmly set in New Brighton. The organic food retreat is open for breakfast and lunch from Wednesday to Saturday with a seasonal offering of wholesome dishes free of preservatives, white flour, refined sugar and artificial additives. The cabinet features moutains of its famous hearty salads, and shelves are lined with homemade pickles, pastes and granola, which are available to take home. Every Thursday night, the eatery turns into a ‘Trust the Chef’ dinner experience with a different set menu of meat and vegetarian dishes matched with local wines and beers. THE BURGER JOINT facebook.com/theburgerjointnz If you have a hankering for a good burger, head to The Burger Joint. After two years of operating from their vintage caravan, The Burger Joint owners Caroline Riley and Sam Kubiek have opened a bright and inviting dine-in venue on Carnaby Lane. As well as their food truck’s familiar burger creations, more space has enabled fresh additions such as Southpaw craft beers, boutique wine lists and a large fryer to provide crunchy and golden sides. Different burger flavours, including more vegan options, will continue to emerge over the next few months. CHANAKYA SOUTH INDIAN CUISINE chanakyasouthindia.wixsite.com/mysite Though tiny in size, Chanakya shines in every other aspect. Most Indian restaurants in the Western world hero dishes from the country’s northern regions but this New Brighton hole in the wall offers an authentic perspective of the colourful cuisine of South India. The menu, created by a skilled chef with more than15 years’ experience, is rich in rice, lentil and vegetarian meals. Though you can still get your familiar saags and butter curries, a range of traditional southern dishes such as the Dosa (lentil and rice crepe), Idli (steamed lentil rice cakes) and Biryani are not to be missed. Chanakya is open Tuesday to Sunday for dine-in or takeaway. It also offers a special lunchtime deal for just under $8. Supplied Have a cuppa or a pint at Level One. LEVEL ONE facebook.com/levelonecraftbeerandcoffeebar A little further along from the hive of Carnaby Lane, Level One is a unique place to gather for coffee, local wine and beer, great food and unrivalled ocean views. The establishment is a co-working space but also operates as a craft beer and coffee bar with a small, delicious lineup in the cabinet and an all-day menu. The menu features fun kitchen takeovers from various foodie start-ups. Alongside Level One’s own food offerings (from smoothie bowls to antipasto platters and pizza), you may find yourself also tucking into Fu Manchu Street Food’s fried chicken and baos, European dumplings from The Pierogi Joint or The Spice Whisperer’s signature curries.Level One also welcomes you to BYOF (bring your own food) from home or a local takeaway spot as you sipp on a Canterbury craft beer or boutique wine from the bar. Discover more neat places around town at neatplaces.co.nz and download the free and offline Neat Places smartphone app. Stuff
Lorenzo launches brand new food and cocktail menus at Bromsgrove’s Wildmoor Oak
Tristan Harris 7 hours ago
AROUND 50 guests attended a special taster evening at The Wildmoor Oak in Catshill where chef Lorenzo Richards launched the pub’s new food and cocktail menus.
Among the dishes the guests got to try were a selection of artisan breads served with tapenades, jerk ham hock terrine served on slices of Hardo croute, topped with mango relish and mixed patties with chilli mayo.
Traditional West Indian rum cake was among the desserts available.
Food tasting events have become increasingly popular over recent years and provide Lorenzo with a great chance to get some valuable feedback from diners before a new menu is officially released.
Lorenzo, who has owned The Wildmoor Oak since 2008, said: “When I first came here I was quite tentative with the menu but over time I have gained a greater understanding of what my customers want.
“Their palettes are now wide open, ready for the next generation of flavours.
“Right now it’s all about fusion and cross-culture cooking – bringing people together through food.”
It is Lorenzo’s cross-cultural background, born to Jamaican parents and brought up in multi-ethnic Birmingham, which has influenced his food offerings over the years.
The menu at the Wildmoor Oak, will vary every 12 weeks with the core dishes staying the same and seasonal dishes making up the rest.
Lorenzo said he wanted to tap into the fresh seasonal ingredients available and use local produce where possible.
“We have reduced the number of dishes on the menu by about a third – that means we can provide better quality on the fewer dishes we have.”
The new spring-summer menu builds on the success of his already popular Caribbean cuisine with the introduction of additional dishes with Oriental and European influences.
Visit www.wildmooroak.com or call 0121 453 2696 for more information.
