Wednesday, June 13, 2018

About what makes a Culinary Chronicler, & more on the 1st ever #CulinaryChroniclers Conclave

What is a Chronicler? What is the Culinary Chroniclers Conclave? Do I qualify? Why I should be there? These are just some of the questions I’ve been inundated with since I put up my first update on the Culinary Chroniclers Conclave two days ago. I thought I would share some background.
The Culinary Chroniclers Conclave is a result of several things, self-introspection, industry watching and the need to be part of more conversations as a community.
On a personal level, it was a culmination of much self-introspection. The career of food writing found me by serendipity 16ish years ago. And I went on to discover Food Blogging, learn Food Styling, progress into consulting, and eventually open A Perfect Bite Consulting and APB Cook Studio. Then came the age of social media, disrupting the food industry unimaginably (in a good way!). No longer were writing, creating art, photography or video production the premise of the few who had the education or (often) expensive tools of trade required. With new technology, smartphones, Google. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and instagram. (I stopped there but new platforms launch daily) careers in food were no longer limited. Anybody could do anything, and did! People quit corporate careers to become chefs, restaurateurs, food bloggers. Food businesses were hot startup ideas. Housewives became Home Chefs, SMEs and Youtube sensations. A world of opportunities opened up and a billion stories began to be told.
It was all wonderful and exciting as an industry! But is also brought some complications. For many, like me, it brought doubts, and questions, like how to stay relevant in this rapid evolution of mediums? I’ve traveled a long way from 2500 paid-by-the-word long form articles, to 240 word tweets, FB lives, social video, visual Insta Stories and hashtags on Twitter. But I often found it hard to describe who I was. What I did. And I wasn't alone, many friends and industry colleagues had traveled similar paths and were going through similar dilemmas.
Was I a Food writer? I was producing so much content for social media that I wrote far less than before (and traditional media offered very little space for the sort of writing I did). Was I a Food Blogger? I had honestly hesitated on this. One of my biggest pain points is blogger bashing (It’s become cool to abuse bloggers, so much so that ‘Food Blogger’ has become a bad word.) Like many fabulous blogger friends I found myself wanting to distance myself from the Label. Was I a Chef? I was often put in that box, but I was and am (proudly so) a cook. Teacher? Historian? Consultant? Yes, successfully so. Food stylist? I was not just one of these. I was a sum of all of them, part writer, part artist, part photographer, part video producer, all creator, all STORY-TELLER.
It was the subject of many conversations between my husband, Shekhar and me. And then we realized, in one of those epiphanic moments, that the one thing that resonated constantly was the term storytelling. In all my avatars, writer, blogger, cook, stylist, I am a storyteller. Many of the people I knew also fit this bracket. In fact we were more than just storytellers, we were chroniclers.
Storytelling is the greatest technology we, as humans have created. The basis for almost everything in society, from the way we interact, communicate, build, create, dream, live, love and fight to even how we eat. It is just that the mediums for telling stories keep evolving. Drawing and Oral traditions gave way to the written word, print gave way to the online space, visual imagery evolved from SLR photographs and video to digital and amazing phone cameras. With this evolution, our conversations must evolve too. Chronicles have been and can continue to be recorded by anyone, in any medium, anywhere and about anything. Including food.
What are we eating? How are we eating? Why we are eating as we do? How is food made? Where are we eating? Who makes our food? Who eats our food? Chronicles about food – let’s call them Culinary Chroniclers - often address these questions. And any of us that are documenting ingredients, their usage, traditional food knowledge, food traditions, cooking practices, recipes, cooking methods, local street food, restaurant trends, through writing and journalism, art, craft, literature and journalism, film and media, styling and photography are chronicling food. And culinary chronicling is essentially a way of sharing food with others, through various mediums.
Some, like me who love Asterix, might remember Asterix and the Golden Sickle? The second comic of the famous comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). For those who have not read it, the story is centered round Getafix the Druid and his Golden Sickle. Life is as normal in the Gaulish village where the series is set until disaster strikes and Getafix breaks his golden sickle. The tool that is intrinsic to cutting mistletoe for his legendary magic potion (that fuels the village in fighting off the Roman army). More importantly his golden sickle is his symbol of Druidry, a ticket without which he cannot attend the annual Conference of Druids, a gathering of the most learned druids in the world. The story is about getting Getafix a new sickle but it is the conference of druids that inspired the Culinary Chroniclers Conclave.
We are eating, reading, talking about, watching, even identifying ourselves with and through food and cooking more than ever, today. And to feed this ever growing consumption of food content are a very important segment of people. Those who document and chronicle food in myriad ways from being inspired by it in illustrations and creative writing to writing about it as journalists, critics and food writers, photographing, shooting and talking about it on various media channels, in print, through online publications and blogs, and social media platforms.
The Culinary Chroniclers Conclave aims to do just this by bringing together chroniclers to talk, share divergent perspectives, and work together to weave that new narrative. Because the stories of the past are the chronicles of the present and stories of today will be the chronicles of the future. And because good food and cooking is a collective requirement of our and future generations and our earth.
If you have read this far, let me tell you about the Culinary Chroniclers Conclave.
This is an initiative between Vikhroli Cucina, a property of the Godrej Group celebrating food. The Culinary Chroniclers Conclave aims to bridge the many streams dedicated to the art and craft of documenting and chronicling food. In its first edition, the conclave will focus on the streams of art and craft, literature and journalism, film and media and styling and photography. It will include a spectrum of offerings such as keynotes, discussions, lectures and masterclasses by celebrated experts in these fields who will share their perspectives on the past, present and future of chronicling food. The Conclave will also host unique exhibits and installations around Food Art, including a fantastic chocolate installation to serve as creative inspirations. The Conclave will culminate on a grand note with a felicitation ceremony to honour individuals and initiatives in the field of chronicling.
Block your Date! The Culinary Chroniclers Conclave will be held on Saturday, 30-June-2018, between 9:00 am - 7:30 pm, at the Auditorium, Godrej One, Vikhroli, Mumbai.
More information on the Culinary Chroniclers Conclave.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

