THE KOLKATA STREET FOOD EXPERIENCE

film poster whirled 2013The KOLKATA STREET FOOD EXPERIENCE returns to the Whirled Cinema on the 18 & 19 March with the sounds, sights, smells and tastes of Kolkata in a unique sensory experience featuring the award winning film ” STREET FOOD KOLKATA – WHY NOT…” and the amazing snacks featured in the film- falling off the screen and fresh into your mouth.

kolkata chat mash new trimThere will be the everybody lovelove jhal muri express, vip ghugni dal, a phuchka counter and dhokla station, rose royal lassi’s, sweets, coolers and bhaul chai.

Authentic and original- tastes of the mighty city.

For a TRAILER for the film click this

The address is WHIRLED CINEMA, 259 HARDESS STREET, LOUGHBOROUGH JUNCTION, NR BRIXTON. SE24 0HN. Click for link to map.

The cost is £20 and tickets are only available here for the all the foods, the film and the experience. Come hungry leave nourished.

ALLWAYS WELCOMEThe Whirled Cinema is one of London’s hidden gems and perfect to spend an evening grazing on Bengali chaats and  refreshments, cushioned form the outside goings on with beautiful sounds and visions and the good vibe.

We open at 7.30 and the film starts at 8.45 and lasts an hour. You can eat before, during after the film. It is casual and relaxed.

There is a bar, sofas and a smoking deck. Everything.

Any information needed call me 07772028212

TICKETS ONLY FROM HERE

DIRECTS– The Whirled Cinema is just near Loughborough Junction station- Capital First Direct line and also just a skip and a hop on a bus from Brixton.

WHY NOT…

CHAAT COUNTERChaat literally means lick and is used to describe the eatings that are inbetween the main meals. They are all about the textures and all the tastes and all the pleasures. They are fresh, alive and nourishing to the core.

This is some of what you can expect.

jhal muri 2012The omnipresent chaat of Bengal, everywhere you will find in as many variations as there are people. All the same and all different.

vip ghugni trim 2Adapted from the Kolkata version were the dried pea or chick pea is used, here masor dal- the split red dal-is cooked with light spice and topped with tamarind chutni,  bombay onions, ginger, coriander, lime, chaat masala, lime and sev- the crisp noodle made form the chick pea flour.

phuchkas 2A phuchka is called a phuchka because when you puncture the crisp hollow puri it goes phuchk. A puri is a hollow crisp bread the size of a golf and it is filled with smashed potato flavoured with mustard oil, tamarind and mint water. You eat all in one and all becomes one.

DHOKLA STATIONDhokla actually is a dish from the western state of Gujarat but like many of the chaats has found its way to the east. It is a steamed savoury sponge made from the chick pea flour and we serve it with  thinned yogurt, hari chutni, ( coriander, lime and chilli) date

raisin and ginger chutni and tamarind sauce- all topped with coconut and other nice bits. It works.

royal lassi trim

The yoghurt beaten into a voluptuous arangement flavoured with rose water, palm sugar and the vivid orange of the alphonso mango.

All dishes served from carts and trollies decorated with all the flowers of the rainbow, made from bent metal and held together with copper wire and inner tubes. Thats how we go.

teljme trim

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CHRISTMAS WRAP

A bit of unashamed self promotion here with the duel intention of helping you out with an easy to administer ready wrapped and unique christmas present as well as helping me get to Ghana in Febuary to make another film.

The award wining film and the strictly limited edition book on the incredible street food of Kolkata all lovingly wrapped and parcelled up and delivered to whose ever front door step you wish to see it land on- I can even put on a gift tag and a copy of your signature.

Just £15.00 all in, with no post office cues, selotape or shinny paper to deal with. Orders need to be places by the Tuesday 20th December to ensure delivery by the happy day.

 

So there we have it. If this is of interest to you you can either contact me on – onangus@yahoo.com or go through the website –press here that has paypal facilities. This will be running from Wednesday 14th december.

If these suggestions do not quite satisfy your need for the Indian take on glitter and sparkle then the Londoners could do worse to zip to Little Indian in Tooting, Bopal’s down the Ealing road, Wembley or to Sanskruti  just by Alperton tube stop. And when you all done find yourself a chat counter and eat some of the best and cheapest food in London. Ballo.

THE FILM

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The mighty city of Kolkata seen from dawn to dusk through the constant kitchens of the pavements that provide fuel for millions on the move. An extreme and intense situation that spawns some of the most delicious, nutritious and cheapest food anywhere. Undiluted by voice over or presenter the story is told by street characters, the bewildering visuals and the original sound track.At times inspiring at times confusing, as is in the city but ultimately beautiful, uplifting and a moving meditation to making the most of not very much.This is not a short cut, it’s the real thing.

THE BOOK

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A very limited edition with 50 pages and 200 colour photos, written in the cosmopolitan English for all to understand- this little beauty tells you about all of the street foods found in Kolkata, the ingredients the make it have the style and how it makes the difference to the well-being.

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SUMMER COME SUMMER GO PART 2

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SO you licking your wounds in a safe house in Totnes, soaking away in warm waters a week of mud out of your system and wondering how to righten the listing ship when a phone call and they are all ” its a bit last minute but are you free and would a fat figure edging towards the magic 3 zero’s be ok” and all of  sudden you seeing blue skies again.