On the Illegibility of a City: An Essay in Silicon Plateau Vol 2
Monday, March 04, 2019 On the Illegibility of a City: An Essay in Silicon Plateau Vol 2 Silicon Plateau is an art project and publishing series that explores the intersection of technology, culture and society in the Indian IT city of Bangalore. Each volume of Silicon Plateau is a themed repository for research, artworks, essays, interviews and stories that observe the ways technology permeates the urban environment and the lives of its inhabitants. Edited by curator Marialaura Ghidini and artist Tara Kelton, Volume 2 of SP explores the ecosystem of mobile apps and their on-demand services: What does it mean to be an app user today—as a worker, a client, or simply an observer? SP2 is published by the Institute of Network Cultures , Amsterdam, in collaboration with The Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore. The book is packed with very interesting works and is available for a free EPUB/PDF download, or to buy. Details here . I wrote an essay on the language of apps and the language of cities. The book is also on display/reading room at Banner Repeater , an artist run reading room and project space in London till the end of March 2019. If you are in London, do go. ON THE ILLEGIBILITY OF A CITY After Mirtha Dermisache. “I started writing and the result was something unreadable.” Five seconds. That is all that there is. All that there can be in this new normal. In a sphere that evolved over time that runs in multiples of millions, here we are, reduced to a pace that won’t hold a full deep breath in and out. Five seconds can be a lot of time. Breakfast needs to be made this morning. As do lunch and dinner. Maybe I can order in dinner, again. Easier than soaking the beans overnight and then boiling and then blitzing them with a couple of other things to make a humble hummus. There is that new place that has opened around the corner of the neighbourhood next to ours. Has four point something stars to its name. It has been a long time since I walked Bangalore, this karma bhoomi of mine. It is like having designed a glorious balcony in the home that love built – a balcony that has a large tree of some flowering sort overhanging it, where the morning sun slants seductively past its leaves and pours upon your breakfast table to bleed into the amethyst geode that you found somewhere years ago before geodes became hipster and thus, expensive – that balcony. It is like having such a balcony and never ever drawing up a chair to it during the time for a late afternoon tea. There were only vague ambitions for such scenarios to occur when you conceived the balcony. So, the offshoot of similar ambitions regarding walking routes and the lazy arrogance that relentless accessibility to it brings, it has been a while, walking this city. I used to though, a lot lot lot, once upon a time. To prosaically channel that old thing, nostalgia, back then in the days that I used to walk this overgrown town, it used to still have weather – and a very good one at that – and it had more trees and less vehicles and much fewer people. I was around for the good ol’ days. These days like some biblical miracle, water catching fire is a thing. These days, there is a dot one taps on and a chauffeur and car appear, and it is much like some New Age claptrap that has lost its potential to evoke much marvel and some wonder. There are experiences of certain geographies and landscapes that will always escape articulation. So much we write and think and pontificate about cities, as if they are a mountain that is indefatigable in its sense of being. Yet, cities are hard places to be in, perhaps just like mountain spaces. They are cruel, mostly, and traumatic, and constantly in need of negotiations within selves and with each other. Cities are exhausting places and encouraging of non-sequiturs whereupon I think often of the linguistic trauma its citizens are put through. Including I. Brutalism is vacant, perhaps because when it was in its heyday, this city was not yet a city. It was all green and still a town perching on a high-as-a-windowsill hill where people retired to, to garden, read, socialise with others with similar pursuits and die. Now for those that come here to build a life the coldness of a brutalist structure must not be enough, I suppose. It would need a lot of space and time to navigate its layers and more space and time to love its alchemy for the people that engage with it. Delivering a pizza to a worker – resident there in thirty minutes might not be possible at all. So, the service providers that really – just admit it already – run the ‘evolved’ section of the world must have met in the most productivity enhancing structure there could be and decided to make the whole world so. Starting easy, with the cities. Thus, there came the glass and concrete monoliths. Down with the stone, brick and mud stuff – such chiii stuff, those – what with their earthiness. The glass might shatter in a decade or two but who is thinking beyond then? Collective legacy is such a non-moneymaking dud. Why bother? Old stuff leads to ruminations, inspiration, slowness, memory, conclusions, to the act of remembering, to slowness. The new normal demands, instead, structure, productivity, efficiency, the act of forgetting. Most of all, it demands speed. Fifty word summaries. Five seconds of loading. A wait of a minute. There is plenty of room for the dancer, but scarcely any time for dancing. Seasons are a farce here. But for the convenience of continuity and establishing