ArchaeoBroma: The 1st All India Conference on Food as Culture - Everything you need to know!

If you are into food and have any interest – be it as curiosity or immersive study, you need to block 5-6 May 2018 and make it your business be at Bombay University! I did it the moment my friend (and someone I’ve held in the highest regard ever since I first heard him talk about food) Dr Kurush Dalal called to tell me about the upcoming ArcheoBroma conference.

Anyone who operates in the area of food, especially food writing will tell you that there are very few resources and references on Indian food history. And those that exist are perhaps not the most optimal. While that cannot be corrected, this all India conference under the auspices of The India Study Centre (INSTUCEN) Trust and the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (University of Mumbai) curated by Dr. Dalal and Raamesh Gowri Raghavan is an endeavour to start filling the gap. In its first year, it will focus on the cultural aspect of food through various sections, seeking to address orthodox as well as alternative ways of looking at food.

In their own words as part of the introduction to the document, Dalal and Raghavan state “… there is very little serious academic research into food. Not food as nutrition. Not food as farm produce. But food as an expression of culture, of cultural values, as the stuff that has determined who we are and why we are what we are, food has rarely received meticulous study of its cultural aspects. And finally, there is very little if no research on the history of the various foods that we take for granted in our Indian kitchens. Where art, architecture and literature are easily seen as the expression of a culture and its values, food is rarely seen as such, although it is central to the mundane as well as celebratory lives of people. Food carries with it multiple associations of culture including social privilege and deprivation, wealth and poverty, conservatism and liberality. To different foods are attributed connotations of identity and drift, good and bad taste, and notions of comfort and estrangement. Of all cultural traits, it is food that has undergone the most acculturation and transmission across boundaries, as well as evolution over time and space. It is a geographic, social, cultural and economic indicator.”

After an introduction by Mugdha D Karnik, director, CEMS and managing trustee, INSTUCEN Trust, the conference will unravel in several progressive sections.

The first section Concepts in Food Studies, will set an overall context by creating an academic framework for examining food when it intersects with Ayurveda (the traditional Indian doctrine of Indian wellness and health) with Shailesh Nadkarni followed by Dr. Dalal presenting on the intersection of Archaeology with food and Dr. Mohsina Mukadam, one of the few food historians in India, will share insights on Methods used in Historical studies of food which will help those of us who document food learn to ask the right questions, extract the right data and form a better structure for the overall study of food.

This will be followed by a section examining Basic Foods that will look at food through the integrated lens of nutrition, cookery and social values to examine Indian food practices related to Carbohydrates – Grains and their preparations by Saee Koranne Khandekar, Vegetable Protein – Dals and their preparations by me, Fats and fat consumption in India and elsewhere by Sid Khullar and The role played by tea and coffee in modern Indian culture by Raamesh Gowri Raghavan.

This will be followed by a section that focuses on the intersection of food and identity. As home to various diasporas, subaltern communities and remote regions, Indian food is diverse to an extreme rarely seen in other large countries. This section is divided into 3 sub sections.

The first looks at Diaspora, focusing on three communities in particular that have clear oral histories that tell of their origin from outside the Indian subcontinent, but are today well-integrated into the Indian social structure and hierarchy. The session will explore the currents and counter-currents in the history of these communities' food traditions, as they share the same living space as 'native' communities around them. Parsi Food will be presented by Rhea Mitra-Dalal, The food of the Bene Israeli community will be presented by Leora Pezarkar and Sindhi food will be presented by Alka Keswani of the Sindhi Rasoi.

