Arti’s Tiffinbox: an introduction

18 05 2010

Everybody say hello to Arti Goyate a.k.a Mum.

I’ve decided, as a small dedication to her, and a bigger tribute to her cooking, to start a series called Arti’s Tiffinbox.

Because I love my mum’s cooking. No exaggeration. And there’s no other way to put it. Every time I eat a meal cooked by her, I feel my soul warm up. It might be a to do with having lived away while studying. It might be something about just having an adult appreciation for things I took for granted as a kid.

What I know for sure is it’s a legacy I hope I can carry forth into my jumbled world of Anglo-Indian linguistic confusion and other cultural meltingpotesque manifestations. My mum’s cooking is a culmination of her mixed and unique experiences. She wasn’t taught it by her mother. She picked it up living the life of an unwitting renegade. Her food is her memories, her lessons, her experimentation and curiosity that compelled her to inch towards to the edge to see what’s on the other side. It’s her creative use of limited resources, her way of coping with unfamiliar territories and hostility. It’s oh so soulful. And every bite always makes me feel so damned good.

So, I’ll be carefully extracting these recipes from grains of her being to bring them to you.

But before I start it, I just need to clarify a few things for you:

  1. Tiffin is a word for lunch. It’s normally a kind of lunch that’s packed into a sectioned carrier, so the foods don’t get mixed. It makes me think of a good wholesome meal on the go. And it’s a food-related word that works well for the title.
  2. My mum never measures her ingredients. It means that some of the measurements I give in recipes will be guesstimates. Good guesstimates, I promise. But that gives you the freedom to improvise. (And now I’ve warned you, you can’t blame me if it turns out rubbish!)
  3. Sometimes, I won’t know the English names of ingredients. It’s not cos I’m ignorant. It’s just how it is. And for some things there just aren’t English names. Like doodhi! I’ll try to define anything I think needs extra explanation.
  4. Mum’s a vegetarian. That means strictly vegetarian recipes. It also means lots and lots of veggie choices.
  5. I don’t claim any recipes to be ‘authentic’ Indian recipes. My mum’s Gujarati, but there are influences from all over India and the world in her food. They’re authentic in that they’re my mum’s.
  6. These dishes are the result of over thirty-odd years of discovery, experimentation, refinement and fine-tuning. So don’t be too distressed if yours doesn’t have the magic. It’ll get there with time and dedication.
  7. The actual task of sitting my mum down and getting her to tell me these recipes is near enough impossible. In fact, this is the first time I’ve EVER succeeded. (And I’m not gonna lie, it was a little bit painful.) What you’re witnessing, my friends, is history in the making. So you’d better appreciate it!

I’ll be starting with a simple and easy daal (lentil) recipe. I had it for dinner tonight with some rice. It was so freakin’ good. It’s what inspired me to start this whole series in the first place.

See you on the other side then.

Tiffin image provided by bandita

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If you like words

8 02 2010

The most awesome proprietors of the revolutionary Writer’s Block (see blogroll to the right, yo) are putting on their first show of the decade! And you should come along for these reasons:

  1. You are guaranteed to see/hear the most inspiring and talented acts this century, whether they’re poets, musicians, film-makers, graffiti artists, the DJ or the most charming compere, Tracy D.
  2. The bar, Juno, serves fantastic food.
  3. Because I said so. Obviously!

But seriously. I first got into spoken word and performance poetry while studying in NYC where I frequented the ultra-quirky Bowery Poetry Club. Their regular Tuesday open mic night, the Urbana Poetry Slam featured some of the MOST blindingly talented wordsmiths I had ever come across. Every time I went, I left the buzzing atmosphere with goosebumps, and probably fancying one of the poets for I am, indeed, a sucker for a well-articulated mofo.

I came back to London desperate to witness the same level of overly inspiring, vibrant and unique showcasing of talent. Of course poetry is around in many forms and personas in the city, but I had yet to experience the bumpin’, audience-participatory, almost-party vibe that the Bowery had offered.

My poetry-prayers were answered in the form of Writer’s Block. After failing to successfully make it down to the Shoreditch location a few times, I eventually reached it in June of last year and was completely blown away! With the warm June sun shining outside (yeah, remember when the sunshine was actually HOT?) the bar was packed and after each act, there was a buzzing consensus that we had all just witnessed some of the rawest and genuine talent to come from this fledgling, ‘lost’ generation in the past few years.

And although never exactly the same, subsequent Writers Block events have always featured the same high level of talent from already-established as well as up-and-coming artists. And with people from all kinds of backgrounds, the stories they bring to the stage are always infallibly varied and fascinating. There’s bound to be something that grabs your attention by the collars, comes right close up to its face and lays on a gigantic smacker, leaving you enamoured, if only for a sweet minute.

If that’s not enough to persuade you, then check out the review of the September 2009 Writer’s Block on the Bookfreeq blog here. (If you take a quick glance at the blogroll you’ll see her freeqy self perched among other very cool links!).

I’ll now present to you, as always, all the finely-scented details in a neat little parcel pour toi:

Writer’s Block “Passion” Show
Date: Thursday Feb 11th 2010
Time: 8pm onwards (but I’d advise getting there early as it gets packed fairly quickly)
Location: Juno, 134-135 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JE
Price: £5

If you want to stalk Writer’s Block (they won’t mind):
http://lovewritersblock.com
http://Myspace.com/lovewritersblock
http://twitter.com/lovewblock

See you there fellow wordlovers!