timelines, I will say that it was a spring day. The flowering trees in the city were all in bloom and we could have walked on carpets of yellow, violet, pink and white. A wicker picnic basket within which are tiny cucumber sandwiches wrapped in thin tissue paper, with the crusts cut off, of course. Some cold beer that is newly made in the country and currently a favourite. Some chips, perhaps, because: bar food. And company. Or not, and a nice fluffy book instead. Or the very weathered Midori traveller’s notebook and a good pen to write stray things and draw drunken scrawls in. The day in spring would have been a perfectly picnic-friendly day. Smelling the flowers, looking up at the sky. Breathing in – breathing out. One could have, if only. But then the extension to all our arms in similar shapes but variable sizes is right there. So much to look up, so many things to read and see and do. The sky will still always be blue. Swipe, scroll, rate, feedback, ok, account, log in, like, share – were new meanings to old words always invented this quickly? Though of course it makes sense that they are being done so. The relief of having all the bars full, the miniature waves of the wi-fi, the littlest numbers for the battery left are the symbols we leave. Also, the dreaded slowly turning circle of the buffering monster. Ugh, right? Yes, ugh. We do leave legacies then, mostly of the relief of having network and the dread of not having one. I do believe there are several places where the latter remains true. Every city has a language. Not the one that is heard on the streets, cultivated in the attic or written in government circulars, of course, nor the varied ones that migrants, the Others, use. This language is, to be romantic about it, the soul, the vibe of the city. It is the pulse of its roads, the vibrations of its buildings, the hum or buzz – depending of the time of year and day – that the city emits. Oftentimes it is a siren call – how I ended up here. Other times, it is the first few hymns of a swan song to the times and stories that will be set here when they are being recollected and narrated in the future – how I intend to soon leave. Now I must really call in dinner. I wonder what cuisine we shall want to have tonight. Or perhaps eat out? There is just so much choice! Given all the choices that the tiny screen before me offers, given how many people I know that have bitten the dust and added and added to the icons (another new word!) on their screens, given how I still haven’t, not as much at least, and am braving on like an anachronism past its relevance, I wonder if there will be soon the coming of the next big wave of the feminine mystique by a new Friedan. Masculine mystique too, since we are sometimes, while increasingly rarer and rarer, living in the century of more evolved equality rights. Or at least a deeper illusion of it. And all that politically correct stuff that will qualify me as smart and hard cookie enough to keep my rather non-existent social capital safe, albeit unengaged. What all shall we do with all this time not spent stupidly negotiating the physical world? Where all shall we walk? The dog, our dear J, is barking his head off. Do I call him in? Oh damn, I was to buy toothpaste for tonight – we have run out. Must write down that recipe I made last week, the one with zaatar and pomegranate molasses. Two pings (new word alert!) to reply to. Maybe tomorrow while lying in on a Sunday morning. The city’s language is ambiguous, vague and, well, twisted. I hate the city – rather the idea of a city – yet have lived in versions of one for long and have found versions of all that I love here. I hate what it does to people, but I do love my one-day delivery of stuff that aren’t absolutely so urgent. The seamlessness of all the conveniences rescues us, city people, from the soft trauma of having to leave the coolness or warmth at home – as is appropriate to the season – find parking space, look for a particular shop on the other side of town, buy just that one thing, take out cash from a wallet and do this, repeatedly every time we need something. We will use the same cab companies to get here, there, everywhere. We will use the same company to order dinner from. We will go to the exact same places as our peers because, FOMO (word! – itself a new word). We will all give ratings to each other. We will buy the same furniture from the same company because, free door delivery, free installation. We will buy the same clothes from either the high street shops or the indie names because the influencers (another new word, this) are all posting and tagging about them and again, FOMO (so many new words we have!). We will all read what is in vogue and watch what is trending and then we will apply those characters and their fictitious lives to our very real ones and everyone will get it. We will be in love, or love someone truly, only when we put such thoughts on all the social media that there are – only then will it mean anything at all. We will all look, think, see, be like each other, like dolls from the same mother company, though manufactured by its little subsidiaries with little distinguishable features, to indicate to the board of directors as to where you were made and who made you. Your life is neatly, completely organised now, no need to get a notebook or planner. You of course have all the freedom to choose from any of the wonderful array of choices before you. (Don’t tell them that they can choose only what we want them to choose. The paradox of forced choice is our little secret, just