In-between the bringing of the Kolkata Street Food Experience to a beautiful barn in a hidden valley in South Devon with the showing of the film and eating of the snacks- jhal muri, ghungi chaat, chai and phulchas. Yes they like. A sunny evening and sunny compliments and you leave nourished again off to the last minute gig -back to the Cotswolds and the most beautiful priory only recently relinquished by the monks but who prayers still permeate around the walled gardens were the muri cart is positioned. Its privileged to bring along a snack that has such humble origins to such beautiful places especially if when, as here you are treated with respect. Isn’t that the most important thing to given

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In London you get up to a bit of general summer hawking at office spaces, cinema cues, commuter routes and the following ethereal sounds that lead a rose garden in bloom in Brockwell park were, on an evening were the light held other qualities a besuited frame sang and twisted and turned to every note of Mr Bogangles as the world stopped and filled with a moment never to be replaced nor removed. There was a day filming for a series riding on the back of all the present hype about street food- “Street Feasts” for the foodnet work channel, which as one of the only food channels in the uk is a prime example of the shocking way food is represented in the film base media. Endless repeats of dulge ain’t going to make them get better, trust me. Anyhow maybe this one will break the mould. We go shopping around Tooting in the very understanding Bhavins and do a bit of muri action on the street and much excitements there is what with a camera crew and free chat. Give a bit -get a lot. I like.

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The next day its back to school to introduce the wonders of the jhal muri to a class rooms of 8 or 9 years olds decked out in saris, bindi’s, turbans and kuta’s. They wide eyed and very sweet and give you a honey moon period of 10 minutes before the roasted rice starts flying. I leave the carnage  to the cleaners and head east to Norfolk to a private festival do- a home gig really- the first festival I did the muri and they let me do what i want and i do i just that- be wrong not to. A friendly dressy, safe affair were people trust and talk. Sleep is an option not taken by many but it ain’t edgy or nervous- just a bubble that is all about the pleasures and stepping out of the box. There was a fair amount of rain that came from all angles but come monday those still not ready to return headed down to the river were there was a sauna in the river, a beach , a bar and a dancette record player and a trunk of old 45’s. Perfect- and I served up warm dal boxes and phulchas cannonballs to remind the revellers what food tasted like again.

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Back to the city, there were also a couple of large parties for the muri and the ghugni- flat fees unaffected by weather patterns or pitch placements and good to have a wedge to sit on as you drive towards Wales in the Malvern Hills for the Big Chill festival.

You leave at dawn as the sun breaks and shadows form as you’re filling up with boxed of coconuts, green lime, bombay onions, coriander and the like from the wholesale market by Southall- a cosmopolitan affair that feels like you could be many hundreds of miles away and fills you with the excitement of new faces, new places and adventures untold that make travel so addictive. “Set the sails I feel the winds a-stiring” – and its the M4 west- back to the hills of Stroud and on a bit to fill with holy water and then settle for for five days with old friends, butterflies and magical stones under the watch of Eastnor castle.

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The big chill started 10 years or so ago as an alternative to the nut nut and since has become a large brand and the festival side has really run its course and its time has been. Numbers were 2 thirds down but up in the enchanted garden were the express opened its doors no one noticed- a festival within a festival. We had a tight nit team that ran as smooth as ice rolling down warm skin come sunday we had sold pretty much all we had to offer. In-between there was the fantastic Mama Toukous in the bid cage,  Norman Jay in the sunshine, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, the mighty Femi Kuti and an endless sunday night that went up, down, to the left and to the right.

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As the cities of England burned the Express took the back roads up the spine of country, Edinburgh bound. The peak district, the moors, the dales. All river swimming, easy rolling and beautiful beyond belief. Stopping off in Bradford to stock on Indian supplies and with a heart warming welcome from the Bengali’s there;- and these are the people seen by some as the threat.

In Birmingham Tariq Jahan, whose son had been killed for standing his ground, spoke chilling words of pure humanity and dignity that belie the sadness and anger he must have felt. Words that echo the true beauty of his faith and so much we need voices as his to be heard.

As we closed in on Edinburgh the clouds thickened and in time it started to rain and then it rained some more and some more and some more again. Proper rain this, not just a shower but rain thats wets you to the bone and beyond. After three days it stopped and you open up the van for business and a girl looks in and asks if you are a hippy and you ask what’s a hippy and she states a cunt like you. Like it or not you know were you stand.

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Muri and rain is not a winning combination but there were windows without to take the trolly along the Meadow down the streets of the beautiful city. Down south though you can hear the rumble of the fat bass bins calling and you roll through the night to carnival.

There has been a little history with the bureaucrats there so i leave the trolly behind and avoid the cat and mouse games dodging inspectors and go for myself and get me head stuck into a four hour rastafarian meditation at Abi Shanti’s sound system. Tune after conscious tune rumbling you inside and out as he bounces about like a ping pong ball twisting the dials, spinning the sevens and mixing and making the magic happen- the man is a marvel. holi holi holi and you walk away a rearranged being into the mashed up soul shake down of Gaz’s rocking blues arrangement which is heading for orbit and dissolving into uncontrolled mayhem and guilt free bliss. If there is a better place in the world to be on the last week end of the English summer i am not sure i want to know.