The second section examines the traditions of food selection, preparation and consumption among four Autochthonous Communities focusing on some of the oldest communities to have resided continuously in and around the islands of Mumbai and Salsette, that while obscure within their own endemic habitat, have evolved a rich culture around food and its role in quotidian as well as festive occasions. Anjali Koli will present the Kolis, Soumitra Velkar will present the Pathare Prabhus, Andre Baptista will present the East Indians and Dr. Mohsina will present the Konkani Muslims.

The last section will explore four Subaltern Regions, that have rarely figured in the 'food scene' of modern urban life. Communities whose cuisine is undoubtedly mainstream in their own regions but suffers from a lack of visibility outside it. Megha Deokule will present Kodava food and culture, I will present Garhwali food and culture, Ruchi Srivastava will present Bundelkhandi food and culture and Gitika Saikia will present Assamese food and culture.

I am so excited to be part of such an epic event, and the prospect of learning so much from some amazing fellow speakers. But I am also terrified because as you might have seen, I've been asked to present two papers! Is it possible for one to be excited and terrified simultaneously? My current state of mind will confirm it is But I digress...

If you have read this far, I am sure you are as eager to be at the conference as I am, so here are the details. Participation fee: Rs. 2000/- (Fee includes conference kit, ethnic tea and lunch). Information on how to register and more information here at Instucen site on ArcheoBroma. Also here is a link to details on all the speakers. You can also write to

See you there!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

B is for Barni, Boyam aka Martabaan

What better object could I have had that this for a logo for Pickle day? It was a no-brainer. Don’t you agree? There is nothing more identifiable with Achaar in India than the traditional pickle jar called Barni, Boyaam, Martabaan or Jaadi based on where in India you are from!

Who can forget the beautiful ceramic pickle jars that every home in India had quietly sitting in some corner of the kitchen, store room or verandah, patiently allowing their contents to cure. The Kothar or store room in my Daadi's house had these in different sizes, with small ones for pickles and larger ones for storing grains, pulses and condiments. These typical large cylindrical shiny and round receptacles were always two toned with a white body and mustard to terracotta brown top and a snug ceramic knob topped lids, were once the pride of the Indian kitchen.

Logo for the first ever #AamAchaar Day 
Used to store pickles and other food for long durations, these jars were not just huge in capacity but also favoured because they had properties that ensured whatever was put in them remained spoilage free. Indian dietetics believed that utensil used for cooking and serving and vessels used for storing food affected our health, The ceramic kept germs, bacteria and fungus out and preserved pickles, chutneys and other long shelf life items.

There is something charming and nostalgic about these pickle jars, isn’t there? I still find them immensely heart tugging! They remind me of days and days of preparation, sunning and gossip that happened around them. Of a different more carefree time… I treasure an antique Boyam I got from my Nani's house in which I store salt in my kitchen today.

Logo for #AchaarDay 2018
Over time the use of these has dwindled with families getting smaller, and glass and (Shudder) plastic alternatives coming in! But did you know that we now get them in all sorts of sizes? Let us all go back to using them in these days of plastic over use...   If for nothing else, then to look at them and feel good! 

Stay with me through April and I celebrate the bounty of our culinary heritage and explore the A-Z of Indian Achaar with #BlogchatterA2Z.

A for Achaar and my affair with Indian Pickles

My spicy Affair with Achaar started early. And has never really abated. In fact it has only grown! Initially my reaction to Achaars (Indian pickles) was visceral, I could never resist the call of a pickle! With time, as I learned more, delved deeper my interest took an academic, almost geeky turn... for better or worse ? You decide! 

One of my earliest fondest memories is of running around the terrace of my childhood home while the women of the house were immersed pickling mangoes. They gossiped as they did their tasks. Dicing, and grating, salting and spicing various combinations of mangoes. It was the first time I tasted salted green mango. Mangoes for chunky pickles are typically rubbed with turmeric and salt and left in the sun to dry out. My mouth still waters at the memory of that sun dried, succulent sour-salty texture unique to that pickling mango time. In fact my teenage years were idyllically spent stealing a few chunks and hiding in a shady corner to feast on them with a favourite book on pickling day.

That summer I also had my first taste of the final Methia Keri pickle. Initially I could not handle the spicy-ness. So my grandmother would pull out pieces of mango with as little masala as possible. And my older cousin taught me how to use mix the pieces into dal rice to clean them up. He also taught me to ask for the chunks with the stones in them, we would eat the pickled flesh and any tenderized stones (if we got lucky and got one) and save the hard husk for after dinner. Tucking it into a corner of our mouths and sucking on it for ages after to get all the spicy juices it had absorbed from soaking in its spicy oily pickle bath for weeks!