between you and I.) (Social) Media is the message. We are all mimetic creatures. “Is it a museum of beliefs, a medley of rites, or a mere map, a geographical expression?” ~ Dr S Radhakrishnan, Upton Lectures, 1926. Said of religion in these lectures, so true of the new normal we have no reason but to accept and embrace. We all look, eat, go, think the same. If the language of a city becomes clear, straightforward, efficient, structured and streamlined, will the language continue to exist at all? Homogeneity results in erasure of a city or “city”. An idea sans layers and depth, sans tensions, sans complicated fabric of neighbourhoods, sans the tragedy of the commons, is just a waylaid click farm. “City” is then just nothing but a sanitized way station, like a tasteless, generic candy you get instead of change at the toll booth. What also happens to language where there is an erasure of the city? As I walk the streets where I found love, heartbreak and adulthood, I wonder at the true violence there is in changing the basic structure of society. We are of course long past that violence. This is the Day After, the aftermath, when we are left to navigate the repercussions of all that transpired the evening before. Now, where we are, is the carnivalesque blurring of the lines. In the carnival and the carnivalesque, what is grotesque is really language, I’ve found myself thinking. The language uttered, spent, imbibed. The language of the body. The very unique language in the apps that we endlessly use, simply unwilling at first, and then unable to stop. The language that the algorithms use to control, lead and rule us. The language that pulls us away to think of toothpaste, dog, dinner and texting when we ought to think of just this one thing. Language is a way in, as also a way out. It has the potentiality of being the complete representative of every call for it to be so. The mere potentiality, though, which it regularly falls short of. It is also planned like a city, of course not just in terms of its structure, what with its syntax, grammar and other rules. Much like a city, it is built from the ground up with interlacing structures that make sense only when alphabets become words become sentences become paragraphs become stories become histories. It is also meta-language. Language is a city that I wander around in, get deliberately lost and then find myself found in. It isn’t always easy but it is always fodder for a frequently evolving vocabulary. It does perform, sometimes, all those functions that you would expect language to do, complete with similar infinite potentialities. Walking helps, immensely. It helps to both remember and forget, to be slow and to be at speed. I cannot not acknowledge its enablers too now – the maps, the search results, the fear, the dependency, the utterly complete control. While mimesis is inevitable, rather necessary as well, one should only hope one is able to….. Damn this dinnertime entropy.
‘Joy’ of the City of Joy – Kolkata
“Today the #XploreBharat BlogTrain has come to Kolkata at The Contemplation Of a Joker from Hyderabad – Hackytips . The next stop of this #XploreBharat BlogTrain is Manali – Panormic Ripples ”
One of my closest friends was getting married last year in Deoghar (Jharkhand). He was my batchmate in MBA and over the years we have developed a special bond and hence I had to make the journey to his hometown for the marriage. This was the first time I was traveling to the Eastern part of India. In fact, I have traveled to more than twenty states in India with East being the only exception. This was my perfect opportunity.
Kolkata is just about 4 hours away via a train journey from Deoghar and I had already made up my mind to explore it before I even left for Deoghar. After the ceremonies and rituals of marriage throughout the night, I reached Jasidih station, which is the closest railway station to Deoghar. I wasn’t able to successfully procure a confirmed reservation in the early morning trains to Kolkata hence I decided to purchase a general ticket and board the first going to it.
I reached Kolkata in the afternoon and the weather, for once, was as forecasted. I was greeted by a thunderstorm and it was raining heavily. I checked in a hotel at Park Street as it is centrally located and all the major attractions are more or less equidistant from it.
HISTORY Victoria Memorial
Kolkata or as it was spelled, Calcutta till 2001 is also referred to as the ‘Cultural capital of India’ . Kolkata is celebrated for its cultural heritage, literature, food, festivals, arts, theatre and above all its people. The city is also known as the ‘City of Joy’ because of its seamless amalgamation of food, festivities, and people. French author Dominique Lapierre gave this name after he wrote a novel with the same title. People from every walk of life find their place and space in this jam-packed city.
The British East India Company arrived in Kolkata around 1690 and made it the capital of British India in 1772 till it was replaced by Delhi in 1911. They also constructed the Fort William in 1702 but I was denied the permission to visit it as it is currently under Indian Army jurisdiction.
During the 18 th century, it was truly a cosmopolitan city with multiple cultures flourishing here. In fact, the city still has India’s only Chinatown because of Chinese migrants during that era.
ABOUT THE CITY
Kolkata is the third largest city in India with approx. 15 million people after Mumbai and Delhi and is situated on the east coast of India. It is the capital of the state of West Bengal.