As the dust settles you take your mind, body and the  trolly down to the coast for sunset sessions on the Brighton sea front by the angel and the insect like skeleton of the west pier. At the week end its to Lewes for the Phoenix fayre in front of Zu studios, the incredible art and general good vibe space of Martin and Samira. Martin is one of the great manifestors  and can pull a party out of his pocket and have it fully installed and rocking before most people have boiled the kettle. The fayre is opened by the mayer at midday and twelve hours later you still mixing cones and swaying to the african rhythms.

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The Britsish Street Food Awards were set up by Richard Johnson, who also wrote Street Food Revolution published in June. This year the awards have joined onto Jimmy’s Harvest festival up near Ipswich and we head up with the plan to explain to the judges that the express is not some hobby of a flaky freewheeling odd ball but opens ones eyes to the great potential of the snack, which at present is a lucrative way for a few to pollute many with substances our bodies cannot handle. It was not to be though as bodies cannot also handle being driven too hard without proper attention and on Friday night, with the set up all installed and ready to go mine said no I ain’t having it no more and you find yourself in Ipswich hospital with a lot of wires coming out of a lot of places. You know that the maker has a sense of humour when the doctor finally comes he is from Kolkata and when you discharge yourself knowing that a week end of staring at a white ceiling and being fed hospital food would finish you off the taxi driver is from San Tome in Cape Verde- the place mentioned in Cesaria Evora’s lament to the the longing, Sodade– “who will show you…this distant way? This way… to San Tome” Back at the site its heaving and i open up performing like a beheaded chicken but that can only go on so long and in the dark you drive away feeling dark.

A couple of days later you are in another hospital with more wires being wheeled somewhere and the nurse is talking about Johnny Cash and Walk the Line– ” i keep a close watch on this heart of mine” and you know you haven’t but you vow you will. Hours later when you released there is a t-junction in the corridor. Mortuary to the left, no sign to the right- i take the right and see what happens and feel lucky to have the choice.

So you step it right down and start to eat and not to drink, to breath in the clean air and not the green air. Its not rocket science. A days filming for the US show “Eat Street” were you running on the electric autumn sunlight more than anything then down to Wimborne, Dorset for the Feast of Dorset which is a gentle 10- 6 food festival in the very beautiful grounds of Deans court and then to land for some days in a tree house in my favourite valley and make happy and make healthy again.

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SUMMER COME- SUMMER GO- PART 1

They say everyman needs protection they say everyman must fall… and after the honey moon of an early summer passed the express rides with the Heptones to the Huganought valleys around Stroud for a hill top wedding with a wild wind that blew all the clouds away and were old trees told old tales with the bending of the branches and the rustle of the leaves. Fueled by cava and cones hearts opened for all to see in a family affair of a family bound not by blood but a common cause. And then we are blown back east to London to redesign the muri cart and take it off to the book launch of Richard Johnson’s  ” Street Food Revolution” in beautiful garden hidden behind Victoria and the next day its back to the Rye for another night at the eat street hawkers fortnight organised by Petra the co-founder of the street food collective eat st and Yianni of the meatwagon fame- two great doers and god bless the doers.

Much has been written about Yianni and his grilling- and why not- he makes thing happen. After his stainless trailer was half inched from a Peckham garage on a snow bound December night he set up the Meateasy for the ugly months of winter above a dive bar in New Cross. Walking into it was like entering a highly charged bolt hole from sanity were you could do nothing but let the dog loose. It was like Ronald MacDonald got lost in the swamp on a day out and appeared a year later holding an unnerving grin- unshaved, perspiring and with glazed wild eyes that spoke many things not encouraged in suburbia. The delicious mayhem of all that grilling and shaking got him back on the road with an old US ambulance( meatwagon) and a regular pitch at the Rye and an appearance in Ok magazine. Who said punks dead. And as luck will have it last night i went to the preview of his new venture Meatliquor– all dark,red and decadent, underneath a car park and just round the corner from the Wigmore Hall.A place to pollute the precious with pleasure.

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There was a night down Vyner Street too for the first thursday art bash with all the vintage, haircuts, some arty goings on and a lot of continental just hanging out on the street. Steady business when the larger kicks in and after sleep park side and early swim in the London fields in the perfect blue of a Friday followed by a walk with the new trolly hawking around the Bangla (Bengali) areas of East London. Brick lane then Shadwell and the meat, fish and veg bazaars of Chapman Street that peddle Bengali fare in arches under the dockland light railway. Authentic and undiluted- cheap and good. Freezers full of fish you never heard of from the waters of Bangladesh and yes its not right on coming all the way around the world but the tastes are right off the plate and out of this world. They know about the fish- it is their great love at lunch. Just ask for help. Show a little interest you repaid a 100 times.  Salam-a-lekum… a-lekum salam- peace be with you.  Dhanyabaad- thank you and on we roll to Whitechapel market – more Bengali foods and household wares and surprised faces at a jhal muri cart with a white man at the helm. They are generous and kind to my version of their beloved snack but hidden in the shadows is the real thing and the only other jhal muri wallah I have seen over here. Also he governs from an argos trolly but no frills- just trolly and tray with the muri, sev, mustard oil, onion and coriander mixed, masala and hot chilli pickle. He mixes in a screw top jar and shake shake  shake and into a cup at a pound a pop. Bingo. My set up look vulgar and ostentatious in comparison but thats just how it goes.