Pickles stayed with me through the years when I went to study at boarding school. Jars of Chunda and Golkeri smuggled in got me through the tuck deprived initial months. Then the school allowed students to keep a bottle of achaar from our homes. And I first discovered that there was more to pickles than the Gujarati pickles I grew up eating. May midnight feasts consisted of an array of home-made pickles with flaky Mathris my Rajasthani friends smuggled in and rotis stolen from the school mess! Later in Animation school at Hyderabad, I was introduced to fiery Andhra pickles at the hostel mess and the concept of meat pickles through a wicked East Indian Pork Sorpotel my friend Ricky brought from visits home!

And then I discovered a whole other world of pickles after I got married. My Mother in law is a master when it comes to pickles. Her Heeng ka Achar was the first thing made by her hand I ever tasted, and to date it remains my favourite of the huge repertoire of achaars she makes. But I still remember discovering her Meetha kala Nimbu, Spicy Namkeen Nimbu, Bhrwan Lal Mirch, Hari Mirch, robust Kathal, and even Kachnar and Karela she pickled, in my first year at our Dehra Dun home. Later I was a willing disciple assisting her in her regular pickling cycle, and she was a skeptical participant in my in experiments like China Orange Pickle and the time I decided to try making my Grandmother in laws Meat pickle.

In fact it was a decision to write an article on Indian pickles that got me onto my career of food writing down the line! But my interest in pickles took a more academic, intellectual turn because of a discussion with a friend a few years ago. She was talking about the need to preserve languages, commenting on how the universal use of English and Hindi for communication while broadening communication, was narrowing our use of regional languages with each progressive generation. It struck me that it was much the same with pickles. And so much other culinary knowledge. I was a classic example! According to family lore, my paternal grandmother made some 90 different kinds of pickles every year! I meant to document her recipes, I really did, but procrastinated – what can I say, I was young, life stretched ahead - and then one day it was too late! I learnt my lesson, however, and while my Dadi’s recipes are lost I managed to record some of my Nani’s (and many more from all the other legendary cooks in the family). But that’s just a fraction. Aam Achaar Day last year showed me just how much wealth we are in danger of losing in India.

I also realised I am not alone in my love for Achaar. Zillions of us Indians have loved our Achaar in India down the ages. Pickling is the process of preserving otherwise perishable foods by immersing it in acidic brine for anywhere from days to years is a practice that has existed globally and in India since ancient times. Interestingly, while many of concepts and ingredients; salt, pickling spices like mustard and more are common to pickling across the world - just like everything else we do when it comes to India - we have taken pickling to a whole other level too! From using all sorts of souring agents, sour kanji, buttermilk, lime juice and vinegar the adding oil, spices like turmeric, coriander, fennel, onion seed, and most importantly oil to the equation!

In India we will pickle almost anything, vegetables, fruits, flowers, roots, shoots stems, even seafood and meats. Which is why Indian pickles offer some of the most diverse and exotic tastes and textures imaginable. A lot of our pickles are fiery hot, but they're also sour, pungent, fragrant, sweet-and-sour and tart. They can be toothsome, crisp, chewy or silky-textured. Sometimes the flavors are fresh, the taste of each spice distinct. And often when the pickle has been aged, the flavours will have melded and intensified, the textures melted and softened. The astonishing range of pickles available, probably exceeds the sum total of languages and dialects spoken in our country! So much so that a mango pickle of the South will taste totally different from one of the North although the same fruit is being pickled (there will probably also be a few hundred types in between).

And this mind-boggling diversity comes from the variety of ingredient pickled, the quantities and nature of the oil, spices, souring agents, and treatments applied to the pickles from region to region. The oil used as a base varies - with Mustard oil preferred in the North as opposed to Gingelly (Sesame) common to the south. The colder North favours warming spices like Cloves, Pepper and Nigella while the warmer South use cooling spices like Mustard, Curry leaves and Asafeotida, The north prefers Lime juice amchur and Circa (Vinegar) while the south uses lime juice, tamarind, curd as the acidifying agent. And where applicable the sweetener will also vary.