The fifth busiest airport in India and with three major railway stations – Kolkata railway station, Howrah Jn and Sealdah railway station, connect it.
Climate: It has a tropical climate and usually hot, wet and extremely humid during summers and comparatively cooler during winters.
Best time to visit: November to February.
Getting around: Kolkata is well connected through public transport. There is a good network of metros, local city buses, local taxis and others like rickshaws and auto rickshaws. Kolkata has upgraded to app-based taxis also – Ola and Uber are operational throughout the city.
The old heritage tram system is still operative but the coverage has come down drastically and it is only there as a tribute to the city. Don’t forget to take any random ‘Tram Ride’ just for the sake of experience. It is considerably cheap. Other striking notable things when it comes to transport are ‘Yellow Taxis’ and ‘Hand-pulled’ rickshaws. Kolkata’s streets are filled with these Ambassador yellow taxis. Most of them have “No Refusal” written on them – to signify no driver can refuse any ride. But be prepared to test your bargaining skills.
As the city is growing and modernizing, the number of yellow taxis is reducing at a faster pace and it is being replaced with an air-conditioned white one with blue stripe; most of which are Maruti Suzuki Dzires.
I didn’t like the concept of hand pulled rickshaw and it reminded me of slavery and hence avoided it completely.
I decided to stay back in the hotel and catch up on some sleep and waited for the thunderstorm to pass. In the evening I took an auto rickshaw to the college street to visit the Indian Coffee House.
Indian Coffee House Indian Coffee House
It is an old café with immense heritage attached to it. Also known as College Street Coffee House, this place was one of the locations where a lot of freedom fighters and eminent personalities used to gather before independence. To the credit of Indian Coffee House they have been able to maintain that old rustic charm and if you go by the prices on the menu you will feel they are pre-independence era too. You can get a plate of cutlets and a cup of coffee for a meager sum of Rs. 30. It is crowded by narrow lanes from all sides and is in close vicinity of the Presidency College and the University of Calcutta.
Note: It closes fairly early so make sure to reach there before 6 pm for your tea.
I decided to head back to park street as places start closing early in Kolkata.
The next morning it was already raining by the time I got up. I decided to give up the plan of taking a taxi from one place to another and instead, hired a cab for a full day. I had a lot of places to visit and this would have surely helped in saving time considering the rain too.
I began the day with Victoria Memorial.
Victoria Memorial Victoria Memorial
The British built the Victoria Memorial in the memory of Queen Victoria and it was completed in 1921. It is made of white marble and currently serves as a museum and houses collection majorly from the colonial period. This is the closest they ever came of Taj Mahal, something they wanted to make in white marble.
Location: Southern end of Maidan along the banks of Hooghly river.
Timings: Closed on Mondays; Tues to Sun – 10 am to 5 pm
The Maidan region of Kolkata is a huge open space under the control of the Army but is open for public for sports and leisure. All around the Maidan, there are prominent monuments that can be covered on foot. The same stretch has Eden Gardens and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Paul’s Cathedral St. Paul Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral was the first Cathedral built in the overseas territory of British Empire. It is the seat of Diocese of Calcutta and is famous for its Indo Gothic Architecture. It was completed in 1847 and suffered massive damage during the earthquake of 1897. The Cathedral complex has a library and a display of plastic art forms and memorabilia. It gives you a European feel and is a captivating sight the moment you enter the complex.
Location: Southern end of Maidan – walkable from Victoria Memorial
I headed to the Indian Museum, which is about 1.5 kms from St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The Indian museum The Indian Museum
The Indian Museum is the earliest and largest museum not only in Indian but also in the whole of Asia Pacific region. It was founded in 1814 and has a huge collection of antiques, fossils, ornaments, paintings etc. Make sure you have a complete day if you really want to visit each and every section of the museum. One of the special attractions is a real well-preserved Dinosaur egg.
Location: 27, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Park Street, Kolkata
Timing: Mon-Fri 10AM-6:30PM Sat-Sun 10AM-8PM
I tried to cover as much as possible in the time I had. My driver informed me that Marble palace and Jorasanko Thakur Bari are close to each other and they were our next stops.
Jorasanko Thakur Bari
It is the ancestral home of first non-European Nobel laureate Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore. Thakur Bari is the Bengali name for ‘House of Thakurs’ . It is now converted into a museum and depicts all the important events of Gurudev’s life. The more you explore the more you realize that their whole family was full of intellectuals and creative people. The house even has a separate segment where it highlights Tagore’s deep connection with the Japanese.