Before pitching the van for a river side residence i pop into the pop up Dishoom on the south bank which in the blurb went  ” if an old Bombay Cafe strolled casually down to the beach (while perhaps on a mild acid trip), the result would be the Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Bar”- well if I got sold some acid  as bland, predictable and one dimentionnal  as this I would change my drug dealer.

June was filled with work away from the city and on the way out of town we head to one of London's Indian enclaves Tooting to get supplies not found on the rural areas and there were strange and wonderful goings on going on that Sunday morning. Coming down the Upper Tooting Road outside the Sikh temple they are stopping traffic to give people bottles of water and samosa's- no questions asked, nothing asked for. In the giving they receive. At Bhavins were i get my masor dal, tamarind blocks, palm sugar, yellow limes, bombay onions and all i am led into the back by Roy, one of the many brothers that run the show and given dal puri's fried straight from frozen till they turn crisp and swollen. Commercially made but homestyle taste. A puri is a flat bread and these are cd sized disc that have been filled with a layer of ground dal with mild spice. A street food wonder all over Northern India used to mop up the dals and the subji- a breakfast that make total sense when you need to go all the way. June is in the middle of the mango season and outside high pilled boxes of the swollen sensual fruits perfume the London streets. The different varieties appear as to there season. Alphonse, Keshar and Rajapuri the big juicy variety perfect for lassi's and also to eat with the fried puri's- infect it is hard to imagine a combination that takes you further to paradise.Crisp warm spiced bread, sweet voluptuous orange flesh- get the picture. Also from the one gas burner at the back of the store i am given potato mashed till silken and softly spiced, dipped in gram batter and fried and eaten with a little of their green chutney your mind is starting to levitate.

Pooja is  is a great sweet shop and chaat centre. There are many mirrors in the shop and many options to the tummy- sweets and snacks, snacks and sweets and on Sundays its alive with the excitements of what is to come. The Indian love of the pleasures of the palate is intoxicating and so grateful we should be to have them bring such colour and charm to the grey suburban landscapes. I get the dry stuff there for the muri- sev,  channa and mung dal and always something from the chaat counter. This time dahi varda- a lentil dumpling  (the varda) soaked in thin yoghurt( the dahi)  with tamarind, green chutney, red chutney, onion , crunchy bits, masala’s and more crunchy bits and all for £2.00- giving it away. Go check out the chaat- best value, best taste.

As i leave a bus passes with a poster across its side- Muslims for loyalty, freedom and peace. The websitewww.LoveforallHatredForNone.org. Yes please i’ll have some of that too.

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There was a couple of days cooking in a holy place in Oxfordshire- a place with a kitchen and a garden that provides  and then way out west for the great honour to cook for one of the great voices- Salif Keita of Mali. A rear soul with a voice as ancient as the past and as pure as the first gaze of a new born. It be true to say that he appeared less impressed with the jhal muri than I with his music but his eyes came alive with the tuna cooked with ginger, coconut, cinnamon, mustard seeds and coriander leaf, served with spicy tomato sauce and rice. Rice and fish- everyone gets the rice and fish

AND on we fly-up the M5- back to the hills by Stroud for the summers heftily reported wedding with the promise of some fat cash and A list action. 5 miles out as the rain starts you’re lost in the woods and loosing it to the greens and the clutch is slipping and smelling and the gears ain’t gearing and another wrong turn and you’re  starting to wonder but out of nowhere just when you least expect it there were some balloons and a small white sign and you say thank you to the unicorns. By 5 you all set and spinning out cones just in front of the dj set up with the stage just there and for the next hours you bathed in some of the best music you could wish to hear.Easing in with the love songs and into the jump and swing, calypso and skank from old school london dj’s from the blues of west London and the basements of Soho and then the band- my god the band. Warren Storm with ‘Lil Band of Gold– down home swamp music from Louisiana, the real deal with the music running through every cell of their collective body. Tight as tight as tight with a steady simmer starting and up they go and we have no choice but to follow. There was a break were micky fins and a prawn gumbo, made by the horn section, were shared and then for a second set that went into orbit and half way through its more than religious and the muri station is left to fend for itself and the boundary between upright professional and rum infused reveller has been well and truly broken. As the birds started to sing you side wind back to the van singing too, Reeling in the pleasure and the power of four fat beats to the bar delivered by people who mean every moment of it.