Talk to any Indian and she or he will have a pickle memory, making them with their grandmothers or mothers, their first taste of spicy flavours, or eating a favourite meal, hot and steaming dal-rice with a spicy mango achaar, ghee laden parathas with stuffed chilli pickle. curd rice with vadu manga or finding comfort in a bottle of pickle far away from home! And that primal feeling of orgasmic satiation after that favourite meal!  When children are introduced to powerful flavours so young in India, is it surprising that we grow up to want robust flavour in our food? In India we LIVE for flavour! And there is seldom subtlety in our greed for it! Possibly because our meals have evolved over time to be simple combinations of lightly cooked cereals, pulses and vegetables. Robust condiments have evolved alongside to add oomph. Nothing beats the instant flavour satiation of achaar (or chutney but that’s for another day)! And once hooked, we are ever famished, always wanting more… taste, texture, flavour… like all addicts, constantly looking for a stronger fix. In fact, I often think that the Hot sauce clubs of America have nothing on us achaar (pickle) fanatics of India! We may not be neatly organized, or have publications dedicated to our passion, our love for pickles is far more visceral… we love our Achaar!

It is April in India and pickling season is on. An annual ritual that has repeated itself in the hot months of the India’s summer for eons. It is also #AchaarDay on 22, the Indian Food Observance Day calendar I started last year. Come join me in celebrating the bounty of our culinary heritage as I explore the A-Z of Indian Achaar through April and participate in Blogchatter AtoZ. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A VERY exciting slightly INSANE announcement! (Read to believe!)

I am entering the blogging #BlogchatterA2Z blog through April Challenge

Yes I am VERY late.

Yes I am most definitely insane!

But I haven’t been able to stop thinking of it. So I am going to do it.

I’ve been wanting to get back to blogging – the live-my-food-life-on-my-blog type of blogging. I have also been wanting to lose myself in a subject. And then this A2Z challenge caught my eye, and had me obsessed. And then the folks at Blogchatter got in touch to ask me to be part of #FBChatter their series of Live Panel Discussions. Namely one on 'Food Writing in India' along with my long-time friend, food blogger Kalyan Karmakar of Finely Chopped and hosted and moderated beautifully by a newer blogger friend Anindya Basu of Pikturenama who I have followed keenly since I discovered him last year. The session, our conversations, the memories it evoked and the audience participation is really what finally got me truly going on this.

I am late starting because I was looking for inspiration. Then #AacharDay came along… and I finally found it in Achaars when I started gearing up for Achaar Day (portentous since my career in food writing began with a blogpost on Achaars 15 years ago- talk about coming full circle!) And then I had to put content together to see if I had enough to start with because I had to catch up halfway through. Well 15 years of writing stood by me, I did! And like the best pickles, it all fermented together and here we are!

"What is this Blogging From A to Z Challenge you ask?"
And I thought I was THE LAST ONE to find out about it!

The blogging A2Z April Challenge started in 2010 and has been growing each year. Blogchatter does #BlogchatterA2Z. It basically calls for bloggers that participate to post a blogpost every week-day in April, inspired by a letter of the alphabet (hence the A to Z!) In normal circumstances Sundays are off (but not for me seeing as I am JUST starting). Ideally at the end of April one would have 26 blog posts, one per letter of the alphabet!

The theme I have picked is A-Z of Achaar! Look forward to my trip through the pickle jars of the world as I lose myself in mangoes, chillies, jars, vinegar, fermentation, making, tasting, cooking and God alone knows what else… (I promise I am far more sorted than this sounds…) There will be essays, recipes, #Foodles, trivia, memories, histories and if I get high enough on pickles maybe a stray poem or fiction piece too!

So... off we go! With the hope that this will get me back into my favourite aspect of my life, blogging and writing regularly (too many unfinished posts have languished to unread death in my computer), will help me write faster and with greater self-discipline (something I forgot along the way) and hopefully find new blogger friends and blogs to read! And maybe at the end of it I’ll make an e-book on Achaars or something because I so want to write another book… BUT I will stop here (lets leave that for when I get to that bridge!) 

See you on the other side! 


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#AchaarDay, everything you need to know and the start Indian Food Observance Days round 2!

#SubziTarkariDin concluded the 1st round Indian Food observance days I started celebrating last year. And just like that one year has gone past and it is time to celebrate #AamAchaarDay again on 22 April 2018! Only this time let's not stop at Amm achaar and expand the concept into #AchaarDay.

Many people felt that sticking to only Aam Achaar last year was limiting. Something I also began to feel as I got down to planning round 2 of Indian food observance days. What convinced me, completely was a research project I was commissioned to do. The project involved documenting pickles from all over India (Yes! I AM that lucky....!) An during the research phase, I realised that no cuisine in the world can equal the repertoire of pickles Indian cuisine boasts! Then, one day, I visited local supermarkets to see what pickles were available on shelves. It was shocking! The offerings were so meagre, just a handful of commercially packaged mango, lime and chilli pickles occupied spaces that just a couple of years ago, were brimming with all kinds of wonderful regional pickles.