Location: Rabindra Bharti university campus, Jorasanko.
Timings: 10:30 am to 4:30 pm – Monday closed.
Marble palace and Thakur Bari are only 400 meters apart. Raja Rajendra Mullick, a rich Bengali merchant, built it in 1835. It is like a palace and is also made up of white marble and hence the name. The decedents of the family still occupy a portion of the palace while the rest is open for the public as a museum. There is a catch while visiting the Marble Palace. It requires a special permit issued by tourist bureau and photography is strictly prohibited even from the outside. I didn’t have the permit but was able to work my way around by having a word the guards. Though it is highly unadvisable to do so.
Location: 46, Opp Ram Mandir, Muktaram Babu Street, Jorasanko.
Timings: 10 am to 4 pm – Monday & Thursday closed.
My next stop was Dakshineshwar Kali temple.
Dakshineshwar Kali Temple Dakshineshwar Kali Temple
Rani Rashmoni founded it on 31 st May 1855. It is one of the most famous and largest temples in Kolkata and is built in the Navaratna style of architecture. It is believed that the famous religious thinker Rama Krishna Paramhamsa attained spiritual vision here. The Ramakrishna mission takes care of all the operations of the temple. After the darshan, I strolled down to the ghat. It was a mesmerizing sight of the bridge, lights and the calm river.
Location: Dakshineshwar – It is situated on the Eastern bank of Hoogly River about 20 kms from city center alongside the Vivekanand Bridge.
Timings: It is separate for summers and winters and opens twice a day. Do check before going.
Speaking of Ramakrishna mission my next stop was Belur Math.
Belur Math Belur Math
Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna mission and math founded by Swami Vivekanand in 1897. There is a temple in the center of the math surrounded by lots of trees and gardens. It is about 4.5 kms from Dakshineshwar Kali Temple is on the Howrah side of the twin cities. You can reach there by crossing the Vivekanand Bridge.
Location: Belur, Howrah.
Timings: Separate timings for Summers and winters; opens twice a day and closes early.
It started getting late and for my last stop, I headed to the Kalighat Kali Temple passing the Howrah Bridge.
The moment you think of Kolkata the first that comes to mind is of Howrah Bridge. This is the most iconic feature on Kolkata’s landscape. It connects the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata and is built on Hoogly River. In 1965 it was renamed Rabindra Setu. The traffic isn’t allowed to halt on the bridge that makes it really difficult for a view and take photographs. I will forever be in debt of my driver that he took me to a spot from where I could get a full view of the Bridge.
Kalighat Kali Temple Kalighat Kali Temple
Kalighat Temple is the older of the two famous Kali temples in Kolkata. It is one of the 51 ‘Shakti Peethas’ . It is of more historical importance than the other temples in Kolkata but currently, the locale around it has become overcrowded. Be prepared to be surrounded by pundits and shopkeepers who will swarm upon you for getting some or the other puja is done for you at some expensive price.
Timings: 5:00 am to 2:00 pm & 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm Mullik Ghat Flower Market – Ref – TheWrongShot
Other noteworthy places to visit, which I wasn’t able to cover, are:
Mother Teresa home – The home of Mother Teresa – the tomb of Mother Teresa is also kept there.
Kumartuli – it is famous for sculpting clay idols for festivals. It is particularly a great sight during the Durga Puja days.
South Park Cemetery – visiting a cemetery isn’t a normal thing but it is famous for its colonial history
Old Chinatown – famous for its Chinese breakfast and other oriental cuisines.
Mullik Ghat Flower Market – for its colorful array of flowers at the display.
FOOD & STAY
Food is an equally significant part of Kolkata’s heritage dominated predominantly by Bengali cuisines. Bengali sweets are a must try – Rosogulla, Sandesh and Mishti Doi. Do try their peculiar Biryani, which is cooked with a whole potato in the middle of it. Baked Rosogulla is the latest craze and I found it absolutely amazing, as Gulab Jamun is my favorite sweet delicacy.
I can personally vouch for these places:
Balaram Mullick – for baked rosogulla and other Bengali sweets.
6 Ballygunge Place – a chain of restaurants for authentic Bengali cuisine.
Bhojohari Manna – typical Bengali meal but at a nominal cost.
Arsalan Restaurant and Shiraz Golden on Park street for non-veg.