Were I the guilty type that ugly emotion could have raised its head for charging good money to have such fun but instead I drove in the slow lane all the way back to the holy place in Oxfordshire to provide fuel for people looking to find a deeper peace within with out resorting to rum fuelled rock and roll. While i cooked a vivid green soup with all the garden had to offer my laptop got stollen and an expensive metal box and years of unbacked up creations got smoked in a crack pipe in a Didcot bedsit. It felt wrong then, it feels wrong now. Some what stunned you head to the capital to get set for Glastonbury via the garage and get booted for your second three figure bill in three weeks and when the day before you meant to be leaving for the festival my beautiful van is back in the garage and I ain’t seeing the sunny side and the Be Good Tanyas hit it on the head – some times I don’t know were this dirty road is leading me, sometimes I don’t know the reason why but I guess I keep gambling lots of moves and lots of rambling cos its easier than waiting around to die. At the wholesale market in Southall were you shopping large for an event you not sure you get too, you see, in the office of the supplier of the Indian onions, a garland and a poster of a man in a turban with a message to the power of unity and oneness. At my veg suppliers in Covent Garden they have a calendar of a girl with vacant eyes, spread legs and a shaven snatch that looks like a bruise. Horses for courses.

A day late but the express rolls out of the garage and into the sun rising out of the western skies. Come Avebury the sun has given way to the rain and it accompanies me all the way to the churned up low-lying sodden strip of earth that is to be my home for the next week in the Babylon market area of the festival- the badlands in everyway. I got the pitch by turning up at the site office in April and opening up the van and serving up the muri. I said I can’t pay the rate and don’t do the main drag. There were nodding heads and mummers of appreciation. A week later i got a call offering a pitch at minimal rent next to a jazz bar open till three and i was thinking cool little corner that filtered out the masses and the scene of much magic and of the express being carried out on raised shoulders after a heaven sent week with pockets full of crumpled twenties- but instead you on Oxford street not just off the Kingsland Road and its going to be a long week of watching people walk past staring while eating pasties.

Alcohol inevitably becomes part of the equation and you running on tequila and cider. The local sound system shut down at 3 and the clear up truck rumble outside your tent at 5.30. By 8 you peel yourself of the ground and clear up the shit from in front of your stall, try and recreate some order, control the mud and pray for the sun. On Friday you escape to catch the last song of BB King- all silver haired and angelic, radiating a beauty that could melt a stone. He sang “The thrill is gone” and you feel it cut straight into your heart because in the drizzle that afternoon I knew just what he meant. For sure there were many lovely people who ventured throughout the cavernous mud pool in front of the stall and it was almost worth it to see Baz’s eyes on Sunday while he downed a ghungni box and yes the sun did come out on Sunday and Paul Simon sang Paul Simon sang “Slip Sliding Away” but by then my spirit had long slip slid away and you leave the next day £200 down- basically paying good money to have people crap out side your front door. Never again you say to yourself and an elephant never forgets- but i never did have a trunk.


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TAMARIND SAUCE

   

AHH the tamarind sauce, the great fixer of flavors and enhancer to all that it touch. a key payer in the chaats, bringing that sour sweet combination that sets everything of against each other. in a way a little like ketchup in that it goes with everything and did you know that ketchup originally came from china and that kolkata has the largest chinatown outside towns in china. no- but that is not what is important now- what is important is to de mystify the making of the tamarind sauce- for really it is very simple, very cheap and last longtime too.

The tamarind tree spreads a beautiful canopy from which pods hang like festive decorations. It is in these pods shaped similar to the green beans of summer, that the sour citrus flavoured pulp rests, clinging to its seeds that are smooth to the touch and the shape of conception.

Away from its native land there are different ways to buy the tamarind pulp. There is the concentrate, looking like marmite, easiest to use but a funny taste in the back ground. Then there are the wet tamarind or the dry blocks of the pulp. These have the seeds and fibres in which it takes a little longer to deal with but the flavour is more natural and it is much cheaper.

I use the dry because i like but there is little difference and you can cook them both the same way.

It keeps well in fridge or freezer so why not make two blocks worth as a bottle lingering around the place will never be to waste.

The idea is to meet the sourness of the pulp with some sweetness and subtle spices. Again so many variations to this simple sauce or chutni and the recite below is how i have been lately making for the lovelove express.  It is just a suggestion and nothing is set in stone.

To sweeten the sourness i use jaggary- the palm sugar. Now this is nothing to do with the   the palms that are replacing the beautiful and vital rain forests of indonisia and malaysia and  home to our orang brothers. Those palms are used to make palm oil which main function is to pad out crap food and make a lot for a few. No the jaggary is from the cane sugar that has been reduced to a fudge coloured block. The taste is also fudge like with a sweetness that comes strong and leaves quick with out that cloying chemical sweetness of the white sugar.

For the spices i use the warming spices- cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, star anise and mace.

With the spice often less is more. Over stimulating a dish with to many and too much can confuse and under balance. There is magic in the oils and aromas so give them room to breath and to weave their spell.

  • 2- 200 gm blocks tamrind
  • 500gm jaggary
  • 11 cloves
  • 11 cardamom
  • 11 black pepper corns
  • 1 mace skin
  • 3 star anise

So the blocks come in 200gm packs and take two of the dried blocks. Now to open these take care for they are wrapped in cellophane that can stick to the tamarind and take a while to release- so to avoid cut with a knife the celotape that holds it together at both ends and in the middle.