It was heart breaking. Indian pickles offer some of the most diverse and exotic tastes and textures imaginable. Aam achaar Day 2017 exposed us to the massive range of mango pickles, alone, in India. Now multiply that with all the other vegetable like lime, chilli, carrot, cauliflower pickled across regional and community cuisines and the results become formidable. AND THEN, add all the special pickles that are unique to regions and communities such as the Monji achaar of Kashmir, Ool (Yam) achaar of MP, Gunda Nu Athaanu of Gujarat, Ker Sangri of Rajasthan, Bombay Duck pickle of the East Indian community, Narangya pickle of Kerala, Bengali Kuler Achaar, and Bogorir (jujube), Bamboo shoot and Jolpai (local olive) pickles of Assam. We can pickle almost anything in India--vegetables, fruits, even meats. In fact one of the most interesting aspects of my project was discovering the variety of fish and meat pickles we also boast in Indian cuisine. From the Teetar ka achaar of the north (now illegal), meat pickle of Garhwal, Mutton loncha of Maharashtra and Pork pickle of Assam, to the Fish Pada of the East Indian community and the Kolimbiche Lonche (pawn pickle) of the Pathare Prabhu community. And that’s STILL just scratching the surface!

My friend Saee pointed out last year that "Indian pickles are as Artisanal as food can get."  Artisanal food are non-industrial foods, handmade in small batches, using methods handed down through generations and often dangerously close to extinction. Indian Pickles certainly fit the bill! In fact let me give you an example of myself, my paternal grandmother, was legendary for making upwards of 90 pickles annually. I inherited only a handful of her recipes. And my maternal great-grandmother is said to have been a legendary pickle maker, but I only have descriptions of the truly unusual pickles she is said to have made! I can only lament over what is lost in these cases, but, that said I do believe that we can all work to ensure we avoid more losses like this. It really is up to us to carry our legacies forward...

So this year on Sunday 22 April 2018, we will celebrate with two hashtags. #AchaarDay and #AamAchaarDay for specifically Mango pickles where applicable.

How can we celebrate #AchaarDay on social media ?
  • Instagramers - Show us your best 'Pickleface' ! Eat a face puckering pickle, take a selfie/picture and share with us using #Pickleface !
  • Video Bloggers - Traditional pickle recipes will make great video content. Here is
  • Food Bloggers - this is a fantastic way to be inspired and create content! Write about pickles, compile listicles on regional pickles, pickle sellers (look at mine at the end of this post). Share stories and memories of pickle making, or pickles and their recipes from your family or regional cuisine. All great ideas for blogposts/articles with unique content. Go blog and write! And share links with us using hashtag #AchaarDay. For example, read Saher’s blog on Konkani Muslim Lonchas and Aparna's blog on Andhra Avakai from last year.
  • Chefs, restaurants and/or food outlets - Do your serve unusual Pickles or pickle-based dishes? Tell the world using #AchaarDay hashtag.
  • Remember to use the #AacharDay hashtag!

How to Celebrate #AchaarDay?
Pickle making is messy business!
  • Eat Achaar
  • Recipes - Pull out family recipes, get together with the elders in your family and make achaarDocument recipes. Share regional, community and family pickle recipes and stories.
  • Have a Pickle making session with family and friends
  • Can’t or don’t want to get your hands dirty? Share pictures, videos, stories and favourite memories of Achaar, achaar wallaas favourite achaars eaten at homes or local food outlets.
  • Take your pickle to  #AchaarDay party! Have a pickle potluck. Cook up a huge batch of Dal rice and rotis, and invite everyone to bring an achaar! Pickle heaven!
  • Ditch the supermarket and buy local regional pickle, try new things, here is a list of pickle makers I have compiled. (Do share any others you might know.

Pickle Makers
Type of Pickles Available
Makes a whopping 12-15 types of pickles. Some Punjabi and others her own including mutton, chicken, pork and kheema pickle. ALo caters.
Gujarati Pickles (And Gujarati Pop-ups)
Parsi Lagan nu achaar, Bombil pickle, Vasanu, Tarapori Patio, Dudhi Murabba and more.
Parsi Prawn and Brinjal pickles and more to come.
(Also Parsi catering)
Sindhi and Kutchi Pickles
Bengali Pickles and relishes and more
Fantastic signature pickles, amazinf Bengali and other food pop up meals in Bandra.
Punjabi pickles
(Different from above)
Chicken, Pork, Prawn, Mutton, Jackfruit, Lotus Stem, Mushroom
Gujarati Pickles
Gujarati Pickles and some others as well.
Lovely South Indian artisanal pickles
Largest selection of pickles from around India
North East Indian Pickles
Assamese Bhoot Jolokia, Jolpai pickles and North East cuisine pop-ups
Goan Sorpotel (On order) and some fabulous Goan food on order.
Pathare Prabhu pickles (On order) and Pathare Prabhu food on order.