Kolkata has no shortage of places to stay – you can choose as per your needs. But if you want to cover most parts then Park Street is the best centrally located region. It has good restaurants as well as nightlife options with awesome connectivity.
TO SHOP New Market
New Market – ironically it is one of the oldest markets in Kolkata, built by the British in 1874. If you are good at bargaining then this is your heaven. It is closed on Sundays if you are travelling on weekends to Kolkata.
Garihat Market – It is another paradise for shopaholics. The street market is full of options. Wherever I travel I make it a point to buy a saree for my mother. The market is famous for its ‘Tant’ saree, a traditional Bengali saree and ‘Sakha Paula’ – the handsomely crafted shell and coral bangles usually worn as a combination of red and white.
Kolkata has very aptly played its part in the history of India and no Saga of India’s heritage is complete without Kolkata featuring in it.
For all those who love traveling,
For all those who love Bengali sweets,
For all those who love Kolkata
For all those who find the ‘Joy’ in the city of joy…
It’s not a goodbye,
But it’s a GOOD BYE.
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul
Great cuisine, friendly staff, lovely rooms.
I particularly loved the buffet breakfast included with the room rate, and the affordable buffet dinner every day. Indian food is excellent with a wide assortment and some nice Chaat specials. nnFresh juice every morning, great fruit and salad bar, and an omelette station made breakfast perfect.nnThe staff is very friendly everywhere and made me feel at home. My housekeeping staff left me flowers and some nice extra touches for my long stay.
Restaurant radar: March 2019
Atul Kochhar returns to Mayfair, Tom Sellers looks to hit a Six in Nottingham, Anna Haugh heads to Chelsea and Victor Garvey looks to the CIty.
Kanishka This month sees a return to Mayfair for former Benares chef Atul Kochhar, who is opening an Indian restaurant just yards away from relative newbie Bombay Bustle. Kochhar has teamed up with Tina English, the former commercial director of Cinnamon Club, for his new 127-cover venture, which will focus on “lesser known” regions of Indian food, including the eastern Seven Sister States. Dishes will include Kachela Maas – a Sikkim inspired venison tartare with mustard oil mayonnaise, naan crouton and onions – and pan-seared seafood dish Samundri Khazana Alleppey. A whisky bar serving 50 different expressions will also feature. 17-19 Maddox Street, London www.kanishkarestaurant.com
Bambusa The third restaurant from Roti Chai and Chai Ki restaurateur Rohit Chugh marks a move into the fast casual sector. Located on Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street in, Bambusa will serve ‘home-style’ dishes inspired by Chugh’s travel and work for several years in Japan, Singapore, Laos and across Asia. Breakfast items include egg scramble buns; and Kewpie omelette sliders while lunch option come in the form of a build-your-own meal available from the counter, with options such as ginger shoyu chicken; chilli bean tofu; and kimchi BBQ jackfruit. 6 Charlotte Street, London bambusalondon.com
Barullo Restaurateur Victor Garvey, who is behind popular Soho spot Rambla, is heading to the City with his new restaurant, which will serve food from all over Spain. Located in Bevis Marks, the 64-cover restaurant – which translates from Spanish as hubbub or commotion – will serve dishes such as KFC ‘Kiko Fried Chicken’ (sherry lees-brined chicken dusted in roasted corn nuts, fried with an alegria pepper chutney); and paella ‘La Masía’ (saffron Calasparra rice, giant prawns, confit pork belly an tail, fire-roasted piquillo peppers). Bevis Marks, London
Six Nottingham Tom Sellers has teamed up with Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club for its new restaurant, Six, which is due to open in its grounds this month. Billed as a ‘contemporary British restaurant and bar’ it is part of a multi-million-pound redevelopment of the media centre in the cricket stands. Six aims to offer ‘life-changing employment opportunities’ to local young people in partnership with The Prince’s Trust and Sellers. Young people who sign up for The Prince’s Trust’s ‘Get into Restaurant Services’ programme in Nottinghamshire will join a four-week course and will have the opportunity to apply for front of house, kitchen porter and bar staff vacancies at the restaurant. Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, Nottingham www.trentbridge.co.uk
Fatt Pundit Opening on 11 March, Fatt Pundit is bringing Indo-Chinese cuisine to Soho. While dishes include shredded chilli venison; smoked rabbit wontons; and hakka paneer lettuce cups, Fatt Pundit’s main draw are likely to be its ‘momos’ – spicy dumplings originating from Tibet filled with beef, pork, chicken, seafood or vegetables that are also available from a momo station at the front of the 60-cover restauarnt. 77 Berwick Street, London
Myrtle Former Bob Bob Ricard chef Anna Haugh opens her debut solo restaurant in Chelsea this month. Myrtle will serve modern European food with an Irish influence, with the Ireland-born chef promising ‘sophisticated yet informal dishes’ including the likes of pigs beignet, sauce gribiche and pickled veg; slow confit Goatsbridge trout, cauliflower and capers; and chocolate tart, jerusalem artichoke ice cream on the menu. Langton Street, London www.myrtlerestaurant.com
O’ver The Borough-based Italian restaurant has taken on the former Anzu site in St James’s Market and will soon be serving its pizzas, which are made using sea water to make them more easily digestible, among other things. The menu at the second restaurant is likely to be similar to that at the original, so expect a solid range of about 15 different pizzas as well as a good selection of traditional pasta, fish and meat dishes, such as Mediterranean wild seabass fillet served with cold lemon and herbs cold potato salad and Tendersteam broccoli; and its chef’s special of Gragnano pasta served with Genovese beef shin and pork knuckle ragu. St James’s Market, London
5 of the Best Seafood Restaurants Around the World
Traveling the world opens you up to a gastronomic experience! Everywhere you go offers a slightly different variation of even the most familiar dishes.