Put these in a pot along with the palm sugar and the spices. add a litre of water and bring to a boil and then bring down to a simmer. Occasionally give it a helping hand with a wooden spoon to get everything getting on and after half an hour all will have broken down and the flavours become one.

Leave to cool and then squeeze though a sieve into a bowl below with your hand. Have patience and find your rhythm and soon it will be done. The more you squeeze the more you get and add a little more water to help the process along. The consistency i use is that of maybe single cream. Always good to remember you can thin something down much more easily to fatten it up.

It freezes well and in a fridge you will finish it before it starts to ferment.


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GHUGNI CHAT

Ghugni chat- yet another example of all that is good with the street food of Kolkata and the turning of a simple dish into a five star arrangement that fills the small gaps and fills the big gaps as to your wish. Often found around the transport locations it is made from either the mutttar- the dried pea -or with the chick pea. These are soaked and boiled till cooked then made into a dish with onion, ginger, some small spice and maybe flour to make it go further. Sometimes potato too. This the base of the dish and it rests on the hawkers tray yellow as the sun. Often boiled eggs lurk around the ghugni tray and together they make perfect sense.

When an order comes in a little is pulled into the middle of the metal tray and heated with a fire bellow. Into a leaf plate it goes and then the seasoning begins. The tamarind chutni, the coriander, the tomato, the ginger and maslas all mixed in a rocking motion and its finished with onion, coconut, lime squeeze and more masala and far more satisfying it is than you feel it should be. Clean and clear and 100% nutrition.

Check the link for a film of the ghugni

http://vimeo.com/channels/80462#9071807

Since last year at the Jhal Muri express we have been adapting the ghugni into a different dish and apologies to the purists as i have kept the name  because i like it.

The seasoning is similar but I use the masoor dal as it needs no soaking, cooks quick and tastes great. Masoor dal is the red split pea you find many places from North Africa all the way across to Bengal. I also add texture to it in the shape of muri- the puffed rice, this goes on the bottom of the dish and on the top i finish it off with the sev- the crisp noodle arrangement made from the chick pea flour.

The Kolkata ghugni is more of a snack to see you around the corner were as my one is more of a dish that see you over the hill. As with most things the variations are endless and these just a suggestion to the different directions you can take it.

For the dal for 3 hungry people you will need

  • 1 cup or 4 handfuls or 200 gms of masoor dal
  • a splash of mustard oil
  • half teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 teaspoon panch paron
  • some good salt
  • dried red chilli

Mustard oil is the flavour of Bengal- check out the Indian shops and you will find. Go for the darker colour oils. Less refined, stronger taste. Mustard oil has to have a label saying “for external use only” which is further evidence of how bonkers the food bureaucrats are.

Tumeric is invaluable for medicinal qualities and the taste of the earth and the warmth of the sun but it is strong- little goes far.

Panch paron is Bengali five spice. Panch- five,  paron- spice. It is always in equal measure cumin, fenugreek, nigella, black mustard and fennel.

Always go for good salt- not that white chemical powder that has little to do with the real thing and the one the body has no idea what to do with.

In the pot heat the oil – add the panch paron and stir till the seeds start to pop and the smell fills you nose. Add the dal and stir it around to make it loose, make it warm. Now in with the turmeric, the salt and the chilli. Stir, stir and in 3 cups of water or 0.5 liters. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and put a lid on it.

In 20 minutes or so it will be done. If you cook it at a fast boil you will need to add more water towards the end and you will need to check it is not catching on the bottom. That is why a simmer is better- gentler for everyone.

When it is done the colour moves from orange to yellow and the split peas break down. If it is to thin turn up the heat to evaporate some liquid.

You can serve it in a cup and eat with a spoon. Nice. So in a  cup  put in some puffed rice, then the dal, then ideally some chopped indian pink onion,  ginger, fresh coriander, tomato, coconut, tamarind sauce, chat masala, gram masala and some fresh lime. Finish it of with some sev  and final dusting of chat masala. How about that.

Obviously things are not always that simple and if something is missing, not to worry. What you do wish to get though is something sharp- lime, something sour- the tamarind and the amchor, the fried mango powder in the chat maasala, something salt- the black salt in the chat masala too, something sweet in the tamarind chutni , something ginger, something soft onion and something fresh.

Now i appreciate there those who are not sure about some of these ingredients and that but hold tight for in the next week or two all will be explained. It all is incredibly simple and not expensive and once you done it once you will be off and running and making your own rules and regulations on the ghugni chat.

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AND SO THE SEASON STARTS

And so fresh of the plane from kolkata with a new set of signs, a fever and uncertain appetite for the future the lovelove express curved around the M25 for its first Indian wedding serving jhal muri to many happy Punjabi’s. There is no doubt that the indians are the greatest outdoor caterers. We watched in awe as from rental truck a kitchen manifested itself in a garage and from this makeshift arrangement dish upon dish upon dish emerged. We left as the police arrived which is generally the best way to play it.

With easter coming and the promise of some weather we headed west via the first thursday gig on vyner street. First thursday-www.firstthursdays.co.uk-
is when  the galleries around  east london open late and the haicuts and vintage clothes come out and linger and socialise on street corners with a bit of art thrown in and nothing wrong with that. Food ain’t high on the agenda but they come by eventually lured into the red lights and juju music like moths to a candle.