Please to tag the new page on Indian Food Days - The Annual Indian Food Calendar  (Feel free to follow this if you want to follow everything happening). If you would like to join into conversations, participate in celebrations and more, we also have a group now Indian Food Observance Days Facebook Group.

I will end with a deliciously pickle-y recap of last year’s #AamAchaarDay celebrations. Here's a blogpost on the regional pickle making event at APB Cook Studio. Or watch the Aam Achaar Day video (don’t miss the part where Harini sings a traditional Tamil song associated with pickling). Click on the #AamAcharDay FB Twitter and Instagram to see all the wonderful updates from last year. Also read this story by Vikram Doctor in the Economic times. And this story by Avantika Bhuyan in ET Panache. And lastly my blogpost on what #AamAchaarDay meant to me.

This #AchaarDay I am hosting a Pickle potluck, Email me if you would like to join the fun. I am also really late with it but I’v decided to attempt the Blog from AtoZ in April challenge starting tomorrow. So watch this space!
Have a wonderfully piquant #AchaarDay!
Our pickle makers from last year (Usha Wadhwa, Heena Munshaw, Saee Koranne Khandekar, Rhea Dalal, Harini Prakash, Myself, My daughter Nastasha and Geeta Sridhar. )

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Lets celebrate the 1st ever #SubziTarkariDin on 31 March 2018!

From a simple onion smashed with salt to eat with a paratha, to cool crunchy cachumber, tangy raitas, quickly stir fried greens, elaborate gravies and more, vegetables find their place at every meal everyday in India. 

Subzi/Subji/Shaak/Tarkari/Xaak whatever name we might know them by, all over India vegetables hold pride of place on the Thali alongside dal, rice and roti. Vegetables bring vital variety, flavour, texture and colour to our meals. they also nutritionally enhance our diets with essential fibre, micro nutrients, essential minerals and more.

Vegetables play an intrinsic role in our food, but seldom get their due. And more so in recent years. Many factors, including the growth of supermarkets and convenience stores, have led to a monumental decrease in the variety of vegetables and dishes made with them that we consume. We also tend to eat what is packaged up for us - cauliflowers without the green parts, Mooli without the leaves and more.

Indian dietetics set down eons ago, said how we ate, what we ate, when we ate it, all had a purpose. Eating local and seasonal was a large factor of the overall belief, because it was beneficial to the individual and the ecosystem. Regional Indian diets traditionally showcased a wide variety of vegetables that were consumed round the year in various ways. And we also made the most of what we had access to. Most community cuisines have recipes that use up vegetable stems, leaves, peels and other bits, dry, pickle and preserve surplus produce because traditionally cuisines used up as much as they could, making the most of the flavour and nutrition in all parts of the plant. That is why terms like 'food waste' and root to tip did not exist. With Subzi Tarkari Day, let us rediscover together the traditional wisdom we have in Indian Cuisine.  

On #SubziTarkariDin I would like to invite you to to celebrate the diversity of fresh produce we have, in all its varied glory by shopping locally, cooking and eating seasonally and talking about everything vegetables. Here are some ideas to celebrate.

Support the local food producer - #SelfieWithSubziwalle
Ditch the supermarket and visit your local vegetable market (take your kids along!), farmers market or subziwala. Buying directly from the farmer or subziwali/a ensures they get the maximum earnings from the labour they put into growing and bringing you your vegetables rather the more circuitous less beneficial route of middlemen and supermarkets. 

In fact most of us have a favourite subziwali/a. The ones we swear by, who bring us the best produce at the best prices. And the one we have a bit of a gossip with as we haggle over vegetables. On your next visit, why not take a selfie with your favourite Subziwali/a and share their story with #SelfieWithSubziwalle (so men and women can be showcased). I know I would love to hear it, wouldn't you? 

Eat Local, Seasonal and Boring and Ugly! 
The beauty of shopping at local markets is you find a lot more variety than you would at supermarkets. Many local vegetables deteriorate quickly so supermarkets do not stock them. Markets do. They also allow you to explore the sheer variety of local and seasonal vegetables we cook and eat in India. Discover lesser known vegetables we don’t eat any more, cook them and share information on them. And please buy the boring and the ugly vegetables. Many people detest certain vegetables. doodhi, turai, tinda are boring, kaddu is unappetizing, ugly karela is bitter and root vegetables like yam are not to be considered...  But all of these and more have fantastic potential that is missed purely because we might be cooking them wrong, so buy them, try them, discover them!