Our world is full of water, so you can try amazing seafood from all over the globe! Learn where to get the best on Earth!
5 of the Best Seafood Restaurants on Earth Some people simply eat where they go. But experienced foodies and travelers will go where they can eat well for their dream vacation .
Keep reading to learn where on Earth you should travel to for the ultimate seafood experience!
1. Kaikaya By the Sea ( Shibuya, Tokyo) Travel to the Island nation of Japan for a delightful seafood experience. This country touches the Pacific Ocean, The Sea Of Japan, and The East China Sea, while many major rivers flow through it, making it an optimal place for eating from the water.
Kaikaya By the Sea offers a unique atmosphere with a modern vibe and delectable food. By the decor, you will see the owner’s love for the sea and his restaurant alike, with canoes, fish, and pictures of visitors.
Though the ambiance feels laid back, he makes his meals with precision. Every dish looks like a piece of fine art and the flavors tell a story you will love!
The chef buys fresh seafood from Sagami Bay and fuses Japanese traditions with Asian and Western flavors. Pair your meal with one of the sakis from his impressive collections!
2. Crabby Daddy (The Woodlands, Texas) Traveling within the United States offers a unique experience as well, as America sits on multiple bodies of water explodes with cultural influence from all over the world.
For a fantastic cajun experience and seafood dinner, visit Crabby Daddy Seafood and Steakhouse. This food stems from an incredible family history.
From Sparta, the grandfather, famously known as Chicago Louie, came over to America with only work ethic and pride, married the love of his life and built Chagouris & Matthews Seafood Company in the World Famous, Lexington Street Market. The love of seafood survived WWII and the son opened Green Bay Seafood, also in the Lexington Market.
In keeping with tradition, the next generation opened Crabby Daddy. Keeping people guessing what’s in the fish to make it taste so good.
3. Wadiya (Colombo, Sri Lanka) For somewhere scenic, full of wildlife, and ingrained with a rich culture, visit Sri Lanka . This country is world renowned for its Sri Lankan crab.
While here, visit the Ministry of Crab to see why the world loves this tasty water critter from these waters so much. They serve it just about every way you can imagine and do so in an interesting environment.
This restaurant sits in an old colonial era Dutch hospital, appropriately, as this crab will heal your soul!
4. Karambezi Cafe (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) Traveling to Tanzania may make you think of safaris. But it will also provide you with some of the best seafood experiences in the world!
Dine on a cliff overlooking the Indian ocean, and eat Mediterranean seafood dishes! You will enjoy a fresh and scenic seafood dinner!
5. Aqui esta Coco (Santiago, Chile) Let’s not forget the South American seafood experience! Chile houses some of the best seafood restaurants in the world!
Visit Aqui esta Coco for award-winning cuisine! The food is fresh and authentic.
Taste the World Travel truly expands your perception of life. Touch every corner and allow your taste buds to experience amazing seafood from some of the best restaurants in the world.
Share your experiences! Contact me to collaborate on a travel project!
Instant Pot Dal Fry
Dal or Dahl as the British called it has been a staple food in Indian cuisine with many variations with Tadka Dal, Dal Fry, and Dal Makhni b