The weather way out west was biblical in its beauty as the spring unfolded before your very eyes.  Primrose flowers, wild garlic stems, sorrel and dandelion find there way into the muri and the tops of nettles in a tisane to clean the blood and give strength to the emotions. The nature has all the answers if you look. Hawking the muri in the glam spots and sunset locations- Bigbury bay, Dartmoor and the Avon valley and on to the end of England  at Senon, Cale Cornwall and Cot valley. Perfect waves were an endless sky meets an endless sea. Is there anywhere more beautiful.

We left the beach rolled into London just in time for the street food festival outside the festival hall. Some high city living for the wedding and beyond. A posse of wagons serving some seriously good food- fresh and alive- no monkey business here- check this for a low down-http://eatstreetblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/eat-st-crew-at-large-for-the-royal-wedding/

Basically London was brought to a halt for the day because of love and nothing wrong with that no matter what your post code and you start drinking cider at lunch time and three days later the sun is still shining and you still drinking. The express somewhat suffered due to an unproffesional attitude but me managed rose royal lassi’s with the mango option, Harriot’s pulchas and lopsided muri cones to lots of  all sorts of everyday people doing what we all do best.

By chance there was a Nitin Sawney gig at the Albert Hall and very beautiful it was too. Songs from the soon to be released album and  the favourites – nadia, letting go, homelands etc etc- but with different arrangements. Vibrating strings and skins and those voices- chilling. www.nitinsawhney.com  The day before we fed them muri and vip dal, with lime and tamarind and all the masalas in the Bengali style. The tabla player is from Kolkata and he did little to hide his happiness.

And the sun kept shining and you find yourself on Brighton beach by the angel with the argos trolly dressed for muri action. Trolly culture- love it and in the evening the birthday celebrations move into their second week as you wobble to a blinding set from Orkestra del Sol- a mish mash mash up of a big brass sound that are fully worth the detour. On the downs behind the city the hawthorns are in bloom. The white flowers you pick and make a tisane with. It is the great heart healer and for those who have lost in love to themselves or others it can help to rebuild and see the sunny side again. On desert island disks Molly Parkin choose “accentuate the positive” by Bette Midler and Bing Crosby. Is there a better place to start?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b010xy3d/Desert_Island_Discs_Molly_Parkin/

There is exciting stuff happening in London with the street food hawkers and hustlers. Like minded people coming together and cutting out the middle man. Better for us- better for you and good, cheap and alive food brough to were it tastes best- outside on the streets. Outside The Rye Peckham for the next two weeks a different member of the very progressive and positive street food collective Eat street- www.eat.st  will be serving there specialities. Totally recommended.

Details – http://www.eatstreetblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/16days/

I will be there tomorrow night and next week too. I be doing the Ghugni chat-
It is a dal based dish that goes way beyond. There will be chai and always there is the muri. Be lovely to see you.

And a tune for the perfect month of may- www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYxzPdv67yA

Simple as pie- the man has the right address.

Recipes coming next week.

To find out were i am it a twitter thing- @jhalmuriexpress

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SARASWATI-KNOWLEDGE GOD

Saraswati- the Knowledge God and beautiful she sits with her sitar and books and bright red lips. Today pujas made to the books and the music and the creative forces of the knowledge.

Sweets are offered, prayers sent and kichiri prepared. From kichiri came the kedgeree and it is the staple that most of the rural indian people eat everyday.

Endless variety to the kichiri but alway there is the rice and the dal. In Bengal they use moong dal and rice that looks like broken basmati. The simple ones are often the best as rice and dal fits tight and perfect.

Two hand full of rice and one of moong dal- wash seperately to bring to life and drain. Fry some cumin seeds till he smell fills the room then the onion and ginger, some ground coriander and chilli dust. Then the rice and spoon it around the pot, then the dal, some tumeric, some salt. Pour in the water till it covers the foods by twice. If you like split a couple of green chillis and pop them in too.

You can have dry like paella or wet like rissotto or soupy like soup- as to your wish. For dry boil till it dries for wet add the water more. It is cooked when it is cooked.

This will give two people a staple meal that see you most of the day. Some yoghurt on top and tamarind sauce too. Some chat masala, a sqeeze of lime, chutney from the fridge. Up to you.

For the Knowledge from the Gods.

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CHAT MASALA

CHAT means to lick- like top shelf lick or a snack to lick your lips and eat your fingers with.

Chat masala or chat masala. Pleasures of a different flesh.

Indians – king of the snacks and heading east across the plains from Gujarat and with Mugli meeting they landed in Kolkata and sprung there own seeds in Bengali soil.

The jhal muri, bhel puri, patat puri, alu chat and papri chat and on and on. A family of endless  relations. All the same and all very different.

Made in front of your nose from an array of boxes and bent metals, textures and tastes are flipped up and slapped down, landing in the shape of a cone or a carton. Foods that make you fly- to take you away or bring you back and brought to life with sour sweet tamarind, limes and chaat masala. Bridges between gaps.

Chat masala is like your snack spice- the all rounder with something for everything- a little sour, a little salt, a little hot and a little spice. Raises the potential of everything it touch. The salt, the pepper and the hp too.