Document and Share varieties and Recipes
I remember I used to hate the Gujarati Doodhi (lauki) Chana nu shaak - a bland, texture-less perpetration in my home until I tried a Tamilian Brahmin version redolent with chilli, pepper and coconut as a friends house. The great thing about local vegetables is that most of them are cooked across community cuisines in different ways. So whether it is the simple potato cooked in a thousand ways, vegetable and meat combinations like a Saag Gosht (Sadia Dehli's book has a variety of dishes in which meat is cooked with vegetables), or vegetable and dal combinations like palak /lauki wali dal or elaborate vegetable preparations like Sarson Saag, Undhiyu or Sai Bhajji, chances are there is a fab recipe that will please your palate with every vegetable, just look around!

Discover how different vegetables are cooked by;
Discussing vegetables on your Facebook and Whassap food groups.
Pull out and share family recipes, document and share them.
Love a vegetable? Or hate? Learn to make vegetables in new ways by learning recipes from other cuisines of India through cookbooks and the internet.
Can’t or don’t want to cook? Share pictures, videos, stories and favourite memories of subzi/vegetables seen/eaten at homes or local food outlets.

Avoid Food Waste, Eat Root to Tip
Buy whole vegetables, leaves roots and all. (Supermarkets often denude vegetables of leaves and stalk. Bur often stalks and leaves have a lot more nutrition and flavour.) Use the whole vegetable in different ways. Stalks of the cauliflower, leaves of the radish, dig up family recipes and old cookbooks to see how our elders traditionally used all parts of vegetables.
Reduce and recycle food waste, fruit and vegetable peels, seeds, roots, stems of leafy vegetables often have more nutrients and flavour than the fruit of veg itself. And they can all be used in innovative ways. Find out how from traditional family cooks. 

If you are in the food industry here are some ideas for ways to celebrate #SubziTarkariDin
Instagramers- markets and vegetables make great subjects, go wild with beautiful vegetable pictures! Go foraging with your phone camera and share pictures with #SubziTarkariDin on Instagram and Instastories,
Video Bloggers - Local market trips, traditional recipes, ways to cook new dishes with local ingredients, recipes that use up all parts f a plant, make best of veggie waste will all make great video content.
Food Bloggers - this is a fantastic way to find new ideas to write about; you could do Listicles of local vegetables or vegetables cooked in your community cuisine. or blog unusual family recipes, regional recipes for cooking root to tip, or even just focus on one vegetable you love (or hate!). All these offer ideas for blogposts/articles with unique content. Go blog and write! And share links with us using hashtag #SubziTarkariDin
Chefs, restaurants and/or food outlets - Consider a #SubziTarkariDin special by making and serving unusual vegetables, ugly vegetables, create root to tip menus, tell interesting stories for patrons to share on their social media platforms.

We will share everything on our new page - The Annual Indian Food Calendar  (Feel free to follow this if you want to follow everything happening). If you would like to join into conversations, participate in celebrations and more, we also have a group now Indian Food Observance Days Facebook Group.

Here is a WIP list of things happening around India for #SubziTarkariDin (It is ambitious and subject to change based on many variables including time, internet connections etc.) But it will all be hosted on page - The Annual Indian Food Calendar  page for posterity

FB Live-a-thon
Curtain Raiser

Dr. Pushpesh Pant will share vignettes on the history of vegetable consumption in India on Video.
Monica Manchanda goes live HAL market in Indranagar, Bangalore
Nandita Iyer will go live from her garden and talk about growing vegetables and starting seelings.
Smita Deo goes live from Lokhandwala subzi market, Mumbai
Chef Amit Pamnani goes live from the Malwa Mill Subzi Mandi
Kalyan Karmarkar and I will go live from Pali Market, Bandra
Anubhav Sapra of Delhi Food Walks goes live from Agatpur Subzi Mandi in Delhi
Kashmiri Nath goes live from Uzan Bazaar one of the oldest markets in Guwahati
Kashmiri Nath and members of the North East Food Forum do a live cooking demo from the local all women powered, Uruka restaurant in Guwahati.
Shital Kakkad goes live from a potluck curated by her. Special guest of honour is her Subziwalli.

We expect Mudra to go live from Bhopal with a cooking demo and more!

Other activities
All Day
Chef Bali, himself an inspiring source of knowledge on food, will be sharing videos through the day of home cooked vegetable dishes from different communities by the Kitchen Management Associates of Oberoi Centre for Learning and Development.

Indian Food Observance group members are getting together for potlucks in the following cities:-
Mumbai - Curator Shital Kakkad
Kolkatta - Curator Rukhsana Kapadia
Indore - Curator Amit Pamnani
Bhopal (Curator Mudra Keswani)
Guwahati (Curator - Kashmiri Nath).

  Or forget everything I have said and find a new way to do something all on your own! 
However, you choose to celebrate, please use #SubziTarkariDin when sharing updates on social media. Have a delicious #SubziTarkariDay.