Everyone is different and everyone have there way- its yours to have how you like.

You need the sour of the AMCHOUR- the dried and powdered young mango powder, CHILLI DUST for the hot and BLACK SALT too for salt. Alone it tastes sulphorous but mixed it brings the family together. Too much is definately too much though.

CUMIN also and in a pan roast till they start to smell and grind them with a stone or in your friends coffee grinder.

So maybe 3 spoons amchour, two of cumin powder, one black salt and one of chilli powder. Hows that- change it how you like- its yours. Make it zing.

This is a very simple version but if you wish to know about spices best to start simple- also more does not always mean merrier.

Black pepper, pomegranate seeds and ajowan are possible.

Over dals and rice, on dry snacks and wet fruit. Steamed vegetables, unsatisfactory noodles and grilled meats. Were ever you want its up to you.

Free pack at the whirled event coming. Why not…

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THE SNACKS @ THE KOLKATA STREET FOOD EXPERIENCE- WHIRLED CINEMA 15/16/17 JAN-11

Jhal muri jhal muri, the omnipresent snack of kolkata that you find a version of on pretty much every street corner there.A snack supreme.        Jhal means hot, not chilli hot but hot for the blood for the spirit and muri is the puffed rice. You puff the rice by cooking it  in hot sand till it swells with popping noises.

There are as many types of jhal muri as there as different types of people and  is for a bridge between meals,  with drinks, to accompany a travel, in the cinema, or slowly slowly with your love because everybody lovelove the jhal muri.

It is about the texture- the dry ingredients- the muri, roasted peanuts,  channa dal, and sev( crisp noodles made from the chick pea flour) in the pot mixed with the fresh ingredients chopped fine. The tomato, cucumber, coconut,  indian onion, coriander leaf, the sprouted mung. Then given the flavours that please all the avenues of the taste buds- the black salt, the amchoor,  fresh ginger, green chilli if you like, roasted cumin powder, special masala,  tamarind chutney, fresh lime squeezed and the mustard oil to wrap it a Bengali blanket.                                                                                                 In a cone it comes and with a wooden spoon it goes.

From the north west with the moguls came the yoghurt- the curd- and many volume have been written on the goodness it brings to the goings on in the tummy.Since early days drinks have been made with the curd – in Turkey they drink ayran, Pakistan it is chaas, in Iran dough and Armenia Tahn.

In India it is Lassi.

A lassi you make by breaking the curd (yoghurt) into liquid adding water or milk and crushed ice. They can be sweet or salt.

Add sugar of jaggary for sweet, rosewater too if you like and for salt add salt. Roasted cumin ground and black pepper also if you like.

With electric blender or hand whisk give time to the beating and then a little more. This is important. It gives it new life and in the air the fat is held, suspended between thick and thin, cushioned from the hard edges, becoming  voluptuous and  cooling  with a perfect smile.  Settling to the tummy and its appetite.

There  are many variations with the lassi. Mango pulp can be added- as can other fruit purees. How much liquid depends on how thick the yoghurt is to start and how sweet is a personal taste.At the whirled do we shall sweeten with palm sugar and flavour with rose water and cool with ice. Very nice.

Wherever you are, you are were you want to be with the ghugni.

The variations are many and when you understand the ways of the ghugni many doors will be opened and hats raised for this is strong food that make you grow roots.

In Kolkata white dried peas-the mutter- or the chick peas are used but here I use the masor dal, the split red pea. It needs no soaking, cooks quick and has good flavour.

The dal is cooked with panch paron- the bengali five spice and tumeric to a thick sauce

Served in a leaf plate with tomatoes chopped, fresh coriander, pinnk onion pieces, ginger, roasted cumin powder, chaat masala, coconut slivers, a squeeze of lime and sour sweet tamarind sauce. On the top for texture and taste the sev goes, the chick pea flour noodle.

The phuchas is  puri- the hollow golf ball sized fried bread- filled with bengali flavoured smashed potato, tamarind water, green chutney, masalas and topped with thin sev.

In one you eat and the in your mouth the soft potato the crisp puri and the liquids explode  taking you to other places and straight back for more. And then there is the sweet option.

Chaana masala is like a salad. Cold and mostly raw.

IN Kolkata they use the sprouted bengal gram, the chick pea relation., i use the sprouted mung bean. A sprouted pulse is still living, still growing when you eat. Fortifying food to see you right.

In a cup they are mixed like a cocktail with the soft potato, cucumber, tomato, coriander, indian onion, special masalas , sqeezed lime and tamarind chutney and served to eat on a leaf late.

Clean and uplifting.

Made from the cardamom, cinnamon, clove, star anise, fennel, bay, black pepper, mace, nutmeg and ginger powder. Sweetened with jaggary and sharpened with lime.

The Bengali’s  maybe the greatest sweet makers and sweet lovers. Nothing can compare with what you find over there but from Tooting they versions are up there. the jelabi, the rossogolla and the chumchum mali.

And all these you will find in the transformed Whirled cinema to eat before, during and after the film about the food.

£15.00 for everything.

PLEASE PASS IT ON.

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